GOP Libertarians: Rebels with a Cause

GOP libertariansSalon has a positive cover story on Republican libertarians today (calling them RINOs), specifically noting one member of the Senate, Sen. John Sununu (of New hampshire no less) who has led a Republican wave of criticism of the much-hated Patriot Act:

When George W. Bush inevitably launches into a “my opponents are weak on national security” attack Tuesday night in his State of the Union Address, a clever TV producer might order up a reaction shot from first-term New Hampshire Republican Sen. John Sununu. Make no mistake, the mild-mannered, 41-year-old Sununu is an authentic conservative — not one of those Northeastern moderates sneeringly referred to as a “RINO,” a right-wing epithet standing for “Republican in name only.” Rather Sununu is also emblematic of an under-appreciated libertarian strand in his party. And he and Idaho’s Larry Craig are the leaders of a quartet of GOP senators who are standing up to the White House over the Patriot Act, scheduled to expire Friday, but likely to be briefly extended as the battle over its future continues.

[…] Sununu, who as we talked was sitting under a brooding portrait of Abraham Lincoln, argued that many of his Senate GOP colleagues privately share many of his civil-libertarian concerns about an unmodified Patriot Act. “I think over half the Republican conference understands the basic issues at stake here,” he said. “They understand that we’re trying to draw common-sense boundaries between the need for law enforcement in terrorist cases and our need to protect the civil liberties of innocent Americans.”

The difference between Sununu and virtually all these other Senate Republicans is … well, moxie. Sununu, of course, will not describe it in such blunt terms. Instead he said gently, “A lot of members of the party are inclined to give a Republican president and a Republican attorney general the benefit of the doubt.” After five years of the supine refusal of congressional Republicans to remember that they represent an independent branch of government, these comments represented the ultimate in understatement.

Definitely a must-read. I’m happy that libertarianism is becoming so mainstream and so much positive press is being associated with the term libertarian. Now if only we could convince Republicans like John Sununu and Congressman Ron Paul to defect from the GOP and actually join the party they belong to, we might actually be able to jump-start the Libertarian Party into being more of a player.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. I still have some hopes that if Paul decides to retire he will switch parties, becoming the first Libertarian Congressman for 2 years. That would be a fitting end to his political career.

  2. Hmm… interesting idea. Perhaps we should run as Republicrats to get elected, then switch parties on the first day on the job?

  3. Speaking of which, where is Ron Paul? Does he not speak out or does the press refuse to cover him?

  4. Mike Linksvayer: My mistake, I struck through that.

    I’ll still call Sununu and Paul RINOs though, since they don’t really share any of these new pro-statist values of the new school of Republicanism.

  5. I don’t really care what the opposition is called, but pro-statist values are old hat for the GOP.

    Love that graphic accompanying the Salon article. Nationalism vs. freedom, indeed.

  6. What will it take for people to realize that the GOP has no interest in limited government? It never has and never will. It would be amusing to see a mass defection. The Democrats are in trouble fiscally and politically – that’s what they deserve for not offering any opposition to the GOP. Meanwhile, the machine is working just fine for the GOP, regardless of their problems. Conservatives have no reason or incentive whatsoever to defect. A schism in the GOP with some forming a Conservative party would be hilarious. I wouldn’t count on it though, “limited government” conservative is an oxymoron, just as the conservative ideology is an excercise in futile contradiction.