What A Libertarian Sees In Dean

Over on his new blog, Sandy Smith has an excellent overview of why he, a libertarian, finds himself cautiously leaning towards Howard Dean for President. (He’s not the only one, either.) It’s an interesting read.

The high irony, of course, is that the Democratic Party establishment is apparently not as perceptive a judge of Democratic candidates as Sandy is. Because of Dean’s early and consistent opposition to the war in Iraq, and because he hails from Vermont (“hey, that’s where Ben and Jerry come from!”), the conventional wisdom that congealed around Dean was that he was some kind of born-again, bong-toting lefty, leading a People’s Front against the hated Washington Establishment. Never mind that, if you read his positions on the issues or actually go hear him speak, you find that he’s actually a pretty moderate kind of Democrat, socially liberal but fiscally conservative, or that some of his positions, like his conservative stance on gun control, are notably outside the mainstream of his party; those inconvenient facts don’t fit the storyline, so they don’t get written about much. (Until they can be “discovered” and repackaged as flip-flops: Commissar Dean betraying his loyal comrades.)

The irony comes in because the establishment has swallowed the CW hook, line, and sinker, and are panicked that Dean 2004 will be a replay of McGovern 1972, so they’re frantically looking for a “stop-Dean” candidate. That’s where a lot of the Wes Clark movement comes from; it’s people who think that Dean is too liberal and will lead the Democrats down the path to ruin in the general election. Except, as I noted above — Dean’s not really a flaming liberal. He’s certainly not as liberal as McGovern was in 1972, and certainly not as liberal as he’s been made out to be by the simplistic portrayal of his positions thus far in the campaign.

I think Sandy’s right that there’s room for libertarians in the Dean campaign. The Bush team has done enough to assault individual liberty to make you upset whether you care because you’re a member of the ACLU or the Ayn Rand Institute. There’s a lot in the Dean approach, on the other hand, for libertarians to like. Will they be willing to overlook the party labels when the time comes to pull the lever, though? I suppose we’ll find out!


Thorley Winston

October 17, 2003
12:33 pm

“Never mind that, if you read his positions on the issues or actually go hear him speak, you find that he’s actually a pretty moderate kind of Democrat, socially liberal but fiscally conservative,”
“Fiscally conservative”? You mean like when he nearly tripled State spending as governor of Vermont? Or perhaps you’re refusing to his refusal to support entitlement reform?

Doc Martian

October 24, 2003
8:45 am

Bah! i’ve been banned more times for challenging dean about his campaign financing then a human should. I’ve been threatened with arrest for stating information i have posted and never once been challenged about! Dean is a Fascist. You’d be better off voting for Sharpton! An avowed racist beats a fascist whose only response is to threaten a speaker.
ACLU take note. The Dean Campaign could just ban the single ip i’ve posted from…. but they haven’t… they’ve blustered… threatened… probably reported… and in general? done anything but act like someone who will support the arts.
an avowed Republican after Dean and his shadows turned their back on a Palestinian state for Israel’s money. Swore i’d be a lifelong democrat… dean and his nazis have fixed that.
A registered voter that dean wishes he could silence or disenfranchise. I’ve had attack homosexuals sent at me on the chance that i’m homophobic. I’ve had cars swerved at me by Dean supporters. He’s israel’s stooge, plain and simple. He’ll sell out any special interests for his masters. He wants to be the first u.s. president to lick their hand instead of getting his ass licked…. i wonder if it’s cuz he’s homophobic.
i am neither racist, homophobic nor a hidebound republican. I’m a democrat who got screwed by the democratic platform upon Palestine (due to dubya’s support for it… how’s that for partisan politics). So. A hearty hiho to all you dupes of dean! may you soon learn how easily he turns his back upon your special interests.


November 5, 2003
5:13 am

Fiscal conservatism refers to his repeated balanced budgets in Vermont, setting aside a “Rainy Day” fund for catastrophes and recessions, and bucking the Vermont Democratic Party spending requests (which were significantly larger than the enacted budgets). Duh.
Oh, after doing a little research, “Doc Martian” appears to be out of his mind, in case anyone was wondering.