Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of “Profiles in Liberty” interviews Matt will present with leaders of the conservative and libertarian movement.
W. James Antle is an associate editor of The American Spectator and a contributing editor to The American Conservative. As a prolific columnist, Jim’s work has been published in Politico, The Washington Times, National Review, LewRockwell.com, The Guardian (UK), Takimag, and many others. Business Insider ranked Jim as 1 of the 50 pundits you must pay attention to in 2012. He posts wry, pessimistic tweets at @jimantle.
Matt Naugle: How did you become a conservative?
Jim Antle: I grew up in Massachusetts while Michael Dukakis was governor and Ronald Reagan was president. If that perfect laboratory experiment doesn’t turn you into a conservative, God help you.
MN: How did you make the transition from working in IT to working alongside Pat Buchanan?
JA: I sold my first freelance piece to The American Conservative while I was still working in the IT department of a Boston-based dot-com. My first magazine cover story, a piece on the Bush-era divisions between libertarians and conservatives, was written during that time period. One day in early 2004 I was sitting at my desk and I got a call inviting me to come interview for a job at TAC. The rest was an extremely minor footnote to sub-history.
Libertarians constantly face the preeminent struggle to form and implement strategies to gain political relevance. The party has never achieved a result better than 1% on a Presidential Election. Adding to our frustration is the failure of the Libertarian Party to capitalize on the opportunity Ron Paul’s groundbreaking Republican Primary campaign, which gained new ground for the libertarian philosophy in terms of visibility. Bob Barr’s campaign failed to crack 500,000 votes in an election cycle in which Ron Paul earned more than 1 million votes in Republican primaries and caucuses.
With some Republicans seeking the party’s presidential nomination expressing caution on international affairs, warmongers are beginning to speak out; including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who derided “isolationism” in the GOP field in an appearance on This Week:
I was more concerned about what the candidates in New Hampshire the other night said. This is isolationism. There’s always been an … isolation strain on the Republican Party — that Pat Buchanan wing of our party. But now it seems to have moved more center stage, so to speak. … If we had not intervened, Gadhafi was at the gates of Benghazi. He said he was going to go house to house to kill everybody. That’s a city of 700,000 people. What would be saying now if we had allowed for that to happen?”
McCain is, of course, playing the part of demagogue. Not one candidate in the GOP field is pushing for isolationism; even Ron Paul. Isolationism means completely cutting yourself off from the international community, including trade or enacting protectionist measures. No one wants to do that. Merely expressing skepticism in going to war is simply not “isolationism.” But sadly, McCain is not alone. Separately, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also recently slammed Mitt Romney for expressing the view that it is time to withdraw from Afghanistan.
At the Washington Post, George Will criticized intervention in Libya and hits back at politicians like McCain:
Much has been made about Pat Buchanan’s comments on the Rachel Maddow Show about the United States being a country “built by white folks.” It has raised alot of ire, and rightfully so. From Chinese workers building the railroads to black folks picking cotton, the contributions of people of color, often under terrible conditions, are indispensable.
Clifford May, the Israeli advocate in this video, appears to have little to no compassion for those killed by Israeli firepower. His rhetoric is a sad illustration of the dehumanization of the Palestinian people by belligerents, from his refusal to address Buchanan’s accusations that Israel is creating more enemies and that Hamas’ rocket attacks are cruel and dumb but pail in comparison to the actions of Israel to his unnerved nationalism.
In his weekly column, conservative commentator Pat Buchanan illustrates how the lack of regulations in developing countries gave them a clear competitive advantage that crippled American industry:
How did Big Government do in the U.S. auto industry?
Washington imposed a minimum wage higher than the average wage in war-devastated Germany and Japan. The Feds ordered that U.S. plants be made the healthiest and safest worksites in the world, creating OSHA to see to it. It enacted civil rights laws to ensure the labor force reflected our diversity. Environmental laws came next, to ensure U.S. factories became the most pollution-free on earth.
When I first heard about Bob Barr’s Libertarian Party run, I actually looked at his past as a Republican congressman as a positive. Most people don’t join independent parties first crack out of the box, and I certainly didn’t. I found myself defending him against attacks that he was a “neo-con” or a pol seeking to advance a dying career.
That began to change as I heard more from him. The various news appearances he made were filled with canned rhetoric. He sounded like the stereotypical politician. It was hard to really tell if he believed what he was saying, or if he had just decided to leach onto the movement started by Ron Paul’s candidacy.
Following is a clip of Morning Joe on MSNBC, wherein Joe Scarborough has on two of my favorite political commentators: Christopher Hitchens and Pat Buchanan. Hitchens takes apart the idiotic US anti-drug policy in regards to how it is applied in Afghanistan. He later goes on to criticize Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s use of sex appeal.