Civil Liberties

Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on the GOP's Troubled Relationship with Lady Liberty

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The GOP is suffering from a massive existential crisis about whether it should become more Big Tent or more "pure" to repair its badly damaged brand after eight awful Bush years. Over at Forbes.com, Shikha Dalmia, debuting her bi-weekly column, says that Republicans could do both by becoming the Party of Liberty and throwing out the label "conservative."

"America's institutions are built on principles of liberty, they (conservatives) claim, therefore defending them means defending liberty," she notes. "But labels shape self-understanding—and the term conservatism shifts the emphasis from defending America because it is the land of liberty to defending liberty because it is American."

Whole column here.

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  1. But, but, the gays!

  2. “The GOP is suffering from a massive existential crisis about whether it should become more Big Tent or more “pure” to repair its badly damaged brand after eight awful Bush years. Over at Forbes.com, Shikha Dalmia, debuting her bi-weekly column, says that Republicans could do both by becoming the Party of Liberty and throwing out the label “conservative.””

    Shika Dalmia needs to stop watching The Ed Show on MSNBC.

  3. Opps! Shikha.

  4. I’ve said it elsewhere… I see us running into the old debate about “choice” and “control” again.

    It used to be only big-government liberals wanted to make the implicit statement that “the government knows better, and therefore must ‘take care’ of people.”

    Big-government conservatives think that “people aren’t smart enough to make right choices, therefore we must tell them what the right choices are.”

    The Republicans are incapable of being the party of Liberty because they only embrace “choice” when the outcome is predetermined in their favor.

  5. Meh. Any identification with a new term would just dilute the meaning of the liberty. Liberals already shat all over the word liberal and moved on to shit all over the already shit covered progressive.

    Beyond that, I’d say this fits pretty squarely with all the other “Political party X can’t succeed until they more closely imitate my preferences” talk that always follows the losing party after an election. Unfortunately, I think all the GOP needs is a shiny new crowd pleaser and they’ll be back in business with the same bullshit.

  6. This is a time in our political history where I wish the LP had a bigger soapbox with which to shout from…

    Unfortunately, I don’t believe we’re at the point where we can take that next step.

    Someday?

  7. That’s a good column, but a word about the Buckley reference. WFB had some libertarian influences, even subtitling one of his books with the word.

    Buckley was a Cold War era fusionist, heavily influenced by the two Franks, Meyer and Chodorov. He was also in the intellectual debt of Kirk and Birnham, so National Review was never a libertarian paradise.

    The tragedy of G.W. Bush and the 9/11 attacks is that, had the terrorists not ramped up the campaign they had been fighting at least since the first WTC bombing, W might have continued with the defense build-down started under Clinton, or let the Pentagon budget level off. There wouldn’t have been any rationale, other than the pork barrel, to increase that budget.

    With communism defeated, fusionism lost its raison d’?tre. The Qaedists provided a villain to plug into the old formula [Cold Warriors + Free Enterprisers + SoCons = Majority], where the anti-terror fight subbed in for Containment/Rollback. Of course, the Bushies screwed the pooch when they took their step to far in Iraq, which was only a tangential part of the jihadi terror network, if at all.

    I don’t know how liberty-friendly the GOP will be if most of its movers and shakers still believe the National Security State is necessary.

    Kevin

  8. All the GOP needs is a few years to pass. The memory of Bush will fade and Obama’s disaster will be unfolding at full tilt. Not that the liberty idea is bad or anything.

  9. It would be really nice if the Libertarian Party would get serious about winning elections. This would help propel the GOP into the irrelevance it deserves.

    The biggest thing the LP could do to get serious would be to stop running presidential candidates (a huge waste of resources) until they have picked up 15-20 House seats. If the GOP found that they couldn’t do anything without LP support, they sure as hell would wake up and smell the coffee.

  10. From the article: “He, remarkably enough, managed to combine every anti-individual liberty idea from the right with every pro-big government policy from the left.

    Not so remarkable. Many Americans practically begged him to do so. And helped usher in a new political philosophy: American National Socialism.

  11. I predict that somewhere around the 2010 and 2012, the Republican Party will start marketing their big-government policies as “Enhanced Liberty”.

  12. oops… “somewhere around the 2010 and 2012 election cycle,”

  13. ‘the GOP’s Troubled Relationship with Lady Liberty’

    Next up: Charles Manson’s Troubled Relationship with Sharon Tate.

  14. The GOP is suffering from a massive existential crisis about whether it should become more Big Tent Democratic or more “pure” to repair its badly damaged brand after eight awful Bush years.

    I predict that somewhere around the 2010 and 2012, the Republican Party will start marketing their big-government policies as “Enhanced Liberty”.

    If only I could enhance my liberty with an herbal supplement . . . .

  15. If they were smart, they would change the name to the Liberty and Ass-Kicking party.

    Jettison the social conservatism and fiscal liberalism and modify the militarism.

    Most Americans understand that there are lots of idiot individuals, groups, and countries out there. It should be policy that we will let them alone, but if they fuck with us, we have no problem destroying them. This means we don’t occupy a country, we turn it into rubble. The main problem in Iraq wasn’t that we invaded, it was that we stayed.

  16. Max and RC,
    Hilarious, well done. Made me smile.

  17. It’s funny that people like Dalmia who spent the last 8 years arguing for the policies which brought the GOP down now point their fingers at everyone else. Since this is a a true multiculturalist society we should cut those fingers off.

    Based on Dalmia’s argument, one would think that the GOP lost last November because we nominated a diehard nativistic, xenophobic border enforcer. Instead we nominated a sponsor of the last 2 amnesty bills who still lost the Hispanic vote.

    Based on what Dalmia’s saying, one would think that the Bush Administration had spent the last 8 years fighting to create a new version of Eisenhower’s Operation Wetback rather than spending it cutting immigration enforcement to the bone, watching record numbers of illegal immigrants come to the USA and nearly enacting an amnesty for the 12+ million illegals already here.

    It was Dalmia’s former employers, like the Weekly Standard, who were advocating for a devastating war in Iraq, massive immigration (needed ’em to build all those houses), and pandering to the “growing Hispanic vote” by, among other things, enacting lending policies that boosted minority homeownership rates and led to a bubble which popped, oh, right around last October.

    Can’t think of a single way in which Bush and the GOP have recently pandered to the “nativists” (to which I belong) or the religious right (to which I don’t). But nevermind – it’s our fault anyway.

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

  18. “The Republicans are incapable of being the party of Liberty because they only embrace “choice” when the outcome is predetermined in their favor.”

    And the Democrats only embrace “choice” if the outcome is predetermined to kill something.

  19. “I don’t know how liberty-friendly the GOP will be if most of its movers and shakers still believe the National Security State is necessary.”

    Even as China builds a bigger navy?

  20. Agreed, the LP doesn’t need the presidential campaign. It’s like a 2 year old claiming “I’m a big boy now” just because he got through one night without wetting his diaper. Who would miss the campaign? The media? The voters? No, libertarians who think they are much bigger frogs than they are.
    Nolan thought politics would give libertarianism a bigger soapbox. So, I’d rather than 1,000 local media outlets continually mentioning libertarian candidates and their views, than one snarky “Time” article poking fun at the “also running” clowns.

  21. I mostly agree with Timothy. And, in fact, just yesterday everyone (except Reason) appears to have agreed that Reason’s policies helped CA get into its current mess.

    But, I suppose someone has to keep hyperventilating about “nativists” even as the policies they promote lead to massive spending, massive subsidies, and massive power for those who are anything but libertarian. Yes, it’s all the fault of the “nativists”.

  22. Libertarian Campaign Poster: Vote for me, so I can shut the government down. The less I do for you the better off we all are.

    True, but doomed to failure.

    The republican party and the democratic party survive because they use the power of government to do things their constituents want them to do. The only differenc between the parties is what they promise to do.

  23. Bretton:

    China may well wish to be the predominant military power in its region, but it remains to be seen if it has the sort of world ambitions that the old Soviet Union pretended to. Beijing may have learned a lesson from the CCCP, that of the dangers of imperial overreach.

    Kevin

  24. “Based on Dalmia’s argument, one would think that the GOP lost last November because we nominated a diehard nativistic, xenophobic border enforcer. Instead we nominated a sponsor of the last 2 amnesty bills who still lost the Hispanic vote.”

    If you’ll remember, McCain kept a low profile concerning amnesty during the election, but the Obama campaign succeded in painting the GOP as anti-imigration. That’s why the GOP lost the hispanic vote in spite of McCain’s pro-immigration views.

  25. Shut the fuck up, Lonewacko.

  26. Lone Wacko turned the page of his latest copy of Harper’s. Well, it was actually an issue of Jugs inside the cover of the latest issue of Harper’s, but it was appearances that mattered. He was getting sick of waiting for Matt Welch to come out of reason headquarters. When he did, Lone Wacko was going to ambush him and then ask him why he wasn’t asking the hard questions that Lone Wacko never asked, yet always asked others to.

  27. *** “If you’ll remember, McCain kept a low profile concerning amnesty during the election, but the Obama campaign succeded in painting the GOP as anti-imigration. That’s why the GOP lost the hispanic vote in spite of McCain’s pro-immigration views.” ***

    The GOP’s share of the vote fell among all races, not just Hispanics. Obama did not make a big issue of his position on immigration. Neither candidate had any incentive to get into a bidding war that would have only driven their policies further to the right.

    In fact Rahm Emanuel’s advice to congressional candidates in the last two cycles was to sound as conservative as possible on immigration while making as few promises as necessary.

  28. 24AheadDotCom

    I was disturbed to read about that incident where you slapped the taco out of the taco cart guy’s hand. Shame on you.

  29. “China may well wish to be the predominant military power in its region, but it remains to be seen if it has the sort of world ambitions that the old Soviet Union pretended to.”

    R i g h t …..

  30. LoneWacko liked Jugs, which he chalked up to the fact that he’d breast fed until the age of 16. Of course, he mused, He/She Surprise was also one of his favorites… not sure why. Then he remembered the surprised look that all the guys in He/She Surprise had when the “girl” took off her pants. Stupid bastards: what were they expecting? He’d never been caught off-guard like that.

  31. LoneWacko liked Jugs, which he chalked up to the fact that he’d [been] breast fed until the age of 16.

    By his father.

  32. “By his father.”

    No, by his father’s chiwawa.

  33. bookworm rewrites: If you’ll remember, McCain kept a low profile concerning amnesty during the election, but the Obama campaign succeded in painting the GOP as anti-imigration.

    Actually, while McCain wanted to do more, he pandered as best he could. The problem is that, no matter how hard he pandered, the Dems were always able to out-pander him. And, that same thing is always going to happen. And, people like McCain are probably going to keep trying to play a Dem game on a Dem field using Dem referrees, foolishly thinking they’ll win one of these days.

    As for BHO pandering, Obama went as far as uttering “reconquista”-style comments. Obviously, there’s no way for a Republican to out-do that so they need to find a different solution. Just as obviously, they’re too stupid to find a different solution.

  34. I’d like to see all the bullshit talking points tossed out the window and someone run on ideals. Not on loving gay people, immigrants, squash, unions, car companies, jesus, the environment and so on. I’d vote for someone who stood up and said I’m not absolutely positive how in the hell I’m going to handle situation X, but I can tell you I am damn sure going to follow the rules set forth from day one and those changed according to those rules first set forth.

    I’ll say what I said earlier, the LP needs to stay the hell out of national market. Ally and support those already in it with the same mission, but focus on the local gains. The largest draw to having liberty on your side is you can always find someone who will face to face discuss how the government fucked them in one way or the other, that is lost at a national level.

  35. I vote (as mentioned above) for kicking some ass. Anyone’s.

  36. Lone Wacko turned the page of his latest copy of Harper’s. Well, it was actually an issue of Jugs inside the cover of the latest issue of Harper’s, but it was appearances that mattered. He was getting sick of waiting for Matt Welch to come out of reason headquarters. When he did, Lone Wacko was going to ambush him and then ask him why he wasn’t asking the hard questions that Lone Wacko never asked, yet always asked others to.

    You’re supposed to record videos of this and upload it to YouTube.

  37. “””I don’t know how liberty-friendly the GOP will be if most of its movers and shakers still believe the National Security State is necessary.”””

    That’s why it’s been so important to frame liberty as anti-terrorism. The national security state is here to help you with your liberty.

    The GOP wants to be your national security leader. They are invested in the national security state. The dems don’t want the GOP to out do them in national security. Lady liberty is being exiled.

  38. Scott,

    It would be really nice if the Libertarian Party would get serious about winning elections. This would help propel the GOP into the irrelevance it deserves.

    And the Democrats aren’t equally deserving?

  39. Timothy,

    Based on Dalmia’s argument, one would think that the GOP lost last November because we nominated a diehard nativistic, xenophobic border enforcer.

    She’s part of the Reason crowd, which by and large, has no clue. None-not-a.

    McCain was running neck and neck until he came out for the bailout. That was The End of McCain. He never recovered.

    Which is sad because it seemed that people were just starting to get a really good wiff of O’boy’s socialist kool aid and it wasn’t sitting so well.

    But it’s about this same time that McCain starts spouting the same socialist solutions for “people in trouble with their mortgages”. Palin starts showing up to be the imbecile she is around this same time. And then McCain wants to shut down the whole race so they can jam the Bush Bailout through congress.

    McCain had a fighting chance until he started “me too!” ‘ing Obama. At that point you might just as well vote for Obama.

  40. Of course, we all know that in truth, US politics revolves around immigration and gays and smoking dope.

    Which is so accurate that it really, really helps libertarians get elected every single time they try. I mean with this outlook on things, you just can’t loose an election.

  41. kevrob,

    China may well wish to be the predominant military power in its region, but it remains to be seen if it has the sort of world ambitions that the old Soviet Union pretended to.

    You really should read more history.

    The question isn’t whether China has the ambition. The question is, will they be able to grow enough muscle to do anything about it.

    History shows that there is never a lack of ambition in the world. There will will always be another coming along who would rule it all, if only he can figure out how to pull it off.

    Oh, except for the libertarian parts of the world. Because those parts of the world don’t bother him or anybody else, so he has no reason to bother them.

    You know, like there was this one Libertarian in Persia way back in time, and Alexander the Great just steered right around him and left him alone.

  42. Libertarians will not win elections, at least as long as there are democratic elections. Because democracy is no friend of individual liberty. It is the opposite.

    As Sowell said, politicians get away with shit because they pay no price for the stunts they pull.

    That’s what democracy gets you.

  43. Hey, Eb!

    I played you on stage in 6th grade. I killed!

    As for reading more history, I’ve been there, got the T-shirt and the B.A.

    Anyone who wants to make the case that China wants to be a hegemonic power, go right ahead. The Middle Kingdom has expanded and contracted its sphere of influence over the centuries, and much of its influence has been cultural, rather than political/military – the commercial success of the “overseas Chinese,” fr’instance. I expect that Beijing will continue to compete with the U.S. and E.U. to develop natural resources in developing states, without trying the old Soviet trick of setting up puppet governments. China is perfectly happy to work with the corrupt elites already running (sic) those states. {see: Sudan}

    I am no China scholar, but I do know a bit about our homegrown policy wonks. China! Our Future Enemy! is a theme that the types who used to join The Committee On The Present Danger can really sink their teeth into, regardless of how true it is.

    Kevin

  44. “If McCain had opposed the bailout, he could have won the election.”

    Yeah, and if my dachshund could pick up a violin and play Paganini, he’d be booked at Carnegie Hall.

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