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The Libertarian Vote and Republican Prospects
CATO ^ | David Boaz and David Kirby

Posted on 10/12/2006 4:19:25 PM PDT by Aetius

The Libertarian Vote by David Boaz and David Kirby

David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute. He is the author of Libertarianism: A Primer and editor of The Libertarian Reader, Toward Liberty, and Left, Right & Babyboom: America's New Politics. David Kirby is executive director of America's Future Foundation and a graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

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The main theme of political commentary in this decade is polarization. Since the battles over the impeachment of President Clinton and the Florida vote in 2000, pundits have been telling us that we're a country split down the middle, red vs. blue, liberal vs. conservative. Political analysts talk about base motivation and the shrinking of the swing vote. But the evidence says they are wrong.

Not all Americans can be classified as liberal or conservative. In particular, polls find that some 10 to 20 percent of voting-age Americans are libertarian, tending to agree with conservatives on economic issues and with liberals on personal freedom. The Gallup Governance Survey consistently finds about 20 percent of respondents giving libertarian answers to a two-question screen.

Our own data analysis is stricter. We find 9 to 13 percent libertarians in the Gallup surveys, 14 percent in the Pew Research Center Typology Survey, and 13 percent in the American National Election Studies, generally regarded as the best source of public opinion data.

For those on the trail of the elusive swing voter, it may be most notable that the libertarian vote shifted sharply in 2004. Libertarians preferred George W. Bush over Al Gore by 72 to 20 percent, but Bush's margin dropped in 2004 to 59-38 over John Kerry. Congressional voting showed a similar swing from 2002 to 2004. Libertarians apparently became disillusioned with Republican overspending, social intolerance, civil liberties infringements, and the floundering war in Iraq. If that trend continues into 2006 and 2008, Republicans will lose elections they would otherwise win.

The libertarian vote is in play. At some 13 percent of the electorate, it is sizable enough to swing elections. Pollsters, political strategists, candidates, and the media should take note of it.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: libertarians; republicans; socialissues
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"Libertarians apparently became disillusioned with Republican...social intolerance..."

Its one thing for libertarians to hold socially liberal views, but its quite another to parrot leftwing rhetoric in describing the other side of such issues.

I'm not exactly sure what they mean by "social intolerance", but I'm guessing they mean gay marriage. If so, it is downright sad that libertarians would accept and lend credence to such deliberate distortions of social conservatism, and to the Left's attempt to cast the preservation of what has always been, and what has no need of change, as the bad, or 'intolerant' position. How exactly is it 'intolerant' to spearhead the movement to remove this issue from the Courts, and to let the people decide?

That's my major issue with many socially-liberal libertarians. If you favor gay marriage, abortion rights, etc, then fine, but do the honorable thing and make the case for them w/o casting negative aspersions on social conservatives (who just happen to represent the views of the overall population in many cases), and do so w/o making the ridiculous, insulting argument that your socially liberal views are somehow enshrined in the Constitution, and thus above and beyond us small-minded rubes.

1 posted on 10/12/2006 4:19:26 PM PDT by Aetius
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To: Aetius

If we narrowly lose the house, stand by for a flurry of "not OUR fault, it's the Republicans for not living up to our ideals" posts.


2 posted on 10/12/2006 4:21:07 PM PDT by Darkwolf377 (Republican, atheist, pro-life)
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To: Aetius
"Libertarians preferred George W. Bush over Al Gore by 72 to 20 percent, but Bush's margin dropped in 2004 to 59-38 over John Kerry."

Remind me again...just how are they conserative?

3 posted on 10/12/2006 4:22:16 PM PDT by CWOJackson
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To: Aetius

I thought libertarians liked going directly to the people for the decisions in the form of referendum votes. In the case of gay marriage it was handily defeated by the people of my state.


4 posted on 10/12/2006 4:22:52 PM PDT by cripplecreek (If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?)
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To: CWOJackson
Remind me again...just how are they conserative?

We believe in small government and leaving most social issues to the states. It's a much more philospohically honest approach to conservatism than the social conservatism, who's followers want to use big government as a tool of social control almost as much as the libs do.

5 posted on 10/12/2006 4:34:53 PM PDT by Zeroisanumber (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: Zeroisanumber

And 38% of you preferred Kerry over President Bush. I think I'll stick to the mainstream brand of conseratism and forgo the comic book stuff.


6 posted on 10/12/2006 4:36:54 PM PDT by CWOJackson
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To: cripplecreek
I thought libertarians liked going directly to the people for the decisions in the form of referendum votes. In the case of gay marriage it was handily defeated by the people of my state.

That's cool. Gay marriage is a state issue, not a federal one.

7 posted on 10/12/2006 4:37:01 PM PDT by Zeroisanumber (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: CWOJackson
And 38% of you preferred Kerry over President Bush. I think I'll stick to the mainstream brand of conseratism and forgo the comic book stuff.

Even Bushbots admit that federal spending has been out of control, the drop in support from Libertarians is a reflection of that.

8 posted on 10/12/2006 4:38:15 PM PDT by Zeroisanumber (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: Zeroisanumber
The drop in support from Libertarians?

Some how I think the loss of one tenth of one percent went unnoticed.

9 posted on 10/12/2006 4:40:09 PM PDT by CWOJackson
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To: Darkwolf377; defconw


Right.


10 posted on 10/12/2006 4:43:00 PM PDT by onyx (We have two political parties: the American Party and the Anti-American Party.)
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To: CWOJackson
And 38% of you preferred Kerry over President Bush. I think I'll stick to the mainstream brand of conseratism and forgo the comic book stuff.

You should hear the stuff these Libertarians say about opposing terrorism and the war in Iraq (part of the same process btw....). They sound indistinguishable from the Democratic Underground and the Daily Kos.

They've also smeared Michelle Malkin when some seditious lesbian somewhere comitted suicide.

11 posted on 10/12/2006 4:43:09 PM PDT by Stepan12 (NY Times: Bush finds cure for cancer; healthcare workers to suffer massive layoffs)
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To: onyx

Already we are conceding defeat? Nay!


12 posted on 10/12/2006 4:46:10 PM PDT by defconw (Gearing up for W2 in 08!)
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To: Stepan12
The brilliant brain trust CATO institute also released a report a few weeks ago claiming the reason there were so many suicide bombing attacks against our troops in Iraq wasn't because of the enemies twisted ideology, but because of our occupation of Iraq.

I'm not sure what goes on behind those doors at CATO...but it sure isn't rationale.

13 posted on 10/12/2006 4:46:39 PM PDT by CWOJackson
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To: CWOJackson
Some how I think the loss of one tenth of one percent went unnoticed.

Really? Is that why Republicans are poised for such a stunning electoral victory?

14 posted on 10/12/2006 4:47:14 PM PDT by Zeroisanumber (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: Zeroisanumber
"Even Bushbots admit that federal spending has been out of control, the drop in support from Libertarians is a reflection of that."

So you think that RATS will better control spending? Or do you think voting for a third party that wont get over 2% of the vote is a better plan?
15 posted on 10/12/2006 4:49:51 PM PDT by Beagle8U (Demonrats want the Gays out of Congress.....stand back and let them purge their base.)
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To: Zeroisanumber
"Is that why Republicans are poised for such a stunning electoral victory?"

LOL! As opposed to the LP's stunning election victories. What is it you people have now, two librarians and a school district supervisor?

16 posted on 10/12/2006 4:50:50 PM PDT by CWOJackson
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To: defconw


Of course not!


17 posted on 10/12/2006 4:52:52 PM PDT by onyx (We have two political parties: the American Party and the Anti-American Party.)
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To: Zeroisanumber

If by leaving it to the states, you mean the people and/or the legislature, then fine by me. Afterall, it is the Constitutionally-correct position.

But some leading libertarians are not so willing to leave it to the states. Pat Buchanan wrote an article not too long ago calling for a truce in the Culture War, in which he basically called for a states rights approach to social issues, including marriage. But "Reason" magazine's Nick Gillespie took issue with that by taking the thorougly leftist, thorougly absurd, position that such a truce is not acceptable because the Constitution demands abortion and gay marriage rights, and as such, the unenlightened masses of backward states must bow to a wiser rule of federal judges.

Obviously, Gillespie does not speak for all libertarians, but he is one of the most visible mouthpieces for libertarianism on television. Still, I may be giving him too much credit for influence among libertarians, but it would be nice to hear more libertarians take your stated position.


18 posted on 10/12/2006 4:55:42 PM PDT by Aetius
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To: onyx

I didn't mean you specifically.


19 posted on 10/12/2006 4:59:31 PM PDT by defconw (Gearing up for W2 in 08!)
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To: CWOJackson
The brilliant brain trust CATO institute also released a report a few weeks ago claiming the reason there were so many suicide bombing attacks against our troops in Iraq wasn't because of the enemies twisted ideology, but because of our occupation of Iraq. I'm not sure what goes on behind those doors at CATO...but it sure isn't

On Moral Sanctions. Is Libertarianism evil?

20 posted on 10/12/2006 5:10:29 PM PDT by Stepan12 (NY Times: Bush finds cure for cancer; healthcare workers to suffer massive layoffs)
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To: Aetius
If by leaving it to the states, you mean the people and/or the legislature, then fine by me. Afterall, it is the Constitutionally-correct position.

Agreed.

But some leading libertarians are not so willing to leave it to the states. Pat Buchanan wrote an article not too long ago calling for a truce in the Culture War, in which he basically called for a states rights approach to social issues, including marriage. But "Reason" magazine's Nick Gillespie took issue with that by taking the thorougly leftist, thorougly absurd, position that such a truce is not acceptable because the Constitution demands abortion and gay marriage rights, and as such, the unenlightened masses of backward states must bow to a wiser rule of federal judges.

I disagree with Gillespe. Abortion and gay marriage are no more a federal issue than legalized gambling, and both issues should be left to the states. The only exceptions that I could see to that would be issues of racisim or religious descrimination which are urgent enough to require federal intervention/mediation.

Obviously, Gillespie does not speak for all libertarians, but he is one of the most visible mouthpieces for libertarianism on television. Still, I may be giving him too much credit for influence among libertarians, but it would be nice to hear more libertarians take your stated position.

Speaking for Libertarians is sort of like speaking for a herd of cats: You might be making the most noise, but we're pretty much going to do our own thing regardless.

The modern Libertarian position really formed itself around the later career of Barry Goldwater, who's committment to small government and individual rights was an excellent example of the Libertarian ideal.

21 posted on 10/12/2006 5:53:08 PM PDT by Zeroisanumber (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: cripplecreek

I don't think that libertarians are particularly believers in pure democracy, which is as likely as any other form of government to foster totalitarianism.


22 posted on 10/12/2006 6:02:37 PM PDT by Sam Cree (Don't mix alcopops and ufo's)
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To: Darkwolf377

If the current Republicans actually practiced more of what they have preached, I'd vote for them. I've voted absentee and it was split three ways. Perhaps I'm just less dogmatic in my "old" age.

Lesser of two evils is hardly a winning strategy folks.

If this group of "conservatives" bore some kinship to the class of '94 I'd be interested, but it doesn't.

Like relatives who've overstayed, this Republican congress has started to smell for my tastes.

And yes, I'm now a registered Libertarian.


23 posted on 10/12/2006 6:05:47 PM PDT by mgstarr
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To: mgstarr
Lesser of two evils is hardly a winning strategy folks.

Of course it is. Never in my life has there been a party that reperesented exactly what I want. I imagine that's the same for 90% of people. Government itself is a necessary evil, so at election time it's ALWAYS the lesser of two evils.

24 posted on 10/12/2006 6:08:43 PM PDT by Darkwolf377 (Republican, atheist, pro-life)
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To: Darkwolf377

Wow, so much for principal anymore.


25 posted on 10/12/2006 6:11:47 PM PDT by mgstarr
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To: Zeroisanumber
Why don't you guys run as Republicans. There's plenty of room in the GOP for Libertarians. If they can have a RINO wing and a Christian wing, then they surely can have a Libertarian wing.

The LP itself is a joke - and I consider myself a small L Libertarian.

26 posted on 10/12/2006 6:13:45 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
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To: cripplecreek
I thought libertarians liked going directly to the people for the decisions in the form of referendum votes.

They like that because it relieves them of the actual responsibility and accountability of governing. They would much rather whine and cry on the sidelines about how everybody else does it wrong.

27 posted on 10/12/2006 6:19:55 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: Aetius

Anti-gay marriage, pro-life, GOP-voting libertarian here, checking in.


28 posted on 10/12/2006 6:23:16 PM PDT by Trailerpark Badass
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To: Zeroisanumber
Really? Is that why Republicans are poised for such a stunning electoral victory?

Where are the Libertarian stunning victories?
Holding a town water committee or school board position doesn't count.

29 posted on 10/12/2006 6:27:17 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist
Why don't you guys run as Republicans. There's plenty of room in the GOP for Libertarians. If they can have a RINO wing and a Christian wing, then they surely can have a Libertarian wing.

There used to be a very strong pro-business Libertarian wing, but it's been steadily shrinking since the Reagan years.

The LP itself is a joke - and I consider myself a small L Libertarian.

True dat. One of my Libertarian friends said that the biggest obstacle to getting more rational people into the LP is the fact that right now it's a haven for cranks, stoners, and outright nuts.

30 posted on 10/12/2006 6:37:54 PM PDT by Zeroisanumber (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist
Where are the Libertarian stunning victories?

I'd claim Jesse Ventura, but then I would become depressed and ashamed.

31 posted on 10/12/2006 6:41:49 PM PDT by Zeroisanumber (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: Zeroisanumber

I don't think I disagree with anything you say. As a nation, we have elevated protections based on race and religion to the Constitutional level, so one can make a case for federal intervention (leaving aside the whole debate about the Incorporation Clause of the 14th Amendment). At no point, however, have the people consciously given consent to the idea that issues at the center of the Culture War (abortion, marriage, etc) rate as inalienable rights beyond democratic/popular control. And its certainly not the role of judges to arbitrarily say otherwise.


32 posted on 10/12/2006 7:10:25 PM PDT by Aetius
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To: mgstarr

Yes, that's right--wanting to prevent the democrats from taking over and destroying my country means I have no principles.


33 posted on 10/12/2006 8:07:35 PM PDT by Darkwolf377 (Republican, atheist, pro-life)
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To: CWOJackson
The drop in support from Libertarians?

      You misread the article. 

Article:
"The libertarian vote is in play."

That's libertarian, not Libertarian.  Please do not confuse the two.

34 posted on 10/12/2006 8:07:47 PM PDT by Celtman (It's never right to do wrong to do right.)
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To: Darkwolf377

Sadly no.


35 posted on 10/12/2006 8:18:27 PM PDT by mgstarr
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To: traviskicks

ping


36 posted on 10/12/2006 8:32:15 PM PDT by freepatriot32 (Holding you head high & voting Libertarian is better then holding your nose and voting republican)
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To: mgstarr
Lesser of two evils is hardly a winning strategy folks.

If this group of "conservatives" bore some kinship to the class of '94 I'd be interested, but it doesn't.

Like relatives who've overstayed, this Republican congress has started to smell for my tastes.

Worth reposting. Ditto for me.

I've always been fairly libertarian in my outlook (more just a strict adherance to the Constitution really), but have figured the 'pubs were better for us than the 'rats. I'm not sure at all that this is the case any more. I was always a fan of split government. Perhaps we'd be safer with that, than what we have now.

37 posted on 10/12/2006 10:21:01 PM PDT by zeugma (I reject your reality and substitute my own in its place. (http://www.zprc.org/))
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To: Celtman

If the "libertarian" vote is in play given the war and all they are confused children. Unlike Libertarian confused Children.


38 posted on 10/13/2006 8:49:44 AM PDT by CWOJackson
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To: Zeroisanumber; Aetius
"-- Abortion and gay marriage are no more a federal issue than legalized gambling, and both issues should be left to the states. The only exceptions that I could see to that would be issues of racisim or religious descrimination which are urgent enough to require federal intervention/mediation. --"

Zeroisanumber

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I don't think I disagree with anything you say. As a nation, we have elevated protections based on race and religion to the Constitutional level, so one can make a case for federal intervention (leaving aside the whole debate about the Incorporation Clause of the 14th Amendment).

At no point, however, have the people consciously given consent to the idea that issues at the center of the Culture War (abortion, marriage, etc) rate as inalienable rights beyond democratic/popular control.

And its certainly not the role of judges to arbitrarily say otherwise.

Aetius


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


In the 14th Amendment the people consciously gave consent to the idea that life, liberty, or property cannot be denied without due process..

Justice Harlan recognized:     

"-- The full scope of the liberty guaranteed by the Due Process Clause `cannot be found in or limited by the precise terms of the specific guarantees elsewhere provided in the Constitution.
This `liberty´ is not a series of isolated points pricked out in terms of the taking of property; the freedom of speech, press, and religion; the right to keep and bear arms; the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures; and so on. 
It is a rational continuum which, broadly speaking, includes a freedom from all substantial arbitrary impositions and purposeless restraints . --"


Thus, -- "issues at the center of the Culture War" do indeed rate as inalienable rights beyond democratic/popular control.
They are protected by due process of Constitutional law from arbitrary and purposeless impositions..
39 posted on 10/13/2006 9:20:05 AM PDT by tpaine
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To: CWOJackson; Celtman; y'all
That's libertarian, not Libertarian.  Please do not confuse the two.

Celtman


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


If the "libertarian" vote is in play given the war and all they are confused children.
Unlike Libertarian confused Children.

CWO

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


A 'childish' comment.

Proposed new Libertarian party platform

Address:http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1656559/posts


SECTION IV. FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Principles:
Except for circumstances of imminent national danger, a military policy of restraint and disclosure is best. While 9-11 proved that we cannot predict the future or propose a "one-size-always-fits" military policy, we should limit our military operations to those countries that attack or pose an imminent national security threat to the US. We should stop using the military to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries. The glaring exception would be necessary action to prevent mass genocides where no other force can reasonably prevent it.

Our military should be strong, prepared and sufficiently equipped to do their job.
40 posted on 10/13/2006 9:33:18 AM PDT by tpaine
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To: freepatriot32; Abram; albertp; AlexandriaDuke; Alexander Rubin; Allosaurs_r_us; Americanwolf; ...
Libertarian ping! To be added or removed from my ping list freepmail me or post a message here.
41 posted on 10/13/2006 10:18:10 AM PDT by traviskicks (http://www.neoperspectives.com/Amnesty_From_Government.htm)
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To: Aetius
If that trend continues into 2006 and 2008, Republicans will lose elections they would otherwise win.

The Republican Party is the minority party. Republicans can't win elections without the libertarian vote.

insulting argument that your socially liberal views are somehow enshrined in the Constitution, and thus above and beyond us small-minded rubes.

This shows why libertarians are breaking with the RP. You consider defending the Constitutional restrictions against federal government intrusion into our lives "insulting".

We all are free or none of us are.
.
42 posted on 10/13/2006 10:39:50 AM PDT by mugs99 (Don't take life too seriously, you won't get out alive.)
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To: CWOJackson; Extremely Extreme Extremist
I find the article somewhat misleading. The small "l" libertarian vote isn't "in play" in the sense that any of us would ever vote for a dem. The danger is they will stay home or vote for a big "L" libertarian. A lot of us, myself included, left the Libertarian party after 9-11 due to their pathetic, pacifist position on the WOT, unyielding oppostion to the Patriot act, putting drug legalization as priority #1, etc.

The overriding issue for me (I can't speak for others on this) is limited government and federalism. If the Repubs abandon that, they've abandoned their core principles, and their ad-nauseum refrain of "YOU MUST VOTE FOR US, JUST LOOK AT HOW MUCH WORSE THE DEMS ARE!" won't work forever. Bush has done a good job in the WOT and he's given us two dynamite SCOTUS justices. Beyond that, he leaves much to be desired.

43 posted on 10/13/2006 10:58:41 AM PDT by lesser_satan (EKTHELTHIOR!!!)
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To: CWOJackson
"Libertarians preferred George W. Bush over Al Gore by 72 to 20 percent, but Bush's margin dropped in 2004 to 59-38 over John Kerry."

Remind me again...just how are they conserative?

You must realize that a.)President Bush is not conservative, so his numbers are not indicitive of conservative views b.)There are a lot of idiots such as Bill Mahar who clkaim to be libertarian but are anything but and c.)President Reagan called libertarianism the "heart and soul of conservatism".

44 posted on 10/13/2006 10:58:59 AM PDT by jmc813 (.)(.)
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To: CWOJackson
The drop in support from Libertarians? Some how I think the loss of one tenth of one percent went unnoticed.

This article cites up to 20% of Americans considering themselves to be small-l libertarian.

45 posted on 10/13/2006 11:00:07 AM PDT by jmc813 (.)(.)
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To: Zeroisanumber
Jesse wasn't even close. He was just a bumbling idiot and a political bastard-child that nobody wants to claim.
46 posted on 10/13/2006 11:01:29 AM PDT by lesser_satan (EKTHELTHIOR!!!)
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To: CWOJackson
"Libertarians preferred George W. Bush over Al Gore by 72 to 20 percent, but Bush's margin dropped in 2004 to 59-38 over John Kerry."

Remind me again...just how are they conserative?


Exactly. They are not "conservative" in any meaningful sense. Moral and cultural relativists who do not reject their behavioral pathologies, but celebrate them and vote according to them, can never be considered conservatives.

Help keep the GOP conservative—Drop a c-note on Santorum
http://www.ricksantorum.com
47 posted on 10/13/2006 11:05:28 AM PDT by Antoninus (Ruin a Democrat's day...help re-elect Rick Santorum.)
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To: CWOJackson
If the "libertarian" vote is in play given the war and all they are confused children.

I would venture to guess that at least 90% of libertarian freepers think we are doing the right thing with regards to the War on Terror. You continue to intentionally refuse to note the difference between small-government advocates and big-L Libertarians.

I cannot for the life of me figure out how you can be so good and knowledgable on threads relating to Russia and the military yet be so dopey on others.

48 posted on 10/13/2006 11:06:06 AM PDT by jmc813 (.)(.)
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To: CWOJackson

I know a number of libertarians who voted for Kerry with the hopes of having gridlock between a Republican Congress and a Democratic President. I seriously considered it myself, but couldn't bring myself to pull the D lever. Never have, doubt I ever will. If I can't bring myself to vote for the R, I vote for a third party or a write-in.


49 posted on 10/13/2006 11:07:29 AM PDT by MinnesotaLibertarian
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To: Aetius
Reason seems to have a bit of a liberal-libertarian bent, unlike many other libertarians (such as myself) that consider ourselves conservatives. I still read Reason if I see an article that looks interesting, but I take it with a grain of salt. A few months ago I remember I read the Reason staff's picks of who their favorite Supreme Court justices where, and that was a real eye-opener for me - a couple named Ruth Bader Ginsburg. To me, Clarence Thomas is the only Supreme Court justice that could be considered libertarian (maybe Alito, we'll have to see).

Anyways, both I and anyone else I know who considers themselves a libertarian does indeed favor a state's rights based approach to dealing with social issues. However, most of us will take the "liberal" position within our state.
50 posted on 10/13/2006 11:18:01 AM PDT by MinnesotaLibertarian
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