Conservatism

The New Republican Party: Libertarian Fusionism in Virginia

The rise of the so-called “liberty movement,” which sprang out of the early days of Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign, and of the tea party movement, which was a reaction to the one-party Democrat rule in Washington after the 2008 elections (with Obama’s victory being the likely spark) has forced the Republican Party to wrestle with warring factions in an attempt to establish a winning coalition.

Those in the media love to paint the GOP’s internal struggle as evidence of a party in the throes of extinction; as a party out-of-touch with mainstream America. But I think the “growing pains” the GOP are experiencing could potentially strengthen the Republican Party.

I am of the opinion that we have two political parties in our first-past-the-post electoral system. Few candidates have won major office in recent history under the banner of any party other than the Republican or Democrat parties. There are exceptions, but they’re rare, and those candidates usually win because of their personality, rather than a set of ideals on which a party platform could be constructed. Think Maine’s Angus King or Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman.

It is with that understanding that many within the “liberty movement” in Virginia have begun working within the Republican Party to move it in a more (small-L) libertarian direction. Our reasoning is that political parties do not hold a certain philosophy; they are vessels through which their members advance a set of ideas and beliefs. As the GOP looks for a path forward, it should look to the way the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) has embraced liberty activists.

Conservatism Is Very Much Alive

AJ Delgado had a piece in Mediaite last weekend asking whether conservatism was dead or not. She cites three major policy “defeats” as she sees them for conservatism this month.

1) Immigration reform is all but a foregone conclusion.

2) The gay marriage debate is essentially over.

3) The plan to defund ObamaCare — conservatives’ last stand after the Supreme Court failed to throw out the Act — is over

I think Miss Delgado misses a lot in construing all of these as catastrophic defeats for conservatives. A look at each issue on its own shows that it is not as catastrophic as it first appears.

Firstly, I wouldn’t put my money on comprehensive immigration reform becoming law. After Rand Paul outlined his position on the issue last week, he has been very careful to walk back certain aspects of it. Plus, the GOP House has shown exactly no interest in this issue. Finally, this is an issue that divides Democrats as well. Blue collar unions, African Americans, and many environmentalists want to kill immigration reform as well for their own reasons.

As for gay marriage, this is probably her strongest argument. Yes the gay marriage is over. It will become the law of the land in every state in the country within 20 years, if that. What conservatives need to is rebrand on this issue. What conservatives need to fight for on this issue is to make sure adequate religious liberty and conscience protections are in place for churches, businesses, adoption agencies and others opposed to gay marriage.

Rand Paul outlines constitutional, conservative foreign policy

Rand Paul

There is a battle raging for the heart and soul of the conservative movement. While there is a near constant discussion over fiscal issues, also emerging is a debate over the foreign policy direction the United States should take.

Despite his anti-war rhetoric on the campaign trail in 2008, Barack Obama has largely continued the expansive foreign policy views of his predecessor. In 2011, Obama authorized a bombing campaign in Libya, which was aimed at deposing the regime of the country’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

This campaign, which was waged without the consent of Congress, setoff a debate between the neo-conservatives and those who advocate a more restrained, constitutional foreign policy. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) criticized the non-interventionist views of Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and others, smearing them as “isolationists.”

It’s Sen. Paul who has largely become the voice of reason in the foreign policy debate. During the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, suggested that he could, as president, authorize military action against Iran without congressional approval. Sen. Paul responded forcefully, explaining that the “Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president.”

Erick Erickson nails the current state of conservatism

Erick Erickson

It’s been obvious to many that modern conservatism has, to a large degree, become bereft of ideas and more about cultural issues, and opposing Barack Obama more out of personal dislike than principled opposition.  On the right you’ll hear a lot of shouting and yelling, but almost no one is making a reasoned, optimistic pitch for why conservative ideas are better for actual people.  It’s become all about firing up the base, which has been shrinking for years to the point where it is no longer enough to win elections.

But it’s one thing for a libertarian like me to say it.  It’s another for Erick Erickson at the major conservative blog Red State to say it.  I disagree with Erick most of the time, but he has just about nailed exactly what the current state of the Right is:

What I am finding is that among conservatives there is too much outrage, piss, and vinegar. It makes our ideas less effective. We have become humorless, angry opponents of the President instead of happy warriors selling better ideas. We are not even selling ideas.

Conservatives, frankly, have become purveyors of outrage instead of preachers for a cause. Instead of showing how increasing government harms people, how free markets help people, and how conservative policies benefit all Americans, we scream “Benghazi” and “Fast & Furious.”

Exactly.  We see this all over the place.  Obama is not simply just someone to disagree with, but someone to hate, to view as a literal traitor and evil person.  Surely the left was guilty of this to some extent in the Bush years, but never to this degree.  Frankly, the right has become exceedingly boring, and most of the country agrees.

In Defense of Fusionism

Earlier this afternoon, my colleague, Jeremy Kolassa, raised an important issue about fusionism between conservatives and libertarians. For what it’s worth, I share the frustration. In early June, I attended a local GOP meeting to hear some local candidates talk about the issues facing our county. Unfortunately, the county party’s chairwoman spent 10 minutes complaining about Ron Paul supporters and libertarians who “want to take over the Republican Party.”

The experience was deflating, though not entirely surprising. I wasn’t in attendence as a libertarian. I was there as a concerned citizen, who has twice had his home broken into, to discuss issues important to me.

It’s certainly true that many conservatives don’t find the importance of an alliance with libertarians. The Rick Santorums and Mike Huckabees of the conservative movement have certainly made that clear. Indeed, even CPAC worked hard to ensure a “libertarian-free” gathering earlier this year. But fiscal conservatives, including Sen. Jim DeMint, have offered us an olive branch so that we can work together on issues that are mutually motivating.

It’s Time to Rethink Fusionism

Two weeks ago, I wrote not one, but two posts about how conservatives had basically foisted Obamacare upon the populace. About how conservatives wanted libertarians to join them again, and vote for a conservative…who wrote Obamacare. About how conservatives had lost any sense they principles they had.

This is an addendum.

Since the end of World War II, libertarians and conservatives have been allied in a loose coalition known as “fusionism.” The idea was that, as communism and social “democracy” was on the rise, anyone who believed in free markets had to ban together, at the expense of other ideas. It originally began with Frank S. Meyer, an American philosopher, who believed that libertarian free market concepts worked hand in hand with conservative traditionalism.

However, it has become clear to me, and to growing numbers of libertarians, that this is false. That the entire fusionist experiment was really born out of necessity, not principled ideology, as a way to survive the Cold War. And especially the last few years have shown, the conservative “movement” has come utterly unhinged.

The birthers. The Kenyan anti-colonialist crap. The accusations our president is a secret Muslim. The now ludicrous defenses of bigotry against homosexuals, transgendered, and those who do not believe. And then there is the vehement and heated arguments against spending…but on the same front, conservatives themselves spend and spend and spend. They just want to spend a tad less than liberals.

Profiles in Liberty: Steve Lonegan of Americans for Prosperity - New Jersey

Steve Lonegan runs the New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity and is a former three-term mayor of Bogota.

During Mayor Lonegan’s time in office, Bogota’s municipal spending remained constant for all 12 years.  Lonegan stood up to powerful public sector unions while keeping debt and tax increases far below inflation, despite massive state mandates and aid reductions. Lonegan set the model for how conservative mayors across the country should govern.

In addition, Lonegan ran for Governor twice and was defeated in 2009 by current Gov. Chris Christie.

You can follow Lonegan on Twitter @lonegan.

Steve Lonegan

Matt Naugle: I first learned of you when you were Mayor of Bogota, New Jersey from the hilarious political documentary Anytown, USA. Did you like how you were portrayed in the movie and should people watch it on Netflix?

Steve Lonegan: This film gets a big “thumbs up!”

The moviemakers apparently intended to portray me as some kind of villain who was supposed to lose.  Instead I won a massive victory as a conservative Republican in a town that several years later gave Barack Obama 64% of the vote.  It shows that the way to win is to stand up for what you believe, not change your views based on what some pollster or political consultant says.

It should be required viewing for the Republican Party leadership.

MN: How did you become a conservative?

What is “Ordered Liberty” Anyways?

No, I’m not suggesting a name change for the blog. What I’m talking about is the concept called “ordered liberty,” which is frequently used by conservatives as an attempt to appeal to libertarians. “Why, yes,” they say, “We believe in liberty, but we think it should be ordered.” It came up during a debate at Cato last year between Cato interns and Heritage Foundation interns (unless my memory is horrifically mistaken) and I’ve seen it be deployed in arguments across social networks. It was recently used on one blog, regarding the Amendment One vote in North Carolina, noting that incestrous relationships and polygamy were “detrimental to ordered liberty.”

But what exactly is ordered liberty? I’ve never really figured out just what, if anything, people using the term are really trying to say.

The two people that the term appears to have come from are giants in the field of conservatism: Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk. These two are probably the intellectual giants of modern American conservatism*, along with William F. Buckley. It was they who came up with this phrase, which, for what I can deduce, is essentially that liberty is not allowed to run completely amok, and that there must be some limits.

From chapter 5 of Russell Kirk’s The American Cause, aptly titled “Ordered Liberty”:

Now in the political beliefs of what we call “Christian civilization” or “Western civilization”—of which American civilization is a part—there are three cardinal ideas: the idea of justice, the idea of order, and the idea of freedom. These three great concepts are the cement of American society.

[…]

The Loss of Andrew Breitbart: A Fan’s Perspective

It has been just over a day since I got the Fox News alert that Andrew Breitbart had unexpectedly passed away overnight, and I am still shocked by the news.  Despite having never met the man, and not one to ever really be affected by news of celebrity deaths, I feel like I have lost a friend.

As a bit of a news junkie, I can’t tell you exactly how long Andrew Breitbart has been on my radar, for a number of years at least, but it wasn’t until the past year or two that I really began to realize the boldness and creativity that I admired so much in him, and am so sad to see taken from our movement.  There are quite a few of us who believe we are doing our part to advance freedom and protect individual liberties, but Andrew Breitbart made things happen.

His book, Righteous Indignation, spoke to me so profoundly that having initially purchased it on my Kindle, I went out and bought a few hard copies so that I could loan them out to friends because I thought it was that important that they read his message.  If you haven’t read it yet, you must, I like to think it helped me see the big picture in terms of who controls the information we, as Americans, are bombarded with from so many different angles.  And I will never forget that summer day last year when I sat in my living room, glued to the television set, as I watched Andrew Breitbart at the podium of what was meant to be a press conference held by Anthony Weiner to address the Breitbart exposed Weiner-gate scandal.  It was so spectacular and unbelievable, despite the fact that I was sitting there watching it with my own two eyes, I could not believe what I was seeing.  He was my hero that day.

Rick Santorum and JFK

Peter Mains is a blogger, political activist and technology consultant living and working in the Phoenix metro area. In his free time, he enjoys writing music, reading voraciously, and trying exotic food.

Rick Santorum’s comments to George Stephanopoulos about John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech to the Houston Ministerial Association are making the rounds. Apparently, the speech so unnerved Rick, that he wanted to throw up. He thinks you should be just as offended as he is, In the interview, Santorum encouraged people to look the speech up and decide for themselves. Having followed Santorum’s suggestion, I couldn’t disagree more.

The worst part is, I want to root for Rick Santorum. Recent revelations paint Kennedy as something of a moral monster. In contrast, Rick Santorum seems like a good family man. When it comes to religious matters, one might think that Santorum would come out on top. Nevertheless, JFK wipes the floor with Santorum — even from beyond the grave.

The one point where I am ambivalent in regard to Kennedy’s speech is his insistence that government not give any funding to religious institutions whatsoever. Bush’s faith-based initiatives and various voucher programs show that public funds can be redirected to religious institutions without creating a de facto established church or violating freedom of religious exercise. Nevertheless, such issues could be completely avoided if we were to reform education, healthcare and so on such that government gets out of those businesses altogether.


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