From the Why-I'm-Turning-Libertarian Files


Over at Andrew Sullivan's website, Conor Friedersdorf explains why he's being lured in by that small l. This excerpt may be of some interest: 

The pragmatist in me has concluded, after long experience and repeated disappointments, that the conservative movement is never actually going to deliver on its promise to check the growth of the federal government, however superior its rhetoric might be on that issue; and that the progressive movement is never going to deliver on its promise to protect civil liberties, however superior its rhetoric might be on that issue.

Instead, the conservative movement is going to continue advocating for an unsustainable foreign policy and a vision of executive power that is utterly at odds with the checks, balances, and purposeful limits on presidential prerogatives enacted by the founding generation. And progressives who manage to elect their dream president, plus a majority in both houses of Congress? They won't reverse the trend, so much as ignore it—the better to pass agenda items like a health care bill that thankfully covers more Americans, but leaves unaddressed many of the worst pathologies of the status quo and acts as a stark giveaway to influential industry players.

There is our fiscal insolvency too. Is anyone serious about addressing that?

I retain Burkean concerns with pure libertarianism, but the pragmatist in me is confident that they're irrelevant.  In a way, that is a disappointment. Libertarians lack the power to pass their most appealing agenda items, never mind the extreme stuff. That aside, there is also the fact that the conservative movement's worst features—its advocacy for foreign wars of choice, catastrophically failed approach to drug prohibition, and radical views on executive power—are themselves Burkean nightmares. And speaking of that trifecta, President Obama and our Democratic Congress are by now complicit in every one of them.

Whole thing here.

Want to learn more about libertarianism? Read Reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty's magisterial history, Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement.