A Convenient Libertarian Punching Bag for Progressive Vegan Atheist Ninja, Jamie Kilstein

by lizard

When I wrote this post about Ron Paul back in December of 2011, the comments I received were interesting.

The flak I got from the progressive left is the most illuminating. Here is one example; the homophobe being Paul, and the pragmatist being Obama:

if you’re really saying that you’d prefer an “honest” racist, sexist homophobe over a pragmatist who is slowly making our country better, you’re nuts.

And why is “honest” Ron Paul lying about statements he made years ago about blacks? What else would he lie about?

Stop reading Counterpunch! Every time you go there you come back thoroughly unhinged.

Libertarianism is an easy ideology to ridicule, partly because its adherents don’t consistently adhere to libertarian principles at all.

For example, any libertarian who supports restrictive immigration policies, or any level of state involvement with a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, is not really worth listening to.

That said, I still find the stereotyping annoying, especially when it comes from someone like Jamie Kilstein, a mostly talented “left-wing political comic” who I mostly enjoy following on twitter, and was thoroughly entertained to have had a brief exchange with after I responded to this tweet:

Libertarians are stoned republicans. Or 16 year old white dudes. Or both.

I won’t bore readers with all the nuances of the exchange, but there are a few more tweets from Kilstein worth reproducing:

1) The thing is libertarians who follow me. If you privatize everything the poor get fucked. That’s republican….

2) …there are other people that want to end the war on drugs, cool liberties crackdown, etc, that aren’t selfish assholes.

3) Holy shit stop acting like you have beaten the right left dichotomy by being libertarian. Rand fucking Paul is on your team.

Jamie Kilstein’s brand incorporates the tolerated space of leftist criticism embodied by Christopher Hayes’ presence on MSNBC. If I wanted to be cranky, I’d say just that association with corporate media negates any of the positive things Jamie Kilstein has done, like his righteous attacks on the tolerance of rape jokes within the male-dominated power structure of stand-up comedy.

Instead of being cranky, I’m curious what those on the left hope to accomplish with time wasted on ridiculing libertarians?

Even though it hasn’t been the most prominent part of the NSA story, it also hasn’t gone unnoticed by the mainstream left that Edward Snowden identifies as a libertarian, as evidenced by this Slate piece titled Edward Snowden: A libertarian hero:

One of the more amazing documents to emerge from the NSA leak drama isn’t classified. It’s a photograph of Edward Snowden, sitting on a bed, with his laptop across his knees. The laptop has two stickers on its back, one from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“I Support Online Rights”) and one from the Tor Project, the nonprofit volunteer-run group that produces online privacy tools designed to protect individuals from digital surveillance.

Talk about your massive security clearance failures! If I were an NSA contractor, I might be predisposed to look askance at giving top-secret access to a libertarian-leaning employee who personally endorses anti-tracking tools and advocacy organizations that see surveillance — by anyone, government or the private sector — as a threat to civil liberties. Snowden might as well have had the words “information wants to be free” tattooed to his forehead.

But then again, if libertarian-leaning EFF supporters were discriminated against by government intelligence contractors, those contractors might encounter serious obstacles in fully staffing their IT departments. The tech company system administrator who distrusts government is an outright cliché. The Internet is chock-full of them — indeed, geeks with well-thumbed copies of “Atlas Shrugged” played a not-insignificant role in building the Internet.

It’s no secret the libertarian trend is a problem for Republicans. This comes from the CATO institute circa 2006:

Libertarian Party candidates may have cost Sens. Jim Talent and Conrad Burns their seats, tipping the Senate to Democratic control. In Montana, the Libertarian candidate got more than 10,000 votes, or 3 percent, while Democrat Jon Tester edged Burns by fewer than 3,000 votes. In Missouri, Claire McCaskill defeated Talent by 41,000 votes, a bit less than the 47,000 Libertarian votes.

This isn’t the first time Republicans have had to worry about losing votes to Libertarian Party candidates. Sens. Harry Reid, Maria Cantwell, and Tim Johnson all won races in which Libertarian candidates got more votes than their winning margin.

As further evidence of this winning tactic, Tester’s 2012 campaign dipped into the dark side to, ahem, engorge the potency of Tim Cox with dark money:

In the waning days of Montana’s hotly contested Senate race, a small outfit called Montana Hunters and Anglers, launched by liberal activists, tried something drastic.

It didn’t buy ads supporting the incumbent Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester. Instead, it put up radio and TV commercials that urged voters to choose the third-party candidate, libertarian Dan Cox, describing Cox as the “real conservative” or the “true conservative.”

Where did the group’s money come from? Nobody knows.

Libertarians may make convenient targets for those traveling in hip circles of privileged access, but outside Gotham, it plays differently.


  1. evdebs

    The big money behind the libertarians are the Koch brothers, who proclaim that as their persuasion.

    However, their money gets far more theocrats elected than pure fiscal conservatives and their lobbying in the American Legislative Exchange Council produces these insane laws such as the anti-sharia and anti-abortion and “real I.D.” statutes.

    These religious fanatics are the American Taliban and they’re the Kochs’ “go to guys.”

    • mike

      Libertarians are they American Taliban? You obviously have no clue what libertarians are about. We join you in hating the undue influence of any electoral group whether the Kochs, the AFL-CIO, or the Sierra Club. They should all be required to be transparent in their dark money efforts.

      The difference is left leaners like you think it’s ok if the latter two funnel money to certain pols because you like their point of view . Which looks suspiciously like a double standard from here.

    • lizard19

      evdebs, there’s dark money coming from both sides, maybe not in the same proportions, but enough to take principle out of the equation when it comes to the political calculation.

      I mentioned Snowden in this post because I think he represents the feeling of betrayal more than a few millennials are feeling toward the actions behind the PR facade of the Obama machine.

      and because our political system is so fucked, that young libertarian energy will get mangled.

      read the comment thread of that Ron Paul post.

  2. The opposite of libertarian is authoritarian. Libertarian is not necessarily “conservative,” “theocratic,” “liberal,” or even “progressive.” It’s difficult to discuss these issues when useless definitions have been applied for purely political purposes.

    The 2014 ballot referendum to establish a “Top-Two” voting system in Montana is allegedly aimed at eliminating “libertarian” candidates that allegedly help Democrats defeat Republicans. If successful, it will effectively eliminate all minor party and independent statewide candidates from the ballot for a very long time. It should be noted that the current system is extremely unfriendly to democratic principles already.

    Both parties are authoritarian in practice when challenged by new ideas and alternatives to two-party rule. The more organized the opposition, the more authoritarian the reaction. We are a lot like Egypt in that sense.

    • mike

      Spot on, Steve.

  1. 1 A House Scramble Served by Snowden with a dash of Libertarianism | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] I’m no fan of Rand Paul, I am very interested in the libertarian trend shaking American politics. I think there is real fear among “the establishment” […]




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