It used to be that the choice between Republicans and Democrats boiled down to how you preferred your liberty to be destroyed.
Republicans were relatively better on economic liberty than Democrats but were horrible on civil liberties. Democrats were relatively better on civil liberties but horrible on economic liberty.
Democrats were better on foreign policy, while Republicans were horrible in that area.
Democrats were better on the drug war, while Republicans were atrocious.
Both of them have always been bad on trade, sanctions, travel, and immigration.
Libertarians have always been caught in the middle. Which would you prefer: To have your liberty destroyed in one particular area or another one?
Today, those distinctions have pretty much gone out the window. Republicans and Democrats have become equally fierce supporters of the welfare-warfare state. It is impossible to find any Republican who opposes, for example, Social Security, Medicare, and the federal income tax. At the same time, Democrats have become ardent supporters of the destruction of civil liberties, especially given their ardent support for “anti-terrorism” laws and “national-security” laws.
Both Republicans and Democrats continue to be fierce defenders of the war on drugs. In fact, both President Biden’s and Vice-President Harris’s political careers are marked by their eagerness to crack down ever more fiercely on drug users and drug distributors.
On foreign policy, both political parties are now on the same page, ardently supporting the concept of foreign interventionism, through foreign aid (i.e., bribery), coups, invasions, torture, indefinite detention, sanctions, and state-sponsored assassinations. It’s now hard to tell which of the two is the greater inflicter of death, suffering, and destruction among foreigners.
Both Republicans and Democrats are characterized by deep deference to the national-security branch of the federal government — i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. While President Trump surrounded himself with generals, granted the CIA’s request to keep JFK assassination-related records secret, and refused to pardon Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, there is little doubt that Biden is owned, lock, stock, and barrel, by the national-security establishment.
Of course, there is also the massive level of federal spending and debt to fund all this welfarism and warfare. Both political parties are in agreement here as well — the more spending and debt, the better.
Where does this leave libertarians? It leaves us right in the middle, squeezed by a permanent state of compressing tyranny and oppression, which has only been aggravated the Republican-Democrat reaction to the Covid-19 crisis.
One option is to accept our serfdom as a permanent plight and simply devote ourselves to reforming and improving our lives as serfs. That’s certainly the path that some libertarians and libertarian organizations have taken. They stopped making the case for liberty a long time ago and resigned themselves to making the case for reform instead — and simply call it “advancing freedom.”
Notable examples include Social Security “privatization,” “health savings accounts,” school vouchers, regulatory reform, surveillance reform, assassination reform, more prudent foreign interventionism, putting free-market conservatives in charge of regulatory commissions, drug-policy reform, healthcare reform, regulatory reform, pandemic reform, Pentagon reform, CIA reform, NSA reform — reform, reform, reform.
All this reform might improve our lives as serfs, just as slavery reform might have improved the lives of the slaves in the 1800s. But the problem is that it’s not freedom, not even when the reforms are advocated by libertarians who call it “advancing freedom.” Freedom necessarily entails the dismantling, not the reform, of infringements on freedom.
That means that if we libertarians really want a genuinely free society, then we have to continue making the case to others for a genuinely free society. That’s obviously a much more difficult task than making the case for reforming serfdom.
For 30 years, FFF has been doing precisely that — making the principled case for liberty. We shall continue to do so, not only this year but in every year of the Biden administration and beyond, until we reach our goal of a free society. We aim to continue seeking the critical mass of people who understand what freedom is and are as passionate about attaining it as we are.
Being increasingly squeezed by Republican and Democrat tyranny and oppression is not a comfortable plight to be in. But no trend is inevitable. Once a sufficiently large number of people begin realizing that the crises, chaos, and dysfunction that pervade our society are owing to the welfare-warfare state system that Democrats and Republicans have brought into existence, there is a very real possibility that enough of them will reject the increasing tyranny and oppression and instead join up with us libertarians to restore a system based on free-markets, private property, voluntary charity, and a limited-government republic. That’s the way to a healthy, peaceful, prosperous, harmonious, and free society.