What Obama Got Right: One Libertarian’s Perspective

From a libertarian point-of-view, there hasn’t been much to celebrate from President Obama’s two terms. The stimulus was counter-productive. Median income is down, as is labor force participation. Health care “reform” built upon our health care system’s worst aspects. The War in Afghanistan continues indefinitely. The surveillance state is even more pervasive. The possible indefinite detention of Americans without a trial was signed into law. Press freedom has been undermined. Our meddling in Libya further destabilized the region. The regulatory state has expanded and done harm in the process.

“Little to celebrate” doesn’t mean every decision from the Obama administration has been wrong. I’d argue these are the highlights of Obama’s presidency:

-Acknowledging the problem of occupational licensing, and taking small steps to help reform the practice.

Working to normalize relations with Cuba. The embargo has failed. By being able to do business with Americans, Cubans would see a slight betterment of their lives, while undermining the Castro regime’s economic propaganda.

Commuting select sentences for those convicted of low-level non-violent drug crimes.

Barring law enforcement from using federal law to conduct warrantless seizures of property.

Limited immigration reform.

Ending the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

-Appointing Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. She is arguably the Court’s last consistent defender of the Fourth Amendment.

Modestly expanding our freedom to trade internationally.

For sure, some of these are qualified successes. We still wage a war on drugs. Obama has been a record deporter. Asset forfeiture reform didn’t last. Bush-era officials won’t have to face justice for enabling torture. Sotomayor is hardly perfect. But with the statist nature of the Democrats and Republicans, any deviation from the norm warrants acknowledgment, no matter how fleeting.

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