Recently Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview that libertarians ‘don’t believe in immigration’. She doubled down on this assertion the next day in an Instagram message. It appears that she is either uninformed and speaking from a place of ignorance or she is purposefully and willfully misrepresenting libertarian positions in an effort to keep control of Democrats who are becoming increasingly more distrustful of the direction the party is taking.
Let’s assume, to be fair, that it is the former instead of the latter. The Democratic Party has a long history of ignoring the actual positions of libertarians and trying to make them out to be more radically conservative than the Republican Party. This is a failing that, IMO, helped cause Hillary to lose in 2016. Hillary spent millions on efforts to fight against Gary Johnson and libertarians, and in doing so insulted the very people who could have put her over the edge in several key states that would have swung the election her way. AOC hasn’t seemed to have learned this lesson. In every election in modern times there are around 35% who are going to vote Democrat, no matter what. There are around 35% who are going to vote Republican, no matter what. It’s that remaining 30% that decides who wins elections and libertarians make up a large percentage of that voting bloc.
However, let’s look at the facts as they exist, the facts that AOC doesn’t seem to be aware of.
From the very first day that the Libertarian Party was formed, it has been staunchly pro-immigration. In fact, through the 80s and 90s the platform called for the abolition of the border patrol and called for free and open immigration. An example from the 1988 platform:
We hold that human rights should not be denied or abridged on the basis of nationality. We condemn massive roundups of Hispanic Americans and others by the federal government in its hunt for individuals not possessing required government documents. We strongly oppose all measures that would punish employers who hire undocumented workers. Such measures repress free enterprise, harass workers, and systematically discourage employers from hiring Hispanics.
Undocumented non-citizens should not be denied the fundamental freedom to labor and to move about unmolested Furthermore, immigration must not be restricted for reasons of race, religion, political creed, age, or sexual preference.
We therefore call for the elimination of all restrictions on immigration, the abolition of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Border Patrol. and a declaration of full amnesty for all people who have entered the country illegally. We oppose government welfare payments to non-citizens just as we oppose government welfare payments to all other persons.
Because we support the right of workers to cross borders without harassment, we oppose all government-mandated “temporary worker” plans. Specifically, we condemn attempts to revive the Bracero Program as government imposition of second class status on Mexican-bom workers.
We welcome all refugees to our shores and condemn the efforts of U.S. officials to create a new “Berlin Wall” which would keep them captive. We condemn the U.S. government’s policy of barring those refugees from our shores and preventing Americans from assisting their passage to help them escape tyranny or improve their economic prospects.
Now I’m not sure how this squares with her assessment that libertarians are ‘anti-immigration’ at all. While during the period immediately following 9/11 the platform did change to allow for some libertarians to accept a small amount of border control to prevent terrorism, in a reactionary measure, that language was removed this past convention and returned to calling for free and open migration. A position that cannot be said for the current Democratic Party. Look at the policies put forward on immigration from the Democratic Party candidates for president, they are falling over themselves to not be for open borders. The LP is, always has and will continue to do so, no matter what misinformation AOC has.
In fact, before she was in grade school, the LP was fighting against the then Democratic Party President, Bill Clinton, who reneged on a campaign promise to allow the Haitian refugees to enter the US. After being inaugurated reports of boats being built and readied to make their way to the US caused him to keep the previous Bush era block against Haitian refugee status intact. They did this by defining the Haitian boat people as economic rather than political refugees despite the fact they were fleeing the results of a violent coup, leading to the murders of fifteen hundred supporters of the democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was ousted in the coup.
Citing numerous murders of repatriated Haitians, violations of Haitians’ civil rights, and imprisonment and harassment upon repatriation, these groups tried to change the status of the Haitian boat people to political refugees. Human rights groups asserted that the United States was in violation of the 1951 Convention and subsequent 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and President Bush was found to be in violation of the Refugee Act of 1980. However, by defining Haitians as economic relief seekers and not refugees, the United States was allowed to maintain its repatriation policy.
Taking office in 1993, President Bill Clinton had opposed Bush’s repatriation/interdiction policy and promised that he would be generous toward Haitian refugees. Coast Guard personnel remarked that seven hundred new boats were built by Haitians awaiting Clinton’s presidency. However, in a reversal of opinion, Clinton reinstated Bush’s policy.
In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that only those refugees who actually make it to U.S. soil on their own could be considered for refugee status and that anyone interdicted would be repatriated. This controversial policy, along with continued interdiction at sea, remains in effect in the early twenty-first century.
If all of this sounds familiar, Clinton put in place the very same rules that AOC is now attacking Trump on and while she is correct now, the Democratic Party has never been for free and open immigration.
The Democratic Party adopted marriage equality in the 2012 Platform because then president and candidate Barack Obama was in favor of it. However, before 2012, the party had been largely against Marriage Equality. In fact, Bill Clinton was responsible for some of the legislation that prolonged homosexual couples from obtaining this equality.
Libertarians, however, since the founding of the party in 1971, have called for marriage equality. The position has always been that marriage should not be an area that the government is involved in. However, if they are involved, that involvement must be applied equally. So, it was nice when the Democratic Party finally came around to Marriage Equality in 2012, but libertarians were wondering what took them so long.
The Democratic Party has been a tepid opposer of wars of aggression throughout its history. Most recently in 2002 they were very opposed to military action in Iraq (but not Afghanistan) but agreed to the action politically. Protests existed while Bush was in office, but once Bush left and newly elected Barack Obama was inaugurated, all pretense of being against the war stopped. The protests stopped, new unconstitutional military action was even employed, and the Democratic Party remained silent on any kind of opposition to these actions. It seems that they are anti-war, when the war is started by the opposing party only.
Libertarians, on the other hand, believe in a non-aggression principle, something we have to agree to when joining the party, and only support the use of violence as a defensive measure. For anyone who is against aggressive military action around the world, the Democratic Party is not the place to be, it is with the Libertarian Party. The Democratic Party has lost all standing to claim being anti-war.
One would hope that a representative engaging in political discourse would actually learn what their opponents believe before calling them out on those positions. Straw man fallacies are not helpful in any kind of meaningful political discussion, especially from an elected official who should know better. ESPECIALLY from an elected official that has been the subject of such attacks against them recently, one would imagine they would be more understanding of how harmful to the ultimate goals they are trying to accomplish that ends up being. It is my hope that AOC opens up a google search and looks at the Libertarian Party Platform and give it a glance to at least not sound so ignorant about something when she speaks as it does not help her cause, or the Democratic Party’s cause, in any way to make such declarations that are so easily refutable. I’m including a link to the most recent Libertarian Party Platform (2018) in case there is a problem with AOC not being able to figure out how to use google.