DE GRACIA: The myth of Chris Christie’s two-party “libertarian strain”

Don’t be fooled by Christie, it’s still business as usual in Washington. Photo: Is America going libertarian? Better think twice. (AP File Photo)

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2013 – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sparked a firestorm of rebuke from Rand Paul supporters and libertarian partisans when he suggested this week that a growing “libertarian strain” in both parties was dangerous for America’s national security. What Christie calls libertarianism however is nothing more than Congress going through its usual tantrums of feigned concern – the reality is that elected Democrats and Republicans are incrementally abolishing liberty and the American way of life.

Institutional multiplicity, not libertarianism

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The federal separation of powers between executive, legislative and judicial branches of representation has always been a source of internal conflict in America. Leaders in all three branches have sought over the years to override opposing branches for the purpose of monopolizing decision-making.  This is no accident, as the Founders foresaw this happening in Federalist No. 51 and designed the American system to leverage conflicting human ambition as a deterrent against a homogenous, all-powerful government.

Cornell Law professor Josh Chafetz explained this principle in 2011 when he observed “the Constitution uses institutional multiplicity in the service of federal multiplicity; each branch – including but certainly not limited to the judiciary – is given roles to play in keeping federal and state powers in balance.”

What appears to some as a “libertarian” uprising in Congress is actually just another manifestation of the conflict between branches for supremacy. The presenting problem of the day might be domestic intelligence gathering, but the core issue is Congress’ underlying desire to not only restrict the President’s power but to monopolize the U.S. government from their sphere of influence.

The offense then is not that President Obama infringed on the rights of American citizens but that he did so without asking “mother, may I?” from the legislative gods. Congress would never actually give “liberty” to America any more than a parasite would abandon its live host. Libertarians function on the rejection of compulsion but Congress thrives on legislating line upon line, precept upon precept.

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Even as the ghastly parasite Cymothoa exigua enters the mouth of a fish, devours the tongue then functionally replaces the organ by attaching itself to the severed muscle, so America’s Congress likewise “speaks” for the people as a fake tongue. If libertarianism had true virulence in America, we would see mass privatization sweeping all aspects of society and individual ownership on the rise. Under such conditions, the United States would be actively evolving into a nation of self-regulated, self-owned and self-dependent people.

America’s “Revolution in Military Affairs” has stirred a love among policymakers in D.C. for unmanned, armed drones as a tool of constant surveillance in the war on terror.

What is actually happening in America is the reverse: Congress is a willing partner for special interests that use public law to restrict choice, mandate unwanted economic activity, raise the price of “justice” for competitors and decisively punish citizen noncompliance. The Founders knew one day America would suffer from bad government - but didn’t forsee in their wildest dreams elected leaders being as calloused, mercenary and outrageously lascivious in their policymaking as they are today.

If today’s voters think this is a patently Democratic partisan phenomena, they ought to think again. Both parties have every reason to allow the other to run rampant - after all, the more harm the one side causes to essential liberty, the more the other side can pitch to voters the need to “throw the bums out.”

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In order for either party to deliver on its promises, there is needed a constant interference in the market to stage perpetual electoral crisis. That is the hard truth about Congress voters won’t hear in a high school classroom or at a national party convention keynote speech.

If Gov. Christie and others are worried about libertarians taking over, they need not fear. There is no libertarian uprising in America – our nation is more dependent on government and less free than it has ever been in its history.

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Danny de Gracia

Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist and a former senior adviser to the Human Services and International Affairs committees at the Hawaii State Legislature. From 2011-2013 he served as an elected municipal board member in Waipahu. As an expert in international relations theory, military policy, political psychology and economics, Danny has advised numerous policymakers and elected officials and his opinions have been featured worldwide. Now working on his first novel, Danny resides on the island of Oahu.

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