Thursday, May 12, 2016

Why Libertarianism should be GOP's future

What follows is my May 10, 2016 Op-Ed in The Orlando Sentinel  
Now that the Republican Party has officially committed suicide by selecting Donald Trump as the new standard bearer of the GOP, it is time for all good Libertarians to come to the aid of our neighbor.

Make no mistake about it: If you are a traditional Goldwater/Reagan conservative, your party is now the one that is associated with xenophobia, racism, religious and ethnic bigotry and blatant sexism. On top of those unflattering but true categorizations, you also belong to a party that is now as economically ignorant as that of left-wing democratic socialism.
Yet, it is because of this reality that you, Republicans, are now in a prime position to make a historic comeback in 2020 and beyond. If you want proof, go back to the future and watch a 44-second YouTube clip from 1975.

Forty-one years ago, Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes" interviewed Republican presidential hopeful Ronald Reagan. In this segment, Reagan told Wallace that the heart of his philosophy was Libertarianism.

Reagan went on to explain that Libertarianism is essentially a belief that human beings are better positioned to make their own decisions without the control or regulation of government.
This means that, on social issues, Libertarians do not believe the state should have any say in who consenting adults marry; should not regulate what adults put into their bodies; and should not interfere with our rights to privacy, speech and other civil matters.

Democrats understand this all too well, and are to be congratulated for pushing for laws that do not restrict the right to marry whom we choose while getting laws passed that decriminalize marijuana use. Moreover, it has been the Democrats who have been most outspoken in fighting the government's surveillance practices against innocent Americans. Meanwhile, Republicans, in their best ostrich-head-in-the-sand impersonation, continue to push for laws that impose their "family values" on all the rest of us.

On economic issues, Libertarians want government out of our wallets as much as we want them out of our bodies and bedrooms.

This is where Republicans traditionally received high marks. After all, it was Reagan who drove the top marginal income tax rate from 70 percent to 28 percent in only five years. It was Reagan who championed welfare reform and fewer job-destroying regulations that helped to fuel the rapid growth of the 1980s. And spare me (in case you are a Democrat reading this) the line that "Reagan caused massive deficits." Government tax collections rose from $599 billion in 1981 to $990 billion by 1989 because of his tax cuts and growth-creating policies.

Reagan also championed amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants and never once announced a policy of not allowing any Soviet or Eastern-bloc residents to enter American until "we can figure this thing out."

Today's Republican Party also fails — miserably — the test of economic literacy.
Donald Trump wants to return the United States to the trade policies of the 1930s while pushing for greater social-welfare spending and immigration laws that would create labor shortages and inflationary pressures in innumerable areas of our economy.

But Trump's bad economics simply follow the policies of both Bush presidencies in which increased regulations, higher income taxes (the first Bush), horrible trade policies (second Bush) and rampant crony capitalism did not give voters much reason to believe that Republicans were good for their economic livelihood.

Those of us who are Libertarians offer today's disaffected Republicans a saner option going forward.
We would say to those who cannot stomach voting for Trump — or Hillary Clinton — that the time has come to realize that, on social issues, the country largely wants no part of 1950s Republican values. Millennials — who now outnumber baby boomers — do not want to hear about morality and certainly do not want the government to define it.

On the economic side of the coin, younger voters are torn between the Libertarian ideology of Ron Paul and the Socialist dogma of Bernie Sanders. In each of the past two election cycles, young people flocked to these candidates.

Now is the time for a smart Republican (no laughing, please) to embrace the Democratic Party on social issues and the traditional Reagan Libertarianism on economic issues in order to turn 2016 into a bad memory.

Or, Republicans can just keep losing elections.