“So, libertarians: It’s time to get out of that hot tub! Put down that wrench! And start thinking about how you’re going to reclaim your rightful place in the conservative coalition.“– Ryan Sager
Ryan Sager wrote an interesting article yesterday suggesting that, as Nick Gillespie words it, libertarians “are as ‘politically impotent’ as Bob Dole sans Viagra, Pepsi, and Britney Spears commercials.” Sager suggests that we should pop the GOP Viagra (which, interestingly enough, is a blue pill) in order to “reclaim [our] rightful place in the conservative coalition.”
Sager’s general theme seems to be that libertarians should form a coalition with conservatives to force the Republican Party to become more fiscally responsible. The Cranky Insomniac suggests that it will be difficult for such a coalition to work because of the influence of the religious right in the conservative movement:
If these people feel strongly enough about these issues to join the party least likely to match their economic views, there’s no way in hell they’re “coming home” to the modern avatar of the Republican party unless the party fundamentally alters its relationship with fundamentalists. And it’s here that the libertarians lose the numbers game, at least as long as 60% of them will seemingly vote Republican regardless of in what direction the party moves. To do what it would have to do to get these Democratic libertarians to come its way, the GOP would more than likely lose much of its vaunted “base,” a loss that would hurt it far more than losing those libertarians does.
I’m in general agreement with Cranky. The issues which seperate libertarians from “traditional” conservatives are the ones people often become the most emotional about: Gay rights, abortion, civil liberties, foreign policy and drug policy.
I note that Sager suggests that libertarians align with the Republican Party, but I didn’t notice him suggesting any sort of alliance with the Democrats. I’d argue that aligning with the left makes more sense at the moment. This is not because the left has any valid claims of moral superiority (they don’t), but because they are out of power and wish to regain it. I’d expect them to govern just as poorly as Republicans if they win back control of Congress, though. But at least some of them are campaigning about the right things, while most Republicans are focusing on gay bashing or treading on the edge of racism with respect to immigration policy.
The Howard Dean campaign was certainly more libertarian than the Bush campaign. Dean was embraced by the NRA and cut spending in Vermont. The GOP has made no progress in the restoration of Second Amendment rights, despite controlling both houses of Congress and the White House. As a matter of fact, Bush had stated his intention to sign an extension of the Assault Weapons Ban. While Republicans might have rightfully complained about Dean’s single-payer health care plan, they seem to forget that the GOP just passed what Ron Paul called “the single largest expansion of the federal welfare state since the Great Society programs of the 1960s.”
I doubt that libertarians and groups on the left could maintain an effective coalition for very long. Despite it’s poor electoral track record, I don’t see any long-term libertarian home outside of the independent movement or Libertarian Party.
Sager commented that I accused him of being a conservative. He totally ignored third party and independent solutions or coalitions in his article. He never looked at the left side of the arguments or even approached issues like how to keep the government out of our hot tubs. Using the traditional two party spectrum, right is conservative. If the shoe fits…
While being able to afford a hot tub is crucial to libertarians, knowing that what happens in the hot tub stays in the hot tub is equally important.
Sorry about the mental image on that one, but you get the point.