The Republican establishment, and to some extent the Democrats as well, are labeling Paul Ryan “a conservative of the libertarian kind.” I reject this characterization in its entirety. Libertarianism has three basic positions: strict adherence to free markets; strict protection of civil liberties; and strict defense of property rights (which strongly correlates with non-intervention in foreign affairs). Paul Ryan has affirmed in word and deed his desire to limit civil liberties, legislate morality and spread around the world his version of Americanism by use of force. Ryan, therefore, has denied two of the three tenets of libertarianism right out of the gate, but he does not renounce the third: he claims to support free markets and tries to continue to lay claim to the label of fiscal conservative. The question is, what kind of conservative is Paul Ryan really?
Everyone is abuzz with Romney’s “bold choice” of running mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. Every bobble head with a press badge is telling us that the Tea Party and Ron Paul supporters should be psyched because, to borrow a phrase from Harry Reid: “The word is out!” Ryan’s a libertarian!
What else could he be? Ryan quotes Austrian economists and loves Ayn Rand – he must be a libertarian! And anyway, everyone says he is: Forbes calls Ryan “Ron Paul-esque,” the Financial Times calls him “a conservative of the libertarian kind,” and New York Magazine calls him “Your Annoying Libertarian Ex-Boyfriend.” He even has a libertarian-sounding name for crying out loud: Ron Paul, Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan…it just flows! As a matter of fact, someone said to me yesterday that Ron Paul was Romney’s running mate—true story! I mean those two are practically interchangeable!
What was that? You’re not so sure? Oh come now, don’t be such a purist, and don’t you dare let those nagging doubts about Ryan’s voting record bubble up to the top of your brain. And of all things, please don’t fall for it when Democratic operatives say things like, “while he may be a devotee of Ayn Rand, he has voted more like a Republican hack than a revolutionary,” or “Paul Ryan Record Shows He Could Be Running Mate of Obama.” Libertarians really do need to be more pragmatic.
Sure, Ryan denies being a libertarian