Mainstreaming Libertarianism: Merely Getting What They Pay For

Politico's three page article glorifying libertarians and their mainstream impact completely ignores the millions paid by corporatists and extremists to buy their place in the limelight.

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Politico wants you all to know that libertarianism is going mainstream because people are sick and tired of five years of "government overreach."

They put out a three-page article this morning proclaiming Rand Paul as the New Face of Republican Politics. Not what I want to read over my morning coffee. How about you?

Led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), libertarians hope to become a dominant wing of the GOP by tapping into a potent mix of war weariness, economic anxiety and frustration with federal overreach in the fifth year of Barack Obama’s presidency.

The country’s continuing fixation on fiscal issues, especially spending and debt, allows them to emphasize areas of agreement with conservative allies who are looking for ways to connect with Republicans who aren’t passionate about abortion or same-sex marriage. A Democratic administration ensures consensus on the right that states should get as much power as possible.

Ron Paul, who has been speaking at college campuses since retiring from the House to Texas at the end of the year, feels that more Republicans are either engaging or co-opting the ideas he spent a career espousing on monetary policy, foreign policy and civil liberties.

“The viewpoint of the libertarian is we’ve been doing the wrong thing for a long time,” he said in an interview. “The group that’s in Washington now is going to have tremendous opportunity because there’s a lot more disenchantment.”

“It’s better late than never,” he added.

Better never, I say.

Missing in Politico's celebration of libertarianism: Even the smallest hint of truth regarding why there has been such focus on the debt and deficit, why Rand Paul is not the right messenger for their message, and the millions upon millions spent buying think tanks, media outlets and politicians to amplify the message.

When the country's Top Billionaire Libertarians spend, people listen whether they want to or not. Lee Fang touched on this in a piece on AlterNet last week, where he points out that libertarians (called by the misnomer conservatives) would like the whole country to look like Texas through efforts by ALEC, the State Policy Network, and led by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Americans for Prosperity, known largely for its affiliation with the billionaire Koch brothers and for organizing Tea Party rallies, is part of this state-focused spending spree. The group has opened new local chapters or more than tripled the funding for existing chapters in key states. This increased spending has helped Americans for Prosperity recruit conservative activists and deploy them during contentious policy debates. Audit reports collected by the New York State Attorney General’s office show that Americans for Prosperity went from spending about $4.9 million on state chapter activities in 2009 to $10.6 million in 2011, the last available disclosure. Those figures do not necessarily account for the television, radio and Internet advertising purchased by the group when lobbying on state policy issues (which has reportedly reached over $4 million in places like Wisconsin), or the ubiquitous bus tours it has sponsored around the country.

A key area of growth among state-level conservative think tanks involves efforts to develop nonprofit media. Founded in 2009, the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity has partnered with SPN and Americans for Prosperity to hire and train conservative reporters in nearly every state capital. In fact, many Americans for Prosperity officials now lead the center.

Lee goes on to talk about the Ryun boys and their strongarm 'grassroots activist' organization, American Majority, which runs out of Texas and includes their Media Trackers project, most recently seen in action in Wisconsin.

Nothing from Politico on this, or any counterweight whatsoever. Instead, they wrap up the article with this:

“We’re all Austrians now,” Paul pronounced with a sense of looming triumph, a reference to the school of economics that most values the free market.

“We have a tremendous opportunity,” he added. “It’s been refined, and we’re able to deliver this message like never before with the use of the internet.”

In Koch we trust.

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