False assumptions about political opponents

During the last two days, I have heard complaints from libertarians that the left is slavishly following Barack Obama and not criticizing his escalation of the Iraq War. I have also heard complaints from the left that libertarians are not condemning police racism and brutality in Ferguson MO. Neither complaint is justified.

Rand Paul, perhaps the leading libertarian in electoral politics, published a strong op-ed piece on Ferguson in Time. Among other things, in which he highlighted the racial bias and involved and went on to condemn the militarization of police in Ferguson and elsewhere. He said, among other things:

When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.

Given these developments, it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them. Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.

                                                                                  — Rand Paul in Time

Similarly, here is left journalist John Nichols calling for Congress to exercise its Constitutional oversight in the case of Obama’s orders to bomb Iraq.

This is partly a matter of everyone’s tendency to paint their political opponents as totally evil. But even more, it is a lack of focus. There are plenty of liberal to moderate Democrats who do support Obama, but they are not the left. There are plenty or right-wing Republicans who always support police action, racist or not, but they are not libertarians. I think it’s important to understand the distinctions.