Libertarians, Conservatives, and the GOP

For Byron York, writing in the Washington Examiner, Libertarianism - or more precisely, libertarian candidates - “could be a troublesome wild card” for GOP candidates in the upcoming midterm elections. Support for a candidate of the Libertarian Party that rises above 5% and approaches 8% could complicate election hopes for Republicans in a number of key Senate races and thus determine whether the GOP wins back the Upper House. For David Frum, writing in the Atlantic - Libertarianism itself is a scourge that will recede like stale flood waters when a Republican takes back the Presidency. Frum, in fact, does not even say Republican when mentioning the presidential elections; he uses conservative instead. And he doesn’t exactly say scourge, he just insists that “conservatives succumb to libertarianism in despair, not hope.” It’s a very pessimistic, if not paranoid, view of the state, according to Frum, where libertarians and disaffected conservatives are ready to defend themselves “with arms if necessary against an inherently and inevitably predatory and hostile state.” Them fighting words from the former White House speechwriter.


Is Frum - who clearly comes out with guns blazing in the battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party - at least partly correct in his assessment of libertarians? Or is he outside the debate that is underway on the ground out in the various states, and is trying to shoot his way back in? Is Rand Paul paranoid and out there, or is Frum bitter and resentful? The Kentucky Senator's famous filibuster more than a year ago raised the possibility of drone attacks on American citizens: presumably law-abiding, average, beyond-the-beltway folks who might belong to "fringe" political parties or uphold right-to-life beliefs. That drones would be used to kill such citizens seems absurd. So-called fusion centers, or intelligence sharing centers, are seen as malignant by Rand Paul, rather than emergency centers that were set up to allow the kind of coordination that might have prevented 9/11. In Senator Paul's filibuster, the Missouri fusion center's famous list that was sent to police units around the state is seen as proof that anyone could be targeted by the government. This is indeed paranoid stuff but, unfortunately, it cannot be dismissed out of hand. Abuse of authority, given the current state of technology in the hands of governments, is a frightening prospect for the average citizen.

But it would be wise to leaven this fear with a dose of old fashioned conservative skepticism. Government, and the US Government, are never as organized and therefore as willfully and efficiently malevolent as Rand would have us believe. For example, the main problem with fusion centers is that they appear to be a waste of taxpayer money - they merely add another layer of bureaucracy to the intelligence community instead of getting the existing agencies to cooperate and not jealously defend their respective turfs. That they are putting together lists so that armed men in black in black helicopters can take you away in the dead of the night is less likely. That they are inefficient and prone to political manipulation is beyond doubt. So maybe the battle within the GOP will eventually produce a conservatism that is much more alert to abuse of authority - not as a crazed theoretical but in terms of the reality that voters have to deal with, like the IRS targeting individuals or groups - and that also remains skeptically pragmatic about what government can, and cannot, do. How individual GOP candidates respond to their libertarian challengers this fall will reveal the future of conservatives and their role within the Republican party.

Posted by AllardK at August 18, 2014 12:13 PM
Comments
Comment #382104

Another in a long line of people who think that voters are either Democrat’s or Republican’s, and anyone running against them are just taking their votes away from them.

People are voting for Libertarians because they either a) believe in their politics or b) prefer their politics to those of Democrats and Republicans. If Republicans and Democrats want to EARN those votes, they should actually try, you know, earning them.

The simple fact is that the paranoia that Libertarians are going to ‘cost’ someone an election is mostly ignorance, Libertarian candidates usually pull equally from both Democrat and Republican candidates.

But there is a simple, much better solution than the myriad of methods of discrediting, legal maneuvering, etc that both parties succumb to. All they have to do is actually COURT those voters and get them to vote for them. Which is, as I understand how Democracy works, the preferred method…

But hey, I’m just a stupid conspiracy believing Libertarian who, according to John McCain, the most dangerous person to this country…

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