Libertarians Can Save The Republican Party...If They Will Get Real!
As I begin this, I’m hoping to finish while it is still small enough to digest. So I’ll wait for now on details (maybe in the comments?), and say that there is truth in almost everything Ron Paul says. Of course we spend outrageous amounts of money on unconstitutional ventures in this country. And of course we horribly disrespect the integrity of our currency. And even in foreign policy, he’s right that we are overextended around the world and have allowed other countries to rest under an American umbrella of protection and not prepare to defend themselves. He’s right that the defense establishment (Eisenhower warned of a “military-industrial complex) is another self-aggrandizing government bureaucracy that inclines toward expansion, and must be closely monitored and constrained to the best interest of the country. And though it’s true that in today’s hi-tech hi-travel world, a commander-in-chief must be able to act quickly, in short fashion there must be Congressional approval of military expeditions. Bush waited a long time to invade Iraq. He got authority for military action from Congress. But I think in the interest of clarity, he should have acted for a clear declaration of war (and I said so at the time). Whatever Congress had said, it would have made it rather more ticklish to blame Bush for the consequences.
But I can’t understand what Paul is talking about when he suggests that aggressors will be no threat if you just leave them alone, usually to the conquests or oppression that they are prevailing on other people. In a world of today’s travel and destructive technology, I don’t know how a man his age can nurture such a naïve disposition about human nature. I’ve pressed libertarians on the potential threats that could face our people if a president could but declined to act preemptively. And when you work down to it, they seem to say that they would rather watch an American city take a nuclear bomb, than to live in fear and/or engage in a foreign military exercise. What the heck? Sure, war is hell. But the world is a nasty place, and it doesn’t get better if you stick your head in the sand. And you aren’t safer and probably morally derelict.
And by the way, I think drugs are a dangerous and personally destructive thing to get involved with. But I DO NOT SUPPORT THIS EXPENSIVE AND WASTEFUL, AND DANGEROUS NATIONAL WAR ON DRUGS! I think federal agents should strengthen border monitoring and maybe intercept and confiscate big supplies there, but otherwise lay off. I think I’d make it illegal to ship or carry large quantities into the country, but have no national laws about sale and use of drugs. BUT! In my state and county we would swiftly prosecute and strongly sanction sale and public use of drugs if my vote had its way.
Now, about how we need the libertarians’ fervor and how they can actually help rather than restrict themselves to scoffing Mickey Mouse Club self-congratulations. Though it was not The Libertarian Party, I actually spent a couple of 2-year cycles with a 3rd party. I know about this private pool abstract idealism. You reject specific dispositions and actions that any politician has ever taken. Well, you can reject them all you want, but you have them all over the place, AND THE DEMOCRATIC PUBLIC THAT ENDORSES THEM! What good does it do to stand off in the corner of the room and ridicule while the rest of the world stands somewhere else? Whether what they do is right or wrong is not the point. What is the point is where the American people are and what is actually happening in the society that YOU LIVE IN, TOO!
James Drew gave an extended list of the “sins” of Santorum and Gingrich whom I had opined in the interest of overcoming Romney. In the first place, I differ in the extent of what it appears that Santorum believes the federal government can accomplish, both constitutionally and practically. But he was never seen as other than conservative in representing what is at best a swing state with a definite majority of Democrat voters. It’s pretty remarkable that he won 2 Senate terms. And Newt has had a long career, and has toyed with things I expect for both the reason that he hoped to be able to help the country and because the public expected something. These guys must govern in the real world AS IT IS, not as you or I wish it were. Even assuming that these libertarians were 100% correct, which I don’t think they are, they could get elected to jack squat in the federal government. And if they deceived just to attain office and press their beliefs, they’d be punted out of office at the first opportunity. But we aren’t going to call off the elections because they and their comrades don’t approve. Looking for perfection? Sorry, wrong world.
Let me give you a couple of examples of Gingrich positioning himself for the political battle. Some hard-nosed and reactive conservatives (though not as pure as our friends) criticized him for “attacking Paul Ryan and his budget plan last year. But he did no such thing. In fact if one had listened to what he said instead of just the head line, he actually said he liked the plan. He just said that right-wing social engineering was as bad as left-wing social engineering. And what he was referring to was the passage and imposition of laws without first making and selling the case to the American public. The Democrats imposed the health care law over the protests of the American people. And Gingrich foresaw the way the Democrats would define Ryan’s plan, which they did with their ad about Grandma being thrown off of the cliff. He was just saying that if you sell the plan before you impose it, you go a considerable way in thwarting the Democrats’ mischaracterization. Gingrich also made the climate change ad with Nancy Pelosi at the height of the public’s acceptance of the Climate Change calamity pitch. Private commercial interest were selling “green” products and services” because the public was buying it. Shortly after, Gingrich was before Congress fighting against cap & trade. He made the ad with Pelosi because he didn’t want conservatives left out of the conversation when the public was buying ecological danger.
Engaging political reality like this is why Gingrich is best equipped to take up the contest before the public. And you must remember, Gingrich’s service stretched back to the time before cable news and talk-radio, to a time when conservatism was dominated by liberal media on every front, which is how far back some of the citations reached. If you think conservatives are weak now, you should have seen them in the 60s and 70s. For most Republicans, conservative inclinations was something you kept under your skirt. That’s why the old over-60 Republican political pros favor Romney. They were formed in a time when Republican winners were generally ambiguous ones. I’m actually relatively aggressive. I think we should speak and defend the truth. So it’s kind of funny that I am called a compromiser. I don’t want to compromise and I don’t want to be unclear. But I do want to live in the real world. But Gingrich is clearly trailing. I have to deal with the real world.
We need the help of the libertarians. But they have to accept reality and make it a priority to actually accomplish things for society, not just to posture and accomplish nothing. I actually hoped Sarah Palin would run. Underneath her youthful enthusiasm and screechy voice, is an uncommon grit and resolve to go along with common-sense conservative principle. And though she believes there are things that we must defend against in the world, she’s modest about where we should engage, and she always commends the efforts and enthusiasm of the libertarian stream of conservative and appeals to them. Now, I’m at great pains to support Mitt Romney because I see no system of thought at work in his words and proposals. But both in The Republican contest and in the general election, conservatism would fare better if libertarians would submit their idealism to the cause of actually improving an America that is far-removed from its founding ideals. Things would be a lot more difficult for Romney if there were not 10 to 25% being pulled off into their own (losing) category in every primary contest. And we certainly need their activism and work in the general election, rather than worrying about who might stay home or vote for a 3rd party.