Karl Rove continues his war on fiscal conservatives

Earlier this year, Karl Rove created some controversy when American Crossroads, his super PAC, announced plans to launch a new organization — the Conservative Victory Project — to help so-called “electable conservatives” get elected in Republican primary races.

The move was clearly aimed a the Tea Party and other grassroots conservatives, which have played a significant role in primary races across the country as they backed fiscal conservatives over establishment-leaning incumbents and candidates. To put it differently, if Rove had his way, candidates like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee would have never been elected.

Well, Karl Rove has done it again.

During a discussion about libertarian Republicans, Rove told fellow panelists that Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) is the “most liberal Republican” in Congress.

“There’s this tension between the kind of libertarianism we’re seeing here today — in the last six, eight, nine months — and a healthy future for the party. The question is gonna be — I welcome the libertarian influence in the party,” Rove told the panel, which included Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. “I grew up in the west…every western Republican has a healthy does of libertarian in them. But the question is whether it’s gonna be the prudential, to use one of my favorite terms, a prudent leadership of the libertarian movement.”

Times Free Press Round Table: “Is Sarah Palin an effective voice for the right?”

The Times Free Press, a Tennessee-based newspaper, asked author Victoria Jackson, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, and myself about Sarah Palin’s return to Fox News and whether or not she does more harm than good to the Republican Party.

Here’s my response:

Sarah Palin is still an influential figure in the conservative movement. She has significant influence among the grassroots and can help fiscal conservatives in the mold of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul win primaries against establishment candidates. That sort of clout is hard to dismiss or downplay.

Recent comments made by Palin about the need for Republicans to listen to libertarians were encouraging. She sees an ally in the fight against a government that is a threat to our liberties and the need for Republicans to take a libertarian direction. That’s somewhat inside baseball, but important in the battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

Palin’s influence is in the primaries, which is important. But when voters step into the ballot box on Nov. 4, 2014, they’re going to care little about her or what she’s said. What will matter to them are the effects of the policies that have been pursued and enacted by the Obama Administration.

What do you think about Palin’s return to Fox News and her impact on the Republican Party? Let us know on United Liberty’s Facebook page.

Sarah Palin: Republicans should listen to libertarians

One of the more interesting discussions in currently raging in American politics is the debate over conservative-libertarian fusionism. It’s not exactly a new discussion, but rather one that has renewed interest among followers of both political ideologies.

As libertarian-leaning Republicans — including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) — gain influence in the party and appeal among independent voters, there is an increasing push for conservatives and libertarians to work together on areas of agreement. There has been resistance, of course, from some on both sides. Some prominent Republicans are resistant to some libertarian ideas that conservatives seem to be coming around on, such as restrained foreign policy and privacy issues.

While not a venue for libertarian thought, Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, told attendees at the Faith and Freedom Conference that Republicans should listen to libertarians:

“Something more is going on than your garden-variety government corruption, or even illegality,” Palin said. “As the left would say, this is shaping up to be a teachable moment. What’s going on says something fundamental about our relationship to our government.”

Libertarian Populism: How to Sell Ideas to the American People

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a big debate about the future of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. On one side you have the status quo — those who continue to grow government and get the United States in perilous military engagements overseas — and on the other, there is a new brand of fusionism that is gaining in popularity.

Ben Domenech, editor of The Transom, has dubbed this new fusionism as “libertarian populism,” which is part of the debate over conservative reform. In a response to a recent critique by Ross Douthat, Domenech outlines the tenets of libertarian populism and explains that it presents a path for limited government advocates to sell ideas to voters:

The appeal of libertarian populism is that it refuses to cede the philosophical battle to the side of big government – and the permanence of a broken welfare/regulatory state and convoluted tax code – before the argument is even joined. Instead, libertarian populism can and should be cast in the proper light: the sober reality of our dire fiscal situation; the abject brokenness of our welfare state; tax, education and regulatory systems that retard economic opportunity, punish success, hurt the poor and middle class, and reward cronies; and a federal government that wants control over almost every aspect of our lives, from the raw milk we drink to the lightbulbs we use and the toilets we flush.

United Liberty Is (Cato) Unbound!


Every month, Cato puts out a new issue of Cato Unbound, an online journal that looks at various topics. This week, the topic is fusionism, something that has received quite a bit of attention here at United Liberty.

The format of Cato Unbound is quite simple. One writer contributes a lead essay, and then three other writers write response essays. Then, it descends into a furball as we all starting writing shorter response posts to each other. The discussion is not just there, however; blog posts elsewhere will be linked, and everyone—yes, including YOU!—is encouraged to join in the discussion.

Our lead essay this month is written by Jacque Otto, a friend of mine and a writer at Values and Capitalism, a project of the American Enterprise Institute. She writes:

Fusionism is a Necessity: Winning Minds Requires a Conservative/Libertarian Alliance

There has been much debate in recent weeks over fusionism inside the liberty movement, especially now that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has become a prominent national political figure. This debate has been raging for years, but has really taken off for a number of reasons.

Writing yesterday at National Review, Jonah Goldberg, author of The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, noted that conservatives and libertarians have always shared a core belief in economics, making us natural allies:

What often gets left out in discussions of the American Right is that fusionism isn’t merely an alliance, it is an alloy. Fusionism runs through the conservative heart. William F. Buckley, the founder of the conservative movement, often called himself a “libertarian journalist.” Asked about that in a 1993 interview, he told C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb that the question “Does this augment or diminish human liberty?” informed most of what he wrote.

Most pure libertarians and the tiny number of truly statist social conservatives live along the outer edge of the Venn diagram that is the American Right. Most self-identified conservatives reside in the vast overlapping terrain between the two sides.

Just look at where libertarianism has had its greatest impact: economics. There simply isn’t a conservative economics that is distinct from a libertarian one. Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, James M. Buchanan & Co. are gods of the libertarian and conservative pantheons alike. When Pat Buchanan wanted to move America towards protectionism and statism, he had to leave the party to do it.

A Recipe for Fusionism Failure: Perestroika Without Glasnost

There has been a lively debate on the UL list serve and on twitter about fusionism and the modern liberty movement.  Let me be clear from the very beginning that I am a proponent of fusionism.  I want to see libertarian ideas become libertarian policies.  I think that libertarianism, for far too long, has been content to rule college classroom debates and think tank discussions and has not done enough to focus on how we actually implement libertarian theory.

I don’t think the real debate is about whether or not libertarians should engage in fusionism, the real debate – exposed clearly in the back and forth with some of my fellow writers at UL over the last few days – is over what that fusionism looks like.

I believe that if the point behind fusionism is to see libertarian ideas become policy, than any fusionism should be based around the achievable.  The common ground we seek should be on those issues where our work with others will actually end up in changing policy in this country.

Right now the American people, and young people in particular, are becoming more and more libertarian when it comes to social issues.  A recent Washington Post poll showed that voters aged 18-29 support same-sex marriage by a staggering 81%-15%.  The same opinion polls show young voters overwhelmingly support ending the failed drug wars and as the recent Rand Paul filibuster showed – there is growing support from every segment of the country to safeguard our civil liberties.

Given that the American people are on our side on these issues, and that winning on these issues is achievable, one would think that libertarian fusion efforts would be centered around these issues.  Alas, there are plenty clamoring for a fusionism that not only ignores these issues, but proposes a fusionism with forces openly hostile for these positions.

CPAC’s Winners and Losers — and More

Rand Paul

There was some uneasiness about CPAC this year due to last year’s disappointing loss at the ballot box and internal disagreements among various ideological views. Despite those initial concerns, the conference was a success if you’re part of the liberty movement, at least. Here’s a look at the winners and losers from CPAC. Also, scroll down to the bottom for a few more pictures and some additional thoughts.


— Rand Paul: When it comes down to it, Sen. Paul has been constantly winning over the last few weeks, but his speech on Thursday was probably the most anticipated and well-received speech of the week. And while the straw poll win over Sen. Marco Rubio just adds to the momentum.

Stand With Rand

— Liberty Movement and Young Attendees: Really, the liberty movement should go above with Sen. Paul, but given what we heard on yesterday from RNC Chair Reince Preibus and former ACU Chair David Keene, both of whom called for conservatives and Republicans to welcome liberty-minded activists into the fold, requires some separation. Add in Sen. Paul’s straw poll win and it was a successful weekend. Also, the fact that 52% of straw poll voters were between the ages of 18 and 25 — many of which I suspect are in the liberty movement — is a big deal because it gave them a chance to have signficiant influence.

Liberty Movement Gains Acceptance at CPAC

Reince Priebus

Last year at CPAC, it seemed as though there was a significant schism between conservatives and Ron Paul supporters/libertarians. However, 2013 was an entirely different story. Not only did several speakers praise Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who spoke at CPAC on Thursday, for his strong stand against President Barack Obama, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus honored the Kentucky Senator and called on the GOP to embrace the “liberty-minded Republicans,” a movement of young libertarians and fiscal conservatives who are gaining influence and prominence in movement.

David Keene, former Chairman of the American Conservative Union and current President of the National Rifle Association, was more pointed about the need for acceptance of Ron and Rand Paul supporters, noting that “[p]olitical movements and political parties have two options: they grow or they die.” Keene also slapped down Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) over his criticism Sen. Paul.

McCain Should Take His Own Advice

John McCain

“If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms. He needs to know what he’s talking about.” - Sen. John McCain

John McCain thinks that Rand Paul needs to know what he’s talking about.  Well, since he was asking a legitimate question in an effort to get an answer that the White House had danced around for weeks, we think he actually did know what he was talking about.  Of course, Sen. McCain might want to take his own advice to heart.

For example:

“My friends, we’ve got them just where we want them.”

That was in reference to the Obama campaign during the 2008 campaign.  How did that election turn out again?  Maybe he should have known what he was talking about and realized that it was far from a done deal.

That’s the same campaign he “suspended” to deal with the financial crisis.  He just “knew” what he was talking about when that backfired.

How about this gem, also from 2008:

“The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the president and, in my view, has betrayed the public’s trust. If I were president today, I would fire him.”

Of course, the president actually can’t fire the head of the SEC.  You see, the SEC is an independent regulatory body.  The President doesn’t get to make that call.  Of course, maybe he shouldn’t have known what he was talking about.

Then, there is McCain’s answer to being asked about inviting Jose Rodriguez Louis Zapatero to the White House:

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