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arcoarena's avatar

Why would a libertarian would perfer a republican president over a democratic one? Also why do people refer to Obama as a Socialist?

Asked by arcoarena (692points) October 30th, 2008

Last night while waiting for my friends to pay their tab at the bar I met this guy and we started talking about politics. He told me he was a Libertarian and voting for Bob Bar.

I explained to him that I appreciate Bob Barr and that I think that Nader, Barr, Ron Paul all would make great presidents but I was voting for Obama. He became extremely upset by this.

I started by giving him the standard lesser of two evils argument and he gave me some reasons why he believed them to be failed and that he thinks that Republicans are more like Libertarians than Democrats.

Now I was drunk and asked him to explain to me at least 3 times why Republicans are more like Libertarians than Democrats and why and the only answer he could give me (that i remember) is that Democrats take away rights from people and that voting Democratic is saying that I want as much government intervention as possible such as censorship and that Obama is basically a Socialist and a Communist. And let me just say this guy was getting heated and twice he actually pushed me but luckily I am a very laid back guy and just laughed and told him to back off.

But I still don’t understand this argument. Any Libertarian insight would be great?

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13 Answers

asmonet's avatar

Libertarians love small governments, and that’s kind of what Republicans are supposed to be good at. Supposed to be.

My old roommate works for Bureau Crash….she could talk for hours. In theory, I used to kind of dig it, but I don’t think it’s very socially responsible in practice.

augustlan's avatar

My husband, who is a registered Republican, is really a Libertarian. He has voted Republican for 30 years because he has always seen them as “lower taxes, smaller government” which is closer to Libertarian, than a “higher taxes, bigger government” party – traditionally thought of as Democrats. I had a huge task of it, but I eventually made him see that his view of Repubs & Dems was outdated and just plain incorrect. He is voting for Obama. Yay!

jvgr's avatar

Those who believe Obama is a socialist are correct if they include T. Roosevelt, and R. Regan in the group.

susanc's avatar

The U.S. government has always included elements of socialism, but they increased
with the New Deal, which pulled the country out of the previous really serious financial
crisis in 1930. Because McCain doesn’t have much else to offer, he’s now offering the
misinformation that Obama “is a Socialist”, which is he not, “proving this point” by noting that Obama voted for the bailout, as did McCain by the way, which has nationalized the banking system. All the other senators voted for it too.

LostInParadise's avatar

Our current Republican president is overseeing a massive governmental intervention in the economy to try to turn things around. So much for Republican libertarianism. Apparently it is okay to give money to the rich, but if you give money to those who need it most then you are a socialist.

jrpowell's avatar

Take a look at past tax rates.

What the rich pay now is nothing compared to what they paid in 1944. This socialism claim is fear mongering and bullshit. The government has always adjusted tax rates to achieve different goals.

laureth's avatar

Generally, Republicans want to control what I do with my body, and Democrats want to control what I do with my money. I’m guessing that the Libertarians who lean Republican don’t necessarily see the control of my body as as big of an issue as long as government leaves my money alone.

Some people call Obama a Socialist because he favors a more progressive income tax level – charging the poor folks less of a percentage than the rich people pay, so they can have more of their own money left to meet their basic needs – and view this as “redistribution of wealth” and somehow less morally sound than when free-market Capitalists call for a defacto redistribution of wealth from the poor up to the wealthy, or when regressive taxes give that redistribution the force of law.

laureth's avatar

@johnpowell, 1944 is a cherry-picked year during WWII when everybody was gung-ho about sacrificing and winning a war against evil. You may as well say that people don’t garden like they did in ‘44 either, but that would be because people aren’t being asked to do so to save food for our troops in Iraq. (Maybe they should.)

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@laureth, I read somewhere that the tax rate proposed under Obama is pretty much the same rate as during the Reagan years.

I would have to say, in answer to the question, that “dog eat dog” and “go-it-alone individualism” tend to define Republicans, whereas “common good” defines Democrats. It boils down to whether you believe a society is as strong as it’s weakest citizen (common good), or government should be community based. Hence, the appearance of being “socialist.”

Republicans say “socialist” as if it’s a bad word. It is interesting that “socialist” countries blow doors off the US in terms of education and health care.

tonedef's avatar

@Alfreda: that’s an image that the Republican party would like to present, but really, how “alone” are you “going it” if they want to dictate what medical procedures you’re allowed to have, who you’re allowed to marry, who is allowed to adopt, when you’re allowed to drink, what you’re not allowed to learn… and then wiretap you while you, for shits.

The people who still think of the Republican party as the one that promotes small government and individual freedoms are entirely deluded. Republicans have discovered that it’s easier to demonize minority groups and combat civil rights to rally their base. Just like the Klan did. And—and I’m saying this with full consideration of what it entails—just like the German government did in the thirties.

dalepetrie's avatar

arcoarena – I remember I was a little surprised about that the first time I heard it too. I had taken some quizzes which pegged me as somewhat of a Libertarian, but I identify with Democrats on Social and economic issues. Then I learned that Libertarianism is really a lot closer to Republican ideology than to Democratic ideology. I guess I would consider myself to be a liberal, not necessarily a Democrat, and that kind of blew my mind.

But I saw how it really fit, because essentially, I have always felt like the government should stay out of my personal business…I don’t like laws against say gay marriage, foul language, pornography…what you choose to partake in is your business as far as I’m concerned…and that is kind of the Libertarian ideology. But it’s all in how you look at it.

I took a little work in the fall of ‘92 as a telephone pollster during that year’s Presidential race. And I had to ask people what their most important issue was before I asked them who they were voting for. I remember, one lady I spoke with told me her most important issue was personal freedom, she talked about how she didn’t want government taking away her personal freedoms. That was not one of my choices, so it fell under other, but I felt it to be a great answer…that too was a big issue to me, having lived through a period where the Republicans seemed to have nothing better to do than to try to get Married…With Children cancelled, get Playboys out of the 7–11s and make sure no one could burn a flag. Then I asked who she’d vote for, and she said Bush. It didn’t compute.

But as I got older and savvier, I realized that a lot of Republicans who lean Libertarian really are of the mindset that government should get out of our business economicially speaking…the government should pretty much exist to provide us with national defense, and everything else should go down to the state level, where “community standards” would prevail. And as it happens, a lot of times “community standards” run very far to the religious right when it comes to social issues (particulary what you do in your bedroom or with your reproductive system).

It’s kind of like saying, “stay out of MY business, but make sure THEY aren’t doing anything unsavory.” A bit hypocritical yes, which is why I don’t like guys like Barr or Paul to be completely honest with you. Because though I like some of the ideas they have, Barr for example is very much a staunch immigration foe, and I’ve seen that issue too up close and personal to take a “kick ‘em all out” approach. Paul is an abortion foe and would like to relegate this to a state’s right’s issue so that places like South Dakota could ban it and there wouldn’t be a damn thing the Supreme Court could do about it. And no liberatarian advocates any sort of social safety net, which I think is something we need to get closer to, not farther away from like we have been for the last 28 years, and I think that more than anything is what people are responding to. You’ve got Obama who will strengthen the social safety net and make it so that more people can prosper and fewer will fall through the cracks, vs. McCain who will go full bore slashing regulations on anything that protects the have nots from the haves.

Libertarians have a different approach than Republicans in that what Republicans have become is the reverse of Democrats in terms of taxation and economic policy. Democrats want to structure regulation so that prosperity flows from the bottom up and Republicans want to structure regulation so it flows from the top down. Libertarians just don’t want any of that structure at all, and when you look at it, yes that means some things that Democrats would like…like ending tax subsidies to big companies, but it also provides a lot more for Republicans to like in that the captains of industry would be given free reign to ramp up profits without worrying about paying a fair wage or protecting the social interest. Essentially Libertarianism is unfettered Capitalism with social regulation at the state level. That is a lot closer to the Republican ideal than to the Democrat ideal.

dalepetrie's avatar

Another thing I don’t like about Libertarianism is that it pushes taxation down to the state, local and county level. And though some (but not all) states collect State Income taxes which is about the most fair and equitable way we have of collecting taxes, most of the taxes charged at the non federal level are on usage of things, and though if you have more money you will use more things, it is not a 1:1 relationship. There are for example taxes built into a gallon of milk…you’re not going to drink more milk if you’re rich than you do if you’re poor. Or they charge the same for a driver’s license no matter how much you make. So when you look at the taxes charged at local levels, they are incredibly regressive…in other words maybe you pay 2% of your income in these small taxes if you make a million a year, but 25% if you make $20 thousand a year. That’s why we have a progressive tax structure at the Federal level so that there are refundable credits to refund some money even if you didn’t pay in if you’re poor, to charge you modest amounts (10%) on the first so much in income, then it goes up to 15% on the next so much and 20% on the next so much so that overall taxes come out to be more fair.

Libertarianism is almost akin to federal anarchism when you get down to it. And what we’ve seen in this latest era of tax cutting Republicans has been a constant pushing of the burden of paying for essential services down to the local level…which is what Libertarians like. But try running a city budget, paying for your police and fire and libraries and schools with less and less and less federal aid. Where do you turn? TAXES. So they cut taxes on everybody, which means the wealthiest end up far better off overall, because now taxation has to be snuck in via any backdoor you can find it, so it’s buried into licensing fees, gas taxes, property taxes…things that make it harder and harder for people living check to check to meet. Yeah, your federal taxes went down by a couple hundred bucks, but everything else go so much more expensive that it costs you a couple thousand more a year. Whereas the billionaire saved a hundred million in taxes and now maybe bears 5,000 a year more in expenses at the local level. Such is the price of Libertarianism…you have no structure for making taxation fair and equitable.

galileogirl's avatar

When I hear Libertarians and Republicans talk the smaller govt/lower taxes talk I always wonder about the specifics. Just exactly what would they do away with. Of course this would include all levels of govt. Stories are reported about cases of wasteful spending and the small govt types point and say “see”

In a neighboring city a city administrator attended meetings all over the country, probably more than she needed to. She always flew first class, stayed at luxury hotels, ate in the finest restaurants, put entertainment expenses on her expense account. When she started hiring relatives, all of her activities were scrutinized and they established she had spent $100,000 more than she should have. “See how wasteful govt is” screamed the media and the knee jerk reaction was we aren’t going to raise any kind of tax or fee or bond issue. In fact we should try and pass tax and fee cuts, that will show them. Three years pass and along with tax cuts, revenue is reduced because of the real estate crisis and sales taxes also shrink. Now the city is in a real state. They are losing teachers, they have taken away overtime for police, firemen, bus drivers so there is a cut in essential services. A hiring freeze means dirtier streets and not maintaining parks. Most clerical and support staff are reduced to a 4 day week so if you need a license or permit or deal with a ticket it takes days instead of hours. Govt is definitely smaller but it is also much harder to get anything done.

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