Libertarians smell an elephant at the Tea Party

As the Tea Party movement has expanded in recent months, I’ve long wondered when the nation’s Libertarians would step up and wonder aloud whether their conservative high ground was being yanked from under them by the Republican Party.

Now Libertarian Party executive director Wes Benedict has cleared the air, thusly: "Many Libertarians around America are planning to go to Tea Party rallies tomorrow. I also expect lots of Republican activists and politicians to be there. But frankly, I don’t think those Republicans belong there. The people participating in these rallies are saying ‘There’s too much government spending,’ but Republicans, decade after decade, have supported massive increases in government spending. During the George W. Bush administration, Republicans in Congress supported spending trillions of dollars on foreign wars, a massive Medicare expansion, and banker bailouts. Republicans doubled the budget and doubled the federal debt. Why can’t the Republican Party just admit that it loves big government?

"If I thought there would be many Democrats at these rallies, I’d criticize them too. However, I think it’s safe to say that they’ll be few and far between. "Many Libertarians are enthusiastic about the Tea Parties, but many are not. Many Libertarians are concerned that participating causes us to get lumped in with conservatives and Republicans. In our online poll at LP.org, 28% so far say that ‘The Tea Parties have become too Republican-flavored.’

"Libertarians are often frustrated when the press characterizes us as ‘right-wing’ or ‘conservative.’ Although we certainly support reducing government spending, which most conservatives also claim to support, we differ from right-wingers on many issues: for example, we oppose foreign interventionism, support immigrant-friendly policies, oppose overreaction to terrorism, and oppose the War on Drugs. "Libertarians are neither left-wing nor right-wing. We’re in a different place on the political map….”

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