Thursday, August 18, 2005

Minority Outreach and Libertarians

The following I wrote on the LP blog last week concerning a Stephen Gordon story which was posted on the blog. Here's what I wrote in response to a few Libertarians who seemed like they didn't care about the plight of minorities in this country.

"Somedays I think some Libertarians are the most unsynpathetic people on the face of this earth. These responses are the reason why minorities cringe when asked to explore the LP for another option. Our jails are riddled with people who don't deserve to me there (non-violent drug users and drug possession). Most of these people are blacks and Hispanics that are being railroaded by the judicial system. Let me point out some statistics

1 out of 6 blacks can't vote because of a felony on their record.

There are more black women in college than black men.

49 percent of the US incarcerated population are black, another 30 percent are Hispanic.

In black communities, the unemployment population is 2 to 3 times higher than the national average.

Cocaine users are 74 percent White while those convicted of cocaine related offenses are 70 percent Black.

The state of Illinois (where I reside) has the highest black prision population of any state in the Union: 76 percent!

From what I understand Stephen Gordon didn't write this because of the NPR story, he wrote it because the LP has been doing a rotten job recruiting minorities into our movement. For the last 20+ years we have been pandering to the right especially on economic issues, when are we going to start pandering to the left on civil liberty issues? Isn't economic freedom just as important as our civil liberties?

It's a travesty-but most Libertarians have turned a blind eye to the fact that when one person's rights are eroding, EVERYONE ELSES is too! There still is a huge racial disparity in this country: we have the answers, some of us give a damn to do something about it!"

A few example responses from fellow Libertarians:

I for one am way more interested in the LP for their civil liberties stances rather than the economic ones. Ever since coming to this blog, I have come to the same conclusion that Chris has pointed out: that most libertarians are more willing to fight and argue for economic liberties (and elect a republican if he/she must) than for civil liberties (and, despite all the just Bush-bashing, are more prone to criticize Dems). I for one would gladly elect a Dem over a Repub. I understand that the LP was originally a conservative movement. I also understand that economic rights are still personal rights, and are just as important. But i fear conservatives. They would gladly take away any one of our rights (note the PATRIOT Act). They are only *for* economic rights because they are greedy rich businessmen. What do liberals stand to gain with promoting civil liberties? There can be no ulterior motives there.
Posted by: Buddy at August 9, 2005 11:16 PM

Chris Bennett: I think your post was generally excellent. I have long found it distressing that so many people who call themselves Libertarian are so unsympathetic to the rights of minorities in real life.
Posted by: Libertarian TV at August 10, 2005 06:02 AM

Chris Bennet's comments are very strong to me, because I just read a few chapters of Napolitano's Costitutional Chaos last night(thanks whoever recommended me that book!). In the parts I was reading he was discussing why the government's war against the second amendment and the government's war on drugs were unfairly targeting minorities, while the government and media was telling minorities that their problems were drugs and guns.

With recent world events, it is understandable why the LP is focusing more on economics, and foreign policy, some of the greatest problems for our nation, but I feel the populace, minority AND majority, does need a huge dose of education on the second amendment and "War on drugs". It's a hard argument to win, as the government has implanted in every American's mind, even those that use drugs that "drugs are bad, and only bad people use them". Hell, I believe it to an extent myself. I think virtually all forms of drug use are incredibly stupid, except for medical uses, but it isn't the government's job to protect people from themselves.

As Chris was showing, look how many minorities have been "protected" so far. Has the government "protected" minorities by making several substances illegal, causing a huge burst in their prices, which causes spikes in violence to pay for the substances, and then taking guns away from law abiding citizens? Of course not.

There should be something we can do about it. I have no idea what, though.
Posted by: Paul P. at August 10, 2005 10:35 AM

It's not just that the LP has not appealed to ethnic minorities, it's that the LP and many vocal libertarians appear to have no social conscience.

They don't see "bars on windows" as a problem, they don't get incensed over the size of the prison population, but if a candidate doesn't say "taxation is theft" or such nonsense, they go nuts.

I was very happy to see this post. The folks who babysit our Platform won't touch "left" issues, I'm glad the staff has the courage to do so.
Posted by: Ben Kalafut at August 10, 2005 08:50 PM

So, how are Libertarians able to court the minority vote?

I have a few suggestions that may help:

1. Reform the platform. Our platform scares away potential members.

2. Gun ownership. People kill People NOT GUNS! Guns are for the protection of life and property, not to commit crimes. We have the right to defend ourselves from thugs, thieves and other aggressors.

3. Marijuana Decriminalization- Many minorities are incarcerated for use/possession of marijuana. If marijuana were decriminalixed, many minorities would not be rotting in the penal system. Plus the black market for marijuana would disappear and the gang mentality that cripples their respective communities would decrease. Keeping minorities from participating in society (ie: voting, employment, family life) increases the chances of being repeat offenders.

4. Taxes: Lower taxes will increase wealth and expendable income. In turn will mean they have more money to save, invest or donate. Lower taxes will also mean more money to buy a nice home, start a business, send their children to a decent school or a college education to improve their skills. Lower taxes means that people will invest in their own communities empowering all those involved. Lower taxes will mean less dependency on the government and learn how to be self-sufficient (something the Democrats don't want them to be).

5. Equal Rights for Everyone- Minorities really do not benefit from Affirmative Action. Affirmative Action in my opinion increases the tension between the races. Lower qualified applicants get hired because they need to diversify the workplace. I say hire the most experienced people for the job no matter what race they are. Minorities will be able to compete in the workforce when they are able to get the education and work experience needed to fill jobs without quotas. No individual in this country is less equal than another. When Affirmative Action goes away, racial tensions will diminish.

A more friendly platform and committed activism in the minority communities will bring in more minorities into the movement. Our ideas are ripe for them. Many of them are searching for options, let's make the LP an option they can come home to!

8 Comments:

Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

I couldn't agree more. I live in a city where the majority is black (New Orleans) and I have several close friends of color who are definitively libertarian in their leanings (though not politically active). There is, indeed, a lot to be said for civil liberties that I think the LP has LONG missed out on. I'd say the only reason I had never registered Libertarian before was because there was such a strong right influence in the LP and, other than the stance on drug prohibition, practically lip service when it comes to the left. Indeed, I see more derision of the left then that as there are even libertarians who absolutely refuse to believe that the word left can even be used to describe libertarian at all. (They prefer to define left as meaning collectivism and refuse to see it in terms of modern American political leanings.) That leaning also shows heavily, IMHO, in the platform and seems to imply a callous disregard for the individual, as opposed to recognition of care for the individual in a community (just not provided for by the government.)

Personally I'm a LOT more leary of the right. Partly because of the religious persecution the far right seems to espouse these days and partly because I feel that it's a good thing to have not only a healthy distrust for the government, but a healthy distrust of corporations as well.

I know I have made a few inroads here, but I agree that more really should be done. Hopefully the reform movement will help to alleviate some of these grevious errors. Perhaps if we can bring forth the LP as a bigger political player we will also be able to energize the real base of activism that is so important for us, the individual. After all individualism is what so many of us believe is what has propelled this culture into one unlike any other the world has seen. Better in many ways, I think, than 95% of the cultures existent through all of human history. It is through the individual, irregardless of race, creed, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation or any other "dividing" trait, that we can accomplish so much and where the strength of the libertarian ideal lies. Let's hope we can broaden the message to get it out to everyone so they might, hopefully, consider giving this grand experiment started by the founding fathers of this country more of a chance to continue.

Thursday, August 18, 2005 8:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Carl said...

The LP focuses too much on the "Welfare State" and doesn't think enough about corporate serfdom. It does not think enough about economic equality.

If we replace the current system of income and labor taxes with the geolibertarian system of land and natural resource taxes, it would reduce the windfall of those whose ancestors were free to buy up the choice land in the past.

We need to deregulate the labor market and make it easier to start your own business before we dismantle the state-run safety net.

Thursday, August 18, 2005 4:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Tim West said...

Chris,

If you want to write a bit more on minority outreach, send me a article and I'll post it on LFS. I think it needs consideration. I'd be tickled to publish it.

timothywest@adelphia.net

Thursday, August 18, 2005 11:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Bill Woolsey said...

Charleston County is 30% to 40% African American. The town where I served as councilman was similar. We were elected at-large, so that was my district. I was once the President of of Wagener Terrace Neighborhood Association. While our neighborhood was 70% African American, the association was 40%.

My experience is that politically active black people are very much against personal liberty. Obviously, not all. And certainly, not in the abstract. What I mean is that they support prosecuting drug dealers and prostitutes.

To stereotype a bit more, the little old ladies who go to church and _vote_, don't like that sort of thing going on around their block.

I just don't think the younger women whose boyfriends are in jail bother to turn out for elections!

I have often heard that law enforcement should do more to get the rich white kingpins, but I think that view is really disconnected with reality.

Oh, and there is plenty of support for going after the white customers--the drug users and johns.

So, there is a kind of sympathy for the street dealer and the street prostitute. Just not much. The "theory" is that if the kingpins were arrested, then the low level "criminals" wouldn't be involved.

But, maybe I just don't know!

Let's not forget the polling data that shows that a larger proportion of African Americans score in the libertarian quadrant of the world's smallest political quiz!

Monday, August 22, 2005 9:30:00 PM  
Blogger Kenn Gividen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thursday, September 22, 2005 5:16:00 AM  
Blogger Kenn Gividen said...

The hispanic community, in particular, is sympathetic with our views on immigration.

Thursday, September 22, 2005 5:17:00 AM  
Blogger Jason Dean said...

There is a cancer in the Libertarian Party. The cause of the cancer is the mass defection of former Republicans to the LP.

To clarify, the defection has been miniscule for the GOP, but if 0.001% of Republicans were to defect to the LP, the LP would grow by 10,000%. Hence, with conservative Republicans fed up with the GOP on various levels, the LP has been an attractive haven.

Problem: These ex-GOPers bring right-wing sensibilities with them.

For example, I might agree with the LP platform 99%, but I do not agree with the way it is being presented. Look at the emphasis on welfare mothers, the "death tax," etc. Where is the emphasis on personal liberty and personal choice that appeals to everyone and demonizes no one? Remember when the LP said they were the party that was "pro choice on everything?" Well, the PRO-CHOICE on that one thing plank barely passed the lass convention, and probably won't sometime in the future.

Look at someone like Badnarik, with his fawning over the racist Minutemen project. That's Libertarian???

And even the TRUE Libertarians are not true libertarians (small "l"). Do a Google search for geolibertarian and you'll see what I mean by that.

There is no voice for the libertarian left in the LP. As such, it can correctly be labeled as right-wing and not truly libertarian. The worship of the founders and the Constitution--ratified by a cabal of slaveowners behind closed doors--probably doesn't rank high on a Black voter's wish list, either.

And one more thing... LP people are very close-minded, I have found, which would seem to be in contrast to their ideals.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005 2:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve G said...

Chris,

I'm working another racial libertarian issue at the moment. Check this story (and background links) out, as it will certainly piss you off:http://hammeroftruth.com/2005/12/21/wheres-the-celebrity-outrage/

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 4:16:00 AM  

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