Take this Card and Shove It

The Libertarian Party is targeting Real ID right now:

While Friday’s press conference with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff outlined new steps towards implementing federally mandated requirements for state-issued driver’s licenses, the Libertarian Party is calling to scrap the program altogether. “It’s time for the federal government to get real with the Real ID,” says Libertarian Party Executive Director, Shane Cory.

“The program is an unmitigated disaster,” says Cory, “and one the federal government fails to recognize. The federal government can prattle all it wants about the benefits of a license that meets federal standards, but the states don’t recognize the right of the federal government to tell them how to issue their licenses. It’s a states’ rights issue as much as it is a privacy issue.”

Currently, the Libertarian Party of Alabama is hoping state legislators will act the way 17 other states already have and prohibit the use of state funds on this federal mandate. Shortly after I took over as chairman of the state party, we passed this resolution condemning the act.

Currently, we have a legislative sponsor and are waiting to see the final wording on the bill.

An Alabama legislator said Tuesday he wants the state to join a growing effort to stop a national driver’s license database he considers intrusive.

Rep. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, said he would introduce a resolution opposing implementation of the federal Real ID Act of 2005 when the Legislature begins its regular session next month.

The Maine Legislature passed a resolution last month opposing the federal identification network and the revolt has since spread to other states.

Under the Real ID Act, by May 2008 states will have to adhere to federal regulations requiring people to present original documents, such as a birth certificate, when applying for a new driver’s license. The documents would be entered into a record-keeping system that is linked to a national database.

“This is the first step toward a national ID,” Ward said.

I ran into Cam Ward at the annual state GOP gala the other day (I was wearing my Ron Paul hat, otherwise I wouldn’t have been at the event) and thanked him for sponsoring the bill. We were only able to talk for a few seconds, but he seemed pretty enthused about it.

When I was on a recent conference call with former congressman Bob Barr, Mike Rster (the Alabama vice chair) mentioned a new organization he founded, called No2RealID. Barr was impressed enough to link it from his website. He also stated that killing Real ID in as many states as possible is incredibly important.

Barr spoke up in the LP release, as well:

“Anything less than scrapping this offensive national identification card law is unacceptable,” said former Congressman and current Libertarian National Committee board member Bob Barr while applauding the decision by DHS to further delay implementation of the Real ID Act. “The massive database that would be created by the Real ID Act, containing all manner of private information on citizens, is potentially one of the most privacy-invasive laws in the history of our country.”

The LP office called me this morning to interview me about the ongoing efforts in Alabama. Here’s one quote I remember giving them:

“Alabama is prime territory for a repeal of any state funding or involvement in a federally mandated invasive program such as Real ID. We value our privacy and don’t mind telling Uncle Sam to get off our backs. Hopefully, our legislature will pay attention to the will of the voters and add Alabama to the growing list of states telling the feds to take this card and shove it.”

10 Responses to “Take this Card and Shove It”

  1. Cody Quirk Says:

    Thanks to the efforts of Janine Hansen and the Independent American Party in Nevada solely, that state passed legislation against funding the Real ID.

  2. Trent Hill Says:

    The guy running

    www.NevadansforAmerica.com

    is a friend of the IAP.

  3. Susan Hogarth Says:

    “It’s a states’ rights issue as much as it is a privacy issue.”

    sigh

    The LP is now reduced to whinging about unfunded mandates?

    “The Libertarian Party believes the Real ID act is unconstitutional because it violates the Tenth Amendment, which delegates powers such as driver’s licensing to the states.”

    Libertarians believe that even if it were constitutional, it would still be (1) a Bad Idea, and (2) Wrong.

  4. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Susan,

    I’d beg to differ a bit. First of all, the states’ right angle is an incremental solution. Second, it is an argument that has already worked in states like South Carolina.

    Keep in mind that there are a lot of constitutionalists in the party, a lot of Rothbardian types, a lot of Cato types, and so on. When representing other people when writing, I try to maintain a balance or cover the angle most related. Since, in real, as opposed to theoretical, politics, the constitutional angle is working, I’d probably have opted for the latter option.

    For the most part, the focus is state legislators. They are much more motivated about reducing state expenditures on federal issues than they are about privacy issues.

  5. Yosemite1967 Says:

    FYI: Montana’s law which rejects Real ID includes the following language: “...the motor vehicle division of the department…is directed not to implement the provisions of the REAL ID Act of 2005 and to report to the governor any attempt by agencies or agents of the U.S. department of homeland security to secure the implementation of the REAL ID Act…”

  6. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Stephen,

    I don’t see that anything you’ve said contradicts anything I’ve said. If the LP sees the states’ rights angle as a step in the right direction, we should say that. We shouldn’t try to make people believe we think that is the goal of our work.

    Frankly, I think the idea of “states’ rights” is too tarnished with the reality of American apartheid (rightly or wrongly, and I suspect it’s some of both) to be of much use in winning the LP anything but sheer derision from the left in using it, and I’m not convinced it actually is an incremental step in the right direction (I remain convincable on that point, however).

    Regardless, if we see it as an incremental step toward our goal, it should be presented as such, and not as the goal itself. otherwise we run the risk of presenting ourselves as the “Government excess is OK if it’s LOCAL government excess” Party.

  7. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Susan,

    Like you, I have mixed views on “states’ rights.” However, the argument is working politically in many instances (just in my state, not only with real ID but also an amicus brief our drug-hating Attorney General wrote to the US Supreme Court in the Raich case).

    Both of our responses indicate the deeper issue/divide which probably needs to be resolved.

    I seem to place a higher priority on immediately winning elections (or the political issue of the day) than you do (not to suggest that I’d sacrifice principles on an issue). You seem to be placing more of an emphasis on the ideological components of the message.

    From my perspective, the typical voter isn’t going to be concerned about libertarian incrementalism—but “are we fer it or agin’ it?”

    If we are to primarily be an educational organization, your approach is not just reasonable, but necessary. If we are to be more vote oriented, then less explanation about libertarian theory (but more fast hard-hitting soundbytes) is desired.

    That’s why I think the debate between Reformers v. Radicals (I don’t like where these lines are drawn, though—I’d much prefer to frame it as Ideologues vs. Election Oriented People) is important. When we resolve this debate, one way or the other, we can all move in a consistent direction. In the mean time, you and I are engaged in friendly debate while neither of us is winning votes nor educating the masses.

  8. paulie Says:

    Can’t I be an election oriented ideologue? I make time in my schedule for both.

  9. Susan Hogarth Says:

    SG:

    I seem to place a higher priority on immediately winning elections (or the political issue of the day) than you do (not to suggest that I’d sacrifice principles on an issue). You seem to be placing more of an emphasis on the ideological components of the message.

    I’d say it’s subtler than that. I don’t think Libertarians have anything to offer that is not standard DP or RP material except for our ideology (‘smaller government… lower taxes… more freedom…’ sound familiar?). So if we offer a program of states’ rights, that will help Republicans get elected. If we offer a program of medical marijuana, that will help Democrats get elected. I want to see Libertarians elected. To elect Libertarians, we need people who won’t just say “Yes! States’ rights! I support that, and so do, let’s see, the Republicans and the Libertarians. I’ve always voted Republican before, and the LP is so small I might as well stick with the RP to have an effective vote.” Then the LP gets stuck making the argument that we will out-Republican the RP and/or out-Democrat the DP and that our candidates are just better somehow. And that is not where any political party wants to go, because as you well know, people are people and candidates all have skeletons.

    What we need is a hard-core group of people who identify as Libertarian. They will then naturally vote Libertarian. To get people to identify as Libertarian, we need to differentiate libertarianism from Republicanism or Democraticism.

    A side benefit of all this is that the DP and the RP will, on seeing ‘their’ voters changing identification, try their damnedest to win them back - and int he course of doing so, both will become more libertarian. But in order for this to work, people have got to hunger for actual libertarianism, not just uber-republicanism.


    From my perspective, the typical voter isn’t going to be concerned about libertarian incrementalism—but “are we fer it or agin’ it?”

    The typical voter votes D or R, almost always. Spending too much time courting ‘typical voters’ is likely not the best strategy. We need to court political activists who hunger for freedom and are dissatisfied with the choices that are commonly available. These people are the ‘early adopters’ of ideas and can make them seem more plausible/mainstream to their acquaintances. We need those people the most.


    If we are to primarily be an educational organization, the explanation is just reasonable, but necessary. If we are to be more vote oriented, then less explanation about libertarian theory is desired.

    I don’t agree, for the reasons I outlined above. It’s not just the quantity of votes we want, it’s the quality. What good would it do for us to have an LP state senator in Alabama who trumpets “States’ Rights” to ban homosexual teachers from public schools, and an LP congressman from NC who trumpets the rights of homosexuals to adopt? AL folks would think the LP was a bunch of right-wing nutters, and NC folks would think the LP was a bunch of gay-rights activists. There’s no obvious connection between the two elected politicians in this case.


    That’s why I think the debate between Reformers v. Radicals (I don’t like where these lines are drawn, though—I’d much prefer to frame it as Ideologues vs. Election Oriented People) is important. When we resolve this debate, one way or the other, we can move in a consistent direction. In the mean time, you and I are engaged in friendly debate while neither of us is winning votes nor educating the masses.

    The debate is never going to be resolved, I think. It is too fundamental a question (or series of questions) and it’s important to revisit them, as strategy (that is what we’re talking about) needs to be flexible and capable of change, and certainly needs to be assessed and reviewed often. The discussion can be used, though, to create a dynamic tension within the LP. On the simplest level, I’ve observed that engaging in these discussions can create a sense of ‘competition’ and one-upmanship that spurs activist work. Naturally, the flipside is, as you point out, that they take time and energy.

    As for these discussions being a waste of time; they can be, but they needn’t be. These ideas are not new to you and I - though I am getting fresh insights as I write this - but it is new to many folks who are more recently libertarian, and it’s important for them to see the dynamic tension properly framed.

  10. Stephen Gordon Says:

    I typo’d, and the sentence should read: “If we are to primarily be an educational organization, the explanation is not just reasonable, but necessary.”

    What good would it do for us to have an LP state senator in Alabama who trumpets “States’ Rights” to ban homosexual teachers from public schools, and an LP congressman from NC who trumpets the rights of homosexuals to adopt? AL folks would think the LP was a bunch of right-wing nutters, and NC folks would think the LP was a bunch of gay-rights activists.

    With the Alabama example, I would argue that the state senator who wishes to ban homosexual teachers in absolutely no libertarian. However, if someone is running for federal office, I have no problem with the candidate stating that the sexuality of teachers is an issue which should be decided at a more local level. As a matter of fact, that is the eventual abortion position used by both Badnarik, Russo, Ron Paul, etc. The complexities of the Harry Browne/abortion convention happenings is a topic for a totally different historical conversation.

    With respect to gay adoption, I’m not sure what angle you are taking. Are you referring to the position that one shouldn’t have to obtain government permission to adopt? We do have a lot of gay-rights activists in the movement—property-rights activists, hedonists, gun lovers, tax haters, drug advocates, etc. too.

    What we need is a hard-core group of people who identify as Libertarian. They will then naturally vote Libertarian.

    The majority of people are not, nor have they ever been, as ideological as most Libertarians. To be sure, the Republicans and Democrats are coalitions of peoples with varying ideologies—and it’s possible that we’ll see the Republican coalition cracking up before too long.

    I’ve no reason to believe that we’ll see a large enough group of Libertarians to control the political landscape, in my lifetime, at least.

    However, there are factors with which we can work: A majority of Americans (somewhat weakly and often for the wrong reason) oppose the Iraq War; most people prefer more responsible government, especially on the spending side (not to argue that they don’t want the pork for their own districts); most want an increase in individual liberties.

    These are libertarian enough positions, when combined with effective political campaigning (and reasonable, in the public mind, candidates), that we can win elections. The best educational tool in the world would be a sitting Libertarian president, IMO. But we have to get him/her there first.

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