16A010 LFT: A Bad Idea by Jim Davies, 3/22/2016    


This Blog has the aim of presenting "rational, refreshing reflections on what's happening now", and one of those current events is that a few days ago Dr Walter Block invited his readers on LewRockwell.com to join him in an informal support group known as Libertarians for Trump. I emailed him at once to say it was a dreadful idea and since then have seen no mention of it on that site; I'm hoping mine was one of so many expressions of dismay that he shelved it.

Dr Block has done sterling work for liberty, starting with his super book Defending the Undefendable, and is now a professor at Loyola, teaching Austrian economics and holding his position despite opposition from the University's President, whom he calls a "left wing Jesuit." Along the way he came up with a creative idea for healing the big divide about abortion, but was actually howled down by the more conservative of Ron Paul's supporters at a rally in Tampa, FL. A couple of years ago I reviewed his book "Towards a Libertarian Society" in the ZGBlog Nearly a Block Buster.

But his latest, LFT idea is, I believe, a serious mistake.

To start with, Libertarians are foolish to get involved in politics at all. It was reasonable half a century ago for Murray Rothbard to begin in that arena, and there's no question that the LP has done a grand job of educating many of us, but a political party has the purpose not primarily of educating but of winning votes and taking office and making changes; and on all of those, it has been a spectacular failure. In practice also it has had to compromise its principles all over the map, even while retaining its slogan "the Party of Principle."

So the Party is an anachronism, and LFT goes one worse: it would link libertarianism, in the public mind, with a politician who is by no means a libertarian - as I showed recently in A Take on Trump. He's good on guns, but on everything else (taxes, justice, foreign trade, immigration and even veterans) he falls a long way short of our standards. To link his name with ours would bring him very little help and would likely do us a deal of harm.

Block's proposal does have one merit: Trump looks well set to break the stranglehold on political power currently held by the shadowy "leaders" of the two big parties. Those in the (R) division are in panic mode, desperately seeking a way to de-rail his nomination. It's not that he would do anything radically different from what their favored Presidents have done in the past, but he would do it without being controlled by them, and that's the problem. They would be losing their grip, and they don't like it.

Trump deserves full credit for doing all that. But he does not deserve endorsement by us who favor not so much a "pure" process of democratic election and rule, as a process of no elections and no rule whatever. If Professor Block wants to make the argument that the task of abolishing government will be materially assisted by first unhooking its election system from control by a set of kingmakers, let him do so. It's far too big a stretch for me.

None of this should deter anyone from commending Trump or any other politician when he does or proposes something right. The ZGBlog A Take on Trump did that with respect to his correct grasp of Amendment Two, and to his plan to cancel the death tax. Trump's position papers don't mention it, but he's also been heard to say he would be "even handed" between Israel and Palestinians, and actually pursue "non-intervention" as a foreign policy. Those would be very beneficial improvements, and deserve applause.

But support of that degree falls well short of outright endorsement, and so it should. I applaud only what is consistent with the self-ownership axiom. Most of what Trump proposes is not.

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