Over at Reason.com
, David Boaz has an interesting article where he argues that overall, our government is becoming more libertarian, not less and points out some different perspectives on the issue.
He makes the point that if you are are a non-white, non-male, non-property owning person, your rights have almost certainly improved over the past two centuries. He points out that the traditional libertarian arguments tend to focus on freedoms that were only actually enjoyed by a segment of our society and points out that what you may see as a "return to lost days of freedom" may have a very different historical significance for those who were not male, white, and property owners and do not consider those people their ancestors.
I thought the article had two great points that are worth considering from the perspective of any civil rights advocacy:
1. What seems like halcyon days to you; may not seem like it to your audience due to the different experiences of your ancestors. If you are going to wander down the historical road to make your point, this is an important factor to keep in mind.
2. Libertarians talk a lot about "small" government and limited government; but size and scope of government do not always directly equate to its power or intrusiveness. A police department of 8 people enforcing laws against theft and robbery is more libertarian than a police department of 4 people enforcing laws restricting speech, limiting freedom of association, or putting up hurdles to your Second Amendment rights. Thinking about the actual desired effect frees us up from the Herculean task of trying to abolish a government agency and lets us think of other ways to achieve the goal of a less intrusive government.