Peace and Free Enterprise

by Jerry O’Driscoll  

Initially, the headlines about the Iowa straw poll said Bachmann won. That was literally true, but hardly interesting. Libertarian Ron Paul basically tied her. The two candidates blew out the rest of the field with 57% of the vote. Under pressure from rapid blog postings, the established media have caught up with the facts.

All candidates spoke of the need for smaller government. Reasonable voters might have suspected, however, that not all candidates were as seriously committed to that as Bachmann and Paul. Both have unassailable Tea party credentials. The Tea Party in part grew out of Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign. Bachmann jumped on the bandwagon early, before it was popular.

Paul finished fifth in Iowa in 2007. He surged this year on two other issues: end the wars and end the Fed. His call to bring home the troops and end the wars resonated with Iowa Republican voters. We’ll see how it plays out in other contests.

(Ending the Fed was actually his most popular issue in 2008. I thinking ending the wars mattered more this time.)

The linkage between peace and free markets was central to classical liberalism in 19th century Britain, right up through the Gladstone Liberal victory in 1906. Nineteenth-century economist James Mill summed it up when he said that war was the worst calamity that can befall a country. Randolph Bourne summed it up in 20th century when he described war as the health of the state. That is a favorite Ron Paul quote.

What won in Iowa is liberty.

11 thoughts on “Peace and Free Enterprise

  1. The Sunday morning TV talk-shows (the ones I saw, at least)really downplayed Ron Paul’s close second to Bachmann. (As was the case in the first New York Times report — as Jerry informed me.) The is interesting because the media do not believe Bachmann has a chance to be nominated. They view Ron Paul in the same way. While Bachmann reinforces the convenient Tea Party stereotype, Paul is confusing to media. What’s more, they do not wish to explain where his views come from and how they might be the basis of a new coalition. If he keeps doing well, maybe this will change.

  2. About Bachmann this post is disinformed. To consider her pro-liberty seems just incorrect. Based on a close reading of her voting record, squarely classifies her as a conservative, not a libertarian.

    Here are some of her positions.

    NO on Veto override: Congressional oversight of CIA interrogations: Strongly Opposes
    NO on requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps in US, but not abroad: Strongly Opposes
    YES on extending the PATRIOT Act’s roving wiretaps: Strongly Opposes
    YES on removing need for FISA warrant for wiretapping abroad: Strongly Opposes
    YES on retroactive immunity for telecoms’ warrantless surveillance
    NO on removing US armed forces from Afghanistan: Strongly Opposes

  3. I wish people who want to criticize would at least read my posts with some care. I said both Bachmann and Paul agreed on a Tea Party agenda. That’s pro-liberty. She is a conventional conservative on other issues.

    Paul also called for ending wars. That’s pro-liberty. He gained on that issue. The electorate is ahead of party leaders on the wars.

    Paul made electoral gains on the issues on which he and Bachmann disagree. that is how you change the debate in politics.

  4. Andreas,

    Like her or not, Bachmann is intelligent. She is a tax lawyer by training.

    Ordinary people identify with her foilbles. Elites turn their noses up.

    The electorate eventually turned against Bush. But not because of his malapropisms.

  5. Jerry,

    okay. This was not a critique. I have no opinion on her. I do not know anything about her. I was just surprised of your post as media suggested her to be quite rightist – which to me seems less libertarian.

    On the other hand, that Ron Paul came in second was also not mentioned in the German mass media here. One had to look hard for that.

    Thanks for the interesting post.

  6. Jerry,

    So with Perry, Bachmann and Paul in it, the campaign will be about austerity, debt reduction and less government in the economy, which is necessary in the US. This is would be good.

    But then, congress is split. So it might just be a promising campaign again?

  7. Andreas,

    I didn’t take what you said as a critique.

    My point is the results in total were positive: Bachmann plus Paul. Since the media keep missing the strength of the Paul showing, they don’t understand what happened. There was one good AP story over the weekend.

    The congressional races will be very important. Another third of the Senate will be up for re-election and the entire House again.

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