Laurence Vance, a columnist who posts at LewRockwell.com, has a new piece up in which he provides a not-so-thoughtful analysis regarding his views about the Republican Party in general and the Republican Liberty Caucus in specific. This is his second write-up about the RLC this month. I’m pleased that we’ve caught his attention.
Mr. Vance received a postcard from the Florida chapter of the RLC inviting him to attend the recent Florida RLC Convention in Kissimmee.
Vance’s first criticism is that the RLC postcard he received said that Republicans “won big on libertarian themes”. I am not involved in the Florida RLC chapter and therefore did not pen that language (and I would have chosen alternative language), but winning in politics can take a variety of forms. Perhaps the Florida RLC was talking about candidates running campaigns on libertarian themes — as new RLC-endorsed State Rep. Glen Bradley of North Carolina did. His campaign theme was “Restore the Constitutional Order” and he featured the RLC logo at his campaign hub. Mr. Bradley was just one of many newly elected RLC-endorsed state legislators.
Or perhaps the author of the postcard was talking about ballot initiatives with libertarian themes, such as the anti-Obamacare measures passed in states like Arizona and Oklahoma and the medical marijuana initiative passed in Arizona. Still, there are other measures of successful libertarian themes in the Republican Party, such as the push for state sovereignty by elected Republican legislators, the anti-TSA resolution championed by Republican legislators in New Jersey, the legislation to decriminalize pot possession sponsored by a Republican legislator in Virginia, and the “Health Care Freedom” bills that many states are pursuing with Republicans taking the lead.
Some of this legislation has been successful, some will be in the future, and other items will fail. The legislation that fails will do so because there aren’t enough liberty-loving Americans serving in public office — which the RLC is working to change through retail politics.
In referencing the “liberty wing of the Republican Party,” which was mentioned in the Florida RLC postcard, Mr. Vance claims that the liberty wing has only one member: his hero, Ron Paul.
Mr. Vance likes one politician, but no others.
I’ve noticed that trend in the Mises economic circles. All politicians and both political parties are evil, the story goes, with one exception — Ron Paul.
What makes Ron Paul different?
He was elected — that’s what separates him from the rest of the crowd.
To be elected, he had to participate in the political process, something Mr. Vance says he explicitly opposes.
In my e-mail response to Mr. Vance’s original blog entry from January 3, in which he initially made the claim that the “liberty wing of the GOP” was made up of one person, I cited examples of other elected officials who make up the liberty wing of the Republican Party:
From: Laurence M. Vance
Sent: Tue, Jan 4, 2011 2:35 pm
Subject: Re: Your post about the Republican Liberty Caucus
who are the current and former elected officials?
Subject: Re: Your post about the Republican Liberty Caucus
Date: 1/4/2011 2:41:17 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Governor Gary Johnson
Congressman Justin Amash from Michigan
City Councilman from New York City (Dan Halloran)
County Commissioner from Maryland (Cindy Jones)
State Representatives from Maine, Maryland, Ohio, Wisconsin
The elected officials I mentioned in the e-mail to Mr. Vance are just some of the decent liberty-loving folks who will be attending the upcoming RLC National Convention. The list excludes a plethora of legislators who were just elected in November and who have been serving as loyal libertarian Republicans for many years, such as State Senator Sam Slom of Hawai’i and State Senator Bob Hedlund of Massachusetts.
Mr. Vance chose to ignore the information I provided to continue his hero-worship instead.
I admire Congressman Ron Paul just as Mr. Vance does. What freedom-loving American doesn’t?
But there is a point where hero-worship becomes counter-productive, and Mr. Vance illustrates the point quite well:
He opposes participation in electoral politics and instead believes that writing for LewRockwell.com is going to change the direction of our country.
If Congressman Ron Paul is as wonderful as Mr. Vance says he is (and I believe he is), then why aren’t we all working to find more principled people to run for office and win?
Well, some of us are. Others would instead prefer to get paid to write articles.
Laurence Vance needs to work on his persuasion skills.
I’m a longtime libertarian, and his efforts have only dissuaded me from wanting to associate with the purity club that is LewRockwell.com and the Mises Institute.
Mr. Vance expresses that he has treated the RLC fairly. He then falsely claims that the Florida RLC endorsed Ron Paul for President in 2008 (not true) and goes on to say that the Florida RLC website is out of date (also not true). He commends the “hardcore” members of the Florida RLC who have written to him in the past (presumably, these members met his litmus test) and then goes on to criticize their choice of State Senator Mike Haridopolos as a speaker at the recent Florida RLC Convention (who did not meet his litmus test).
Unlike the intellectual elitists (and racists and homophobes) who write for LewRockwell.com — sitting in their comfy computer chairs criticizing the masses who do not agree with every tenet of their ideological platform — the Republican Liberty Caucus is working to change the makeup of the Republican Party. So it’s a friendlier place for liberty advocates. So the policies in our country can change dramatically for the better. And to engage folks who may not agree with every libertarian idea but are open to the prospect of learning more about libertarian principles.
Whoever added Mr. Vance to the mailing list of the Florida RLC chapter would be well advised to remove him. Vance neither understands (nor cares to understand,) nor agrees with the mission of the organization — and the RLC Statement of Principles doesn’t jibe with his rigid purity test.
Readers interested in hearing a substantive response to Vance’s claims about the Republican Party should register to attend the 2011 RLC National Convention on February 12 in Arlington, Virginia. Professor Randy Barnett will give a speech entitled “Rediscovering the Libertarian Roots of the Republican Party.” At the same time, we’ll be celebrating 20 years of the Republican Liberty Caucus.
Anyone can run for office, including those of us who have deeply-held libertarian convictions. The idea that the liberty wing of the Republican Party is made up of one elected official — a lie stated and repeated by Laurence Vance — should be expunged from our discourse.
And the politics of hero-worship should be purged from the libertarian movement so that we can recruit, support, and elect libertarian-minded citizen leaders who are in the same mold as Ron Paul.
After all, it was Congressman Paul himself who said, “We must redouble our efforts to educate our fellow citizens, recruit and support liberty candidates, and marshal our resources for the battle ahead.”