Category Archives: Federalism

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…

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Presidential Signage in the Commonwealth

I saw the first sign for a presidential campaign in my corner of PA today.  Someone has put up a Ron Paul sign.

For lots of reasons, I probably would have been on that bandwagon 15 years ago.  My first presidential vote was for Andre Marrou, who was actually Ron Paul’s veep choice in ’88 when he ran for president on the Libertarian ticket.

I have since diverged from my Libertarian brothers and sisters.  Getting married and becoming part of a community have steered me away from radical individualism, and I also happen to think the threat that radical Islam represents to Western ideals is something that must at least partly be dealt with actively.  A passive, isolationist response may very well end up being a demographic white flag.

That all said, I wish no ill will to my former comrades in freedom, and hope over time they will come to recognize that in lots of ways Mayor Giuliani– as a fiscally responsible, and socially Federalist candidate– is the most Libertarian-friendly aspirant to the presidency we are likely to see for some time.

At he is for those in the Libertarian party who take property seriously.  I imagine the more libertine sort of Libertarian bristles at the prospect of the Giuliani presidency…

Open Primaries

I was looking at a NH poll today showing Mayor Giuliani lagging behind Romney– which was a bummer as Hizzoner had tightened things up there during the last round of polls– and saw that the bulk of independent voters in NH still aren’t sure which primary they’ll vote in.

They get to make that choice as NH has an open primary: You don’t have to be registered as a member of the same party in who’s primary you’d like to cast a ballot.  I think this bodes will for Giuliani.  The GOP race will be more comeptitive, and hence should draw more independent voters.  I bet Giuliani is very strong with that crowd.  I have not seen commentary regarding this.

As a matter of theory I don’t know how I feel about this.  On the one hand, we are a de facto two party system, if not a de jure one.  I used to be a registered libertarian, and one of the main reasons I now am a registered member of the GOP– and now a ward leader– was I became sick of having no voice in the primaries.  It was a real bummer to be unable to cast a ballot against Arlen Specter…

On the other hand, though, political parties are private organizations.  Now, I think it might be difficult for the Dems to restrict their primary to only illegal immigrants, and for the GOP to restrict theirs to men named Cleetus.  Still, as private organizations I instinctively support their rights to handle their affairs however they want.

I do wonder, though, if Giuliani’s fight for the GOP nod would pretty much be fait accompli if all states had open primaries.  It would certainly be the case here in the Commonwealth of PA.

It’s a problem as old as the GOP, actually.  The primaries are the place where minority factions carry the most water.  But does this end up giving us the best possible candidates for a general election?  Ronald Reagans aren’t very commonplace…

Who is the 2nd choice?

Over at Red State there’s a little discussion going about the dynamics of the GOP primary.  The initial piece theorized that none of the GOP voters supporting 2nd and 3rd tier candidates will select Giuliani as their candidate, so his row will get tougher to hoe as time goes on.

This is just a different way of putting the case that Giuliani benefits from a diffusion of the socially conservative vote.

The question I have is this: What evidence exists that the supporters of Tancredo, Brownback, Hunter, Huckabee, and even McCain do not have Giuliani as their second choice?  It seems to be assumed as impossible, but in PA, for example, we have seen ample polling suggesting evangelical and rural voters like Giuliani just fine.

As I say, people should check the actual data before making assertions.

PA GOP Ex-Congresscritter Fitzpatrick & Rudy

Former member of the US House Mike Fitzpatrick has apparently hitched his star to Giuliani.  See this post from Josh at PA Ave.  If Giuliani wins an earlier PA primary, or still appears the favorite for the nomination in the fall, then Fitzgerald will take another crack at Patrick Murphy, who took his seat in the ’06 bloodbath.  And likely get buried by an avalanch of left-wing netroots money, by the way.

I don’t know much about Murphy, aside from the fact that he’s really good at raising money, and he’s the only Iraq war vet on the Hill.  He always struck me as a potential a John Kerry for the 21st century, though.  I think Kerry felt that way too, as he went out of his way to endorse Murphy.  You know the pattern:  Get home from an unpopular war.  Use your veteran status and opposition to the war to build your profile.  Run for public office with the support of people your former comrades would find loathesome.

Of course, Murphy has a much longer and somewhat more distinguished military record than Kerry did.  And he hasn’t as yet claimed to throw away his military decorations.  So there’s obviously a difference. Also, by mentioning this I in no way mean to imply Fitzpatrick is the savviest political operator and manager.  His campaign was pretty haphazard and not entirely without sleaze.  Of course, all three campaigns I’ve been up close and personal with have been haphazard with sporadic sleaze, so maybe that’s just a characteristic of the genus.

But Fitzpatrick seems to think a Giuliani ticket could serve as a bulwark against all of Murphy’s cash, such is Hizzoner’s popularity in PA.  While I have no opinion on Fitzpatrick’s qualifications for the job, I do find it instructive he so highly estimates Giuliani’s popularity.

Interestingly, Fitzpatrick has pretty impeccable pro-life bonafides.  When asked how he sqaures this with Giuliani, he simply points out Hizzoner is right on the judges, which he seems to understand is all that functionally matters.  With the recent Giuliani endorsement from a co-founder of the Federalist Society– Steve Calabresi– this point has been recently emphasized.

Chester County, PA = USA

The Philadelphia suburbs, in case y’all didn’t know, are the key to winning statewide and Federal elections in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Remember James Carville’s famous quip about PA?  “Pennsylvania is Philadelphia on one side, Pittsburgh on the other, and Alabama in the middle.”

What this means is Democrats can be expected to win the urban areas, and Republicans can be expected to win the rural areas.  The counties surrounding Philadelphia, then, are generally the deciding factor.  These counties used to trend for the GOP.  Not so much anymore.  Exhibit one is the fact Governor Ed Rendell recently garnered around 70% of the vote in these counties against the half-hearted competition of Lynn Swann.  More distressing is the trouncing Rick Santorum recently took against Bob Casey.  Those numbers are detailed by yours truly here.

I mention all this again because G. Terry Madonna and Michael Young had a piece yesterday in The Morning Call pointing out how this trend is bad news for the GOP nationally, and PA may be slipping into a solidly blue state.

[note to Inquirer and Daily News:  The Allentown Morning Call is continuing to kick your big paper ass in presidential election coverage and commentary]

What Madonna and Young do not discuss are the most recent Pennsylvania presidential polls from Quinnipiac University.  [UPDATE:  New Quinnipiac polls were coming out at the time of this post’s composition] What they show is not that the Philadelphia suburbs are turning solidly blue, but that they are purple.  Rudy Giuliani is the only potential GOP candidate who shows well against Democrats here, beating all potential democrat nominees except for Obama, with whom the race would be within the margin of error.

This is because Giuliani has a strong record as a fiscal and law and order conservative, but also a Federalist agenda on potentially divisive social issues.  This is why Giuliani can win Pennsylvania.  And I think this is the most untold story of the presidential race so far:  Giuliani polls well because his positions happen to be the same as the bulk of the American electorate.  It is just that simple.  What plays well in Chester County, Pennsylvania also plays well all over the country.

Last Word on Abortion

There has been some hullabaloo recently on Giuliani’s recent abortion remarks.  I have said elsewhere I will no longer comment on the subject.  Everything that needs to be said has now been said.  Mayor Giuliani seems most clearly the GOP presidential candidate who can plausibly move our country in a direction where less abortions will be performed, as he advocates a Federal solution leaving the matter to the states.  This is the only politically viable strategy, and he is the only candidate advocating it.

Since he has a track record of being personally sympathetic to the case that women should have the choice available to them, his administration would actually be best positioned to defend states who would legislatively choose to restrict abortion availability.  Pro-abortion activists will have a hard time portraying him as an ideologue.

That is the long and short of it.  I have no more to say on the subject, and will not be baited into commenting further.  Wait, one last remark from this moderate pr0-lifer:  First trimester abortions do not equal slavery.