Are libertarians Republicans? Some think not
by Roger Hines
March 24, 2013 12:00 AM | 1081 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb County GOP Chairman Joe Dendy wasn’t ambiguous in a Marietta Daily Journal article March 12. He stated unequivocally that libertarians want control of the county party.

A businessman and former Vietnam War Army captain, Dendy is a lifelong Republican. He contends that state Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Marietta) and Oleg Ivutin, who received 102 votes for chairman at the recent county convention, are not Republicans. According to the article, he also claims that Gregory, Ivutin and other Ron Paul supporters have infiltrated the party because they cannot achieve success through the Libertarian party.

These claims deserve consideration. They also raise legitimate questions that could provide context for the dispute. For instance, what are the differences between Republicans and libertarians? Why are so many youths and young adults drawn to the libertarian view? Why don’t Gregory, Ivutin and Ron Paul jump squarely into the Libertarian Party rather than straddling two parties?

Responding to Dendy’s claims, Rep. Gregory wrote in the MDJ on Thursday, March 14 that “the near entirety” of Ivutin’s supporters have never been affiliated with the Libertarian party. Gregory never said that he and Ivutin’s other supporters weren’t libertarians. Most people who vote Republican and Democrat don’t actually identify with those two parties either, except when they enter the voting booth, so with that remark Gregory was a bit crafty.

All political parties have a philosophical foundation. Republicans have always championed Jefferson’s love of personal liberty; Democrats have always leaned toward Alexander Hamilton’s views of a strong central government. But where on this spectrum do libertarians stand? What or who is their philosophical foundation? Whom do they read and quote?

Her name is Ayn Rand, guru of America’s growing number of 20-something and 30-something libertarians. Unlike most anti-statists, Rand was an atheist and a vicious one at that. To her, reason was the only absolute. Born in 1905 in Czarist Russia to a middle class Jewish family, Rand was 12 when the Bolsheviks took over her native city, St. Petersburg, forcing her family to leave.

From this experience, which brought her family poverty and hunger, Rand developed a hatred for Russian tyranny and for authority in general. In 1926 she immigrated to America and became a writer. Universities normally disregard her books, but this hasn’t kept teens and young adults from discovering her bestsellers, “The Fountainhead” (1943), “Atlas Shrugged” (1957), and “The Virtue of Selfishness” (1962). As all of her books illustrate, Rand’s credo, in her own words, was “fanatical individualism.”

Resisting the tag “Libertarian,” but embracing its tenets, Rand promoted what she called “rational selfishness.” Some of her most famous disciples are former Federal Reserve System Chairman Alan Greenspan, Fox Network’s John Stoessel and Ron Paul.

With Rand’s prolific writings and the youthful excitement she generates, why haven’t libertarians been able to build a viable party? This question is relevant to Dendy’s argument. In the 3/12 article, Dendy referred to “the mentality of this generation,” and to “the young guys” who have come into the party. Since two of his county officers are very young men, and since every county party committee contains very young adults, the chairman could not have been arguing against the inclusion of young people per se, but against young people who don’t hold Republican views.

Most likely, Libertarianism appeals to youth because of its Rand-like, libertine views on pot (legalize it), abortion (ignore it), marriage (make no laws whatsoever concerning it) or national defense (ignore Iran). Not exactly Republican positions.

At the recent GOP convention, I was pleased to meet Gregory and Ivutin. I expressed to Ivutin my admiration for his personal victory over Soviet tyranny, and his entrepreneurial success in America. His achievements notwithstanding, his characterization to me of Chairman Dendy as an exclusionist was false.

Republicans desire and must have young people, but Republican young people, not Democrats, Greens or libertarians either, if what they are after is an existing structure they can’t build themselves.

Dendy would be on solid ground to argue that before one runs for leadership, he should stack some chairs, make phone calls for candidates, help serve some barbeque and not just show up at the county convention to challenge those who have been doing all the grunt work. Oh yeah, it’s nice if those seeking to lead a party would support that party’s nominee for president.

Socialists generally attach themselves to the Democratic Party, and oh, have they influenced it lately! Since Republicanism has a libertarian strain, libertarians see an opportunity for attachment also.

I say, “Come one and all to the party, but don’t bring stuff that people at the party don’t eat, don’t tell the host that you intend to take over his house, and don’t ask for leadership you haven’t earned.”

Roger Hines of Kennesaw is a retired high school teacher and former state legislator.

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