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Friday, July 10, 2009

I became a fan of Reason Magazine back in 2007 after reading "The Secrets of Intangible Wealth" by Ronald Bailey. It has remained one of my favorite pieces, but the inspiration for this post came from a more recent article by editors Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, "The Libertarian Moment."

To quote the article, "Understanding the Libertarian Moment is fundamental to understanding the 21st century." This got me thinking of the U.S. presidency (thanks largely to my former American Presidency professor, Paul Rego). I mention my former professor 1. for his libertarian leanings and 2. for his close emphasis on the United States's first president elected in the 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt (His book on Roosevelt's presidency is available here).

Yes, Roosevelt was the first president elected during the 20th century. However, he was not the first 20th century president. Historian Lewis L. Gould bestows the title on William McKinley (thanks largely to his assistant secretary George B. Cortelyou). Together, according to historian Richard Norton Smith, McKinley and Cortelyou "anticipated much of the modern chief executive's role as newsmaker, agenda setter, public educator, and uber celebrity."

We have had two presidents, Bush '43 and Obama, elected in the 21st century. However, Bush served and Obama currently serves with a 20th century mindset. The United States has yet to have a 21st century president.

Let's get back to the quote by Gillespie and Welch, "Understanding the Libertarian Moment is fundamental to understanding the 21st century." The first U.S. president of the 21st century will be the man or woman who understands the libertarian moment.

They define the libertarian moment:

...the power to swarm in the direction of freedom is the new technology fueling an idea that is as old as the American republic itself: No central government shall interfere with our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The Libertarian Moment is taking these self-evident truths and organizing them into a comprehensive approach toward living. It started where it always does, in business and culture, where innovation is rewarded. Statist politicians—it’s not fully clear that there is any other kind—will ignore that epochal shift at their peril.
An important step toward electing a libertarian (not necessarily Libertarian) president is instilling in the American public that libertarians are the true progressives in the United States. Big government approaches are the oldest, most reactionary policies available. Limited government policies are revolutionary. The word "liberal" may be lost forever to the statists in the U.S., but "progressive" is still within reach.

Posted by Eleutherian

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