There’s Not Much Left for Libertarians in the GOP

By Dan King

There’s pretty much nothing left for libertarians to like about the GOP.

Last night’s Republican debate – and all of the Republican debates since Sen. Rand Paul dropped out – prove that point emphatically.

As Reason Magazine Editor-in-Chief Matt Welch depressingly tweeted during last night’s debate, “So, Republicans are now against free trade. Sweet.” Free trade was one of the few remaining likable things about the Republican Party, and now we don’t even have that.

But it only gets worse from there.

The top four GOP candidates were unanimous in supporting increased military spending and wars. All of the candidates except Ohio Gov. John Kasich are still fighting culture wars on gay marriage and looking to build a wall on the border (or at least deport millions of people). All four are supportive of increased domestic spying on innocent American citizens, and not a single one has mentioned a peep about criminal justice reform recently.

Don’t worry, it gets worse, yet. Front runner Donald Trump has expressed interest in stymieing the first amendment by “closing up” the internet and strengthening libel laws, effectively putting a chilling effect on those who criticize Mein Donald. And plus his “Muslims hate us” line, if turned into a policy would certainly impede on the freedom of religion.  

Sen. Ted Cruz, who used to be a decent civil libertarian, has come out hard against Edward Snowden in recent debates. The same guy that Cruz once called a hero.

The only mention we’ve really heard from any of the candidates regarding the war on drugs comes from Kasich, who wants to strengthen it, not end it.

So, what’s left to like about Republican candidates? Not much.

All four candidates seem to take a small government approach on guns. So, if you’re a single-issue libertarian and guns are your one issue, maybe these guys are tolerable.

Cruz mentioned his opposition to corn subsidies last night and in previous debates has talked about his opposition to the Export/Import Bank.

Kasich, as I said above has moved past culture wars on gay marriage, he’s the only adult on immigration, and he’s also a big fan of reminding you that he balanced the federal budget.

With Rubio and Trump, to me, there wasn’t anything last night that stood out as hopeful for liberty-minded voters.

Okay, let’s face it, with Rand Paul gone, there’s nothing left to like about the GOP.