Watching a clip of Chris Matthews and two guests lump the Tea Party, CPAC, and libertarians together was enough to make my skin crawl — and not as a great thrill up my leg, to paraphrase Matthews. No, it is utter disgust and contempt I feel for Matthews and company, people who see what they want to see.
The core of classical liberalism, libertarianism with the small "L" independent of party nonsense, is that the ultimate "property right" is that of yourself over your mind and body. To quote John Stuart Mill, "The individual is sovereign." That is, in essence, classical liberalism.
It is an ideal of negative rights, a terminology I have repeatedly criticized as unfortunate. It is the right to be protected against government abuses.
When Matthews and company suggest states rights, a common "conservative" mantra, is in any way associated with libertarianism, they are mistake. The smaller state or county has no more right to my being than does the federal government. Freedom comes first, second, and third.
Whether you are black, green, blue, brown, orange, or teal; gay, straight, transgender, or bisexual; left, right, center, or something else… we should always error on the side of your freedoms over whatever "society" might judge as "best" for the community. The left and right have different ideas of what is best, but they both want to control individuals. Libertarianism, real classical liberalism, opposes these attempts to crush individual freedoms in the name of community.
Why are there black conservatives and libertarians? Because some recognize that while the federal government often has to defend the rights of minorities of all manner, the federal power can also be easily abused against unpopular groups. We have plenty of historical evidence of such abuses, something every progressive should readily admit.
Why we should trust government escapes me. The idealists say that government protects people. Just because government has done so occasionally (and not for that many years, historically), I don't trust it to be so well-behaved indefinitely. Someday, the people in power will abuse that power.
Faith in government assumes that a group of people are wiser than individuals. How often is that the case? Mobs don't tend to be wise. We already know research shows brainstorming merely feels good, but doesn't produce better results. We don't trust other large organizations, yet we trust government?
Do we need governments? Certainly. Should we restrict their power? Most definitely.
Governments at all levels, the masses, have no business telling you who you can love, what you can eat, or what you can believe. Governments should do the least amount possible — mainly to protect my rights from you and your rights from me. Local should do more than state and state should do more than federal, but each should be restrained.
When Matthews and his stream of politically correct guests, often "scholars" with obvious biases, claim that everyone opposed to a strong federal government are racists, homophobic, xenophobes, they damage their own argument. The name calling does not persuade those of us with socially "liberal" beliefs to embrace the progressive agenda — it repels us.
MSNBC should be ashamed of Matthews and most of its talking heads. Of course, Fox and MSNBC don't really care about having real dialogues about the limitations of government. They are simply selling two different versions of big government, each by calling the other names.
Too bad Matthews doesn't want to educate his viewers; he merely seeks to reinforce their biases.