Tag: Abortion

Grading President Trump’s Libertarianism: Personal Liberty

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address marks the midway point of his first term. This is the first of four articles to analyze his policies and how well they relate to the Libertarian Party’s platform and libertarianism in general.

The four points to be analyzed are:

  • Personal Liberty
  • Economic Liberty
  • Securing Liberty
  • Overall Liberty

The Presidents policies will be analyzed with regards to how well I believe they correlate with the LP’s platform.

Self-Ownership, Expression and Communication, Privacy

President Trump’s appointment of two anti-marijuana legalizations Attorney Generals (Jeff Sessions, William Barr) and his expansion of the Drug War, most especially concerning opioids and the wall, are attacks on self-ownership. When it comes to substance use, he favors an authoritarian approach to substance use.

Self-Ownership Grade: D

His attacks on NFL players for kneeling to highlight the need for criminal justice reform, as well as to support immigrants from Muslim-dominant countries, are violations of freedom of self-expression. At the same time, he created a special class of citizens for law enforcement officers and public employees in which crimes against them would be legally treated as hate crime. However, he has not taken much legal action to stifle expression which means the government is not growing in this area.

Expression and Communication Grade: C

President Trump hasn’t ended the NSA/DHS spying on American citizens, despite complaining about being bugged by President Obama. Our President has demonized Edward Snowden but praised Wikileaks. Basically, he only supports whistleblowers when it helps him. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court despite his anti-Fourth Amendment writings. Many credit Kavanaugh’s legal writings for building justification for the surveillance state.

Privacy Grade: D

Personal Relationships, Abortion, and Parental Rights

President Trump has not made an issue out of defining marriage. If he continues the hands-off approach on government involvement in marriage, that would aid his score. Removing government from personal relationships is the preference. However, he has been antagonistic toward transgender persons regarding bathroom usage and has banned them from military service. I see this as the all too familiar republican story of only being for small government when personal beliefs coincide.

Personal Relationships: C

Early in his administration, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy, which keeps Federal funding from being used to pay for international abortions. Later, he authorized State governments to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Both moves reduced the amount of State involvement in the abortion issue. However, he does advocate for legislation to ban various forms of abortion, which re-engages the State on the issue. Many are concerned that he has stacked the Supreme Court with Justices who will overturn legal precedent on the issue.

Abortion Grade: C

President Trump appointed Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, signaling a commitment to end Federal involvement in our education. In this capacity, DeVos has worked to eliminate Federal involvement while promoting private and home-schooling options. Additionally, our President signed an Executive Order aimed at curtailing the amount of Federal involvement allowed in education.

Education Grade: A

Crime and Justice, Death Penalty, Self-Defense

The First Step Act is a great opening salvo at a larger and more comprehensive criminal justice reform. Trump has talked about going further on this issue. Yet, his expansion of the Drug War that criminalizes victim-less crimes and his State-centered approach on sex-trafficking contradicts a libertarian stance on crime and justice.

Crime and Justice Grade: B

President Trump is in favor of the administration of the death penalty by the State.

Death Penalty Grade: F

Our President portrays himself a champion of gun ownership rights. He has opposed various attempts at gun control on the Federal level. However, he banned bump stocks and advocates for enhanced background checks.  He also supports red flag laws. He has also expressed support for Senator Feinstein to pass Assault Weapon Bans. In terms of immigration, private property owners deserve the right to enforce their property boundaries, even on our international border with Mexico, however they see fit. Immigration reform should address that reality.

Self-Defense Grade: B

Rating Trump on personal liberty, I give him a C (2.0). He could really harm his score if he continues promoting State-centered solutions at the expense of individual rights. I am truly rooting for him to improve that score.

Stay tuned for the next article in which I will grade Trump’s policies on Economic Liberty.


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Governor Ralph Northam Has a Disposition for Destruction

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

On Wednesday, the abortion debate took a spin in a new direction. After talks of overturning Roe v. Wade, this new proposal made every pro-lifer’s head spin. In case you missed it, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam recently voiced support for a bill that would allow women to receive abortions up to the moment before birth. Ultimately, the bill failed.

What’s the catch? Well, the moment before birth, abortion is not remotely possible, as the mother is already dilating. So, Northam proposed a purely terrible solution: birth the babies and kill them after. Specifically, he stated the following:

“So in this particular example if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen, the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

If this wasn’t clear already, the “discussion” at hand pertains to whether or not to kill a live, birthed, innocent child.

I happen to fall on the side that believes a fetus is a human being from conception. The fetus, with genetically unique DNA, meets the biological requirements of life. I also believe that, given the fact that a fetus can feel pain early on, it checks an additional, philosophical box. But the semantics of when exactly life begins during pregnancy is relatively unimportant for this discussion. Similarly, the legal positions of pro-life and pro-choice matter little. I happen not to really agree with either, but the discussion at hand is one of morals. This bill shows a clear lack of them.

Ralph Northam, Father of Jonas?

Regardless of one’s beliefs about the fetus, we can all agree on one thing; once a mother gives birth to a baby, that child is very much alive. Suddenly, all of these questions go out the window, and we can recognize the sanctity of life. After all, who didn’t grow up reading The Giver? The antagonistic society is guilty of heartlessly killing babies after birth for not being desirable. Though without bad intentions, we can recognize that these actions were morally wrong. The novel was supposed to serve as a warning, not an instruction manual.

However, it appears that Ralph Northam and other legislators supporting this action missed the message. When a child is alive, there is no place, no room for discussion of killing it. You can slap a nice label on it, wrap it in a bow, and give a grand smile. But no masking job can hide the nature of murder. This is no longer a discussion of abortion: it’s a matter of infanticide.

Intent vs Result

Of course, I am in no way suggesting that Ralph Northam is a proud supporter of murder. In fact, he claimed quite the opposite on Twitter recently.

But the Virginia governor is missing the key difference between intent and result. Though the intent of an action is important, it certainly does not excuse a predictably poor result. In this case, the results are the loss of a child’s life. When this is a guaranteed future, can any intention truly justify such an act? I am inclined to believe that this is not the case, that life is sacred beyond all else.

In the face of these ideas, what can the average person do to safeguard lives? Most importantly, the answer lies in spreading awareness and knowledge in a peaceful, comforting way. The matter at hand really shouldn’t be all that controversial; thus, it should be a simple task to show others the consequences. Regardless of your beliefs on abortion, it is time to unite around common respect and love for infants. In doing so, renounce post-birth terminations for the heartless ending of a human life that they are.


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Libertarian Ideals: Unintentional Self-Destruction

Mark West | United States

All Libertarian Party candidates have experienced this at one point or another. Laying an enormous weight on every chance post and idle utterance, this grueling beast can eviscerate a campaign in a matter of moments. Yet, battling for balance with this monstrosity wearies every candidate and stalls campaigns in the malicious mire of friendly fire.

“You’re not libertarian enough!” “A real libertarian doesn’t…” “You’re not pure at all!”

Usually, purists more interested in spreading ideas than helping candidates win sing this raucous refrain. At the same time, those who magnify the importance of winning an election over spreading pure ideals would attack from the other side saying:

“You can’t win elections with purist libertarian ideals!”

Unfortunately, neither statement actually helps candidates. Yet, both statements serve the self-destructive purpose of deflating campaigns and diminishing returns.

At the heart of these conversations is the growing divide on the purpose for the existence of the Libertarian Party. Do we exist to spread libertarian ideals or to win elections? The implication seems to be that we can’t do both.

My Painful Experiences Spreading Libertarian Ideals

Admittedly, our candidates struggle to express the nuances of policies aimed at transforming government. How can we best explain our plans to transition governance from authoritarian structures into libertarian ones? On this note, I’m interested in seeing the process that Adam Kokesh promises is going to become clear in his upcoming book. Aptly named “American Freedom”, this book is going to detail Kokesh’ process for the dissolution of the Federal Government.

I’ve run two campaigns for office as a Libertarian. In 2016, I was the Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. House District 1 in Arkansas. I received 23.7% of the vote (57,181 votes) in a two-way race. In 2018, I was the Libertarian Party candidate for Arkansas Governor. I received 2.9% of the vote (25,885 votes) which was 0.1% shy of securing ballot access for 2020. I missed it by 860 votes!

As different as the two races were from a policy standpoint, one similarity was striking. In both, I felt like Thanos trying to balance his knife as an allegory for balancing the universe. My biggest struggle was balancing the libertarian ideal in proposals dealing with authoritarian structures and problems.

If my solutions leaned too far libertarian, I was suddenly a purist whose ideas wouldn’t win elections. But if my solutions leaned too far authoritarian, fellow party members told me I wasn’t libertarian enough and that I wouldn’t get support or votes. Both sides treated me as an enemy to the libertarian ideal.

Death by a Thousand Distractions

I found it rewarding to take the opportunity for publicly sharing libertarian-leaning solutions through my campaigns. In reality, my audiences had been force-fed authoritarianism, which left many shocked and confused. They struggled to grasp a candidate offering solutions that didn’t include government interference or intervention. When I needed time and opportunity to engage and explain, other libertarians dragged me into battles over philosophy.

Essentially, a thousand distractions cursed my campaigns to death. I’m still emotionally spent. I’ve lost the desire to run for office and am deliberately avoiding the ballot in 2020. Why?

In one example, I received the most visceral responses from my party brethren when I proclaimed myself pro-life. I believe libertarians desperately need a salient solution on this issue. Caryn Ann Harlos’ column about the issue serves such a purpose for my own philosophy.

In Arkansas, the Libertarian Party platform on abortion is a death sentence for libertarian candidates. I would have been better served with more time to explain the nuances of the issue with non-libertarians. But instead, I had to play defense against other libertarians calling me fake and unworthy.

I am a libertarian because of the influence of Rodger Paxton, host of The Lava Flow and owner of Pax Libertas Productions. My political philosophy almost mirrors his and I have been a member of the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus. Therefore, others labeling me a fake for suggesting transitional proposals to authoritarian problems was disheartening. My proposals always maintain an eye to a more voluntaryist society, even if it comes in stages.

No Good Answers

Of course, I don’t claim to know the right answer in this debate. So, I will not push one. However, I do want to use the insight from my campaign experiences to end our self-destructive habits.

So, when you see a libertarian candidate, give them the benefit of the doubt. Unless the candidate is blatantly non-libertarian and violating the Statement of Principles and Platform on issue after issue, give them a break. After all, they sure need one.

Can we ask candidates to be honest about stances that diverge from our Platform and Statement of Principles? Should we let our convention decisions be the last word on nominations so that only rallying and support follows the candidates afterward?

I’m not certain we really have good answers for those questions. But, I am certain that our candidates deserve better than our most self-destructive habits. After, they are willingly fighting for our place on the political stage on the local, state, and national levels.


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Abortion: Keeping the Status Quo

By Benjamin Olsen | United States

Abortion is a topic that many feel a male, including myself, should have no business talking about. However, I think good debate requires anyone and everyone to share their opinions in order to form a more perfect perspective. A disagreement witnessed in the Libertarian Party and beyond is whether or not abortion should be regulated by the U.S. government or if it should be legalized and left as such. The leading argument for the legalization side is “the best government is the government that governs least” and the argument that, like with the war on drugs, there will still be ways to get the service. The argument on the other side, that to protect “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” we must protect all life, even if that means Government intervention.

Legalised abortion is, safe to say, where you will find the majority of libertarians. The case for such a stance is simple and could be summed up in as few as 6 words. “It is not the government’s job.” It is not the government’s job whether at the state or federal level to dictate to its citizens how they should treat their bodies. However, the other side of the argument takes issue with this, because they abide by the NAP. The NAP is a principle discussed by many libertarian scholars. It means that one should not seek to forcibly interfere with another’s life or property. Hence, strict followers of the NAP would see abortion as a violation, ending a life.

From a purely scientific perspective, there are several theories on when life begins. Leading theories include at conception, when there is a heartbeat, or at viability. When we look at the each of these arguments, all we will find is more disagreement. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that science has not found conclusively when an abortion crosses the line from procedure to murder. With reason to doubt that only one life is involved, should we allow the Federal Government to legalize murder for all? Or should we stick to what has already been decided, such as the limitations set forth in Roe v. Wade? However, if we take abortion as murder, then a violation of the NAP has been committed. If the NAP has been violated then a crime has been committed and it is the government’s duty to provide Justice through our court system.

The government’s job is not to govern us but to rather provide protection from violations against our life, liberty, and property and as such the government should regulate abortion to protect not only the lives of the unborn but the lives of mothers. The problem with imprisoning every woman who has an abortion is that we would have several women in jail that had no choice left to them except abortion. Abortion, with limitations, is the ultimate solution. A solution that has been outlined in Roe v. Wade, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Ultimately the Abortion laws that are currently on the books in many states are what should be sought after.

The answer is not more laws or fewer laws, but to leave the topic alone. This is an issue that is being handled by the states and that is how it should be left. It is not up to the Federal Government to rule from afar the daily aspects of life, rather do as the 10th Amendment prescribes and leave the governing to the states. The unborn are protected by laws that require parental consent if the mother is a minor or require ultrasounds. The mother’s rights are protected by giving her the ability to carry on with an abortion if she so chooses and if it does not infringe on the rights of the unborn. The states should do as little as possible, while also preserving the rights of the mother and the unborn.


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Rand Paul is in a Bind

By Glenn Verasco | @GlennVerasco

It’s the rainy season in Thailand, which means commuters like me are primed to get wet on our way to and from work. To me, the worst thing about this is constantly having rain-soaked shoes. There are few worse ways to start your day than feeling yesterday’s rainwater seep through a fresh pair of socks as you place your feet in shoes that have not had time to dry.

As bad as monsoon shoes are, I’d take them over Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s shoes any day of the week.

President Trump has recently nominated Brett Kavanaugh from the United States Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Unlike Justice Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh’s brand of constitutional originalism does not show much respect for the 4th Amendment. For those who do not know, the 4th Amendment intends to protect Americans against unwarranted searches and seizures. Without this amendment, police and other law enforcement officials may not be legally barred from rummaging through or confiscating our property, private documents, or even our bodies without just cause.

If you want to know more about Kavanaugh’s unfortunate history with the 4th Amendment, you can listen to Judge Andrew Napolitano, maybe the most pro-liberty judge in American history, discuss it with Tom Woods here.

Rand Paul, a 4A diehard and the 50th of the GOP’s 50-49 senator majority (John McCain, who is currently unable to vote for health reasons, would make 51) finds himself in an extremely tough situation as his vote may ultimately determine whether or not Kavanaugh is confirmed. The following are what I consider to be the most probable potential outcomes depending on the choice Rand makes.

The Sellout Scenario

If Rand Paul votes in favor of Kavanaugh, he will almost certainly become a SCOTUS justice, which could put all of our 4th Amendment rights on the line for decades to come. In the process, Rand would lose plenty of pro-Constitution credibilities. The Liberty movement would pile on with accusations that Rand Paul lacks the gumption his father Ron Paul possessed, and is just a slightly better version of the swamp creatures lurking throughout Washington.

From a political standpoint, Rand would likely secure his position in the Senate if he decides to run for reelection in 2022. I imagine that the typical Republican voter is far more concerned with making sure a Liberal justice does not take the place of Anthony Kennedy than he is with the technicalities of what the 4th Amendment entails, which means Rand’s seat in the Senate, unlike his credibility, would likely be safe.

In the long run, keeping Rand’s vote in the Senate for years to come could serve as more valuable than having a perfect originalist justice on the bench as Gorsuch and the four liberal justices (a majority) seem to be on Rand’s side when it comes to 4A. In other words, Kavanaugh’s impact on the 4th Amendment may be minimal anyway.

The Swamp Scenario

If Rand votes against Kavanaugh, he may still be confirmed via red state Democrats. At least three or four senators up for reelection in November are Democrats in Trump country. These senators are often forced to part ways with their party in order to maintain their positions in Congress. Due to their sticky situation, Rand’s decision may not ultimately matter in the confirmation process.

Voting against Kavanaugh would preserve Rand’s pro-Constitution credibility, and would likely have little effect on his reelection prospects as his choice to stand is ground would cost Trump and establishment Republicans nothing.

The Hero Scenario

If Rand votes against Kavanaugh, he may not be confirmed. However, this could work out beautifully for Rand in the end.

By blocking Kavanaugh’s nomination, Rand would help preserve the 4th Amendment (at least temporarily) and bolster his Libertarian credentials. And although he would defy Trump and rain on Republicans’ parade in the short run, sunnier skies could be on the horizon.

If the GOP retains control of the Senate after this year’s midterms (and they are expected to do so), Trump will be given another chance to nominate a more pro-4A justice. If Trump’s next choice winds up being more Gorsuchian, Rand will have taken a massive political risk and won big for the country as well as himself.

The Scapegoat Scenario

If Rand votes against Kavanaugh, he is not confirmed, and the GOP loses the Senate, Trump may not get another chance to nominate a SCOTUS justice as president. If a Democrat beats Trump in 2020, and Democrats retain control of the Senate, you can bet that a “living document” justice will be placed on the SCOTUS bench, probably resulting in a liberal majority for years to come.

Under these conditions, Rand may succeed in preserving the 4th Amendment. Conversely, the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 9th, 10th, and many other rights guaranteed by the Constitution could fall by the wayside.

Rand would have committed political suicide in the process, and a future reelection bid could result in comical defeat.

Let’s hope for the best.


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