Will Jim DeMint Bring a Libertarian Flavor to Heritage Foundation? Plus, This is Exactly Why You Should Donate to Reason!

As Matt Welch noted earlier today, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is leaving his post in the (self-proclaimed!) World's Greatest Deliberative Body to become the head of the very influential, very conservative D.C. think tank, The Heritage Foundation.

Earlier this year, Matt and I interviewed DeMint and got him to say something that was nothing short of remarkable for a conservative politician from South Carolina who would later sign on to head up Heritage:

The primary function of the federal government is to defend our country. We need to make sure that we have the technology, the intelligence, the equipment to defend America from a lot of new threats. And if that is not doable with bases all over the world, we need to rethink how spread out we actually are. We have to demand that our allies actually pay a greater proportion of their defense. We're still in Germany; we were there after World War II. We're in South Korea. We're in a lot of places. We may need to be in some of those places for deployment and protection. But I think it's fair to say let's rethink that and make sure we're spending money in the right places.

DeMint is a social con's social con, but he told us that he was ready to put all spending on the table and negotiate with anyone who agrees that the government needs to balance its budget. Even more amazingly, he praised Rep. Ron Paul's libertarian influence on the GOP base and told us:

I think the new debate in the Republican Party needs to be between conservatives and libertarians. We have a common foundation of individual liberty and constitutionally limited government, and we can rationally debate some of the things we disagree on. I don’t think the government should impose my morals or anyone else’s on someone else, but at the same time I don’t want the government purging morals and religious values from our society. We can find a balance there. It really gets back to decentralization. The tolerance is going to come from decentralization and letting people make their own decisions, but we have to be able to put up with societal stigma of things we don’t like. 

Watch the interview above and read it here.

I hope that DeMint brings his understanding of decentralization of power and appreciation for a live-and-let-live ethos. In recent years, Heritage Foundation has been a huge supporter of growing defense spending as a fixed percentage of the economy, hostile to immigration and immigrants, and a reliable enemy of decentralizing decisions on things such as gay marriage and marijuana legalization to the state and local levels.

It'll be interesting to watch, for sure.

And let me put in a plug for Reason's annual webathon, which runs through next Tuesday. We're looking for 800 new donors to help us do what we do. The DeMint interview is a great example of how we talk not just with dyed-in-the-wool libertarians but reach across ideological divides to have meaningful conversations in search of common ground while acknowledging differences all the while.

If you find the DeMint interview interesting - it's one of over 150 we conducted in the last 12 months - please think about making a tax-deductible donation to Reason now.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Big 'Orra||

    This is Exactly Why You Should Donate to Reason!

    No, FU, cut spending!

  • Russell||

    Heritage has long been the think-tank answer to a failed state . It seems unreasonable to expect the reminted directing the demented to yield much improvement.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Do you think that it's possible, just possible, that an experienced politician would tell his audience exactly what they wanted to hear? So that, ummm, maybe, that they would like him? And support him? Maybe?

  • ||

    That would make a lot more sense if Demint was running for a national office, but her certainly didn't need the libertarian vote in SC (the only state with complete ban on tattooing).

  • sticks||

    You can get tattoos now in SC. A few years ago not so much.

  • ||

    Pics or it didn't happen!

  • Old Dave||

    Precisely, he was telling you what he thought you wanted to hear.

    "We have a common foundation of individual liberty and constitutionally limited government, and we can rationally debate some of the things we disagree on. I don’t think the government should impose my morals or anyone else’s on someone else, but at the same time I don’t want the government purging morals and religious values from our society."

    He's not interested in a debate about drug decriminalization or the state's withdrawing from licensing marriage. He's a career politician. He can't help lying.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    I don’t think the government should impose my morals or anyone else’s on someone else, but at the same time I don’t want the government purging morals and religious values from our society. We can find a balance there.

    What, exactly, is the "balance" between the socon and libertarian positions on drug prohibition? Hell, let's keep it simple and limit it to marijuana. It's either legal, or it's illegal. Is "less illegal" (whatever that would even mean) really a balance?

  • ||

    A better way to approach a socon on that issue is to start out talking about self-ownership. Do you own yourself? If so, then do you own the fruits of your own labor?

    If they see you going in the direction of property rights, they will agree with you. Then jump over to drugs....if you own yourself can you decide what you ingest? Cheeseburgers? Larger than 16oz sodas? MARIJUANA?????

    Most honest socons, if shown their own cognitive dissonance starkly enough will concede. It has worked several times for me, and in one case the guy switched positions permanently.

  • wareagle||

    and that is largely teh difference between cons and libs - they will at least listen to a different point of view instead of going straight to name-calling. They get the small govt part but the socons sometimes need nudging past the "I am less against it if it support my view" thought process.

  • Zeb||

    Well, some of them anyway. There are plenty of conservatives who will not hear reason on drugs.

  • ||

    Well....I admit it hasnt always worked. Some of them immediately start gnashing their teeth, showing the whites of their eyes and screeching about the devil as soon as the drugs come up. They completely forget that two minutes before they were firmly agreeing with self ownership.

  • ||

    The insurmountable problem with the super socons is the jesus thing. They cant fully embrace the self ownership concept because they believe that ultimately jesus owns them. The body is a temple and all that.

    It boils down to legislated morality which they have no problem with.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Try this point on those people.

    Morality is meaningless without agency, which god gave us in choice. Legislated morality is an attempt to remove agency, choice; and is wrong even when done with the best of intentions. Ultimately it is a form of hubris, putting the will of the electorate above God's will.

  • Rick Santorum||

    Morality is meaningless without agency, which god gave us in choice. Legislated morality is an attempt to remove agency, choice; and is wrong even when done with the best of intentions. Ultimately it is a form of hubris, putting the will of the electorate above God's will.

    Autism personified. Stop posting.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Got an intelligent rebuttal?

  • Rick Santorum||

    Got an intelligent rebuttal?

    No evangelical social conservative is going to buy that line of argument, especially not when it sounds like it came out of a robot. Beep-boop, removing agency EQUALS HUBRIS.

  • ||

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • MoreFreedom||

    "Morality is meaningless without agency, which god gave us in choice. Legislated morality is an attempt to remove agency, choice; and is wrong even when done with the best of intentions. Ultimately it is a form of hubris, putting the will of the electorate above God's will."

    Interesting argument, but isn't murder immoral and shouldn't it be against the law? Even with legislated morality, it doesn't stop a lot of folks from just shooting someone. So with what "morality" should government be involved?

    The answer is simply where force is needed to right a wrong whereby someone used force against someone else or their property (fraud, theft, murder, etc.). This includes defending the country as well. Any other use of government just results in more force used in the world.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I think you mean "putting the will of the overlord class above the will of the electorate and God's will".

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Yeah, but if it JESUS that owns us, then the so-cons don't. If I'm not treating Jesus' temple like I'm "supposed" to, that would be a tort against Jesus, not the so-con. The so-con has no standing, either way.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    It's the difference between social conservatives and social statists.

  • wareagle||

    true about "some", but with the left, it is none. All I am saying.

  • ||

    Noted, and confirmed many times over.

  • Calidissident||

    Eh, in my experience it depends on how politically involved the person is. If someone's a hardcore active Democrat/progressive, then generally that's true. But with somewhat apathetic, but nominally liberal Democrats, I've been able to at least get them thinking or acknowledging I have a point. I don't think it's accurate to say everyone who could be described as being on the left is completely incapable of arguing without resorting to name calling or using a shred of reason. On Internet blogs, that's a different story

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Liberals enjoy property rights at least as much as conservatives.

    Liberals own more property than conservatives as proof.

    Which is worth more? California or Texas? Cambridge, Mass or Dogdick, Ga?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Actually, shreek, it isn't the person with more property who needs property rights. It's the person with less. And pricks like yourself seem to show little concern with allowing the folks in "Dogdick, Ga" to exercise their rights in any way in which you disapprove.

  • fish||

    I enjoy your stupidity daily!

  • InlineSkate||

    Debt to GDP
    Texas 17.6%
    California 18.6%

    Mass 25% and rising rapidly
    Georgia 11.7% and decreasing steadily.

    So I think it's safe to say Texas and Georgia are worth more.

  • ||

    I think y'all missed my point.

  • SIV||

    There is no "socon" position on drug legalization. How does legalizing drugs kill babies and prohibit public displays of religious faith?

  • SIV||

    This country was a hell of a lot more "socially conservative" when a 11 y/o girl could walk by herself to the druggist to buy her Mom some laudanum.Sometimes she had to walk right near the red light district to get there too.

  • Rick Santorum||

    There is no "socon" position on drug legalization. How does legalizing drugs kill babies and prohibit public displays of religious faith?

    Marijuana is against Jesus. Alcohol, not so much. At least according to the evangelical Republican who I trolled into defriending me.

  • ||

    trolled into defriending me

    Wow, it's like your whole life story boiled down to one concise phrase.

  • Rick Santorum||

    Buttdevastated lolbertarian.

  • ||

    It's an obvious fabrication. Being de-friended implies that he actually at one point had a friend.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Alcohol is a sacrament, you know... Blood of Christ, etc...

  • Xenocles||

    I suppose in one sense it's better to have some of your property taken away than to be locked in a cage for years. Sometimes you have to be content to take a step in the right direction rather than getting all the way there in one go.

  • Zeb||

    Sorry Reason, I'm all out of money this year.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    "It'll be interesting to watch, for sure."

    Do you mean, it will be interesting to watch a U.S. senator sell his soul for $1 million a year? Well, not really.

  • wareagle||

    why is he selling his soul? DeMint is not courting votes, promising favors to donors, or doing any of the stuff pols do. He is pushing his ideology but not at the taxpayer's expense.

  • Sernylan||

    "Do you mean, it will be interesting to watch a U.S. senator sell his soul for $1 million a year?"

    Where? In congress, or at the Heritage think tank? I suspect that his "Libertarian" epiphany would be better realized at the latter venue, for his own sake.

  • ||

    You spelled your name wrong.

  • Almanian.||

    You just gotta love those bought and paid for politicians! LOL!

    www.noprivacydrones.de/fuckallpoliticians

  • Sernylan||

    Honest men have no need of your privacy drones.

  • RightNut||

    Judge Napolitano was on Special Report tonight, and he was ecstatic DeMint was taking over heritage. I'm inclined to agree that it is a good thing overall.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    The Judge agrees with Glenn Beck too. Don't bet on that duo.

  • Sernylan||

    I would favor Judge Napolitano's opinion to that of Glen Beck.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    I do too. That is not a high bar to hurdle though.

    They do hang out together. It is as bad as hanging out with Jesse Jackson.

  • Sernylan||

    "They do hang out together"

    Well, Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart get along as well…They are both hacks, but both occasionally bring up a good point. The likes of Napolitano could do Beck some good (like lithium), as he certainly has the stronger of the two's intellectual capacity. Not everyone of different political “sensibilities” has to be hostile and adversarial….it’s generally by choice.

  • RightNut||

    Glenn Beck has issues, fair enough. But in no way shape or form is hanging out with Beck as bad as hanging out with Jesse Jackson.

  • Sernylan||

    "But in no way shape or form is hanging out with Beck as bad as hanging out with Jesse Jackson."

    And herpes isn't deadly like AIDS or syphilis...but I don't want to "hang out" with any of them.

  • SIV||

    Beck tells people to read Hayek and compares Woodrow Wilson and the progressives to Hitler and the Nazis.

    What has the Reverend Jackson ever done for libertarianism?

  • Sernylan||

    "What has the Reverend Jackson ever done for libertarianism?"

    Contrasted it with all of his tired worn out horseshit claptrap, and showed how libertarianism was the obvious choice to any who had mastered tying their shoes, and/or walking & chewing bubblegum. Other than that, I guess he only takes up space...breathing good air that a rabid dog is more entitled to.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Well, if Jesse Jackson's picking up the bar tab...

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And I'd bet on Beck over you, shreek.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    On the short-to-medium term, I really do think it would make sense to try to separate religious or cultural conservatism from religious or cultural statism. Religious statism is, well, just that. It's the "Yay Jesus!" version of social engineering and nannyism we see from the progressives. It really only differs in what book they're reading their dogma out of. On the other hand, I do think there are religious conservatives who genuinely feel progressive secularism is being imposed on them. And they resent it. Honestly, I'm really not sure they're wrong on either count. It's these folks that I think libertarians can reach. Libertarians and social conservatives are never going to be busom buddies, but they have a lot more common than either would care to acknowledge.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Yes! If we don't donate to Reason, who will the Jeff DeMints of the world lie to when they need to sucker libertarians into voting Republican again?

  • ||

    Everyone else? If interviewing Demint is too much for you, I'm sure somewhere like the Huffington Post would love your viewership.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    It was more the incredulous tone of the article "DeMint said some nice things about libertarians right before an election! He must finally be starting to like us!"

  • ||

    He might, he might not. We'll see. Your whining over that is just plain silly.

  • ||

    Who is Jeff DeMint?

  • ||

    Who's the guy sucking on the bong? And WTF does he have to do with DeMint?

  • Sernylan||

    "Who's the guy sucking on the bong? And WTF does he have to do with DeMint?"

    Jim DeMint is a raging pothead who refuses to puff..puff..give, and that guy is his Sherpa.

  • ||

    The bong sucker who looks like an unemployed basement dweller represents libertarians. Hard to imagine why nobody takes us seriously...

  • شات عراقنا||

    thanks

  • دردشة عراقنا||

    Nicest chat and chat Iraqi entertaining Adject all over the world

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement