The GOP isn’t fracturing, it’s transforming into libertarians

The Week has a three-point list of divisions the Republican Party is currently squabbling over:

1. Libertarians vs. social conservatives

These two GOP strains have never gotten along with each other. One group says government should stay out of people’s personal lives while the other tries to impose its own morality on others.

2. Right wing populists vs. the pro-business crowd

Despite campaign rhetoric, pro-business Republicans are usually just fine with government subsidies, liberal immigration policies, and bailouts — as long as they help keep the profits flowing. But the populist strain in the party sees big business as no better than big government.

3. Deficit reduction hawks vs. small government activists

Though it would seem these two groups have a lot in common, real deficit hawks recognize we must raise taxes along with cutting spending to get the country out from under the debt burden. But the small government fanatics are against all tax increases for any reason.

Republicans have been able to paper over their differences for decades, mainly by uniting the party against the common enemy of “big government.” But when the GOP controlled all branches of government during the Bush years, they actually did nothing to shrink government. It just got larger, helping to exacerbate the tensions between the various factions.

Of course, the real story isn’t GOP factions fighting over these issues, but that libertarians have filled their ranks and converted minds since the the Ron Paul revolution began in earnest back in 2007. Libertarians are flanking GOP statists from all sides and enthusiastically showing the errors and results of the Republican establishment’s deviations from their core principles.

After all, it hasn’t been mainstream Republicans spearheading a Federal Reserve audit, corporate entitlement cuts (opposing bailouts) and ending foreign entanglements, but it’s something that even John Boehner can no longer ignore. The fights that once belonged to libertarians, until the Tea Party movement began forcing those issues into the mainstream, are not something party leaders are willing to come to terms with, but they will.

Now, the Tea Party brand has obviously crested and is being re-enveloped by the indefatigable libertarian brand. In its wake is a generation of liberty activists who have grown up and come of age having failed to see the Republican revolution of the 90s keep its promises. These libertarians now threaten to either: topple the Republican establishment from within towards limited government principles; Further implode it into a powerless vacuum of dissent and antipathy.

This isn’t fracturing, it’s a war of transformation back to small-government principles, and libertarians are riding a tsunami of discontent all the way to victory.

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. Honestly, though I horribly despise wishing that the small-l libertarians fail, in this case, I really hope to see the GOP pander to the hardcore social conservtive wing with gusto. This will be a (albeit painful) learning experience for the small-l libertarians and maybe get them to wake up and realize that fiscal conservatism isn’t all that there is to the LP, the socially liberal side needs some SERIOUS attention from the LP IMO. For example, still on the front page of HoT is a blurb decrying how liberal CO may get AS THEY LEGALIZED RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA. I mean, if we can’t count that as a victory for big-L Libertarianism, what in hell CAN we? The LP needs to ride this wave of Social Libertarianism for all it’s worth, and if the Fiscal Conservatives don’t like it, that’s just too fucking bad. “Liberty for me and not for thee” doesn’t work, nor should we allow such juvenile posturing to flourish, as it has in the LP for decades. The LP’s best bet is if the GOP implodes on its social conservatives, and the LP takes it as a transformational moment to actually become the REAL “party of principle”. But to quote a libertarian comic “of course, that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong”. Asbestos donned, bring it.

    1. The biggest growing party is UNAFFILIATED. Independent for life, baby!

      That said, if the social conservatives in the GOP don’t like the libertarians taking over, they can always go to the ill-named Constitution Party.

    2. The problem with the LP (at least what I have seen) is they are stuck in the mindset being an educational outreach tool, and have not embraced the need for robust political organization to win elections.

      They could have ridden many many waves, but it seems the establishment mentality keeps them worried about growing membership and then preaching to the choir, instead of growing membership and encouraging political participation.

      At a few state levels (Texas, Georgia, Indiana and Kentucky immediately spring to mind), there is some solid leadership that understands the process of running campaigns and winning them, but overall there is no cohesive political strategy.

      1. Can’t really argue that point, but i think there’s change in the wind. There’s a LOT of support for a major LP election push in ’14 and ’16. I hope my 8% becomes a minor footnote as “this is how badly they sucked before, some moron that had no business near a county building got the best percentage of votes in his state, at, GET THIS, *7.97%*, duuuuude, that SUCKED, we get 10% for a monkey now”

  2. We won the battle, but alas, we’ve lost the war. Since the beginning days of the Republican Liberty Caucus, when us few brave souls left the Libertarian Party in 1990 and tried our luck in GOP ranks, our goal was to win control of the GOP. We’ve done it. We’ve arrived. Took us 22 years or so. But we won. We now virtually lead the Republican Party.

    But we’ve lost America. The takers outnumber the productive working class. There are far too many Americans on the government dole, vast numbers of them moocher immigrants who come here to America not to work, but rather for free health care and an EBT card.

    So, I’d like to be happy about our win of the GOP. But the GOP is in a permanent minority status now. We won a party in decline, thanks to open borders and immigrant voting rights, and massive Democrat voter fraud.