Posts Tagged ‘Libertarianism’
February 7th, 2012 at 5:21 pm
“The New Debate in the Republican Party Needs to be Between Conservatives and Libertarians”
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So says South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint in a wonderful new interview with Reason TV. And on that point he’s precisely right. While the farthest reaches of Ron Paul’s political philosophy (an isolationist foreign policy, drug legalization, etc.) are both ideologically imprudent and political non-starters, the Texas congressman has ignited an important discussion that has the potential to bring the GOP back to its first principles of limited government.

Unlike Paul, however, DeMint is not content to be a legislative voice in the wilderness. His work with the Senate Conservatives Fund has been essential in bringing Tea Party principles to Congress’s upper chamber. Have a look at the video and be thankful that we still have a few more years of service forthcoming from this principled conservative leader.

February 22nd, 2010 at 11:14 pm
Huckabee to Conservative Movement: “Drop Dead”
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Following up on Brother Ellis’s earlier CPAC post, the most notable fallout from the weekend confab may have been Mike Huckabee’s criticism of the conference for being “too libertarian.” Let’s call this what it is: a fig leaf.

After a dissapointing seventh place finish in CPAC’s presidential straw poll, Huckabee is looking for a way to write off the legitimacy of the whole endeavor (let’s not deny, however, that Ron Paul’s victory in the poll does look a bit … well, eccentric). But CPAC organizers are quick to point out that when Huckabee declined their offer to speak this year, he attributed it to a scheduling conflict, not any ideological differences. Thus, claiming that he stayed away from the festivities because they were a little too fervent for liberty rings hollow.

Huckabee has two positive traits to offer conservatives: a winning, optimistic personality and a consistent social conservatism (part of what puts him at odds with some libertarians).  What he doesn’t have, however, is damning enough to remove him from serious consideration as a future presidential nominee. Huckabee is a practitioner of the baser kind of economic “populism” — no one who calls the Club for Growth “the Club for Greed” has the dictional authority to be taken seriously as either a conservative or a theologian. He has also proved himself to be functionally illiterate on matters of foreign policy.

Huckabee, like every Republican candidate for the past three decades, claims to have been baptized in the River Reagan. But Ronaldus Magnus famously said “I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” Indeed, I don’t know how one indicts the GOP heresies of the past decade without faulting the party for losing touch with its libertarian roots. Huckabee is a terrific guy; but I think it’s time for the movement to acknowledge that he might be a Democrat if only that party was a little less secular.

January 14th, 2010 at 11:58 pm
Convincing Libertarians to Love Government
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Reason Magazine, the premier libertarian publication in the country, continues to turn out some of the most interesting material in the world of right-leaning opinion journals.

In a piece entitled “Five Reasons Why Libertarians Shouldn’t Hate Government”, William D. Eggers and John O’Leary, authors of the new book “If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government” make an extremely lucid and compelling case that small government advocates also have to be smart government advocates.  In addition to the eponymous reasons, the piece also features a list of five major government successes and five major failures. The article is so good that I hesitate to quote it, lest Freedom Line readers not check out the original, but here’s a taste:

“I don’t want to make government work better, I want it to go away” is the typical response [of libertarians to arguments about improving government]. Government, in their view, is the enemy.

This way of thinking is deeply misguided, a troubling blind spot that keeps libertarians on the fringe of many policy debates. If you reflect only scorn for government, it’s hard to get anyone who hasn’t already drunk the Kool-Aid to take your opinions on the topic seriously.

This is not to disparage the argument that government is too large, for which the case is strong. But holding government in sneering contempt is a misinformed corruption of that sentiment.

Our Founding Fathers, fondly quoted by limited-government advocates, didn’t view government as evil, but as a flawed institution with some important jobs to do. They studied how government worked and they served in office, not because they viewed government with disdain, but because they knew the importance of good government.

Read the whole thing. I command you.

December 8th, 2009 at 12:26 am
Creating a Party of Freedom
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A new Rasmussen Reports poll out today shows that if the Tea Party movement was an organized political party it would poll second nationally (at 23%, 13 points behind the Democrats).  Many reports on the numbers play up the growing influence of this grassroots force on the right, but that may miss the bigger point: Republicans came in third in the poll, with only 18% supporting the GOP.

Read those numbers closely; with Republicans and Tea Partiers divided, Democrats win (a lesson learned in the congressional race in the New York 23rd).  Thus, if the right hopes to regain political traction it’s going to have to create a fusionist project between the mainstream GOP and the “mad as hell and not going to take it any more” Tea Party movement.

A possible prescription for this kind of Republican renaissance improbably shows up this week’s edition of Newsweek, courtesy of Howard Fineman, whose columns usually tend toward EZ-Bake liberalism.  However, in a piece entitled “Is There a Doctor in the House?”, Fineman perceptively notes that the GOP could do a lot worse than straightening its spine through Ron Paul’s example:

… The GOP needs to study Ron Paul, and learn. No one has better captured the sense of Main Street outrage over secret insider deals and Wall Street bonuses. No one has been more consistent about sticking to core conservative values—including the one that says the government shouldn’t spend more money than it takes in. If the GOP is going to appeal to independent voters, it has to confront its own corporate allies. “Republicans need to find a populist edge again,” says Craig Shirley, the author of Rendezvous With Destiny, a new account of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign. “Reagan spoke to the guy who thought he was being screwed by big business, by big government, by the big media.” The good doctor, of all people, is showing Republicans the way. What they need is a candidate who embodies the spirit of Ron Paul. Just so long as it isn’t Ron Paul.

There’s a lot of sense in Fineman’s diagnostic (along with this, a sign of the apocalypse).  On foreign policy, Paul is still peddling ideas long ago discredited by Charles Lindbergh and Bob Taft.  But on the domestic side, his compass is truer than most of the GOP.  When the Republican Party isn’t rooted in notions of small government and individual liberty, it tends towards existential drift.  And we all know where that leads.