Righter Than Right

by | Mar 19, 2018

Righter Than Right

by | Mar 19, 2018

I like it. A lot of good things,” said Donald Trump, describing libertarianism in late 2015. I’m skeptical if President Trump, then or now, could give even a basic definition of the liberty philosophy. But despite that ignorance, I believe Trump has paved the way to make the Republican Party more libertarian.

At a cursory glance, that seems a ludicrous proposition. Between the increase in drone strikes, the tariffs, the empowerment of ICE, the belligerent tweets, as just a handful of examples among an apparent never-ending list of statist abuses and outright evil, how has Donald Trump benefited libertarians in any way? He singlehandedly destroyed previously untouchable third rails of the Republican Party platform.

I have been an active College Republican for the previous four years. For even longer I’ve been a dedicated libertarian in the Rothbardian tradition. Needless to say, this has created the occasional tension and difference of opinion with my peers. My freshman year, after intense lobbying, I convinced the club to choose “the legacy of George W. Bush” as the weekly discussion topic. For over thirty minutes I argued alone against 15 fellow Republicans. I condensed as best I could every sin of that presidency, every breach of conservative (and moral) principle. And I got nowhere. I was rebuffed with continuous “If it wasn’t for him it would have been worse,” “I disagree” with no follow-up argument against flat fact, and of course “He’s a good person.”

That was in late 2014. Let me tell you, today I would not be arguing from my side alone. My group has doubled in size, old members graduated, new members joined, but the real difference has been the introduction of Trump. “I wanna tell you: they lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none, and they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction,” proclaimed Donald Trump, jabbing at an uncomfortably smiling Jeb Bush on a Republican debate stage. “All the guy wants to do is kill people and go to war and kill people even though he knows it’s not working although he doesn’t know because he’s not smart enough,” shouted Trump at a campaign rally, describing arch neoconservative Bill Kristol. Kristol, the amalgamation of every evil in the Republican Party, repudiated as a warmonger by the winning Republican presidential nominee. How many people thought they’d ever see that day?

When I argue with my more mainstream Republican friends, as I do every week, a new phrase has entered my vocabulary: “I agree with the President.” We were lied into Iraq, we should improve our relations with Russia, we should pull out of Afghanistan, and Obama is responsible for supporting Islamic terrorists in Syria. Those are all points that can follow the former statement. In this circumstance, it’s easy to say that such an appeal to authority is not a real argument. But it is a very convincing rhetorical tactic.

There has been a shift in the Republican Party. Among conservatives I interact with, few will openly defend George Bush, those who know Bill Kristol openly mock him as a liberal tool, and they rousingly cheer the phrases “Drain the Swamp” and “America First.” Like libertarianism, I’m sure Trump is wholly ignorant of the America First Committee and the proud history his adopted phrase carries. But the fact that he’s breathed life into a two-word phrase with an antiwar tradition that is easily explained as a national interest driven, noninterventionist foreign policy is the greatest gift a libertarian debater could receive.

This is precisely what radio host and Libertarian Institute Managing Director Scott Horton has elucidated as the Horton Strategy. You must attack the right from the right and the left from the left. On foreign policy, I’ve moderated several of my friends from the extremes of interventionism. I’ve done that by being righter than right, a committed America Firster, and I could not have made that progress with them without Donald Trump.

We are still in Afghanistan. We are still nearly $21 trillion in debt. We are still combating a growing police state. Donald Trump has not implemented libertarian solutions, and it’s unlikely he will. But he has given libertarians the rhetorical tools to try, and that should be recognized and appreciated.

Our Books

Shop books published by the Libertarian Institute.

Libertarian Institute Merch from Libertas Bella

Support via Amazon Smile

Support The Libertarian Institute

We rely on the generosity of our donors to make all of this possible. Support The legendary Sheldon Richman, the firebrand Pete Quinones, the brilliant Kyle Anzalone and our great group of writers and podcasters.

About Hunter DeRensis

Hunter DeRensis is a former reporter at The National Interest and regular contributor at The American Conservative. He is assistant editor at the Libertarian Institute.

Our Books

6 Libooks011721lg

Related Articles

Related

A Day in the Life of an American Serf

A Day in the Life of an American Serf

As another traditional April 15 tax day arrives, it reminds us once again of the financial burden and forced obligation the government places on our finances. So, how heavy is the yoke of taxation? We could throw around dollar amounts in the trillions, and break them...

read more
Paying Respects to Reese Erlich

Paying Respects to Reese Erlich

Longtime antiwar activist Reese Erlich passed away on April 6 after a long battle with cancer. He was 73. Reese was most recently a bi-weekly columnist at a number of publications, including Antiwar.com. He wrote his last column two weeks ago saying goodbye to his...

read more
Unprecedented: Maryland Repeals Blue Privilege

Unprecedented: Maryland Repeals Blue Privilege

For decades, Maryland and dozens of other states across the union have upheld a special set of rights for cops which citizens do not get to enjoy. It was called the police bill of rights and it shielded cops from accountability by blocking civilian inquiries into...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This