Monday, November 26, 2007

Libertarians versus Conservatives

A friend emailed me the interesting post below by Doug Bandow, stalwart champion of small government values.

Doug, as a recovering Republican for life, I definitely agree with your analysis.

Where I might disagree with the Reagan quote, is that I do not honestly believe that there was ever any earnest desire on the part of most "conservatives" to cut government. Federalism was a tool they used to try to legitimize state-sanctioned racism in the South. Now that those battles are largely over, we have seen essentially zero support for federalism. In fact, prominent conservatives like Bush and Scalia have recently been in the forefront of opposing federalism, although Scalia has hidden behind hyper-technical distinctions.

"Conservatives" were also against welfare, which was perceived as largely going to minorities, but they love virtually ever other type of government hand out, except for health care for children.

Maybe someone can explain to me why it is a "conservative" value to give children federal vouchers for local schools, and to provide federal medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors but it is a "socialist" idea to give children federally-provided or assisted health care?

Of course, we all know what the answer is: Doctors and drug companies and HMO's are good, while teacher unions are bad.

I am definitely bitter, because I believe that these cretins used libertarians for years and delivered essentially zero to us in terms of policy. No, I do not consider captial gain tax cuts that do not apply to savings accounts to be libertarian, but rather just another type of government meddling, and there is not a single other accomplishment from the last 7 years that could remotely be described as libertarian.

The GOP is currently a coalition of big business (some, like Larry Kudlow, claim to be libertarians, but their fetish for war, targeted tax cuts and easy money puts paid to that notion), together with pro-war types who are too busy and important to serve in the military themselves, and moral crusaders who know what is right and wrong and are all too ready to shove it down the rest of our throats but there is no longer any type of intellectual cohesion to the Party's core beliefs.

As the moral element gains more and more influence in the party, the Big Business types are beginning to feel uncomfortable and are beginning to flee--after all, the anti-intellectualism and carping moralism of the busybody social conservatives are not a whole lot of fun at a cocktail party. Rush Limbaugh has become a real bore since he quit the good stuff and he was about the only life in the Party, although ahem, quite a step down from the erudite William Buckley, who inspired many with his cutting and clever remarks.

Today's GOP replaces "cutting and clever" erudition with screaming and shouting and personal attacks. There is very little in the current GOP coalition which is anything but vile and corrupt to its very core and I don't buy the fatuous argument that the Republicans are better than the alternative, which is generally made without much authority to support it.

If someone actually believes in and cares about freedom, 4 questions suffice to show that the Democrats are a far better alternative to the GOP.

Which party supports some forms of torture?

Which party supports a crabbed notion of privacy and freedom under the 4th Amendment?

Which party supports increasing the War on Drugs?

Which party supports rampant military interventionism around the world to a far greater degree?

Thus, I am now a Democrat. Maybe they will at least be willing to throw us libertarians a bone or two. The GOP sure never did.

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