I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer, just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals… The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom, and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is. -President Ronald Reagan
The past two general election cycles have been bleak for the Republican Party. Looking back on its celebrated rise from near irrelevancy in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, it becomes clear that 1994 was a peak rather than a new beginning. When Newt Gingrich, Jim Babka and PNAC took control of the GOP from what was left of the Goldwater/Reagan conservatives, it marked the beginning of the end.
Back in 1995 Murray Rothbard sounded the alarm about Bill Kristol and the Wilsonian leftists who had taken over the party. In “King Kristol”, written shortly after the “Republican Revolution” vaulted the first majority of Republican candidates into office since the 1950’s, he noted:
In 1995, Kristol and his fellow leftists in PNAC were cajoling Republicans to move left. Far left. Rather than shrink government or follow through with the promises that got them elected, they would fashion a Federal leviathan which has become breathtaking in its belligerence, both domestically and internationally.
Instead of repealing the assault weapons ban, which most commentators and even Bill Clinton admitted cost democrats the House and Senate, the Republicans did nothing. PNAC under Kristol and Wolfowitz were authoring policy reviews intended for Pentagon consumption, arguing U.S. foreign policy should be broadened to include perpetual nation-building, border-shifting and gun confiscation programs in troubled areas.
While many Republicans opine that the problem of terrorism was the fault of Bill Clinton, they fail to examine the actual facts and instead throw out Somalia, for instance, as a “cut and run” gone bad.
This is simply not true. The loss of our soldiers in Somalia occurred because the U.S. mission there went from marginally bad to phenomenally bad after the U.N. changed its stated objectives. What began as a “peace-keeping” mission became house-to-house weapons confiscations in a heavily-armed society jealous of its guns and freedom. After the battle in Mogadishu, Clinton actually sent more troops. He didn’t withdraw as is suggested.
This happened under the watch of the moderate liberals in the Clinton administration who are so well-known as neoconservatives in the Bush administration. Names like Paul Wolfowitz - who cut his teeth working for Democrats Henry M Jackson and Jimmy Carter - and Richard Perle. And Iraq policy is almost identical to Somalia in its goals and tactics if not its scope. This isn’t surprising since it was George H. W. Bush who committed U.S. troops to Somalia and Iraq.
Very few conservatives today seem to realize that the “strong defense” label applied to this Wilsonian/Trotskyite nonsense is just so much spin. Prior to 9/11, nation-building - U.N. doublespeak for aggressive invasion - was a reviled phrase in old-right circles. Once 9/11 occurred, it was acceptable to defend these same failed policies because the event “changed everything.” But, if 9/11 changed everything, why didn’t foreign policy change?
Because 9/11 didn’t change anything. 9/11 merely gave neoconservatives a ready-made excuse to further escalate. The constant threat of terrorism issued by neoconservative columnists alienated the anti-war faction of the GOP base, and convinced the mushy GOP moderates to support what they had so recently protested under Clinton. So much did they protest nation-building prior to 9/11, they elected a Republican as President who promised not to engage in it.
By the time it became obvious that there was never a sincere intent to bring the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks to justice, it was too late. The true intent, to expand U.S. military presence beyond the 130 countries it already occupies, would go unnoticed. To those who objected, the events would be characterized as good for the countries occupied, no matter how many civilians were killed in the process. How soon we forget Madeline Albright’s now-infamous response (“it’s worth it”) to a claim that 500,000 children were killed in Iraq from 1991 to 1999 as a result of the 40,000 U.S. bombing sorties, millions of “depleted” uranium rounds in their soil and water and devastated infrastructure. It shocked rational conservatives at the time it was uttered. Today it is repeated verbatim by those unwilling to think critically about the U.S.’s actions in Iraq.
Apart from the immorality of nation building, little is said amongst the so-called conservatives - vying to control what’s left of the decimated GOP and “rebuild” it - about the cost of U.S. military adventurism. It approaches 1 trillion dollars a year, all of it borrowed or printed. Currently, the factions fighting over GOP scraps are discussing fiscal excess, bailouts, nationalization and gay marriage, yet totally ignore the expense and effect of perpetual war on the economy.
To add insult to injury, instead of recognizing the obvious - that the vast majority of elected Republican officials did exactly what King Kristol commanded and embraced socialism wholeheartedly - there are vocal activists who claim that the GOP’s woes are caused more by their ineffective use of technology than their morally deficient policies; i.e.- Obama won, not because the GOP has become an intellectually and morally bankrupt organization, the GOP lost because it didn’t text message “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” to enough of America’s cell-phone-toting voters.
So convinced of this are a number of GOP faithful that they have formed a group on the social networking site Twitter and have created several websites dedicated to making the GOP relevant again.
This movement is doomed to failure. Why? Because the vast majority of its members still offer credulity to “conservative” pundits such as Hugh Hewitt, Anne Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Max Boot, Dough Feith, Brent Scowcroft and Joshua Muravchik.
They keep invoking Ronald Reagan’s memory, but don’t understand that Reagan was the arch-nemesis of neoconservatism. You can’t look to Reagan as a role-model and put neoconservatives such as Doug Feith, author of the “enemy combatant” nonsense that Reagan rejected in 1987, on pedestals next to him. The picture is all wrong. King Kristol’s army has been thoroughly discredited and they are desperately trying to maintain credibility by blaming previous administrations or the very countries that they insisted we bomb.
Movements such as TCOT will never succeed until they come to grips with this evil element in their midst that is in fact responsible for the GOP’s destruction. The GOP is supposed to stand for limited government, freedom and the current Constitution. When its rhetoric was focused on those three major planks, it became successful. When it failed to deliver on those promises and repudiated them by action and word, it steadily lost its most valuable defenders. What poses as intellectual discussion amongst TCOT members and the neoconservative pundits they embrace lacks intellect but is liberally peppered with ad hominem in order to make up for the shortcoming.
The basic argument claims there are a few RNC party officials who are responsible for the GOP’s mess rather than any ideological problems or the actions of most of its elected members. Perpetual war, daily attacks on the basic freedoms of individuals living within and without the U.S. and socialist appeasement are not to blame, it is a failure to properly execute a brand strategy.
But I beg to differ. The GOP has offered up a very clear brand by way of its actions and words and this has been soundly rejected by the voting public. It is also being rejected by those who once considered themselves GOP members. The GOP can’t even sell its current agenda to its own members. How does it sell this to the general public?
The current GOP merely offers us a different shade of red. Until the GOP seriously offers a credible alternative, it can expect to continue its embarrassing decimation at the hands of the neoconservatives its members continue to trust.
Only one thing can save the GOP: it must embrace its libertarian roots and preach once again, liberty, peace and prosperity. Then it must get out of the way of its members who do all of heavy lifting.