Would that make Hanauer and Liu the New McCarthyites?

Open Source = Communism Nick Gillespie of Reason points out a recent commentary from Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu at Bloomberg View titled—get ready—"Libertarians Are the New Communists".


Gillespie, of course, does a fine takedown, pointing out how fact-challenged and generally awful the Hanauer/Liu effort is. The effort to link libertarianism with the blood-soaked history of Communism would be despicable if it weren't so transparently bogus.

But: Hanauer and Liu. Haven't I seen those names before?

Oh, right! Back in 2008, they wrote a book called (honest) The True Patriot, and advertised it in (of all places) National Review. (A bold move, but I guess NR was happy enough to take their money.) It was a progressive effort to co-opt the "patriotism" label away from … well, patriots. And, operating under the delusion that their policies were "patriotic", they didn't waste a minute in drawing the logical conclusion that anyone who disagreed was "unpatriotic". It was an admitted effort to slap together a "civic religion" around progressivism. But they only managed to implement the worst stereotypes of religiosity correctly: the smug, self-satisfied imagined righteousness of the True Believers; the shrill finger-pointing damnation unleashed upon the heretics who dare dissent from the Holy Writ.

Pun Salad looked at The True Patriot and its shoddy reasoning back in 2008.

But the funny part is the five-year-old ad, which I downloaded and saved here. Here are three of their rhetorical questions meant to question the patriotism of the "far right". (By which, of course, they meant conservative Republicans and the then-current Bush Administration.)

IS IT PATRIOTIC — or even conservative — to support an aggressive expansion of government power to eavesdrop?

IS IT PATRIOTIC — or even conservative — to support tax and fiscal policies that let the wealthiest off the hook, put more burdens on the middle class, and create a massive debt and deficit for the next generation to clean up?

IS IT PATRIOTIC — or even conservative — to throw America’s great military into wars and nation-building adventures that have flimsy justification and no definable end?

Now, I ask you, five years later: given this, this, and this, were Liu and Hanauer presciently questioning Barack Obama's patriotism?

I echo Gillespie's conclusion: if Liu and Hanauer exemplify the best arguments that libertarian critics can come up with, there's every reason to be optimistic about the prospects for liberty.