Red Dirt Liberty Report: A Message to the Left
Last week, I wrote a message pointed to the political right. This week, I am writing this column as a message pointed to the left.
My hope is that a leftist somewhere, somehow, accidentally wandered into a column written for a libertarian publication. And, further, I hope that leftist can open his or her mind long enough to hear some similarities in beliefs. (I know. You, the leftist, just threw up in your mouth a little.) But, please hang on long enough to hear a few points. I’m not calling on the people tossing Molotov cocktails or the ones beating people nearly to death in the streets, but the reasonable people on the left who are horrified that people on both sides of the spectrum can behave like Nazi Brownshirts.
Firstly, I know you prefer the term “liberal” to describe your political philosophies, but the problem is that, historically, this term has applied to only part of your beliefs. It applies more specifically to a desire for much more limited government, which would include some of the things the left might typically oppose. So, I hate to ask but we libertarians would kind of like to have our moniker back. We promise that we can share if you’ll listen to a few points I’d like to make.
I don’t mean to place the left side in absolute shock and horror, but I do need to convey that ultimately, we libertarians want most of the same things the left wants. The left has a great history of supporting peoples’ rights to their own private affairs. They fight vehemently for a person to choose a gender, pick a mate, and against discrimination. The left agrees that their bodies are their own, to do with as they choose. The left understands that leaving people alone to make their own decisions is a good thing. You just need to also understand that the same ideas, when extended to their logical conclusions, include a lot of financial freedoms as well.
At the center of leftists’ ideals is that government intrusion into personal lives allows government to decide what behaviors, relationships, and associations are moral and righteous. If the government does a poor job of determining, on a whim of the public, what things are acceptable, then you must also conclude that the same ineptitude exists in determining your finances and how you operate your economic life. Do you really want the same team of people that have the power to determine whomever you wish to associate yourself with to also decide when, how, and where they can spend your money? If you don’t want a government to determine for you what your morality should be, do you not also wonder whether that same government has an ability to decide what is best for your money?
Imagine if the government decided that a worthy cause would be to print pamphlets extolling the virtues of the Republican Party. In theory, with enough votes, the GOP could pull this off in the US – perhaps not with their name on them, but still extolling the virtues they support, and then forcibly distributing them throughout the land. I don’t know of any leftists that think that would be a good idea. Yet, if you grant government the authority to spend your money in any substantial way, you have granted it the authority to choose ways you would not support. Government authority is a weapon that can easily be turned against whatever group is not in power. Whatever authority the left grants government to compassionately help the poor, help people with their medical bills, supplement income in hard times, provide better housing, etc. can also be turned against the left even in such a way that if fascists were in power, they could use those exact powers to hunt down the left and wipe them out.
Over time, there has been a shift on the left regarding how many members of the left perceive war. At one time, they were mostly united around the ideals of peace, but increasingly, the drumbeat of war has no longer been only the home of the right. For many leftists, important principles have been abandoned and replaced things that, to them, do not anymore resemble the traditional thoughts on their side. There have been many periods in history where the left has done more than its fair share of combat not only just for revolution, but also in order to force political ideology onto other people. If you are someone who is a member of the left and you do not want political ideology forced at the barrel of a gun, or you do not want to compromise your principles over feeling safer, then your side has abandoned you and it is time to consider something else.
The left also has a tradition of standing against corporate favoritism. They oppose people gaining influence from their wealth, and the left also opposes businesses interfering in political agendas and getting special treatment from being in the pocket of politicians. You, the leftists reading this, are absolutely correct. No government should ever be for sale to the highest bidder. No government should ever have enough power that any business can even benefit from attempting to buy influence. There should be nothing for them to gain. If you want to end corporate welfare and the wealthy having a disproportionate say in politics, then the best way to accomplish this is to limit the things government can do to serve them. If government can do nothing for them, they will end their involvement, thus putting an end to corporate involvement or involvement of the powerful in your own affairs.
There is a desire on the left for equality. Inherently, the left knows it’s wrong to treat people unequally because of whatever gender, race, religion, creed, sexual preference, etc. that may be determined. The left sees the advantage of treating people as human beings, regardless of their stature or who they are. I believe the right does in many ways as well, but it is the left which is most vocal about it out of the two. Because of these stances, it is evident that the left believes in the general goodness of individuals. It is this general goodness that also implies the best way to protect individuals from prejudice and to ensure social justice is to not place such things into the hands of government. If you firmly believe it is wrong to determine to treat one group of people differently from another, then how could you possibly trust the same people who operate the DMV to determine your social rights?
You see, dear leftists, we are not that far apart on our thinking. I hope you can get over your disgust on this fact long enough to consider that we want much of the same things. The majority of your goals are noble and honorable. We want to meet them as well. Let’s share the banner of “liberal” and you can help us libertarians implement ideals of government that encourage our freedoms. While you may have been abandoned by a few crazy extremists on your side, we have a will to help in the same direction you want. Let’s work together to achieve it.