Tag: limited government

Bill Weld Announces 2020 Presidential Run

John Keller | @keller4liberty

Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced today he is running for president against Donald Trump, hoping to secure the Republican nomination.

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Reflections on the Nature of Government

Jack Shields | United States

This week I got to participate in a program run throughout my school district where seniors get to go for a few days and work at a real job they are interested in. My friend and I were lucky enough to spend three days working in the office of the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. I learned a lot of things, but most importantly being there reaffirmed my beliefs that government ought to be limited, local, and that voters need to examine just what is important to them.

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Wait, Who is Bill Weld?

John Keller | United States

William Floyd Weld was born July 31st, 1945 in Smithtown, New York. Growing up, he pursued education fiercely and graduated with a degree in classics from Harvard and a degree in economics from Oxford. Following a full time “career” in education, he turned his attention to the law. His first experience in law was as a consul to the House Judiciary Committee during Watergate. After the committee was dissolved following the impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon, Bill Weld ran to be the Massachusetts Attorney General in 1978. Although losing, Ronald Reagan saw his talent and made him the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

A Man of Law

During his five years as a federal attorney, he launched an ongoing investigation into public corruption, most notably in the administration of Boston Mayor Kevin White. His investigation lead to the arrest of over 20 public officials, all of which plead guilty or were proven guilty in a court of law. The Boston Globe wrote, “[Weld] has been by far the most visible figure in the prosecution of financial institutions.” In his 111 cases as a federal attorney, he won 109 of them.

Due to the surprising success of Bill Weld, Ronald Reagan saw to it that he was promoted within the Justice Department. Weld became responsible for overseeing all federal prosecutions, including the cases handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). He served until 1988 when he, as well as Deputy Attorney General Arnold Burns and four aides, resigned in protest of the misconduct of Attorney General Edwin Meese. Following his resignation, he testified to Congress. Shortly following his testimony on the corruption of the Attorney General, Edwin Meese resigned.

A Republican Governor in a Liberal State

After a short hiatus from politics, Bill Weld announced his bid for the governorship of Massachusetts. Massachusetts was an overwhelmingly liberal state, as highlighted in the 1986 gubernatorial election when the Republican candidate received less than 30% of the vote. Bill Weld, however, was not the typical conservative and ran on a platform of social tolerance and fiscal responsibility – winning both the Republican vote and most moderate Democrats. He was able to win the election by a close margin of 3.25% of the vote.

In his first term, Bill Weld went to work trying to lowering taxes and unemployment. He cut taxes 21 times and brought unemployment in Massachusetts from the highest in the 11 most industrial states to the lowest; even balancing the budget. He began battling corruption in the welfare system by a work-for-welfare system – slashing welfare spending.  His reforms and administration was overwhelmingly popular and when re-election time came in 1994, Bill Weld won re-election with 70.85% of the vote; in a state where only 14% of the electorate was part of the Republican Party. Bill Weld kept his reforms going, and seeing that he had served Massachusetts so well he hoped to bring his reforms to the nation and ran for senate in 1996 against incumbent John Kerry (D).

A Libertarian Leader

Bill Weld went on a hiatus from public life and politics following the turn of the century. As the Republican Party began losing its small-government conservative values of the 20th Century, Bill Weld began losing confidence in the Republican Party. After working on the Romney for President campaign in 2012, he left the Grand Old Party (GOP) and became a Libertarian, aligning with his views of small government in the economy, the lives of the people, and in peace, whether domestic or foreign.

In 2016 he sought the Libertarian nomination for Vice President. At the convention, following Gary Johnson’s renomination for president, having formerly run in 2012, Bill Weld was elected to be the Vice Presidential Nominee; receiving the support of 441 of the 872 delegates. He entered the campaign trail alongside Gary Johnson, the former republican governor of New Mexico, who served while Bill Weld was governor of Massachusetts.

“The dragon that I’m jousting against this year is this frozen monopoly of the two parties that have frozen a lot of people’s thinking in place and they think, ‘I have to be a right-winger,’ or, ‘I have to be a left-winger.’ They’re not thinking, ‘What do I think?’” – Bill Weld, on ReasonTV (2016)

It was largely the campaigning of Bill Weld, with his clarity on issues and clean presentation in interviews, in the divisive election of 2016 that led the Libertarian ticket to poll at 12% – almost getting the ticket into the presidential and vice presidential debates. Bill Weld proved to be a warrior of freedom wielding the Javelin of Justice and Shield of Sacrifice, bringing the Libertarian Party to its greatest year ever. The future for Bill Weld is unknown, but it is known that it is bright, for so few gave so much to such a noble cause.

For his dedication to prosperity while governor, his devotion to justice as a U.S. Attorney General, and his dedication to civil liberties while the libertarian vice-presidential nominee, it is clear that Bill Weld defines what a modern day renaissance man is, and is worthy of tribute for his many accomplishments.


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Christmas Withdrawal From Syria Exposes Trump’s Allies

By Mark West | United States

President Donald Trump gave Washington a Christmas surprise by announcing, via Twitter, that ISIS is defeated and that the United States will begin the withdrawal of approximately 2,000 troops that are stationed in the civil-war-ravaged nation of Syria. Reports and rumors are circulating that an imminent draw down of forces in Afghanistan is also on the President’s agenda. President Trump’s allies have been knocked off their footing by this move towards a demilitarized world.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, who has become a more vocal supporter of the President in recent months, is a leading voice of criticism of Trump’s move labeling it “a stain on the honor of the United States.” Graham also pointed out that he believes the President is ignoring “sound military advice” in his move to withdraw our troops from Syria.

President Trump isn’t taking Graham’s critique lightly, firing back in a tweet that it was “hard to believe that Lindsey Graham would be against saving soldier lives & billions of $$$.”

Many Republicans in Washington and the media were openly critical of Trump’s decision before Defense Secretary James Mattis bombed the capitol with his resignation which appears to be directly impacted by his own dissension from the President’s decision on Syria. The most telling line in Mattis’ resignation letter reveals his reasoning as he says that Trump has, “the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects.”

The next few days and weeks will be full of expert opinions on what to do next on Syria. Senator Graham is already pushing for Congressional hearings to discuss the move. Debates will swirl around how the Kurds will be impacted and how this move empowers Russian dominance in the region.

President Trump’s surprise announcement exposes his allies. We see now the reality of the establishment Republican status quo in DC. Most military spending to support our interventionist international military presence is, in reality, a right-wing, big-government boondoggle. Neocons don’t want their base to see that they have been hoodwinked.

Trump’s allies continue the tired and flawed argument that ISIS will be fighting us in our streets if we aren’t fighting them in the streets of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, Senator Graham shared that same thought in his tweets of criticism against Trump.

This rhetorical fantasy is meant to disguise us from the reality that the party of small, limited government simply isn’t living up to the slogan when it comes to empire-building, international policing activities using our troops. Our national deficit might be $6 trillion dollars less if not for our state of war in the Middle East since 2001.

President Trump is making the right call on the Syrian withdrawal and with the drawdown in Afghanistan. He is exposing his limited government allies’ dark underbellies in a way that will help balance our budget and begin shrinking the national debt. Our invasions abroad have not ended the terrorist threat and may even be one contributing factor in its continuing existence and strength.

Former Congressman Ron Paul tweeted his case that eventually all of our troops will have to come home because the tendency toward empire-building is bankrupting our government. We’ve spent around $3 billion per year in military interventionism that has possibly been as provocative as it has been proactive. How many new terrorists do we create by our interloping interference for every terrorist we kill or capture? We can’t deny the fact that we are indeed in their country, on their land, and in their backyard. We shouldn’t be shocked that the effect we’ve caused is continuing terrorism aimed at our troops and our citizens at home and abroad.

While not a proponent of the “America First” version of “Make America Great Again” that President Trump is pushing, I am in supportive agreement with his call to withdraw our troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Putting America first should mean that it’s time to bring our troops home so that the money spent maintaining their presence abroad can instead be invested in American infrastructure, innovation, and in keeping American troops present for their families here at home.


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The Fallacy of Limited Government and Classical Liberalism

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Since the founding of America, countless individuals have used the doctrine of classical liberalism to define the American way. More often than not, this leans towards ideas such as limited government and a protection of natural rights. After all, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is one of the most well-known phrases in the Declaration of Independence.

Since 1776, politicians have uttered the words as a call to action for the people. After all, the protection of these three critical rights is what sets the United States apart from the rest of the world, right? In the modern day, the usage has shifted slightly: more advocates of limited government use the phrase as a rallying cry, hoping to return to an age of freer markets and freer people. However, everything about the expression is simply a lie. The very idea of a government that naturally limits itself to these basic functions is simply impossible.

Negative Rights vs Positive Rights

First and foremost, what sets limited government and classical liberalism apart from other modes of government is a belief in negative rights. Basically, this means that the people only have protection against other people harming them. The right to life does not mean that a sick person can demand free medicine. Instead, it merely means that someone else cannot kill him against his will.

The same idea follows for liberty and property. An individual may act freely, as long as his actions do not prevent another person from also acting freely. Driving over the speed limit, for example, is an act of liberty. But, as soon as that driver hits another car, he has damaged the other person’s property. If he inflicts injury or death, he also has, of course, taken away that person’s negative right to life and liberty. To summarize, the idea of negative rights suggests that individuals have rights to their lives, liberties, and property, but only insofar as that right does not prevent another from also owning their own lives, liberties, and property. To each his own.

Positive rights, on the other hand, require the use of force against another person to bring about. So, a positive right to life would create an obligation for others to defend the life of an individual. If someone was sick, for example, he would, under a positive protection of life, be entitled to any medicine that may aid or cure him. In terms of property, a person may be entitled to a house, even if it means someone else must buy and build it.

The Classical Liberal Viewpoint

Of course, the classical liberal viewpoint is one that rejects positive rights. A number of practical reasons exist for such a dismissal. In the event of life, for example, let us imagine that same sick patient. A doctor may be able to find a cure if he labors for a thousand hours and abandons all other work. However, this doctor is also a mother. By fulfilling the positive right to her patient’s life, she may not be able to fulfill her duties as a mother. Moreover, she may have multiple patients with different needs, each requiring full attention. She cannot feasibly fulfill her obligation to every person involved, but cannot realistically be at fault. So, the classical liberal argues, there is an obligation to protect rights negatively, but not positively, as such creates unjust duress on the individuals doing the protecting.

The Fallacy of Negative Rights

Clearly, a government cannot adequately or justifiably protect positive rights. In reality, though, the same is true about negative rights, too, especially in a democracy. What breaks the soundness of the argument? Two things: taxation and voting.

On a surface level, a government can claim to only protect negative rights. Specifically, what comes to mind is the minimalist state. As many limited government advocates have outlined, such a government would only control the police, military, and courts. Yet, it appears that this notion cannot come true without taking from others. All of these organizations require the tax dollar, and this, of course, comes from the people, who may or may not have consented to give up a portion of their income. Regardless, the second that the government forces the money from the people, it becomes a positive right. Thus, a limited government cannot truly protect only negative rights: taxation turns this on its head.

A Vote for Change?

In a functioning democracy or republic, many citizens vote, either for laws or representatives. Yet, it is clear that the vote itself is also an example of a positive right. When a citizen votes in an election, he or she is exercising power, albeit small, over the electorate in order to influence political affairs. In other words, they are telling the government to use its force over other people.

Negative rights do not change. They always include, exclusively, the right to life, liberty, and property. So, if a society was to truly protect only these rights, there would be no need for a figurehead. After all, if nothing is to change, why should someone have the power to make changes? If a society ever was to only guard negative rights, any change in policy or executive order must necessarily be a violation of these rights. The only things a government could justifiably do is determine the salaries of its troops and judges, and carry out other business matters.

Theoretically, we could vote on these matters. But, as long as taxation was the end result to obtain them, the majority is still inflicting its will on the minority. If one person does not consent to the collection, then it becomes unjust. Alternatively, the collection of funds could be entirely voluntary, through donations. But, at this point, it is no longer a state, as it is neither coercive nor compulsory.

A Logical Impossibility

Thus, the notions of classical liberalism and limited government appear to be at odds with the principles they claim to safeguard. The logic works in a bit of a circle. In order to protect these rights, the limited government must become no government at all. But, by becoming no government at all, it no longer has the power to safeguard these negative rights.

Therefore, a government cannot both exist and solely protect negative rights. Every action is ultimately some form of force, whether it comes from voting or taxation. Even in the early days of the United States, citizens voted on which figures could use power over others. Eventually, these figures levied higher and higher taxes, increasing the coercion. The world’s great thought experiment has failed, and it is clear that a government cannot exist to guard negative rights. Only through the absence of government can a society exist without widespread force.


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