As I was driving Monday afternoon to Nashville, Tennessee, I did a little AM-radio dial hopping to see what was out there. I found a trashing of libertarianism, at the hands of Mike Huckabee and Sean Hannity.
Now, I've long felt that Republicans don't really believe in liberty. They really believe in big government, just as Democrats do, merely using the power of government as an instrument of plunder or oppression for a different set of beneficiaries, or over a different set of acceptable minority victims. It was just interesting to hear it plainly spoken.
Huckabee was promoting his new book, which features a chapter that trashes not the Libertarian Party, but libertarian thought. From Time Magazine:
In a chapter titled "Faux-Cons: Worse than Liberalism," Huckabee identifies what he calls the "real threat" to the Republican Party: "libertarianism masked as conservatism." He is not so much concerned with the libertarian candidate Ron Paul's Republican supporters as he is with a strain of mainstream fiscal-conservative thought that demands ideological purity, seeing any tax increase as apostasy and leaving little room for government-driven solutions to people's problems. "I don't take issue with what they believe, but the smugness with which they believe it," writes Huckabee, who raised some taxes as governor and cut deals with his state's Democratic legislature. "Faux-Cons aren't interested in spirited or thoughtful debate, because such an endeavor requires accountability for the logical conclusion of their argument."
The logical conclusion of our economic argument is self-sufficiency and non-dependence. Is that what Huckabee is afraid of? The logical conclusion is to not reward failure, and to not punish success. I guess that's what the Republican Party is done with. Just in time for the bailouts.
Not interested in spirited or thoughtful debate? That's something libertarians are actually accused of- too much debate. He does get one thing right, and that's calling libertarians "Faux-Cons". That's because we're not 'cons'. Libertarianism is classic liberalism. It's only conservative in the sense that the tradition extends back to Thomas Jefferson, and libertarians intend to maintain, i.e.: conserve, that tradition.
Jon Henke has much of value to say on his blog:
We've come quite some way since 1975, when Reagan said "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism."
Oh, and it happens that Huckabee does, in fact, take issue with what we believe. In May of 2008, Huckabee called blamed election losses on Republicans being too "libertarian" (this is obviously some strange usage of the word "libertarian" that I was previously unaware of), accused us of being un-American (my response to that is unprintable, but I would be glad to say it to his face if he wanted to repeat his comment to my face) and then proceeded to make the standard, cartoonish Democratic argument against libertarianism.
Huckabee is a Rawlsian liberal + social conservative: Mike Huckabee describes his political philosophy as (a) the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto to you", and (b) a passage from the Bible ("Inasmuch as you have done to the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me"). This is not "conservatism"; it is basic Rawlsian liberalism.
Social conservatives have to realize that they need the fiscally conservative, socially moderate/tolerant voters if they want to be a part of a winning coalition. The limited government message won revolutionary victories for Republicans in 1980 and 1994; it is the only viable organizing principle for the current Republican coalition.
Well, the weak, tenous link between the Republican coalition is finally exposed. Social conservatives wish to use goverment to oppress minority groups they don't like. Fiscal conservatives want government to get out of the way of business and the economy. How is it that one can reconcile the desire for a heavy-handed government in one area of life with a desire for a relative absence of government in another? It doesn't make any sense.
There is actually a better chance, in my estimation, of the fiscal liberals joining forces with the social conservatives, then of small-l libertarians staying with the GOP long term. After all, social conservatives and fiscal liberals both believe that freedom produces bad results, and only the wise, heavy hand of government can force people to act more 'correctly'.
They have their leader. His name is Mike Huckabee, the anti-libertarian who would raise taxes and interfere in your bedroom. I'm glad he thinks libertarians should be cast out. Nobody who believes in liberty can support his brand, the Republican brand, of conservatism.