Giuliani and Libertarians

A comment in the post below expressed bemusement that Rudy Giuliani could find sympathy amongst those with Libertarian tendencies.  This poster seems to recall Hizzoner as a “gun grabbing”, “police state” mayor.

I understand the question.  You have to look at it from a perspective that respects one of Libertarianism’s fundamental requirements of the State:  That of protecting private property.

Giuliani’s priority as Mayor– the reason he was elected– was to make the City safer and more pleasant.  Read that as “Protect their private property.”

Hence this person’s perception of him as a “gun-grabbing” and “police state” mayor.  I think Giuliani was wrong at the time with his handgun lawsuits, but he thought he had two opposing freedoms he had to prioritize: Civil order and the right to defence.  I am a pretty dogged 2nd Amendment advocate, but even I can appreciate how the priorities of NYC in a crime wave and Idaho are different, and probably require different approaches.  So while aspiring to be President, it is natural for Giuliani to become more sympathetic to gun owners, which he has.

It is enlightening to also understand that the protection of private property is why– as a mayor rather than the President– he was Libertarian-ish on immigration.  He wanted illegals to be comfortable dealing with the local gendarmes so they could report on the bad apples.

Some suggest the Mayor has been doing a lot of flip-flopping.  Without getting into semantical arguments, I think it is important to understand that those issues on which he has drifted rightward merely reflect differently weighted priorities of two different jobs:  That of Mayor of NYC and that of President of the United States.  As he has pointed out, it would have been easier for him to just complete the flip-flop and lie.  A look at the GOP field illustrates at least one candidate who is comfortable doing this.  One thing, though, that appears to be consistent with the Mayor is that at the core he is driven by a respect for the freedoms of law-abiding individuals to pursue their own happiness, and an understanding that it is the State’s role to defend these freedoms.

I do not at all suggest that Giuliani would be at home in the Libertarian party.  I do suggest, though, that he is Libertarian-friendly:  His first priority is to protect your property and civil society in general.  His second priority– as evidenced by his actions in NYC and the associated favorable reviews from the Club for Growth and endorsement by Steve Forbes– is to minimize the vigor with which government dips into your bank account.  After that, he pretty much feels the states should decide on all the culturally divisive social issues.

That, I say, is pretty Libertarian friendly.  Does he buy into Libertarian ideology?  Probably not, as his habits of character can be quirky and pretty hierarchical.  Note his apparent distaste of ferret owners.  But when the time comes in a general election for Ron Paul supporters to pull a lever, I hope those that aren’t using their support for Paul merely a way to promote isolationism will do the needful and vote for Giuliani rather than staying home or voting for his opponent.

Assuming, of course, Hizzoner can secure the nomination, which is a whole ‘nother article, as Nordlinger says.  I am not entirely sure how Paul’s supporters effect that process.  Not much, I tend to think…


3 responses to “Giuliani and Libertarians

  1. Thanks for the response.

  2. Hopefully, you agree that the best way to judge a candidate is by his or her record. Because running for office happens to currently be the most craven of activities in American life, you really can’t trust a goddamned thing they say.

    But there are a few glaring holes in your logic regarding the functions of a mayor versus those of a president.

    Both a subservient to – and swear an oath to “uphold, protect and defend” – the United States Constitution. That oath, nor the Constitution itself, makes any distinction between a president and mayor. Actually, that’s not true. Since it isn’t explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, a strict constructionist can argue that municipal government has no right to exist.

    The last time I checked, the Second Amendment was still very much a part of the Bill of Rights. That leads to the interesting question as to whether as mayor, Giuliani had the constitutional right to challenge, legisilate or litigate anything under the Constitution.

    You might not appreciate this, but the Constitution doesn’t differentiate in regards to geography. It applies just as much in New York City as it does in Idaho. The fact that he doesn’t seem to understand that is the most disturbing thing about Rudy.

    Also, Giuliani didn’t only keep in place New York City’s handgun ban, he sued the gun makers for liability in gun deaths and to recoup Medicare costs. Since Medicare is administered by the states, he overstepped his authority, in as much as he had any to begin with as a Constitional matter. Furthermore, the passing of any criminal law properly resides with the state.

    Immigration is also a matter of federal, not municipal law. In so far as he declared New York a “sanctuary city,” he flouted federal law. I think the illegal immigration bugaboo among conservatives is reckless, short-sighted and stupid, but that doesn’t change the fact that the mayor encouraged illegal immigration and prohibited law enforcement from reporting it to federal authorities. How this is different from Gavin Newsom’s actions in San Francisco escapes me.

    Certainly the right to enjoy private property wasn’t extended to the private businessmen of Times Square. It used to be a perfectly acceptable place to masturbate and generated a great deal of revenue for the city from it. But he engaged in an exercise in social engineering to Disnefy the area using his zoning power. That’s hardly a “libertarian-friendly” use of power, nor one that especially respects free-enterprise.

    Rudy Giuliani is neither “libertarian-friendly” nor is he a “strict constructionist.” No one who would describe themselves as either would have endorsed Mario Cuomo for re-election as governor in 1994. That he continues to blast that poor retard Romney for voting for Tsongas in a primary as a private citizen tells you pretty much all you need to know about Rudy.

    What he is good at is playing to the appropriate crowd. I’ll give him that, for what it’s worth.

  3. I don’t know, Skippy. The Tenth Amendment sure seems to presuppose some sort of municiple government, or at least some sort of local government the shape of which is determined by the states.

    Anyway, you seem to be conflating “Libertarian” and “Constitutional” with your response. This is a mistake, and it also leaves me at a loss as to which avenue I am to pursue as a rejoinder. If this is a crafy debating technique, well done!

    The core of the issue is this: As long as there are judges willing to read the constitution such that they pretend there’s a right to abort babies in there, or that the 2nd Amendment only applies to militias, we are always going to be subject to the whims of the courts.

    Thus the best thing a president can do to fight against such activism is to appoint judges willing to restrict their decisions to issues on which our Founder’s intent is discernable. Thus the results of their recklessness will be as localized as possible.

    Did mayor Giuliani contravene orginalist ideology while running NYC? Yes. Do I care? Not really, as the Mayor of NYC has one job: Making NYC livable. Mayor Giuliani achieved that rather spectacularly. Ideology can advise us generally on how to achieve desirable ends, but it is not an end in itself.

    But a President Elect Giuliani is responsible to the country at large. If that president clearly favors a Federalist approach where possible to various issues– abortion, gay marriage, gun control– then this is the best thing to which my country’s Libertarian types can aspire.

    And Rudy Giuliani is endorsed by two of the co-founders of the FEDERALIST Society, the birthing pool from which your beloved Nino, Skippy, emerged.

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