Friday, January 11, 2008

"Now You Know," Says Cato

For the last several months, the Cato Institute has been held up for harsh criticism in various libertarian circles due to its apparent lack of enthusiasm for Ron Paul. The argument was that Cato's relative silence on Ron Paul meant that they were either not "really" libertarians interested in expanding freedoms or that they were more interested in cozying up to the political establishment than in actually showing an interest in the Paul campaign.

At first, I was a bit confused about this lack of interest. Still, the relative silence from Cato sent a subtle message that there was something about Ron Paul that didn't quite add up; something that made displays of enthusiasm for him rather dangerous. That subtle message led me to start keeping my guard up a bit with respect to my support for Paul. When I listened to Paul's Alex Jones appearance, the reasons for Cato's lack of enthusiasm suddenly became much clearer. With the newsletter revelation, it would seem that Cato's position is completely vindicated.

Today, David Boaz tells those who questioned Cato's motives "now you know." Boaz's lengthy post is a powerful plea for libertarians to distance themselves from their paleoconservative cousins (though he points out that they're not even really paleoconservatives). More importantly, though, it is a powerful defense of libertarianism against an association with the words printed under Paul's name and a very public challenge to Paul's remaining defenders to actually address those words rather than obfuscate the point.

The entire post is powerful and, I think, important - so much so that I do not want to weaken it by quoting only part of it. Still, I could not agree more with Boaz's final paragraph:

Libertarians should make it clear that the people who wrote those things are not our comrades, not part of our movement, not part of the tradition of John Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and Robert Nozick. Shame on them.