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Twitter Calls Trump's Bluff
Despite Trump's bluster, he clearly needs Twitter while they don't really need him. Also, Are Conservatives Truly Welcome in the Libertarian Party, and Another Low Point in Ethnic Tensions.
Isn’t it funny how adding some quotes around a word can totally change the message? Donald Trump “fights,” Joe Biden is a “moderate,” Republicans are the party of “values,” Democrats want to restore “norms,” this is this week’s “Friday” issue of Self-Evident...
Twitter Calls Trump’s Bluff
We’ve had an interesting week on the social media front. For the first time ever, Twitter fact-checked a tweet by the President. The President was, as you might imagine, displeased. He has responded with calls to regulate social media and to revoke section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
(For those who don’t know, section 230 protects online platforms by ensuring the owners of the platforms are not held liable for the content created by its users. Ironically, removing this section would force Twitter to not only fact-check but remove entirely anything Trump might say that could be considered false or misleading, because they would be legally responsible and liable for the content)
But, if the President expected Twitter to back down after his threats, he was soon to be disappointed. On the evening of the 28th, the President posted a Tweet that seemed to suggest he might deploy the National Guard to deal with the Minneapolis riots and shoot looters (the exact words of the tweet were “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”)
In response, Twitter censored the tweet, claiming it “violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.” Twitter users could still view the content of the tweet by clicking past the warning, but they could no longer comment on or like the tweet. (The phrase “when the looting start, the shooting starts” has historical connotations and was used by several prominent segregationists during the Civil Rights Era)
It appears Twitter has made clear their intention to check the President’s use of their platform as a sounding board for false, misleading, or inappropriate messaging, and they are not backing down. The real question is, will President Trump actually do anything about it? After all, Twitter doesn’t need him, but he sure needs Twitter.
Are Conservatives Truly Welcome in the Libertarian Party?
I have spoken extensively, in this newsletter and elsewhere, about the unique and historic opportunity the Libertarian Party had when it appeared Justin Amash might become their presidential candidate. Amash was singularly positioned to bring conservatives and libertarians together in a way not seen since the Cold War.
But Justin Amash, in the end, chose not to seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination. Content with his position as the only Libertarian Congressman in history, he’s now focused on securing his seat in the House and acting as the Libertarian Party’s most prominent booster.
A major part of Amash’s current message is that conservatism is dead in the GOP and that American conservatives, as fundamentally classically liberal, are welcome in the Libertarian Party.
While I agree that conservatism is mostly dead in the GOP as it currently stands, my personal experiences and observations of libertarians and the Libertarian Party do not lead me to agree that either modern conservatism nor classical liberalism are fully welcome in the Libertarian Party, especially without a unifying figure like Justin Amash as its presidential candidate.
When I left the Republican Party, I had lots of great conversations with members of the Libertarian Party who encouraged me to join their ranks. But the message was pretty consistent. I was told I could both be conservative and a libertarian, in that I could be “personally conservative” while not advocating for the use of government to “force my views on others.”
But this is a gross over-simplifying of what conservatism in America is. Neither it, nor classical liberalism for that matter, can be boiled down to simply being “personal” positions. They are political frameworks and sensibilities with ideals, principles, and values laid out in the works of political philosophers over the course of centuries.
This is connected to perhaps my most significant disagreement with libertarian orthodoxy. I reject the premise that liberty and order are inevitably in conflict with each other and that the choice must be between minarchy and authoritarianism.
Instead, I believe in ordered liberty and constitutionally limited government (which is different from minimal government, in both theory and practice). I believe that neither liberty nor order can exist without the other, nor do I believe either can be preserved in a non-virtuous society.
From a historical perspective, we’re talking about the intense debates and thorough arguments related to the abandonment of the Articles of Confederation and the drafting of the US Constitution. This isn’t a simple matter of “forcing my views on others through government.” It’s a matter of understanding the realities of human nature and supporting just the right amount of government, and, yes, even coercion where necessary, to ensure a common sphere in which there is liberty and justice for all.
In the end, this is what modern conservatism in America is. It is a political philosophy that seeks to conserve the traditions and values of ordered liberty and the founding vision.
To be conservative, in this sense, isn’t simply a matter of being “personally conservative.” It’s a matter of applying modern conservative and classically liberal ideals in society, in political philosophy, and in government. And, frankly, it’s a philosophy that libertarians, and the LP, have rejected time and time again as statist. Even Reagan and Coolidge, arguably the only constitutionally minded Presidents of the 20th Century, are statists in the eyes of many, many Libertarians.
It’s an unavoidable impasse, I’m afraid, and an impasse that isn’t helped when libertarians embrace anarchists and libertines with open arms while expecting conservatives to check their beliefs and values at the door.
I continue to believe that individualists and traditionalists are intellectual allies and kinships in America. But the Libertarian Party has demonstrated a pretty consistent history of being over-the-top individualist to the point of spitting in the eye of tradition as a matter of pride.
A lot more than words are needed to convince politically homeless conservatives that they could ever belong in the Libertarian Party, especially conservatives who identify as such through conscious self-discovery and deep intellectual conviction.
Another Low Point in Ethnic Tensions
My final topic today is the hardest to write about (and the one whose careful consideration delayed this issue’s publication to Saturday). This past week, the nation has been met with increasingly horrifying images.
First, we saw several recorded videos of a Minneapolis police officer cruelly kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for minutes on end, even after he had passed out and gone completely limp. George Floyd, an African American, was later pronounced dead.
Then, initially peaceful protests of the killing turned violent, and we’ve seen increased violence, rioting, and looting starting in Minneapolis and spreading to major cities around the country.
In times like these, it can feel like Dr. King’s dream is slipping from our fingers. But we must not let go of the belief that we can live in peace and harmony with each other, regardless of race or creed. Dr. King’s vision of peace, reconciliation, and a brotherly bond between all Americans is a vision worth striving for.
I ask the readers of this newsletter to join me this weekend in earnest prayer and to look for ways to find goodness in each other and to stand for what’s right in ways that would make Dr. King proud, ways that can bring us together instead of tearing ourselves further apart.
“Let us fight passionately and unrelentingly to the goals of justice. Let’s be sure that our hands are clean. Let us never fight with falsehood and violence and hate and malice, but always fight with love so that when the day comes and the walls of segregation are completely crumbled...we will be able to live with people as brothers.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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