How are libertarian lovers of liberty responding to the assault on democracy and the rule of law that took place in the Capitol Wednesday?
Over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen speaks out eloquently against Trump’s anti-democratic behavior. Just kidding! In a post entitled “That was then, this is now” Cowen reminds us about the terrorist attack on Congress by Puerto Rican nationalists in 1954. But there is no analogy between a terrorist attack by a politically powerless minority (as bad as that is) and a mob attempting to subvert American democracy at the behest of a sitting President who just lost an election. No analogy at all.
Cowen also has a post bemoaning the failure of the Capitol police to secure Congress, and a post quibbling over the correct definition of a “coup” and expressing surprise that some Capitol police officers seemed sympathetic to the protesters. I enjoy a good debate over proper English usage as much as the next guy, but . . . No mention of Trump? No mention of the Republicans who enable him? No mention of the role of Fox News? And being surprised by the behavior of the cops, what can I say? We saw the sympathy of the police for armed right wing vigilantes this summer.
There are important issues I agree with Cowen on (notably on covid – an issue on which he is not libertarian), but his inability (or unwillingness) to see or admit the seriousness of Trump’s assault on democracy – supported by so many elected Republicans – is baffling. Why, it’s almost like he is playing for Team Republican, to borrow a phrase from Brad DeLong.
Let’s head over to our reactionary, race-baiting liberty-loving friend Donald Boudreaux at cafehayek . . . Nada, just the usual anti-lockdown hysteria (“tyranny”, “deranged lockdowns”, blah blah blah). Oh, and he helpfully informs us that “Tamping down the current derangement is the most pressing challenge facing humanity today.” Uh-huh. Democracy? Whatever! We have some government-bashing to do . . .
I get a couple of feeds from econlib.org. Crickets. What about Hoover? A fun piece by David Henderson entitled Markets Work, Government Doesn’t (Hoover optimistically classifies this as “research”, I kid you not). There’s a broken link to a reasonable sounding commentary by James Mattis. A Fox News clip featuring the great libertarian John “torture memo” Yoo suggesting, in an even-handed way, that violent protesters should be arrested whether they are antifa or Trump supporters. Both sides do it! And a podcast by Sebastian Gorka that I won’t bother listening to.
Arnold Kling? Nah.
And libertarian friend of the blog Jason Brennan has a piece up which asks us to consider if the mob storming the Capitol would have been justified if the election had in fact been stolen. Naturally, there is no discussion of the risks that Trump and his followers and enablers pose to American democracy, or what steps we might take to preserve our democracy.
So my question to libertarians: why should we believe that you care about democracy and the rule of law? Why shouldn’t we think that (most of) you are playing for Team Republican, and for the worst parts of that team? Silence is complicity.