It's that time of year again, when friends start telling me about this or that candidate I should support because he or she is a dedicated defender of liberty and limited government. I'm a political junkie, so I love getting these recommendations. But I don't end up supporting or contributing to many candidates. In my view, it's not enough for a candidate to say that he's "committed to slashing wasteful spending, providing tax relief, and eliminating red tape." What's your actual tax plan? What spending do you propose to cut or eliminate? Not many of them offer clear answers to that.
And liberty involves more than just economics. Often I'm told, "Congressman X is a libertarian." I always check, and then I say, "He voted for the war, the Patriot Act, and the Federal Marriage Amendment. Sounds like a conservative." Now a conservative who opposed President George W. Bush's trillion-dollar spending increase, his Medicare expansion, and his stepped-up federal involvement in education is a lot better than your average member of Congress. But those votes do not a libertarian make.
This year I'm looking for candidates who stand for freedom across the board, who want government constrained by the Constitution, who believe in the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace.
And that means I don't want to back candidates who support
- the war in Iraq
- the war in Afghanistan
- war with Iran
- the war on drugs
- the constitutional amendment to override state marriage laws and make gay people second-class citizens
- the president's power to snatch American citizens off the street and hold them without access to a lawyer or a judge
- new restrictions on immigration
So don't everybody write at once. But I'll be looking out for political candidates who support liberty and limited government across a wide range of issues.