June 22, 2003

Kerry, Edwards, Bush: who is a libertarian

The democratic candidates are challenging Bush's economic position from a variety of stances but at least one of them might do better to get some more education before continuing. It is clear that, as both David and Brian at Catalarchy imply, Kerry doesn't understand Libertarianism and doesn't understand Bush's politics or economics:

Kerry also took questions from the audience; the last came from a glamorous young woman wearing a low-cut white dress who wanted to know how he felt about the charge—levelled by Dean, among others—that he was too similar to Bush to lead the Democrats. “The Bush Administration agenda isn’t conservative Republicanism, and it’s not radical Republicanism—it’s extreme libertarianism,” he replied.
On the other hand, John Edwards clearly does understand Bush and the current American economic system (even as he misuses the word capitalist):
Our economy, our people, and our nation have been undermined by the crony capitalists who believe that success is all about working the angles, working the phones, and rigging the game, instead of hard work, innovation and frugality.

And these manipulators find comfort in an Administration which, through its own example, seems to embrace that ethic.

It is refreshing that at least one of these folks is willing to call a Bush a Bush and has a set of proposals that appear to have the American people as their focus rather than a wealthy few. No, Edwards is not a Libertarian but Balko might find more to like about Edward's talk then what most of the other dems are saying (remember that as Bush has amply demonstrated just talking a good game is not enough...you have to walk it as well).

William Saletan presents a thorough analysis of the Edward's speech over at Slate which Zach Wendling summarizes:
1) I'm pro-capitalism and anti-big government.
2) Capitalism isn't greed; it has values and rules.
3) Corporate cheaters are subverting those values and rules.
4) Bush is a cheater, too.
5) Bush's overt policies also flout capitalist values.
6) Bush is raising taxes.
7) Bush is soft on crime.
8) Bush is as bad as a socialist.
Zach points correctly that Edwards is courting the demo fiscal conservatives (he could pick up a few republican ones as well) and calls Edwards 'Your Libertarian Candidate.' Well maybe incrementally but I doubt most libertarians would consider Edwards one of their own.

And, Ezra at Not Geniuses says that this is:
one of the most interesting speeches of the Primary so far
and has a modest proposal of his own for us to evaluate.

Posted by Steve on June 22, 2003
follow me on Twitter