by David Beilstein
TAKING a cue from Protestant liberal theological history, I have decided to coin what I call popular conservatism, mainline conservatism—that is, a conservatism torn asunder from classical liberal parameters in its scope—Federalism, localism, free minds and markets—and intellectually and philosophically shallow in its rhetorical thrust.
Mainline conservatism is obsessed with the culture war—seeing the acquisition of state power to further that losing war, rather than classical liberal intentions eyeing political duties, conserving a constructionist interpretive paradigm of the U.S. Constitution; thus enabling a preservation of individual liberty and autonomy against statist incursion. Such statist incursion (however the good intentions), has not helped preserve Burkean Mediating Associations (Platoons), nor has it reformed or edified a declining culture. And the cultural uniformity demanded by Republican “conservatives” runs roughshod over the Madisonian and Burkean ideas of “factions”; or Burkean islands of separation.
On that note, mainline conservative hot air princess, Anne Coulter, put a boot in her too big of a mouth, blasting libertarians in a conversation with libertarian talk show host, John Stossel.
First, this does not mean Ms Coulter was wrong in everything she said. I would agree, being a Buckley-ian Friedmanian, libertarian, much of the popular expression of libertarianism has several problems: too much conspiracy theory driven hoopla—which is not based upon the philosophical ground of classical liberalism; it’s more Oliver Stone cinematic fantasy, than classical liberal philosophy. Moreover, foreign policy positions taken by too many libertarians are informed by elements of leftist premises about war and peace; untethered from historical circumstances and the intercourse of imperfect men situated in imperfect nations. Let it be said, a libertarian should admit straight away one of the two things the Federal Government of the United States of America should be doing is protecting American security (and regulating sincere interstate commerce). This is not to say the neo-Conservative ideas about foreign policy are correct.
Not so, to my thinking.
Sadly, neo-Conservative ideas about foreign policy are the premise of the modern day Republican Party. I question the wisdom of such direction. Nevertheless, neo-Conservative ideas about U.S. foreign policy are opposed to the Founding Father’s ideas about protecting American sovereignty and security. The Founders, it would seem, did not see America as the world’s police force—they did however, strike at the heart of real threats (Thomas Jefferson and the Barbary pirates), very much alike America’s fight against al Qaeda driven “theocratic” fascism.
In terms of drug legalisation, Ms Coulter is wrong to suggest legalisation of drugs and libertarian positions on gay marriage are “sucking up to liberals.” First, liberal is not a good word for statist progressives. Most libertarians in support of gay marriage do so within a completely different understanding of state power—a more honest opinion of limited state parameters—at odds with statist progressives. The consequentialist libertarian, actually, believes regardless of moral points of view, the state has no business in many areas of individual life. Modern conservatism, however, has walked away from such understanding—an understanding very much apart of the conservatism articulated by Barry Goldwater, Russell Kirk, and William F Buckley, Jr.
Conservatives, properly defined, are supposed to be liberal—classically comprehended—whilst progressives attenuate free republic ideas of liberalism, within the American legalese of that word.
Secondly, the late great William F. Buckley, Jr. and Dr Milton Friedman, both highly conservative, opposed the war on drugs. Both grandiose, classically liberal-minded men came out against Vietnam War, too. Indeed, some of the best argumentations for legalising drugs have been put forward by conservatives, like the late Mr Buckley. Moreover, the best argument against the Iraq War, and an altogether different military posture against Islamic-fascism, was spearheaded by paleo-Conservative maestro Pat Buchanan, a warhorse radically opposed to Anne Coulter’s troublesome definition of “liberal.”
Many libertarians are opposed to gay marriage. But they do so based upon the belief marriage is not the Federal Government’s business, as it is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. Progressives do not support gay marriage from this point of view; the difference being fundamental, regardless of where one comes down on homosexual “marriage.”
The issue of same-sex “marriage” should—if one is concerned about fealty to the U.S. Constitution—default to the confines of the Tenth Amendment, whether opposed or supported.
To give credit where credit is due (which is hard, because I cannot stomach Anne Coulter); one must agree with her overall point that the priorities of libertarians are too often muddled. There is much hooray about legalising drugs within libertarian teepee’s; of smoking boom—which, I agree people should be allowed to do—but too many libertarians do not concentrate on attacking a government that has transformed America into a country that is an upwards of 70% socialistic; taking 60% of citizens property (income). That’s a violation of property rights, folks. It’s theft on a grand scale, made legal by a government out of control and barer of an immense slippery ass too big for its britches.
That said, the Republican candidates that Anne Coulter recommends conservatives become lasciviously aroused over and support—“He’s a big Christian!” was one reason Ms Coulter gave for supporting a blowhard GOP candidate—would not roll back state intrusion. As if—in contradiction to Holy Scripture—the purpose of Christianity is political/state craft, in nature.
This use of religion, especially Christianity, is disturbing, and it consumes wide swaths of GOP/conservative circles.
Paraphrasing protestant Reformer, Martin Luther, I’d rather have a smart Turk in office—a limited government classical liberal—than a big government evangelical Christian. Worse still, these Republican candidates cannot even get elected, anyway, despite the hot gas spun and expectorated by conservatives like Ms Coulter.
Conservatives, falling in line, supported John McCain and Mitt Romney, all on the outside edge of any honest consideration of classical liberalism. McCain was, is, a big government Republican progressive. He takes some “conservative positions”. That’s like saying someone who has a junk food diet, but who eats peas once in a blue moon, epitomises optimal healthy eating.
Now Republicans are throwing us Marco Rubio.
This despite none of these candidates having substantial ideas about getting rid of laws, instead of passing more—supposedly passing more laws from a “conservative” point of view.
O Where O Where, art Barry Goldwater?
I am guilty of supporting Mitt Romney. Sue me. I endorsed him on this website. Ah, damn. But I endorsed Mr Romney (and felt he would win) because of how tyrannical President Obama is, and, how bad Obama’s poll numbers were, electorally. I was wrong. In other words, I did not pick Mr Romney to win—or endorse him—because I thought
Mr Romney was sufficiently classically liberal, but because I thought Barack Obama was radically illiberal. My mistake was to underestimate two key points: how badly Americans perceive the Republican Party because they are out of touch and illiberal in the classical sense themselves; as well as how easy it would be for Barack Obama’s campaign to malign and straw-men a party of extreme shallowness and ideological bewilderment.
I will seek never to make such a mistake in electoral analysis again. All this is to say, Anne Coulter and “conservatives” like her, have lost even more support. They have lost electoral and policy legitimacy. And they have led the contemporary conservative movement into continuous ideological misapplication; a ruinous public persona and definitive electoral defeat. They will have to anchor their rhetoric in a full-orbed classical liberalism. Calling libertarian’s names, to be frank, is the last thing folks like Ms Coulter ought to be concerned with.
It is beneath her; and it is beneath so-called conservatism.
And libertarians, too, have work to do. They need to get serious; mustering achievable goals and priorities. Less conspiracy theory driven excreta, and far more actual electoral victories and rolling back Federal control over individual property and life.