By David Beilstein
AFTER listening to a slew of conservative radio talk show analysis following Barack Obama’s victory over Republican nominee Mitt Romney on YouTube, a couple things stood out.
One, many conservative “talkers” assumed a posture in reaction to the mainstream press rumination about the need for the Grand Old Party to change in order to be victorious in future elections, roaring back, What are we, a bunch of Democrats?
Which, I might add, is somewhat troubling if understood a certain way. Conservatives, libertarians, are, wait for it … classical liberals, not anti-Democrats.
We oppose statist policies. If Democrats propose policies that are individually freeing, constitutional, and empower people and private society over government, we should not be arbitrarily opposing such policies.
Sure, the modern Democrat Party hardly ever surmounts such a political mesa, but the theory is sound.
Take Bill O’Reilly’s tough stance on drugs, and his tougher stance on non-violent drug crimes. O’Reilly, for many, is a conservative. Yet, conservatives and libertarians from many another diverse backgrounds have been coming out against drug prohibition for decades. And they have been doing so on classical liberal premises, not leftist ones.
O’Reilly also deemed Colorado’s legislation of marijuana as “liberal” — meaning politically progressive.
Still, National Review did not seem to think so in this month’s issue, calling the legalising of marijuana libertarian, not liberal.
In 1996, National Review featured an editorial supporting ending the drug war, writing in effect, the drug war had failed, and for the legalisation of at least some drugs.
National Review is a lot of things. “Progressive” isn’t one of them.
Most of this arises from what Libertarian Monks has been documenting since our inception: classical liberalism being defined by emotions, preference-based political thinking, rather than on the intellectual history of American conservatism and classical liberalism — and just as importantly, Constitutionalism.
Classical liberals are supposed to approach political issues from a different philosophical premise than statists. And sometimes, therefore, we will arrive at agreements.
Many leftists support drug legalisation. So do many classical conservatives and libertarians — but, importantly, they do so for entirely different philosophical reasons.
There has long been confusion libertarians are simply conservative on fiscal matters, but socially liberal. Jonah Goldberg of National Review, disagreeing with certain libertarian positions, aptly unpacked why this is untrue.
One has to understand the philosophical reasoning behind libertarianism to understand, truly, they’re far more than “progressives” on social issues, but fiscally conservative.
Social issues on the left more often than not empower government over individual life. The American left has been “progressive” about a variety of social issues in order to decouple the interests of the individual to mediating associations, and marry them to the state.
The libertarian desires to impede the power of the government by empowering the individual, firming up the firewalls enumerated in the Constitution to keep the government in check.
Within this goal, the libertarian (like the American conservative) is primarily interested preserving the government and its constitutional duties, as opposed to the leftist who desires government to take on the features of the all-powerful state.