Politics, they say, makes strange bedfellows. Nowhere could this be more true than in the current case of liberals and libertarians finding common ground on a host of issues, ranging from U.S. drone policy to the NSA's spying activities on Americans.
But despite this new détente, liberals should be extremely wary of sharing a bed with the libertarians on anything, not because of the issues themselves but because of the very real danger of legitimizing the fringe philosophy of libertarianism and, more importantly, its dubious practitioners by association and implicit endorsement.
These are, after all, the same people who before Senator Rand Paul's 13-hour filibuster on drone policy (which I personally feel was unnecessarily sensationalist), did nothing but try to derail the Democratic establishment and made no effort whatsoever to hide their racist, sexist, xenophobic, and seditionist tendencies. They believe that all government is inherently evil, that civil rights are neither a right nor a priority, interpret a 220-year old Constitution in excessively purist and impractical terms that have no place in the new millennium, and exhibit aggressive intolerance of anyone who disagrees with their philosophy.
So when the libertarians suddenly start taking pages from the progressive playbook, it is vital to be on guard, and to ask why the party that cannot stand liberals is now standing with them?
The answer is pretty simple: the upcoming elections in 2014 and the presidential race in 2016. After President Obama's strong showing in battleground states during the 2012 elections, the Republican party and particularly its extremist wing, the libertarian Tea Party, have been trying to move towards the center in order to court the independent vote. This is not a change of heart on the part of the libertarians but a practical realization that their brand of crazy may sell well in certain individual states but it does not sell so well nationally; and after Obama's victory, it is clear that independent voters do not disagree with the Democrats strongly enough to make them swing towards the far right.
Hence Rand Paul's very vocal support of causes near and dear to liberals, and to portray himself as a moderate libertarian (which, of course, is an oxymoron). But let's not be fooled by this circus show, since for every step Paul takes towards the center or even left-of-center, his colleague Ted Cruz takes towards the other side. The idea is clever political gamesmanship that enables the libertarians to walk on both sides of the fence at once, make promises to everyone, but on key issues like Wall Street reform, abortion, and gun control, deliver only to their base. As I said, it's a way to win elections.
Unfortunately for America, though, the libertarians in power would be an absolute disaster. Libertarian beliefs would not only turn our nation's hard-fought social, economic, and legislative progress back by two centuries but also put us at odds with the rest of the civilized world, which views the regressive isolationism and extremism of our far right fringe with understandable disdain and suspicion. In an era of global dependency on matters of security and trade, that would hurt us in every way imaginable.
And if even that is not reason enough for the liberals to turn away gifts from the libertarians and to avoid lending them a credibility they do not deserve, it is worth remembering that the same Senator from Kentucky who is now railing against the impingement of our civil rights by our government and comparing its surveillance activities to 'lynchings' also believes that companies should be allowed to discriminate against employees based on race.
This type of two-facedness is a towering red flag and should not be ignored.
SANJAY SANGHOEE is an active political and business commentator. He has worked at leading investment banks and hedge funds, has appeared on CNBC's 'Closing Bell' and HuffPost Live on business topics, and is the author of two thriller novels, including "Killing Wall Street". For more information, please visit www.sanghoee.com
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