Friday, February 2, 2018

The Political Establishment’s Betrayal of the Republic

By Murray Sabrin

The promise of America was to create a Republic in which the people would live as free and independent citizens in a compact of states – “laboratories of democracy” – with the federal government having a few responsibilities and limited role in the lives of Americans.

Before the states ratified the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin, a delegate to the constitutional convention, was asked which would it be, “a Republic or Monarchy?”  Franklin was reputed to have replied, “A Republic if you can keep it.”

But it was not meant to be.  America has been transformed into
a one-party system with two wings, Democrats and Republicans, who vie for political power but have the same agenda, corporate welfare for their contributors and enough welfare dollars to keep the masses in check.

In 1860 the first Republican – Abraham Lincoln – was elected president of the United States.  For nearly 160 years, either a Republican or Democrat has occupied the Oval Office. With a few exceptions, Republicans and Democrats have dominated both houses of Congress.  Occasionally, an “independent” has been elected to each chamber. Currently, Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont have been elected to the Senate as Independents, even though Bernie ran in the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries.

When Lincoln was elected, the national debt was virtually zero; there was no federal income tax, and a comprehensive welfare state was not on the agenda of any major political candidate.  Since then, both political parties have increased the national debt to $20 trillion. The federal income tax, which was implemented in 1914 after passage of the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913, has morphed from a minor irritant to 2 percent of the population that was subject to the tax, to the incomprehensible tax code that is more than 74,000 pages long.

And the once mighty U.S. dollar, because it was as “good as gold,” has lost more than 95 percent of its purchasing power since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913.

America’s minimal welfare state took a great leap under as FDR as he tried to jump start the economy as the unemployment rate jumped to 25 percent in 1933, his first year in office. Both political parties voted for a more activist federal government to stimulate the economy, which only prolonged the depression until the massive mobilization for World War II.

Three decades later President Johnson, a protégé of FDR, expanded the welfare state with his Great Society programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and committed hundreds of thousand troops to Vietnam after campaigning as the “peace” candidate in the 1964 presidential election, just as Woodrow Wilson (in 1916) and FDR did (in 1940). 

After five decades of “trickle down welfarism,” more than half of the American people are receiving some form of financial assistance.  Clearly, this is unsustainable as the unfunded liabilities of the welfare state are estimated to be as high as $200 trillion.

On the international front, instead of peaceful relations with the rest of the world’s nation states, our belligerent bipartisan foreign policy has given us undeclared wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and stationing of troops and military personnel in 150 countries housed in 800 bases.  America’s foreign interventions since the end of World War II have cost (in 2008 dollars) several trillion dollars, virtually all of which has been borrowed.

More recently, both major parties have continued their anti-civil liberties policies by supporting the (Un)Patriot Act, which has created the greatest spying program… on Americans!

Finally, Republicans pay lip service to limited government and the free market while Democrats pay lip service to civil liberties and a peaceful foreign policy and have betrayed the American people by creating the welfare-warfare state.  It is time to restore the Republic – where taxes are low tax, corporate welfare is abolished, financial independence is embraced, civil liberties are protected and the global empire is replaced with a peaceful foreign policy.

Murray Sabrin is professor of finance at Ramapo College, and is seeking the Libertarian’s Party nomination for U.S. senator from New Jersey in the 2018 race.


  1. As Libertarian’s don’t like the “WE” in We the people, since “we” had no voice in the matter, I don’t really get the “promise to America”. I was never promised anything. I never knew Ol Ben Franklin, although his sister was my great Aunt.
    Reading history from Libertarian’s like “Concieved in Liberty” I get that a lot of the founders were crooks, and didn’t give a hoot about Liberty.
    Maybe I’m just being cranky, but I’m long done with voting, although I only ever voted for Ron Paul in one primary, I’m done with Make America great again, and I am not interested in “Restore the Republic”. I not sure what that even means or what is to be restored.
    Does anyone really? Restoring refers to something that was.
    I’m not a great historian like Tom Woods or Brion McClanahan, but I think America was prosperous cause the government couldn’t grow as fast as freedom could move west.
    It can now and has. There is no more west. I live as far northwest as you can just about get. And the government is doing just fine, just as planned.
    There is no “restore the republic”.
    As Bastiat said, as long as getting a free meal is less painful than work, people will go for that.
    I am ofthe opinion that the only thing left is to work against the State to END the State.
    Franklin said ,” if you can keep it”.
    John Adams said,” a Constitution of government once changed from freedom can never be restored”. I’m thinking a guy who helped build it is probably correct.
    End the State. And for that matter, let’s end the pretext of fixing it in the mean time.

  2. Btw, I am I no way knocking or mocking Murray.
    It would be wonderfully amazing if New Jersey showed they had at least one working brain cell and voted him in.

  3. I share your frustration Joshua as a libertarian of 50 years since I graduated from college. The campaign will take the message of liberty to the masses. No libertarian will be disappointed.

    1. Best of luck Murray. I think the best way forward is to change the minds of the young -- our generation is shot -- and so if, as Ron Paul did, you can use a public platform to get folks talking and learning again about genuine free markets, and consistently applied non-aggression in all spheres of life, that will be a great outcome.

  4. Murray,
    As a native from NJ, I welcome you're campaign to at least inject some disruption from the backwater of conventional politics in the garden state. High taxes on state and municipal front, strong public unions driving the increase in said taxes, a judiciary which refuses to allow renegotiation of contracts once "promised," and generally an absolutely inert statist mentality. I love the land there but am disgusted by what are considered issues and political discourse there. Raise some hell!!!

  5. Joshua, don't pull your punches! Prof. Sabrin may be a nice guy. He certainly uses the right words and he will probably run a consistently libertarian campaign. But he is a wordsmith, a teacher a thinker and worse a politician. These talents will not change the trend against liberty. Bastiat was right. As long as stealing is less painful than voluntary exchange, the stealing will continue until there is nothing left to steal. Politicians are part of the problem and Sabrin's ideas won't make a dent in a population, who thru their voting action have repeatedly endorsed might makes right. Even if Sabrin by some miracle won, it would not be a good thing in this environment. Lets learn from Ron Paul's mistake. Lets not do this again. Its a waste of time, money and energy. Energy that should be spent on ourselves, our family and our friends. Stay out of harms way.

    1. Brian, I agree with you, I just didn’t want to come across as being disrespectful to Mr. Sabrin, as I respect the past work he has done.
      But I do feel it’s time to quit wasting time and energy in the political field. I know Rothbard was into politics, and although I never got the chance to know him, I wonder if he would be of the same opinion now. Perhaps some of you who did know him would have an opinion on that?
      Politics in my mind is negotiating with the State. The State has nothing to gain by negotiating with us, it wants to destroy all Liberty. This is a war of attrition, we have to out last the State, and playing it’s games with it has not done us any good. A change of strategy is needed.
      Or like you said, just spend your time with your family and friends. It’s time to put some Time preference to work in our relationships and political/world view.

  6. Joshua, I became involved with the libertarian movement in the 1970's. Knew and worked with Dave Nolan, one of the founders of the Libertarian Party. Met Murray Rothbard (and many other libertarians including Ron Paul)and found Rothbard to be a brilliant thinker and historian. He was a great conversationalist and I enjoyed our brief meetings. But I was never persuaded of his political strategy which included building alliances with any person or group who had even a single policy position consistent with libertarianism. This led to his endorsing a wide range of politicians left and right but never resulted in any significant political gains for libertarians. I think if he were alive he would continue to do this because he was convinced that this was how the leaders of the socialist movement had made socialist policies a reality (income tax, Medicare, Medicaid, social security, welfare, public education, the military industrial complex, an interventionist foreign policy, etc). I believe he was wrong about how this occurred.

    Socialist leaders are politicians just like the leaders of every other political movement. They don't create the movement, they identify it and then jump in front of it. There was no socialist or Trotskyite political strategy that led to the implementation of the socialist policies. There were individual interest groups in favor of those programs I mentioned above and socialist leaders jumped in front of these movements. However, there were no popular movements or special interests in favor of not implementing these programs. That's because there is no immediate reward for opposing these programs. No booty. There have been some brief movements that opposed some of the above mentioned programs. But they dissolved quickly at the first serious popular challenge to their position.

    Disillusioned with politics I joined the Society for Individual Liberty and founded a successful local chapter in upstate New York and a similar one in Colorado. These educational organizations were fun and entertaining but had limited impact on political trends. The one time we ventured into politics was to place an initiative on the Colorado ballot to deregulate public transportation (long before Uber). Our efforts included a creative interpretation of the state's rules on gathering signatures. Since we couldn't use paid signature gatherers we positioned our volunteers on one corner and a paid advocate on the other. The advocate would direct interested parties to the gatherer who was a volunteer and registered voter. The Secretary of State threatened us with a lawsuit for violating the "intent" of the law. We stopped using paid advocates and were unsuccessful in placing the initiative on the ballot.

    However, our co-founder, Paul Grant brought a suit against the state of Colorado for violating our freedom of speech. After more than six years at great personal expense the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case and Paul won. As a result, the popular ballot process was greatly liberated in Colorado resulting in lower taxes, a gaming industry in Central City, Colorado, relaxed marijuana laws and other issues that were not always libertarian in their result. Our small educational group had long since disbanded and so the transportation issue was not revisited. Although Paul's efforts improved the political process in Colorado it is still subject to the larger trends reducing our liberty. My experience with educational groups is that no one was converted to libertarianism that wasn't already thinking along libertarian lines.

    The lack of success in politics and education and the logic of Bastiat leads me to acknowledge we have little control over these negative trends. Best to focus on family and friends and stay out of harms way.