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The Cold War was one of the reasons why fusionism worked. You had Friedrich Hayek write The Road to Serfdom, which said that planning leads to tyranny. He was always being a little more literary than literal when he wrote that, but it was a galvanizing idea. While you had some dissenters, some of the Ron Paul type, you basically had this broad consensus regarding communism abroad and a metastasizing welfare state here at home.
One of the reasons why you can count libertarians as part of the conservative movement—maybe they’re complaining about it, maybe they don’t like it, maybe they think they should get better perks or better seats upfront at all the parties or whatever, I don’t know—but the reason why they’re a part of the conservative movement is because on this fundamental issue of opposing ever-increasing growth of government, ever more intrusive government, ever more soft tyrannical government, we’re on the same side.
Drug legalization and getting rid of copyrights and patents and all that kind of stuff, that would be a fun argument to have. But it’s an argument that you can only treat seriously when you deal with this impending crisis. I would say that libertarians are part of the conservative movement, simply because we both recognize the threat the same way.
Gillespie vs. Coulter
Independence Institute President Jon Caldara, moderator: Mr. Gillespie, Denver now has more medical marijuana dispensaries than we have Starbucks.
Nick Gillespie: When can I move here?
Caldara: That’s not a joke. So at this point, should recreational marijuana be legalized and if so, what other drugs?
Gillespie: Well, it is legal here, right? It should be legal. It’s legal under state law. It should be legal under federal law, and real [nonmedical] marijuana should be legal as well. As for other drugs: I’d be happy to see aspirin legalized, particularly at grammar schools.
Ann Coulter: I object to having this discussion at all when we’re facing financial Armageddon. I really think it’s silly to even talk about these things right now, whether it’s gay marriage or contraception or legalizing marijuana.
Gillespie: I’m happy to talk about financial problems because that is front and center. A summer ago Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana (who would have made an excellent presidential candidate, I think), wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal saying, “Hey, you know what, all of us who want a limited government that spends less money and is less in people’s faces, we’ve got to figure out what’s important, and it’s the financial problems facing the nation, facing the government at all levels. We’re dead broke and we have to focus on that, and we have to call a truce on social issues.” He got hammered [for it], not by the left and not by libertarians, but by conservative Republicans in places like National Review.
The spending problem is in the form of entitlements for Social Security, Medicare especially, some Medicaid, and I’d call defense spending an entitlement that has to be looked at. And that’s what we need to be focusing on if we want to reduce the amount of government, the amount of borrowing, and hence the amount of future control over our lives via taxes and redistribution.
Caldara: Mr. Gillespie, I saw on the news that it looks like Iran has developed a wonderful missile and is working on their atomic program, so let me ask you: Is Ron Paul’s foreign policy brilliant or crazy?
Gillespie: To reel it back a little bit, think of a foreign policy that was so brilliant in the Middle East that it managed, after a long and bloody and very expensive war, to take out one of the major regional adversaries of Iran. Saddam Hussein is not there anymore, so just from a question of regional stability, our foreign policy in Iraq has done something very bad: It has actually loosened up room for Iran to be starting to play around in a way that they weren’t able to when they were being bordered by Saddam Hussein.
I’m not an isolationist. I do think we need to have a strong, able defense. But we do not have that. We have a military that is much bigger and much less mobile and much less powerful than it would be if it was smaller and actually doing what it needed to do, which is defend American interests and property, not be the world’s policeman.
Coulter: First of all, I totally disagreed with Mitch Daniels’ statement—