The Boortz Affair: Libertarian Politics and the Evils of Democratic-Republican Party Government

Unless you're a fan or a connoisseur of talk radio, you are probably not very familiar with Neal Boortz. Though he holds a number of Libertarian-leaning positions, the radio entertainer and political commentator is a staunch supporter of the global warfare state who allies himself with conservative Republicans, justified on the basis of a misguided analysis of Democratic-Republican Party politics. On April 2nd, Boortz announced that, though he is a Libertarian, he is against any and all advocacy of third party politics. Boortz stance is conditioned by his hysterical embrace of lesser-evilism:
I'm a Libertarian. I'm a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party. I've voted for Libertarian candidates on the federal and local level for the past 15 years. Now what I'm going to say here is going to earn no small amount of rage from fellow Libertarian Party members . . .

I believe with every fiber of my being that the survival of our Republic is dependent on removing as many members of the Democrat Party from the Congress as possible. The Party of Big Government must be removed from power. I'm not at all confident that America could survive another two years of Democratic control. This means that we must say no to third party movements. No doubt, the Republicans have been a huge disappointment. They vastly expanded government size and spending during the years they ran the show. They promised to get rid of the Department of Education. Instead, they doubled it's size. Not good. The Republicans say they've learned their lesson. Have they? Don't know. What I do know is that the Democrats are hell-bent on destroying economic liberty in this country.
Boortz was right in thinking that Libertarians would not be pleased with his capitulation to the logic that sustains the Democratic-Republican political establishment, the two-party state and duopoly system of government. Many Libertarians have long been uncomfortable with Boortz's positions relating to both foreign and domestic policy, see for instance the Boot Bortz Blog, which was maintained throughout 2003 and 2004 in opposition to Boortz's scheduled appearance at the 2004 Libertarian Party national convention.

Boortz was also scheduled to speak at this year's Libertarian convention. On April 5th, three days after Boortz stated his opposition to third party advocacy and his reactionary embrace of duopoly ideology, the Libertarian Party announced that Boortz would be moved from his scheduled speaking slot. From the LP Blog, via Independent Political Report:
Our speaker lineup continues to evolve and is always subject to change. One recent change is that Neal Boortz has been moved from the Sunday evening banquet dinner speaker position. We do expect Mr. Boortz to speak in a different time slot.
Five days later, a press release from the Libertarian Party of Texas announced that Boortz had in fact been removed from the speaker's lineup. From Independent Political Report:

Syndicated radio talk show host Neal Boortz, a Libertarian Party member, has been uninvited as a speaker to the Libertarian Party’s national convention in St Louis the weekend of May 28 -31. Boortz stated on April 2 that voters should not support third parties in the 2010 and 2012 elections in order to get Republicans elected.

Boortz had been a regular national convention speaker for the Libertarian Party through the 2004 convention in his home city of Atlanta. In 2008 he cancelled his appearance shortly before the convention to schedule some medical treatment. When the Libertarian Party removed him from the 2010 convention schedule due to his recent comments, Boortz removed himself again claiming he had medical treatment scheduled. [Emphasis added. Rumor has it that Boortz used the same excuse to get out of serving in Vietnam. -d.]

“We do not need an unreliable and reluctant individual promoting the Republican Party to be given a speaking slot at our convention” said Texas state chair and national party committee member Pat Dixon. “We will have a great convention in St Louis and continue to offer voters a choice that neither the Republicans nor Democrats offer.” . . . .

Dixon concluded “Neal Boortz has a very entertaining show has has been a great supporter of our party. Of course we respect anyone’s decision to support the candidates or party of their choice. We also get to choose who speaks at our convention, and at this time Neal is not a good choice.”

Incidentally, it is worth noting that aside from a few warfare statist Republican Party trolls, the response in the comment thread at IPR is overwhelmingly in favor of Boortz's removal from the speaker's lineup. Yesterday, however, Boortz defensively emphasized that he withdrew from the speaking position and was in no way "removed" from the event, stating in reference to the press release at Independent Political Report:

Sorry Mr. Butler, but you have this a bit wrong. Last week I instructed Belinda to inform the Libertarian Party that I would be unable to keep this speaking engagement for personal reasons." According to Butler The Libertarian Party "removed me" from the schedule because of comments I made regarding voting for a 3rd party this November. Whatever, Mr. Butler. If you want to say that I was "booted" from the schedule, have at it. It's your credibility that suffers, not mine.

Boortz also reiterated the logic that motivates his support for the Republican wing of the professional political class and ruling establishment, but attempted to salvage his reputation among Libertarians with an addendum:

We cannot afford a 3rd party effort this year if it is going to leave one single Democrat in office who otherwise might have been removed. I still plan to vote Libertarian in local elections

Next he'll be telling us that some of his best friends are Libertarians! Nonetheless, Boortz has done a service in providing such a succinct articulation of the reactionary political practice that is lesser-evilism. His support for the Republican wing of the ruling corporatist party is not predicated on support for the Republican wing of the ruling corporatist party – indeed, he admits that Republicans cannot be trusted either –, but rather on rejection of the Democratic wing of the ruling corporatist party. So long as American voters continue to allow themselves to be manipulated by the imaginary calculus of the greater and lesser evil that is Democratic-Republican Party politics, we will never be free of the evil that is Democratic-Republican Party government.


Samuel Wilson said...

Leaving aside the fallaciousness of Boortz's brand of lesser-evilism, it would have seemed inapprorpriate for Libertarians to deny him a previously-scheduled opportunity to make his case for the lesser evil. If people are sincerely convinced that the Democratic Party (or the Republican Party under GW Bush) is an imminent threat to the republic, you can and should argue against the premise, but you shouldn't go out of your way to stop people like Boortz from trying to convince those they feel most need convincing. I think we agree on the immediate political situation, but we should bear in mind that lesser-evilism is only wrong most of the time, not always.

d.eris said...

I think the Libertarian Party made the right move. Boortz is apparently a Libertarian, but he is out on his nationally syndicated radio program telling people, as a Libertarian, that they should support Republicans and not Libertarians, indeed, that voting Libertarian in 2010 and 2012 and for the foreseeable future is dangerous and irresponsible. Obviously, he is entitled to his opinion, however false it might be, but I don't think it would make any sense for the Libertarian Party to be giving a person with such views such a prominent place at their national convention. Not taking this sort of action with respect to Boortz would at least be a tacit acceptance and endorsement of his position, and he has positioned himself against the Libertarian Party.

Ross Levin said...

Samuel, they can argue that, but I think it's fine if a third party doesn't want them arguing that at their convention.

Samuel Wilson said...

Obviously any party has a right to uninvite a speaker (do any have the right to expel a member?), but just as I'd like to see a Republican or Democrat tell his party to stand down for once, I think any partisan has a moral right to do the same before his own party. However misguided Boortz may be, he's putting his notion of national interest before partisanship, unless you want to argue that he's really been a Republican all along. In his case, I admit, it's naked lesser-evilism, but for some reason I felt like being a devil's advocate today. It'll pass.

Eric Dondero said...

Excuuuuuuuuse me! But Boortz's position on the War and fighting Islamo-Fascism is ENTIRELY CONSISTENT WITH LIBERTARIANISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's the AntiWar view that makes ZERO!!!!!!! Sense from a libertarian perspective.

We REAL LIBERTARIANS support civil liberties. We want prostitution legalized. We want marijuana legalized. We like beer and booze. We like to gamble. And we damned sure don't want our gay friends having their genitals cut off, or prostitutes getting bullets through their heads in soccer stadiums.

Sharia Law is the exact polar opposite of libertarianism.

d.eris said...

imo, Sam, the fact that he's simply wrong makes him a bad choice as a speaker, the politics of it aside.

d.eris said...

Eric, in your comments, you often seem to assume that I equate absolute pacifism and a knee-jerk anti-war stance with libertarianism as such, often in reaction to statements about the "global warfare state."

Opposition to the global warfare state does not imply opposition to war or warfare as such. It may even imply the necessity of waging war. And it is also consistent with libertarianism. But advocating a just war is different from advocating the global warfare state, which, I would argue, is not consistent with libertarianism or any demand for "small government."

Eric Dondero said...

Hey asshole! 37 of my shipmates were killed aboard the USS Stark in 1987 but that mother fucker fascist Hitlerite Saddam Hussein. (I was on board the Stark's sister ship Guided Missile Destroy USS Luce DDG-38 in the Persian Gulf.)

We didn't do jackshit to respond because our leaders back home didn't want to "offend the Muslim world," by attacking Saddam.

Don't you dare tell me that the War in Iraq was "not justified." Don't you fucking dare.

That mother fucker had the blood of 37 American sailors on his hands.

And thank God for George W. Bush who FINALLY!!! revenged the deaths of the Stark 37.

Anonymous said...

Hey, one gives a shit or is the least bit intimidated by the fact that you were in the military. Go play your childish little macho man neo-con name calling game on, where they love chicken hawks like you. Then go f yourself.

d.eris said...

lol. Well now I want to just because you dared me not to. Revenge is not widely considered to provide a jus ad bellum.

Perhaps our leaders didn't want to offend anyone because they were too busy selling weapons to both sides of the conflict, which at that time, of course, was the Iran-Iraq war. Maybe they just didn't want to lose any clients. That's the warfare state for ya.