With relative success in the 2012 Presidential elections – considering Ron Paul in the Republican primary and Gary Johnson as the Libertarian candidate in the general – libertarians maintain our strongest position in modern history. With opportunity in front of us, hopes abound to create a “broader freedom movement” – a term which rankles top libertarians.
With this opportunity comes risk – specifically, the risk of being co-opted again, a la Tea Party 2010 – therein diluting an otherwise powerful message. With CPAC 2013 in the near term, the 2014 midterm elections in the – ahem – mid-term, and the 2016 Presidential election in the far-term, we should expect more posturing from establishmentarians, mostly on the Right, for their votes.
It might be tempting to reject all policy ideas that don’t immediately get us to the Promised Land, or to support policy ideas when we disagree with their proposed end states. I don’t think we have to do either/or. I believe we can work incrementally within the existing framework to build bridges and, as the minority, work our ideas upward within a broader movement, strengthening both the broader movement and ourselves.
When presented with new opportunities, the typical impulse for political movements on the Left and Right is to look for new policy positions to woo more voters. But libertarians don’t have a policy problem; we have a messaging problem.
Ted Cruz (R-TX) has ruffled some feathers since joining the Senate in January. Shortly, after President Obama unveiled his gun control proposals, Cruz dismantled arguments for the Assault Weapons Ban, calling it a “singularly ineffective piece of legislation” and slamming its proponents for misleading Americans.
He was one of three members to vote against John Kerry’s confirmation to serve as Secretary of State and he lead the charge against Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense, though he did cross a line in his questioning.
Cruz, who won the GOP nomination for Senate with heavy grassroots support against an establishment candidate, is seeing the benefits of his cavalier attitude back in the Lone Star State, according to a new poll:
Texas’s Junior Sen. Ted Cruz has been making some waves since joining the U.S. Senate, and it’s earning him solid poll numbers back home, a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune survey has found.
“I don’t think libertarians should subsume themselves in a conservative movement or even just in a fiscally conservative movement. [A]bsolutely libertarians can work with conservatives on fiscal issues.” — David Boaz
Editor’s note: The audio came out a little weird. We tried to work out the kinks, but didn’t have much success. Apologies.
On Friday, I sat down with David Boaz, Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute and author of Libertarianism: A Primer and The Politics of Freedom: Taking on the Left, the Right, and Threats to Our Liberties, to discuss the sequester, CPAC, and fusionism between libertarians and conservatives.
Since we did the interview on “Sequester Day,” I asked Boaz about some of the silliness and scare tactics that have been used in recent weeks as we counted down the days until the spending cuts took effect.
“A lot of the silliness, of course, is a dedicated campaign by the Obama Administration. They want people to believe that if you cut anything out of the federal budget the country will fall apart,” Boaz explained. “And we know that if they actually do the things they’re talking about — you know, we’re gonna lift the border patrol and let illegals flood into America and we’re gonna take TSA officers off and slow down all the airplanes — it’s a deliberate strategy.”
Since Jim DeMint resigned his Senate seat on Thursday to run the Heritage Foundation, there has been a lot of discussion about the the future of the conservative movement. Many conservatives are excited, a sentiment perhaps best summed up by Erick Erickson. They believe that DeMint will be free to say what he wants, no longer being pressured or restrained by leadership. Indeed, DeMint did just that on Thursday during an interview on CNN, telling Wolf Blitzer that he’s “not with Boehner,” who called for increased tax revenues in his counter-proposal to the White House. “This government doesn’t need any more money, this country needs less government,” said DeMint.
Other conservatives have used the news to take some shots at DeMint. For example, Jennifer Rubin slammed DeMint, writing, “He’s a pol whose entire style of conservatism – all or nothing, no compromise, no accounting for changes in public habits and opinions — is not true to the tradition of Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk and others.”
After a long day of hanging around the media center yesterday, some of us decided we wanted to party last night. We wound up over at the Honey Pot in Tampa’s Ybor City for “Homocon,” which was hosted by GOProud, an organization for gay Republicans. This was easily the best party of the week, folks:
Unlike their reception at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, pro-gay rights conservative group GOPProud staged a great party here on Tuesday night, hosting hundreds of guests at The Honey Pot, complete with glittering disco ball lights.
The three-floor “Homocon” bash featured go-go dancers clad in black T-shirts with the words “freedom is fabulous” written on them, a message underscoring GOProud’s goal to highlight gays and lesbians in the conservative movement.
Seated in the VIP sections were MSNBC “The Cycle” co-host S.E. Cupp, former Rep. Mark Foley and Grover Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform. Both Cupp and Norquist are members of GOProud’s advisory board.
“I think the Republican party and the moderate Reagan conservative movement is the home for all right-thinking people, and it should be for gays as well as other people,” Norquist said at the event, which he attended with his wife, Samah Alrayyes Norquist.
As for Homocon in Tampa, just don’t call it run-of-the-mill.
“You can find dozens of coat-and-tie [parties], stand around with a cocktail, pose for a picture and then move to the next one. They have the same hors d’oeuvres at all of them. It’s one menu. Our events are different.” [GOProud Executive Director Jimmy] LaSalvia said.
There has been a lot of debate among conservatives whether libertarians should be welcome at CPAC, an annual gathering of right-leaning activists in Washington. The most recent CPAC saw libertarians left out in the cold thanks to a heavier emphasis on social conservatives.
While libertarians are often told by conservatives that we need to get on their “team” in order to beat back government overreach from Washington, they largely want us to take a back seat. Some libertarians have chosen to work inside the Republican Party through the Republican Liberty Caucus, a group that promotes our ideals. However, they haven’t been very effective.
But this past Thursday in Dallas, FreedomWorks hosted FreePAC, a one-day event that brought together activists, both conservatives and libertarians, to help plan a grassroots strategy ahead of the general election in November. Speakers at FreePAC included Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee as well as hopefuls like Ted Cruz and Richard Mourdock. Glenn Beck, Dick Armey, Dean Clancy, and Matt Kibbe also provided attendees with words of encouragement to help get them motivated to fight the growth in government that we’re seeing.
While I wasn’t able to go, what I’ve heard from my libertarian friends who went is that FreePAC is really the shot in the arm that the Liberty Movement needs. They did it with less controversy and no compromise.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had an interesting discussion about conservative-libertarian fusionism. Jeremy Kolassa has written a couple of excellent posts about the issue, which you can read here and here. My rebuttal to Jeremy’s original post can be found here.
It seems as though we agree that libertarians will, at times, need to reach out to conservatives on issues where we have common ground. Jeremy’s broader point, and he’ll correct me if I’m wrong, is that we, as libertarians, need to make sure we have a separate identity, one that clearly delineates us from conservatives. For what it’s worth, I don’t really disagree.
There is no denying that the run up CPAC 2012 hurt whatever unspoken alliance that conservatives and libertarians have. It was clear, that after libertarian influence on the event in the two prior years, that we were not welcome at CPAC in 2012. Unfortunately, GOProud was also given the cold shoulder by social conservatives, many of whom threatened to boycott the event if the gay Republican group were allowed to continue sponsoring it.
Over the last couple of days we’ve been discussing conservative/libertarian fusionism. Jeremy Kolassa got us started on Tuesday with an excellent post explaining that libertarians need to contrast themselves from conservatives, and not simply “go along to get along.”
While I largely agree with the substance of the post, I later posted somewhat of a rebuttal, in which I explained that we need not cut off our nose to spite our face when dealing with conservative groups that concentrate on issues with which we can agree; such as spending and taxes.
In my post, I pointed to comments made earlier this by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who, during an interview with Reason, said that the Republican Party should listen to libertarians. This caught the eye of my good friend, Chris Barron.
Yesterday, Chris pointed out that Sen. DeMint has been openly hostile to GOProud, a group of gay Republicans that promotes free markets and limited government, by opposing its inclusion in the most recent CPAC. Chris also pointed to a post that I wrote back in November 2010, in which I criticized Sen. DeMint for saying that one “can’t be a fiscal conservative without being a social conservative.”
There has been an interesting an important back and forth on this site over the issue of fusionism. Jeremy Kolassa made the case that little, if anything, has been accomplished by fusionism. In response, Jason Pye defended fusionism, citing a litany of conservative leaders and organizations that have been welcoming of libertarians and advanced libertarian policy.
I think both authors make well thought out cases and I think this debate is a healthy one. My post isn’t intended to weigh in on the general question of fusionism, clearly I am a believe in fusionism - though I recognize that there are times when fusionism is a loser for libertarians. Instead, I wanted to specifically speak to an individual that my friend Jason Pye pointed to as an example of a conservative leader who has offered an “olive branch” to libertarians: South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.
I respect and like Jason a ton (which you know always is going to preface a disagreement), but in this case Jason is simply wrong. Jim DeMint is no friend of libertarians - unless, of course, you toss out gay people or anyone else who cares about gay people from the libertarian movement.
Jason cited the Mike Huckabees and Rick Santorums of the world as responsible for trying to keep libertarians out of CPAC. Well the ugly truth is that Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have been down right welcoming compared to Jim DeMint - as it regards CPAC. Indeed, Jim DeMint officially joined a boycott of CPAC because of the inclusion of a gay group - GOProud - that I helped co-found.
Politico reports that Mitt Romney has won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll over Rick Santorum, who has been surging in recent days in the race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
While official results have not been released on CPAC’s official website, here is what Politico and other outlets are reporting:
- Mitt Romney: 38%
- Rick Santorum: 31%
- Newt Gingrich: 15%
- Ron Paul: 12%
Romney, who spoke at the conference yesterday, also won in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Ron Paul, who declined an invite to speak this year (though his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), spoke on Thursday), won the straw poll in 2010 and 2011.