Steve G.

Right? Left? How about ‘libertarian’?

In Libertarian on October 8, 2008 at 2:20 pm

A recent Public Policy Polling analysis looks at how Libertarian campaigns in North Carolina (particularly those for Senate and Governor) buck the ‘conventional wisdom’ that Libertarians ‘take’ votes from the right or from Republicans. The report notes:

-60% of voters who support [L] Michael Munger for Governor support Barack Obama for President with 19% going for Bob Barr and just 14% for John McCain. A plurality also support [D] Kay Hagan (40%), with 36% going to [L] Christopher Cole and 19% to [R] Elizabeth Dole. So in this case his supporters are pretty clearly taking support from Bev Perdue. …

-Among those supporting [L] Christopher Cole for Senate it is basically a dead heat between John McCain and Barack Obama. 39% of them go for McCain, 34% of them go for Obama, and 19% support Bob Barr. …

-Bob Barr’s supporters are also going Libertarian for US Senate- 41% support [L] Cole, 28% support [D] Hagan, and 25% support [R] Dole. For Governor it’s almost a three way tie, with 36% going for [R] McCrory, 33% for Munger, and 27% for [D] Perdue. …

Anecdotally, I’ve also had occasion to note a lot of support from the ‘progressive left’ (and from Republicans as well!) while reviewing a bunch of comments received by the Munger volunteer coordinator. Democrat Bev Perdue is not popular among the far-left crowd. In fact, she’s really not popular among the middle-left or the right-left crowd as far as I can tell. She’s just slightly less unpopular (perhaps) than the Republican in the race.

Some of the comments the Munger campaign has recieved (I have added the emphasis):

“I’m a tried and true Democrat who is disillusioned with Bev Perdue and think Munger has the right message.”

“I, a progressive Democrat, will be voting for you. Your stances on the issues most closely resemble my values.”

“I’m glad you are running and providing us with an intelligent, progressive alternative.”

“I just listened to Dr. Munger on the radio in complete and happy amazement. I have always identified myself as a liberal Democrat; however, I’m tired of listening to Perdue give the same pat and rehearsed answers I have heard forever. THEN I heard Dr Munger’s well-considered revolutionary answers. I am won over.”

“I have been a registered Republican since moving to the area but you have my vote. I look forward to hearing more of your views.”

Mike spoke last night at a Green Party forum focused on North Carolina’s hideous ballot access laws (and other issues), and I noted this morning that a GP activist posted this to a Green list:

As we witnessed last night with Mike Munger, the Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, we will have more in common with Libertarian values than we do with either the Dems or Repubs, this election cycle. Mr. Munger would support a tax bailout for mortgage holders and NOT for lenders. He also supports a very constitutional interpretation of individual liberties and responsibilities. This election cycle I will vote Lib to support them in ballot access and because of his thoughtful application of policy during these times.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. One, it’s just great that Mike can reach out to Greens and enlist them, even in a temporary effort – remember, Mike worked for the Reagan adminstration. Two, people hear pretty much what they want to hear (postive or negative) – Mike did not actually “support a tax bailout for mortgage holders” – what he said was “No bailout.” But he also said “[I]f we were going to spend the money, than we should at least spend it on real folks, and not financial elites”. You see what the progressive activist made of that. I think this must be a near-universal tendency. We make up our minds who we like and then we reshape their message to what we want to hear, to at least some extent. This is an important lessons for folks running campaigns, I think.

Not all – or perhaps even most – of these folks will abandon their political roots to join the Libertarian Party or relabel themselves as ‘libertarian’. But some will. They are, in my opinion, more likely than not to come from the ‘left’ than the ‘right’ – but some of that perception is based on my own experience (I was a Democrat, which might surprise some folks). But whether they come from the left or the right, some (small, perhaps, but significant) percentage of people who vote Libertarian this November will be politically changed by this election. The votes of everyone are important for short-term reasons (ballot access, issue advocacy, etc), but the politically changed people are the real gold of the campaign in my opinion. Those folks are the activists we need to be developing, teaching, and encouraging; they will be the next generation of Libertarian Party activists. And those of us who experienced a similar excitement and change at hearing the libertarian message years ago need to be the ones delivering that education, support, and encouragement.

  1. Online poll. Cheer Mike on with some votes:

    http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/politics&id=6436840

    Thanks!

  2. A comment/question on immigration JUST came in to the Munger campaign via the web. I reproduce it in part here (below) to illustrate that open borders IS an important Libertarian issue – and one that differentiates us from both the DP and the RP. The writer says (in part):

    I am disgusted with Perdue’s pandering to the racist right with her immigration stance. I am looking for a candidate who knows not to blame the victim, and who can help to bring back safe roads by licensing ALL qualified drivers, rather than to encourage a free-for-all on our highways by refusing to license people based on racist qualifiers.

    There has to be a better way. Discrimination, exclusion and disfranchisement only serve to entrench self-protective groups (gangs) and to drive the population underground, thus marking them as easy victims for anyone who wishes to prey upon them.

  3. Continuing my dialogue with myself here, this comment below just popped up from the campaign website – showing potentially a different side of the immigration question:

    What do you think we should do about the current immigration problem and the strains that it is placing on our entitlement programs?

    Easy question! End the entitlement programs!

  4. It’s no surprise to me that Ls can reach out to progressive liberals. We have some common ground on some issues, and progressives can be more anti-status quo than most. Being anti-war and anti-Patriot Act is hugely attractive to this subset of the electorate.

    It’s also no surprise that we can appeal to disenchanted Rs. Our limited government message resonates with them.

    And centrists can be appealed to, too, as L-ism is neither left nor right.

    These are all fertile fields. Some Ls probably communicate with any one of constituencies more comfortably. For me, the key for all Ls is to maintain tolerance for vestigial positions and come froms, while persuading toward a more consistent L viewpoint.

  5. A quote post-debate:

    “I am registered unaffilated, with Democratic leanings. After tonight’s debate there is no doubt I will be voting for Dr. Munger and will be encouraging others to do so.”

  6. Nice work there in N.C. Y’all can be proud.

    MHW

  7. y’all can be very proud . . .

  8. I’m pretty sure Murray Rothbard believed that libertarianism was more of a “leftist” movement than a “rightist” one, having more in common with progressives than conservatives. I myself was quasi-socialist until discovering libertarianism through Lao Tzu.

    I also agree with what Robert says. My problem is that most of the time libertarians are depicted as ex-conservatives, when really just as many come from the left.

  9. I’m not terribly surprised that Munger voters would go for Barr at about 20%. He has obviously successfully reached outside the LP base. However, I am surprised that only 33% of Barr voters are going for Munger.

  10. I’m pretty sure Murray Rothbard believed that libertarianism was more of a “leftist” movement than a “rightist” one, having more in common with progressives than conservatives.

    I think his answer might have depended on when you asked him the question🙂

    My problem is that most of the time libertarians are depicted as ex-conservatives, when really just as many come from the left.

    Maybe more. And of course there are those fortunate souls who seem to have been born libertarian. There was a big survey of Libs done in the 90s(80s?) which showed a lot of that sort of information. It might be time for another such survey.

  11. However, I am surprised that only 33% of Barr voters are going for Munger.

    I think there are a couple of factors at work here:

    1) The press is playing up this (gov) election as close. Hell, maybe it even is.

    2) Barr has about zero appeal to ‘progressives’, while Munger – especially in comparison to the DP’s candidate for gov – has a lot.

  12. if memory serves, Rothbard was a left, Red Diaper baby, but he came to L-ism from the right. I suspect more Ls are still former conservatives, but I agree with susan that another survey would be interesting.

    rothbard rejiggered our current understanding of left and right, asserting that “left” meant something like “anti-establishment.” “right” would be “establishment.” from that perspective, rothbard’s taxonomy is correct, imo.

    but, to me, “left” mostly means “anti-capitalist,” “right” pro, more or less. “left”would also be anti-war, more or less, and right pro. and “left” would be more or less pro-civil liberties, right anti.

    i’d just as soon position L-ism as BEYOND left and right, and get on with it.

  13. “left”would also be anti-war, more or less, and right pro.

    This shows some amazing PR on the part of the left, as I think this is a widespread perception.

    It is also completely ahistorical.

    World War I – Woodrow Wilson – Democrat
    World War II – FDR – Democrat
    Korean War – Truman – Democrat
    Vietnam War – LBJ – Democrat
    Grenada – Reagan – Republican
    Iraq1 – Bush – Republican
    Bosnia and Herzegovina – Clinton – Democrat
    Iraq2 – Bush – Republican
    Afghanistan – Bush – Republican

    Of course, the right also has some amazing PR when a politically educated person can still say this:

    “left” mostly means “anti-capitalist,” “right” pro, more or less.

    Also completely ahistorical.

    i’d just as soon position L-ism as BEYOND left and right, and get on with it.

    I agree, but I think we really need to think about how our messages intersect with people who -do- identify with either right or left.

  14. I think there are a couple of factors at work here:

    1) The press is playing up this (gov) election as close. Hell, maybe it even is.

    2) Barr has about zero appeal to ‘progressives’, while Munger – especially in comparison to the DP’s candidate for gov – has a lot.

    That is sort of my point. I can understand fully why Munger is getting the support of libertarians AND non-libertarians (including “progressives”). I can completely understand why someone would vote for Munger and not vote for Barr.

    However, I don’t understand how such a large percentage of people could vote for Barr and not vote for Munger. Maybe Barr really is only appealing to a small segment of disgruntled Republicans that hate McCain but don’t mind McCrory. But that still doesn’t explain why 1/3 of Barr’s support also supports Perdue. Interesting.

  15. I think there are a couple of factors at work here:

    1) The press is playing up this (gov) election as close. Hell, maybe it even is.

    2) Barr has about zero appeal to ‘progressives’, while Munger – especially in comparison to the DP’s candidate for gov – has a lot.

    That is sort of my point. I can understand fully why Munger is getting the support of libertarians AND non-libertarians (including “progressives”). I can completely understand why someone would vote for Munger and not vote for Barr.

    However, I don’t understand how such a large percentage of people could vote for Barr and not vote for Munger. Maybe Barr really is only appealing to a small segment of disgruntled Republicans that hate McCain but don’t mind McCrory. But that still doesn’t explain why 1/3 of Barr’s support also supports Perdue. Interesting.

  16. But that still doesn’t explain why 1/3 of Barr’s support also supports Perdue.

    Right. Two ideas:

    1) Perdue really is (like so many NC Democrats) just another brown-people-hatin’, black-people-hangin’ ‘conservative’. The older (non-‘progressive’) Dems here in NC are really quite like Republicans – it’s just easier to still be a Dem in many areas here.

    2) I don’t think most folks have thought this out very clearly or systematically yet. I suspect many of them will still not be finished with that process when they come *out* of the polling place.

    3) I’ve noticed there are an awful lot of one-issue folks – I mean folks who let a stance on one issue rule out a candidate. Possibly those folks are finding something they don’t like in Munger (he likes BrownPeople!) that they are really OK with in Barr (he’s comfortably/annoyingly – depending on your own desire to know what’s what – ambivalent about BrownPeople!).

  17. As a second explanation for the lack of Munger support among Barr supporters, and possibly a better one; Remember that pre-Denver, Barr was heard saying on a talk radio show that his reason for running was to help down-ticket REPUBLICANS…

    I haven’t noticed a lot of support from the Barr campaign of down-ticket Libertarians, or at least no mention of it is made in any of the stuff I see about what he is doing….

    While certainly this is in some part due to a lack of willingness to be seen w/ Barr on the down-ticket candidate side, there is also a definite shortage of “trickle down” support.

    Barr is campaigning to pull neocon R’s and annoy everyone else, Munger seems to be running a broader based campaign, no wonder Munger is doing better…

    ART

  18. Susan, I’m aware of the history, thanks. My feedback is that you are ascribing attitudes to what the Ds and Rs do to what the rank-and-file conservatives and liberals believe.

    I see Vietnam as a kind of watershed. Since then, the left has been anti-war for the most part, although they tend to be open to humanitarian wars like Bosnia and now Darfur.

    As to capitalism, it doesn’t seem COMPLETELY ahistorical to say the left is hostile, the right not. I said “more or less.” Grassroots leftists seem overtly hostile to capitalism to me, grassroots rightists generally in favor of, at least, less government. Disagree?

  19. Susan,

    I’d disagree with only one item on your list of wars. Vietnam started under Ike. Years ago I worked at an insurance company where a lot of the programmers were former military.

    One of the guys I worked with had been on the first plane to land with “advisors” to help South Vietnam, and he did two more tours that crossed into JFK’s administration.

    I’d put Vietnam equally in Ike’s and JFK’s column.

    But to more current subjects…

    I certainly agree that right/left are very bad terms to use when describing today’s politics. We do have a lot in common with both the D’s and R’s. We just don’t support the bad/crazy/evil stuff that both of them support.

    At a stop sign, you yield to the right. On a freeway, you yield to the left. On a dirt road, you play chicken. Right now the D’s and R’s are playing chicken.

    And…

    My guess is that the people who aren’t supporting Munger don’t know enough about him. He’s certainly one of the most credible candidates that the LP has run. He’s doing a great job and the LPNC should be very encouraged by his campaign.

  20. I’d put Vietnam equally in Ike’s and JFK’s column…..-Stewart Flood

    Yes! And add to Ike’s column the ‘cold-war’, where you don’t fight to win but ‘cuz it’s…, well ‘cuz it’s… well, jus’ endlessly cool (I guess).

    Ike’s redefining of war: (pat buchanan link)
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/uc/20081007/cm_uc_crpbux/op_337653

  21. I’d disagree….Vietnam started under Ike….
    I’d put Vietnam equally in Ike’s and JFK’s column.
    –Stewart Flood

    Yes! And add the cold-war to Ike’s column, along with redefining war:

    Pat Buchanan (about Ike & War)
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/uc/20081007/cm_uc_crpbux/op_337653

  22. Oops!

    Sorry ’bout da redudundant posts (above). I wasn’t aware of ‘delay moderation’ (several hours) of comments @ LFV.

    Are you folks sensoring?

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