Friday, June 11, 2010

Libertarian, Conservative, Tea Party, Who Cares?

Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana, and by all reports a decent guy, has taken some flak for saying the next President might have to "call for a truce on the so-called social issues." Mike Huckabee disagreed vehemently, saying:

Let me be clear though, the issue of life and traditional marriage are not bargaining chips nor are they political issues. They are moral issues. I didn’t get involved in politics just to lower taxes and cut spending though I believe in both and have done it as a Governor. But I want to stay true to the basic premises of our civilization.
I am not saying that Mitch Daniels is a Tea Party supporter, but Huckabee has certainly kept his distance and used this opportunity to voice conservative distrust of the libertarian leanings of the Tea Party movement. We need to remember that Huckabee will again be a candidate for President. For my part, I think that Governor Daniels had an unfortunate choice of words. According to Andrew Ferguson, "Daniels is pro-life himself, and he gets high marks from conservative religious groups in his state." I think Daniels was saying that the economic mess the country finds itself in is a much more urgent problem than say, abortion or pornography. KT might argue that the pathologies that underlie those issues are at the root of the current mess, I am not so sure. Regardless, within the Tea Party and the Republican party, tensions between conservative and libertarian philosophies are rising.

Two other news items illustrate that something is going on. Reason magazine's cover story this month tackles the issue within the Supreme Court, where conservatives and libertarians are taking a different view of the role of the courts, judicial restraint and the doctrine of original intent. What is clear, is that the judicial activism by left wing judges that has expanded the role and power of government is the common enemy of both libertarian and conservative schools of thought.

The next libertarian vs conservative debate is this one between Sarah Palin and Ron Paul:

Judge Andrew Napolitano is a great American, by the way. He also makes the excellent point towards the end that on the economy, on the role and size of government, conservatives and libertarians have much in common. If you really listen closely to Paul and Palin, you find much common ground, and even the makings of that truce Daniels talks about. Which rounds me back to Mitch Daniels point, inelegantly put as it was. Right now, the chief threat to the Republic is the vast over reach of the Federal government, and its attendant debt, as well as the debt piling up at the state and local level due to unsustainable social programs. This is why both conservatives and libertarians are at the Tea Party rallies.

On a personal note, I have a foot in both camps. I was a Libertarian party member for over 30 years before I left over their lack of seriousness. I disagree with conservatives on the overall solution to illegal immigration (although I do believe we must secure the border). I have long opposed abortion, and believed that some wars, even if we weren't attacked might still be in the national interest, unlike libertarians. But I am comfortable with the Tea Party because the focus is right, which I will again repeat:

The size of government has become a threat to our liberty and prosperity.

Finishing up with Daniels, in an American Spectator article he makes these excellent points:

Yet Daniels continued, "If we (Republicans) had a catch phrase of our own, it would be more like, 'Change That Believes In You.' You're a person of dignity. You're a person who was born to be free, and ... if we simply arrange society in a fair way, you're fully capable of deciding how to spend as many of your dollars as we can leave with you, where your kid should go to school, what health care to buy or not buy."

He explained, "I want to see the next candidacy on our side be somebody who is campaigning to govern, not to merely win."

Daniels said rather than concentrate on personalities, those who believe the country is heading in the wrong direction have to "really think hard, beyond the slogans and our own catechism, about what is to be done and what can be done."

Frankly, this is what concerns me about the current crop of potential opponents to Obama. It is not going to be enough to be against the deficit and against Obamacare, we are going to need practical ideas about how to deal with the consequences of those goals.


  1. I'm not a big proponent of government solutions to social problems. Instead, I'd advocate simple acknowledgement that the problems are societal in nature and then whacking funding for their erstwhile government solutions.

    I love the line, "change that believes in you." In the end, as the Greeks are finding out, you really do have to take care of yourself.

  2. The GOP gets this.

    I went to an event where both Brian Bilbray (moderate) and Duncan Hunter (social con) spoke.

    They both assured us that they were putting all other issues aside and focusing only on the fiscal catastrophe this year. It's the right thing to do both from a policy and a political perspective.

  3. KT,
    Thanks for clarifying your position. I would add that we need to de-fund some of the subsidies for these issues. Welfare reform was a good first step because it reduced the rewards for father absence. We might also stop providing SSI to drug addicts and alcoholics. There is probably a long list of pathologies that we reward, that I might turn into a full blog article. I am not saying that this solves unwed motherhood or substance addiction, but it certainly is a step in the right direction and reduces spending as well.

    Thanks for that note, and it is encouraging. Wouldn't mind seeing a blog article on an event like that. Just suggesting.

    Thanks for the link.

  4. Your post on Tea Party and Christianity was also excellent.

  5. Actually, I'm all for increased funding to support addicts and the mentally ill, albeit through institutionalizing them until cured, if possible.