My Own Pie

Libertarian Thoughts from Renaissance Guy

The Last Good President

with 5 comments

     One reason that I decided to become a Libertarian is that I have been extremely disappointed with the last two Republican Presidents. In 1988 I was not a supporter of the older George Bush. I was campaigning for Jack Kemp and strongly hoping for him to win.  In 2000 I supported Alan Keyes rather than George W. Bush.  Alas, neither of my guys won!  What we got instead were two wishy-washy Republicans who were barely different from the Democrats.

     The last good president that we had was Ronald Reagan, and he was actually better than good.  I admired him personally and politically.  As far as I am concerned he stood for what the Republican Party should be, not what it gradually has become.

     I am pretty tired of people assuming that I was a fan of President George W. Bush, just because I was a Republican.  He disappointed me very much, and I know that he disappointed lots of other people like me.

     I am tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.  I am tired of hoping in vain for a solid free-market-loving Republican to arise and win the nomination and the election.

     People have said that I would be wasting my vote to join a third party.  I do not think that I will be wasting my vote; I think that I will be using my vote in the only way that a person should–with conviction and courage.  I am tired of the pragmatic argument.  I want to live by principle not by pragmatism.


Written by ambrosianideas

October 2, 2009 at 6:43 am

5 Responses

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  1. Reagan did do some things that I think really created long term problems for the US, and which libertarians especially should be critical of. First, he started a massive increase in budget deficits, with his administration famously saying that budgets don’t matter. While the Democrats were complicate, he oversaw a rise in US debt from 30% of GDP to 60% of GDP. Moreover, the US went from having a current account surplus to deficit, shifting towards cheap imports from third world states rather than production at home. That may seem libertarian, except most libertarian economists would not want this funded by an ever growing current account deficit. (To be sure, the Clinton years continued and intensified this).

    Reagan also had a foreign policy disaster with Iran-Contra, and the arming of militants in Central America does not seem at all libertarian. Indeed, the aspect of the libertarian part I admire most is the non-interventionist foreign policy and the desire to massively cut US military spending and commitment abroad. I almost think that alone would make a Libertarian President superior to a Republican or Democratic one! Finally, Reagan gets credit for ending his defense build up (in real terms) in 1985, and responding positively to Gorbachev. Gorbachev was able to convince the Soviet military that he had “tamed” Reagan, and once they decided SDI was not a threat, to work with the US on major arms control initiatives. Reagan rejected the right wing of his party who said he was being too kind to Gorbachev (they called him ‘just a slick commie’), and that cooperation probably did a lot to assure the end of the Cold War was peaceful. Reagan (and Gorbachev) both deserve considerable credit for their diplomacy.

    Scott Erb

    October 2, 2009 at 6:30 pm

  2. Oh, Reagan’s pragmatism is what caused him to be successful. Principle is fine for your own life, but in politics if you can’t compromise and problem solve with people of other principles and basic beliefs, you’ll get nothing done. Politics without compromise and pragmatism is political jihad, ideological war which tears a society apart. Reagan was a great compromiser. He stated principle first, but then worked with others.

    Also, there is the question of clear principles. Anti-communism was a principle, but do you help murderers and thugs in Central America who have no desire for democracy and who are raping and killing? If you do, you certainly are compromising some principles.

    Scott Erb

    October 2, 2009 at 10:12 pm

  3. Scott, nobody is perfect. Every presdient is open to criticism. (Well, every president before Barack Obama. 🙂 )

    I did not say that Ronald Reagan was a perfect president or the quintessential libertarian president. I said that he was a good president.

    Can you name a U. S. President of the 20th Century with more libertarian-like views than Reagan?

    As I state on my About page, I am not a perfect libertarian. I am just more libertarian than anything else. If I still have some residual conservative leanings, oh well. Perhaps I will become more and more libertarian as time goes on.


    October 3, 2009 at 5:35 pm

  4. Well, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover certainly are more libertarian like, but that was pre-New deal. Since the New Deal I’m not sure we’ve had any. Kennedy and Reagan had lots of similar perspectives, Reagans sounded more ‘libertarian’ because under LBJ, Nixon, Ford and Carter the government had grown so much. But it grew under Reagan too. Maybe the President can only do so much. (And it was Clinton who said “the era of big government is over” and balanced the budget…albeit with the help of a bubble economy!)

    Scott Erb

    October 4, 2009 at 12:48 am

  5. Yes, on Calvin Coolidge. Maybe on Herbert Hoover.

    As you say, the New Deal changed everything. I saw Reagan as trying to put the brakes on a team of speeding horses.


    October 4, 2009 at 2:27 am

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