I am always intrigued when conservatives, many of whom genuinely believe themselves to be devoted to human liberty, make a point of attacking its most principled and consistent advocates. So, it was amusing to read the anti-libertarian arguments recently presented by Ann Coulter, whom I rather like and whose work I have praised in the past.
But even the finest minds are capable of making mistakes from time to time, and in such cases, who is better suited to provide correction than a fellow WND commentator and “prominent Christian libertarian”? While I can’t speak for Ron Paul or any other libertarian but myself, it should not be difficult to point out where this illustrious pillar of the Republican media establishment has gone awry in her attack on libertarianism.
In her column titled “Get rid of government – but 1st make me president,” Miss Coulter unfortunately demonstrates that her historical knowledge of marriage is severely limited and does not even rise to the level of Wikipedia. Does she genuinely believe that children were not adopted, child support and child custody issues were not resolved, and health care was not provided before 1853, when Virginia passed a law requiring county clerks to issue marriage licenses and keep marriage registers? Were there no disputes regarding wills settled prior to that date? It is worth noting that in some states, such as Washington, all marriage-related information was kept at the county level until 1968. And yet, civil society somehow managed to settle these issues without devolving into total chaos.
I further note that it was not until the 24th session of the Council of Trent, in 1563, that any church or state authority even seriously concerned itself with the question of overseeing marriage, the Codex Justinianus and Lex Papia Poppaea notwithstanding. For most of human history, men and women have successfully married, bred and raised families without the involvement or the permission of the state. Given the plunge in Western birth rates of the last 50 years, the more relevant argument is if the institution of marriage can survive the interference of the state, not if it requires it.
Coulter’s objections to the libertarian position on state-registered marriage border are amusingly ironic, given her appeals to Social Security and Medicare benefits. She fails to understand that Rep. Paul, like most libertarians, doesn’t support either federal program. He is merely cognizant of the fact that they will need to be phased out over time given the large numbers of people presently dependent upon them. As for her question of how an individual will be able to know if he is divorced or not, I submit that this has never been difficult for any man or woman to discern since Moses first set out the divorce law of the Israelites.
The anti-libertarian argument that Coulter presents is not merely historically illiterate, it is also incoherent. She claims that libertarians are “cowering frauds too afraid to upset anyone to take a stand on some of the most important cultural issues of our time,” but the fact is that it is libertarians who have been consistently leading the charge against three of the most fundamentally intrusive and unconstitutional aspects of the current federal government: the drug war, the ever-growing list of foreign wars and occupations, and the fraudulent financial system.
“Cowering frauds” is a term that is best reserved for Republicans, who preach fiscal responsibility while repeatedly raising the debt ceiling, who talk about the importance of respecting the law while permitting Wall Street to openly violate it at will, and who claim to advocate personal freedom while staunchly supporting a futile Prohibition that saw three times more Americans arrested for drugs last year than were arrested in 1980. And speaking of “cowering frauds,” where was Miss Coulter when the McCain-Palin ticket suspended its Republican presidential campaign to help the Bush administration collude with the Democratic Senate to ram TARP down the throats of a protesting American public?
Check the WND archives for the two months leading up to the 2008 presidential election. Miss Coulter was too busy cheering on the Red Faction of the bifactional ruling party in a futile attempt to elect John McCain to bother speaking out against the Republican elite’s rejection of economic reality, small government principles, the U.S. Constitution and the American people. On the other hand, WorldNetDaily’s two libertarians, Ilana Mercer and myself, wrote no less than 10 columns attacking TARP and the treacherous Bush bailouts during those two months. When viewed from this perspective, Ann Coulter calling libertarians “cowardly frauds” looks rather like Anthony Weiner calling Pope Benedict XVI a perverted exhibitionist.
It doesn’t take courage or integrity for a Republican to attack liberal Democrats. They are a target-rich environment. What is far more difficult is to remain true to the principles of small government and human liberty even in the face of the temptation of political pragmatism and partisan fame.