Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Libertarian SoCons

Over at Classical Values, Eric had a fine post (as if he ever has anything else) before the November elections about Bill Clinton's characterization of the Republican Party as enthralled by the demonized Social Conservatives.

I think there are a lot of libertarian-leaning social conservatives, as odd as it sounds. We understand the clean-room simplicity of libertarian principles, but also that the tidiness falls down in the face of modern reality. There are also a number of issues, namely abortion and drugs, on which social conservatives largely disagree with libertarians.

Americans, by and large, like to think of themselves a favoring small government, personal liberty, and the rest. But the devil in the details here is defining "small" and "liberty". Given the question, e.g., "Should people be able to control what goes into their own bodies?", most people will say yes. But ask them about PCP or Vallium, and they'll start in about endangering others or the protecting the li'l chil'rens. Oh, and don't touch my farm subsidy.

The issue of abortion falls squarely on the question of when life begins, or rather, when the 'fetus', a collection of cells inside a woman, becomes a 'baby', a human being entitled to legal protection. I believe that moment is the instant of conception, but I understand some people disagree. When pro-choice libertarians can see the unborn child as a person whose rights need to be defended, they become pro-life libertarians.

The War on Drugs baffles me. Why the government should care who ingests or injects what, I don't understand. I think I'll cover what people do when they're on drugs, addiction, and other issuesf an upcoming post (unless the black helicopters prevent it).

A big problem for the Libertarians is Islamic terrorism. The Libertarian philosophy, being a creature of Western lineage, doesn't have room for jihad. Libertarianism can't abide by efforts to root out terrorism with privacy-crowding methods, nor with taking the fight to the terrorist's home turf. Libertarians are left with the plan of sitting around waiting for some jihadist loser to blow himself up.

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KDA said...

Good post. But, a couple of thoughts...

1. I completely disagree with Bill Clinton or anyone else that says the GOP is demonized/enthralled by SoCons any more than it's demonized by Statists like George W. Bush, Lou Dobbs, or Pat Buchanan, or libertarians like Jim DeMint and Jeff Flake.

2. I lean socially conservative BUT, I AM increasingly aware of the perception that is cast on the GOP (a party which I've been a dues-paying member for 13 years when I was 18) in the main scream media that the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells do hold the most sway. Some in the media actually believe this. Others just use the perception to try and tear down the vestiges of libertarian, small government conservatives that are left. Let's be honest... libertarians are the only thing standing in the way of an even larger welfare state and more gov't programs. The core Republican leadership did get high on the hog, and hence does like their gov't programs, too. The few remaining libertarian Republicans are all I have left battle the Social Insecurity, increasing deficit DESPITE increasing revenues (I'm talking over time- not isolating the last 2 years), and just growing "promise me" pork-barrel politics in general.

3. I'm about as wishy washy as it comes on the abortion issue... I think Roe v. Wade was bad law, BUT I'm not against the state of Mass legalizing it... even if I do think it is immoral, and is probably tantamount to murder (which I consider to be a pro-liberty position). But I do know I'm uncomfortable with that a) being a front-line battle right now (maybe later); b) that I've never smoked a joint in my life, and never will, but I'm all for legalizing marijuana; c) the federal gov't telling the state what to do in the case of Terri Schiavo, or gay marriage, or speeding limits, or trans fats, or smoking in restaurants is absolutely statist. If we don't allow presidents to appoint activist judges, I think this would solve most of the "culture war" problems that conservatives face.

4. Not All libertarians (with a small "l") dismiss the Islamist (I believe this is a more accurate term, not "Islamic") terrorist threat. For all of my libertarian leanings domestically, I happen to be part of the "machine" as an intelligence officer in the USAF. I'd say a good 60-65% of the officers and NCOs that I work with never talk about "socially conservative" issues, but we DO discuss the GWOT, taxes, health care, etc in the office/barracks/etc. Of course I'm looking at this through more of an USAF prism. But, I think (and sometimes tell them to think about it) that they are libertarians at heart, and don't even know it.

Anyway, I don't think it does much good for my fellow libertarians to pounce on SoCons, b/c I think it's more important that we caucus to push back against the nanny state on common issues. But, SoCons and Republicans in general also need to get some lessons on Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and maybe pick up a Reason magazine every now and again, if for no other reason than to balance the coverage on CNN or Fox News with a new spin gearing toward truly small gov't principles.

To that end, I've decided to let the GOP know the only way I know how, that I'm serious about things like simplofying the tax code (sales tax, or at least flat tax), fixing Social Security so that it does survive for those less Type A than me and still provide for all of the honest Americans who have already paid in, give my children (and more importantly the disadvantaged) school choice if you're going to mandate that we pay into an education system- which is not a bad thing on the state level. I'll worry about marijuana in 50 years or so. But, FOR ME the only way to get the point across NOW is to stop tolerating big spenders like Bush, Romney, Delay, Hastert, Bill Frist, etc is for me to do what I've done. This is the first year I won't be sending any money to re-up my membership, or support RNC campaigns. Any money that I give to politicians/political activities will get to them through the Republican Liberty Caucus PAC (the libertarian wing of the GOP), or possibly the Club for Growth. I will probably still vote for the GOP candidate (for now) if the race is close, but lopsided either way, and I will be throwing my protest vote at any LP candidates. And I'm not going to say I won't find a good LP candidate out there somewhere. It just might happen.

It would serve the GOP a lot of good if you, and any of your readers found the RLC and thought seriously about what they're trying to do. Of course, I'm wrapping this up with an advertisement, but I'm fully disclosing that I am a card-carrying member, too. And thank God I found them, b/c I almost wandered into the LP two years ago, and alas I was intercepted. The them out at or Thanks for indulging me, but I think there are very important issues that our gov't can/should be trying to undue or solve, and then I feel there are culture battlefields that are best served being fought by the churches, synagogues, mosques, et al, rather than Rick Santorum. I like him, and think he's about 90% right on the Global War on Islamist Terrorism, but wrong in trying to roll gov't in on every social issue that pops up- as are the Dems with their grip on many federal courts. Thanks for the time, my friend...

KDA said...

One more thing... what really scares me into believing that the GOP doesn't get it are the selections they went with for party leadership.

RNC ChaiMel Martinez over Michael Steele, JC Watts, or

Blunt/Boehner over guys like Mike Pence, John Shadegg or Jeff Flake.

Loren Heal said...

Thanks, KDA.

Federalism (treating each State as sovereign) has been on the retreat since the Civil War. With the instant communications we have now, it's becoming easier and easier to pretend that ever place is alike, and can be governed from Washington. I think that's a horrible outcome.

I'd rather, as you say, allow Massachusetts to kill the unborn and marry gay people than put the Federal government in charge of those questions. I think.

Eric Dondero said...

Not odd at all. While I'm a bit of a libertine Libertarian, my Co-Host on Libertarian Politics Live is a self-described Socially Conservative Libertarian.

I think you'll find most Socially Conservative Libertarians are Libertarian Republicans in the RLC.

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