A Proposal for Compromise on Both Sides
by Eric Dondero
The election of Barack Obama has fundamentally altered the political spectrum, most especially on the right side. Libertarians and Conservatives are now finding themselves much more in agreement than ever before. Longheld disputes between the two have dissipated in importance, as the looming threat of Obama-fascism seeks to take away all of our liberties away. But a few differences still persist, and it's important that we acknowledge the areas where we Libertarians and Conservatives part company, so as to allow for greater cooperation in the 80% of issues we agree on.
The common remarks we Libertarians most often hear from our Conservative cousins, is that we "just want to smoke Pot." Or, more broadly based, that we're really libertines, masquerading behind the cloth of Personal Liberty.
Let me be the first to admit that there's a great deal of truth to that criticism.
I'm a veteran of the Libertarian Party of Florida. I learned my political activism in the 1980s at LPF conventions, protests and such. Back then going to an LPF state convention was like attending a big Swinger's Party complete with "Nudi-tarians," Porno Magazine publishers, and Topless Club owners. The marijuana and the beer flowed freely, even during business sessions, platform debates and elections of party officers.
I attended a Libertarian Party sponsored annual "Beer Bash," at a posh mansion in northern California in 1988 that was in fact, a Swingers Party.
The LPC that year even ran "Cop to Call Girl" prostitute Norma Jean Almodovar for Lt. Governor. A couple years later the LPF ran the Publisher of the porno magazine Oui for Florida Gov. And of course, in 1992, the Libertarian Party of New York, famously recruited Howard Stern to run.
But the Libertarian Party and the overall libertarian movement has matured a great deal since the wild and crazy 1970s and 80s. We most certainly still have that element, and we have no intention of purging those libertine extremists from our movement. But those of us Libertarians who are serious about politics, now choose to emphasize a different set of civil liberties issues. And they're civil liberties issues that even Conservatives can support.
Seat Belt laws: This happens to be my personal pet peeve. What right does the government have to tell me to wear a seat belt in my vehicle? I own my pick-up truck. Not the government. They didn't pay a dime to help me with the purchase. They have no right to tell me how to operate the vehicle so long as I am following reasonable rules of the road, speed limits, stop signs, red lights, and not driving drunk. If I choose not to strap myself into my vehicle, that's my damned business.
Smoking Bans: What could be more insidious than some government bureaucrat or politician telling a bar owner or restaurant owner that they cannot cater to clientele who appreciate lighting up a cigarette or fine cigar?
Regulating Night Clubs/Bars: While we're on the subject how about the issue of prohibitionist regulations on night clubs, bars, taverns, discos, and lounges? There are all sorts of laws on the books telling owners what they can and cannot do in their establishment. Some localities tell topless bar owners that they can't go fully nude or allow any contact with the customers. We hear stories weekly of some risque Gay Club being raided, or some local municipality zoning out a Swingers Club or even a Hooters. And then there's closing times. Why is it that practically every locality in the land, save Manhattan and L.A. has a closing time for bars of 2:00 pm? If someone wants to drink til the wee hours of the morning in a local tavern with his/her buddies that's their damned business.
Prostitution: Nevada and Puerto Rico are the only jurisdictions in the United States that have fully legalized Prostitution. This is silly. In 2009, if two adult individuals wish to have consensual sex behind close doors and arrange for a financial transaction to be involved that's their damned business. Whether that be an Escort Service, Sex Club or Brothel.
Gambling: We all know the deal here. If Government doesn't get its slice of the pie, they'll outlaw the activity. In some localities a friendly game of poker is even outlawed. What you do in the privacy of your own home, or at a local bingo parlor or keno hall should be strictly between you and the owner of the establishment. There's absolutely no need for government regulations.
Notice a common thread here? That's right: Property Rights.
While I'll be the first to admit that we Libertarians used to advocate such positions cause frankly, we wanted to indulge - hot roddin', gawking at chics at the titty bar, getting drunker than a skunk, ect... - today, we look at all these civil liberties issues from a Property Rights perspective.
Conservatives have no need to back us up on these issues from a Pro-libertine standpoint. In fact, we Libertarians could care less if you condemn these activities as hurtful to society, or dennigrating to morality.
What we Libertarians simply ask is that you back us up from the Property Rights standpoint; that so long as the activity is consensual and on private property and does not involve minors, that governments should simply Stay out of it!
In return, we Libertarians will be more than happy to "tame" the more extremist elements of our movement; asking all our Cigar Chompers, Road Speedsters ,Swingers, Porno Mag publishers, Shock Jocks, Potheads, Prostitutes, and Topless Dancers, to keep their activities behind close doors, most especially around election time.
Eric Dondero lives in Houston, Texas. He's a former Libertarian National Committeeman, Founder of the Republican Liberty Caucus and a senior aide to Congressman Ron Paul, 1997-2003. Today he publishes the Libertarian Republican blog.
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