I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine. -Doctrine and Covenants 38:27
Agree with thine adversary quickly. -3 Nephi 12:25
As a libertarian, I have thought about the many differences between myself and the establishment (liberal and conservative). I would like to focus on common ground between a 21st Century liberal and a 21st Century libertarian (classical liberal).
Common ground? Perhaps you do not believe me. It is true that I have a very difficult time with compulsory state interventionism in nearly any of its forms, be they economic, personal, social, educational, or foreign. And I do believe that liberals, for the most part, have strong confidence in the ability of the state, through various forms of interventionism, to remedy many ills.
But there are commonalities. Let me list a few that if I were in, say, Congress, I could work with left-leaning Democrats to accomplish:
1. Greater government transparency. Too many conservatives have no problem with an opaque government, in matters both foreign and domestic. Secret CIA activities? I don’t want to know about it. Warrantless searches? Just get the bad guys. It seems like there’s a lot of shoulder-shrugging or apathy when it comes to many secretive activities. Liberals, I think, prefer more transparency, at least in larger numbers than conservatives do. For instance, I consider de-classification of historical documents, including those related to the CIA, Richard Nixon, and the JFK assassination, (largely led by Democrats) to be a victory in government transparency. An opaque government is no friend of liberty.
2. Investigation of government regulations. I suppose this could be considered a subset of the first point. It’s true that most left-leaning liberals are much more optimistic about government regulation than I am. But I think that there are many who would like to investigate government regulations, past and present, for effectiveness. What really worked most effectively? What didn’t? What unintended consequences resulted? From a liberal perspective, this type of investigation may show what type of regulations to push forward and which to avoid. From a libertarian perspective, it’s another piece of quantitative data to show the futility of government regulation. I could see independent investigations being helpful for both parties.
3. Bring the troops home. Do I support the troops? Of course I do. I want to bring them home and out of harm’s way, especially in conflicts we have no place in. I think I would have more sympathizers with this perspective from the left than from the right.
4. End corporate welfare. Government business alliances are getting ridiculously out of hand. The last thing big businesses need is more government handouts which go largely to the wealthy. Trickle-down economics needs to stop. I think there are many liberals that would agree with me here. Let’s shut down (at least roll back) funding for the corporate state.
5. Oppose military-industrial complex growth. In general, I think modern-day liberals are more wary of the military-industrial complex than conservatives. Of course, this could be considered a subset of our corporatism. I certainly consider it as such. But it is admittedly a special case.
6. End federal flood insurance. This may be harder going for me, as there are low-income individuals that live in waterfront areas (i.e. New Orleans). But considering the huge number of the uber-wealthy which benefit from having their seaside homes with subisidized government flood insurance, I think at least a trim-down would be in order.
7. Balance the budget. I’d like to think that there are some Democrats who seriously believe in a balanced budget, and have issue with the deficit spending culture we now have, borrowing billions from the Chinese, printing money, etc.
8. Defend civil liberties. I’d also like to think that the opposition from the left to warrantless searches and renditions and torture is more than just political rhetoric, and that there is sincerity of conviction. I hate to say it, but rarely from the establishment right do I hear concern about such things as “civil liberties,” and with a government that has never been bigger, and never more watchful over its citizens, this disturbs me.
9. Push diplomacy over war. The Democrats, I think, are at least slightly more willing to engage in dialogue and at least slightly more reluctant to pre-emptively attack than the establishment Republicans. Some, admittedly, are much more willing to engage in dialogue and much more reluctant to engage in pre-emptive conflict.
Of course, under government transparency, there are a whole host of secretive activities that could be less secretive, but the CIA and the Federal Reserve come quickly to mind as two of the more significantly shadowy operations. The government is so large that there are many different possible ways to increase transparency. I could come up with dozens or possibly hundreds of proposals both liberals and libertarians could agree on.
There are many other common concerns, like the environment, poverty, the domination of special interests, and nuclear weapons proliferation. Perhaps some common ground can be reached in these areas as well.
In conclusion, despite a relatively large philosophical disparity between liberals and libertarians, there is quite a bit of common ground that each could build on. For me, I find it refreshing to build on the common beliefs.