Rand Paul, without a doubt the most Libertarian-leaning member of the Senate, came out yesterday in support of President Trump’s press conference with President Putin of Russia.
It’s getting Paul a lot of attention from the media. But I wonder if Libertarians will take this opportunity to support what he is saying and show how a Libertarian view of foreign policy looks so much different from what the two main parties (the “duopoly”) offer.
If you take a look at what this whole “Russia tried to impact the election” story there are a lot of issues relevant to Libertarian politics.
First, critics of what the President did clearly are emphasizing image over substance.
They yell that they wanted the President to “stand up to Putin”. But what was he going to say that actually MEANT something?
“We think that you tried to influence our election and you need to stop doing that”? And what was that going to accomplish? Putin responding “You’re right. We did. We did not know you would ever catch us. We are sorry and we will never do that again”?
That was never going to happen. It seems best to just assume that the Russians are never going to admit it (if they did anything) and move on. Watch to keep it from happening (along with other steps people try to take in order to unfairly impact elections) and move on. Try to address the relationship between our two countries and keep communication open. That is the best way to keep anything that another country does from impacting what goes on here.
Second, the whole thing really stinks of a “war mentality”.
There has been more than one politician who calls trying to impact our election “an act of war”. Once again, war is seen as the only answer. At least Paul is trying to make the case for some alternative to thinking everything we don’t like that a country does has to end in war.
Third, critics emphasize that every President has to agree with what people in the intelligence community does.
Presidents do not appoint everyone in the intelligence community and do not necessarily agree with everything they do. This can be particularly important for a Libertarian because, if one gets elected, what are they supposed to do about the large-scale data mining efforts or telephone surveillance programs? Just use the information even though they disagree fully with how the information was collected? Assuming that a President will agree with everything the intelligence community does sets a dangerous precedent for politicians who emphasize freedom above all else.
Fourth, it takes away from personal responsibility.
This was all about fake Facebook posts that never looked like anything anyone was supposed to believe. Where is any sort of emphasis on voters taking responsibility for not believing clearly fake stuff they read online?
And, finally, it strengthens the view that “the duopoly” is all that matters.
Remember, none of the posts that Russians put online (whether it was their government or not) had anything to do with Gary Johnson. If it was so effective then why were voters not turning to him if the posts turned them against Hillary so strongly?
Libertarians need to take advantage of opportunities like this to make clear where the differences are with the other two parties. Let’s hope we see some of this from politicians other than Rand Paul