Politics

Why I Am Not a Conservative, Chapter XXIII: Because Small Government Stalwarts Hate on the Gays, Single Womens, & Push Drug Tests

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Yesterday, Matt Welch cogitated on the question of whether small "l" libertarians should vote for the likes of Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, and Carl Paladino and concluded:

Until anyone with an R by his or her name shows any inclination to cut back on defense spending, war making, and the stockpiling of Executive Power, let alone getting the hell out of whole swaths of private peacable transactions between consenting humans, the most enthusiasm you'll get from me is seeing politicians and parties get fired, while their captive customers increasingly defect from their tired, predatory bullshit.

I'm not sure where that leaves me vis a vis the following candidates, all of whom have been pretty well-vetted as small-government stalwarts interested in cutting spending and the role of government broadly speaking. And yet they just can't STFU until they manage to alienate me, a small "l" libertarian!

Here's Nikki Haley, who's running for governor of South Carolina:

"I'm gonna push to make sure that if someone fails a drug test in this state, that we are not gonna pay benefits," Haley said at a press conference outside the S.C Department of Employment and Workforce. "That's something I'm gonna push for, I think people of this state deserve that. Personal responsibility matters and we're gonna continue to fight that fight."

Talk about personal responsibility! Haley would make drug tests mandatory … for unemployment benefits! WTF? Because the only reason you could be bounced from your job in this economy is because you were high?

Here's another Palmetto State pol, GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, a Tea Party favorite and the bankroller of many small government candidates:

[DeMint] "said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn't be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who's sleeping with her boyfriend -- she shouldn't be in the classroom."

Jeebus H. Christ! Who's up for the hymen check of first grade teachers? That wouldn't turn into a patronage jobs program now, would it?

A few years back, DeMint apologized for similar comments, on the grounds that education should be a local issue outside the purview of senators. Which is weak tea, to be honest. If he does believe that this isn't an issue he should be discussing, then STFU already! But he in fact bragged about his ability to vocalize the feelings of the silent majority:

"(When I said those things,) no one came to my defense," he said. "But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn't back down. They don't want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion."

What a brave position, especially while addressing a Baptist group in South Carolina. If schoolkids don't check their Constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door (at least they didn't use to, back in the old Tinker days, before SCOTUS determined that chess club players could be forced to pee-to-play), I'd like to think that single teachers can have legal, consensual sex without losing their jobs.

And then there's Rand Paul, who has run from the libertarian label perhaps because, well, he's not really all that libertarian. From a recent debate he had with the awful Jack Conway:

PAUL: I would rather the local schools decide things. I don't like the idea of somebody in Washington deciding that Susie has two mommies is an appropriate family situation and should be taught to my kindergartener at school. That's what happens when we let things get to a federal level. I think I would rather have local school boards, teachers, parents, people in Padu[cah] deciding about your schools and not have it in Washington.

The book Paul is referring to is, of course, Heather Has Two Mommies, which dates from 1989! Come on, already, you're living in the past, man! And it wasn't the federal government that forced the book on anybody, it was a bunch of local school boards (most famously in New York City). Why does that particular moldy old controversy have to be the illustration of the evils of federal intervention in education? In the debate, Paul compounds his lameness by saying his position toward the federal Dept. of Education is the same as Ronald Reagan's: It should be abolished. Yeah, I'm all for that, except that Ronald Reagan increased the federal education budget by something like 40 percent during his eight years in office.

Why oh why does it seem that everyone who wants to save a nickel in federal spending has to also have a fixation on gay- and single-woman sex when she is not calling for drug testing for losing your job in the worst recession in years? Is there a necessary connection between wanting to cut Washington spending and hating on the gays (even or especially when your argument is that the federal government shouldn't be concerned with the places said gays may be working)?

What the hell is wrong with this country - and the Republican Party - that it can't generate more pols like Gary Johnson, who is actually libertarian as opposed to playing one on TV? Is it that hard, or that off-putting to simply admit that getting the government out of the boardroom and the bedroom (and the classroom!) is part of the same process?

I should note that I can't legally vote for any of the folks above anyway, even if I wanted to. And I'm well aware that senators and even governors have limited abilities to intrude on anybody's personal life. But the sorts of statements above make it hard to convince anybody who doesn't agree with you already that small-government rhetoric is not a stalking horse for a repressive, retrograde regime that will start clamping down on anything that bothers that folks who happen to be in power. That's a real problem in building a true limited-government coalition because I know plenty of liberals (including gays and lesbians and single women!) who would be basically ready to sign onto a libertarian anti-government agenda if they didn't feel deep down that it's simply a way for the state to control their lifestyles.

Update: Via the Twitter feed of Freeman in KY comes this truly sad-hilarious anti-Rand Paul ad that almost makes me want to take back any and all criticism of the Bluegrass State's best-known eye doctor. There's a reason I referred above to the "awful Jack Conway":