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Inside the Beltway: The Libertarian awakening
“We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world,” states the Libertarian Party in its bedrock platform statement. “Syria is not threatening our country. We have no national interest in intervening there. There are no reasons for the U.S. to support either the Assad dictatorship or the opposition warlords,” declares Chairman Geoffrey Neale.
Such thinking has begun to resonate with voters and elected officials who are skeptical of President Obama’s proposal for a military strike. The party has been presented with an opportunity to clearly define itself on the political landscape, particularly as “libertarian leaning conservatives,” such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, take center stage in the noisy debate.
The Libertarians are ready to rumble.
“Americans are discovering the truth: there is no real difference between big government Democratic and big government Republican politicians. They both send our servicemen and women off to war for dubious causes, in spite of the abysmal results that our country’s foreign meddling has produced,” Carla Howell, the party’s political director, tells Inside the Beltway.
“Both support mass surveillance of Americans in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Both are wreaking havoc on the economy, and especially on the working poor, by overspending, overtaxing and overregulating,” she adds. “The most effective means to change the course we’re on is to vote Libertarian — putting America on a course for peace, freedom, individual rights and abundance for all.”
CONSERVATIVE + LIBERTARIAN = ?
Yes, but will everybody play nice? The question will occupy the American Conservative Union when it meets for a regional political action conference Sept. 28 in Missouri. Yes, there’s an entire panel discussion devoted to the issue, aptly titled “Can Social Conservatives and Libertarians Ever Get Along?” for the many who wonder.
“At a time when President Obama is leading the country off the economic, social and foreign policy cliff, I am confident that libertarians and social conservatives can find enough common ground to save the United States of America,” says the union’s ever-ebullient Chairman Al Cardenas. “This no-doubt lively panel at CPAC St. Louis will explore similarities and differences between conservatives and libertarians and the future of both movements.”
On the stage: Heritage Foundation scholar Matthew Spalding, the aforementioned Libertarian Party Chairman Geoffrey Neale and Cato Institute senior fellow Douglas Bandow.
THE YEAS AND NAYS
To the uninitiated, the “Syria Whip List” sounds, well, interesting. But it is merely convenient Capitol Hill talk.
As lawmakers jockey for space, somebody has to track who favors President Obama’s proposal for a military strike on Syria — and who condemns it. From The Hill, then, comes not “50 Shades of Intervention,” but the real-time roster in the House and Senate, the judgments based on their public statements, press comments, social media posts and other sources.
The numbers as of Thursday: In the Senate, 22 agree with the military strike; that number includes 13 Democrats and 9 GOPers. Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have led the way among their peers; other yes men include Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Johnny Isakson of Georgia.
There are 14 nays — which consist of a dozen Republicans and two Democrats.
In the House, 30 agree the U.S. should intervene in Syria; that number includes 21 Democrats and nine Republicans. Among the hawkish GOPers: House Speaker John A. Boehner, Reps. Eric Cantor of Virginia, Mike Rogers of Michigan and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.
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