Politics

"Defend CPAC from phony conservatives": I.E., Libertarians. Or, Grover Go Home—And Take Gramsci & GOProud With You!

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The Washington Times, the paper that only a few years ago made the great leap forward to not using scare quotes around the term gay marriage, is running a CPAC-opening day opinion piece by Veterans in Defense of Liberty chief Scott Magill. Here's a chunk of it:

The American Conservative Union's (ACU) board of directors, led by Grover NorquistSuhail Khan and until he stepped down yesterday, David Keene, seems to have forgotten the constitutional grounding of American society. The board continues to espouse the ACU's founding conservative ideals of economic growth through smaller government, reduced taxation and lower government spending but has disconnected them from the fundamental issues of liberty and the personal responsibility upon which that liberty rests. It likewise ignores the ACU's original principles of traditional religious values and national security based on peace through strength. In truth, without the traditional social foundation, the economic principles from which it is derived cannot survive….

Mr. Norquist serves on the GOProud advisory board and also has advocated legalization of drugs, open borders and amnesty for illegals; supported closing the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay; opposed aspects of the USA Patriot Act; and supports the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque. He is actively promoting the Obama administration's "engagement plan" with Islam, which has the Muslim Brotherhood's seal of approval. He certainly has a right to hold those views, but it is false advertising to call them conservative.

The homosexual agenda of GOProud parallels that of other homosexual ideology, militantly demanding social approval and that homosexual principles assume the same moral high ground as heterosexual ideals. GOProud members use the Saul Alinsky-like strategy of seeking to subvert traditional morals: marginalization of their enemy and destruction of the traditional family. They favor repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment and seek to brainwash America's youth through the school system by inserting favorable references to homosexuality in the curriculum as early as kindergarten. Religiously based moral objections to this approach are swept aside in the name of "separation of church and state."

Whole thing here.

Magill goes on to accuse GOProud and Norquist of pursuing a Gramscian "long march through the institutions," all to the greater gloryhole of that dastardly "homosexual agenda" that in this iteration at least requires nothing more of government than it treat all citizens equally. That is, let them marry and serve in the military. Yikes. I give Magill and his group credit for showing up CPAC and trying to keep some control over the conservative label that means so much to him. That's far more respectable than the shrinking violets in the con movement who are afraid of catching cooties from using the same bathrooms as homosexuals.

As a libertarian, I'm in no way tied to CPAC (did speak there a couple of years ago and have attended from time to time), but it's fascinating to me that the conservative movement can't recognize some elemental facts. First and foremost that the world they're trying to create, especially when it comes to intolerance of alternative lifestyles, is never going to happen. And that by insisting, as Sen. James DeMint and Rep. Jim Jordan have, that you can't be a fiscal conservative without being a social conservative, you're alienating all those independents who just might give the GOP a second chance at running the federal budget. And you're in open denial of reality: A person's choice of sexual partner in no way means he or she can't be in favor of less spending on farm subsidies. There's a stunning knot of bull-dinkey at the heart of the argument that tolerance equals uncritical embrace. Do conservatives, of all people, think that the state allowing all religions to practice means official endorsement?

There's been a lot of talk recently about conservatism as a "three-legged stool," a popular Reagan-era analogy positing that the small-government movement includes fiscal cons, social cons, and defense cons. If these legs aren't the same length, runs the implication, you get a wobbly seat. Here's Melissa Clouthier at Red State asking the question, "Should Libertarians Be Banned From CPAC?":

Since Libertarians occupy the fiscal conservatism circle, they're getting more attention and validation than they've had in years. Being that many of them are so annoying on other issues, it can be grating to have them be center stage when they aren't conservative in any other meaningful way. Still, that doesn't mean that some ideas that had been out in libertarian land aren't now mainstream conservative ideas—auditing the Fed comes to mind, cutting whole government departments comes to mind. Ideas that were once unthinkable are now at least being considered. How do we put these fiscally conservative ideas into practice?

I'm sure you see where I'm going with this…

The answer to the question about whether Libertarians should be at CPAC..is well, yes, they should be there. And so should GOProud. They have every right to try and convince people of their ideas. The Conservative world is not the Borg. It is not some monolithic hive-mind like the Left enjoys. There are debates and the circles expand and constrict.

Clouthier is right that libertarians and conservatives are not the same thing and the event is called CPAC, not LPAC. She's wrong about much else, such as the idea that the left is monolithic (does anyone seriously believe that?). But her at-least-grudging admission of gays and libtards to the circle of life is heartening and at least suggests a passing acquaintanceship with reality, political and empirical. Which is more that you say for folks and groups like Mike Huckabee, Brent Bozell and the Media Research Center, the Heritage Foundation, and Scott Magill.

Over at The American Conservative, occasional Reason contributor and (occasional critic of yours truly) Daniel McCarthy takes note of the creeping libertarian drift of CPAC, quoting Fox News host and perennial big-government conservative presidential candidate Mike Huckabee ragging, "CPAC has become increasingly libertarian and less Republican over the last years, one of the reasons I didn't go this year." And the America Family Association's Bryan Fischer moaning, "We believe in truth in advertising. They should call themselves the Libertarian Political Action Committee." Zing! Goddammit, they took our jobs!

Maybe, baby, just maybe. Conservatives should recognize a few things. First, as Clouthier suggests, the fiscal con wing was exposed as just that, a total con job. Under Bush and a supposedly conservative Congress, federal outlays jacked up about 60 percent in real terms. Second, defense cons blew it. They had two wars to show themselves as effective, and they screwed the pooch, wagged the dog, shat the bed, whatever. After a good, long ride at the top, they did nothing well. They didn't create a coherent foreign policy that suggests when the U.S. might intervene and when it shouldn't (the Global War on Terrorism is not simply vague, it provides no stopping point for Wilsonian interventionism, which is decidedly not conservative). And third, social cons have lost, period. Gays are not going back in the closet and demands for equal standing under the law are logically coherent from a conservative POV. Gays didn't destroy marriage or the family (neither of which is in ruins, by the way, but that's another issue). The same goes for drug legalization, which has been touted by such raging liberals as William F. Buckley. In terms of abortion, like it or not, the country has settled into a semi-easy truce that abortion earlier in a pregnancy is OK and the closer the mother comes to term, the less comfortable people feel with it. In any case, advances in contraception and reproductive technologies will almost certainly render such decisions moot as people have gain ever-vaster control of their bodies.

In a historical way, libertarianism predates post-war conservatism. Libertarianism, with its emphasis on individual freedom, conscience, and responsibility, is the direct descendant of the classical liberalism that grew out of the English Civil War of the mid-17th century and worked its way through the Scottish Enlightenment, the Austrian economists, and others. It seeks to shrink to sphere of the state to that of an impartial judge protecting the equal rights of citizens and it valorizes, as Reason's motto puts it, "Free Minds and Free Markets." Sociologically, however, libertarianism has long been seen as a lesser brother to postwar conservatism, "chirping sectaries" in Russell Kirk's dismissive phrase, with about as much potential for leadership as Fredo Corleone.

That's no longer the case, dear conservatives. I'm no triumphalist but everything in the past 40 years suggests that the old-style left-wing command and control models have been thoroughly vanquished in theory if not practice (even old Europe has sold off virtually all of its state monopolies!). And the conservative desire for control of individuals' desire and lifestyles has similary come a cropper; your actual champions in the highest positions in the world have tried your ideas and been found wanting (who can disagree that George W. Bush was a "big-government disaster"?). In a world of increasing decentralization of power and corresponding growth in individual autonomy, libertarianism is looking better and better, both as a description of what's happening in those parts of our lives not completely under the thumb of government and as a guide to minimizing the reach of the state where it still is too grabby.

More on the CPAC flap.

NEXT: Why Obama Wants to Cut Corporate Taxes

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  1. It’s amazing that there are people willing to forgive contribution to a complete financial apocalypse just so long as the contributor espouses an irrational fear of gays.

  2. “There’s been a lot of talk recently about conservatism as a “three-legged stool,” a popular Reagan-era analogy positing that the small-government movement includes fiscal cons, social cons, and defense cons. If these legs aren’t the same length, runs the implication, you get a wobbly seat.”

    Good grief Nick. Long time since 9th grade, huh? Any 3 points are always coplanar, so a 3-legged stool won’t wobble. It’ll either be stable (though tilted if the plane of the legs isn’t parallel with the seating surface) or topple (if the tilt moves the COG too far).

    Adjust one’s mental political party analogy accordingly.

    1. The whole reason people make three legged stools is so that you don’t need to make the legs exactly the same length.

    2. If Gillespie’s right in characterizing it as a “popular Reagan-era analogy”, he’s not exactly at fault for its inconsistencies. Sounds to me like he’s describing conservatism as Conservatives define it, which means poorly chosen metaphors should not be hard to come by.

    3. You guys don’t understand the “wobbly seat” reference. It means unless the conservatives are hitting on all 3 cyls., the IWW comes in.

  3. “The Conservative world is not the Borg. It is not some monolithic hive-mind like the Left enjoys.

    Meooww!!

    Love you, Melissa Clouthier!

    1. “such as the idea that the left is monolithic (does anyone seriously believe that?)”

      Read the comments on right wing blogs and you’ll see a lot of ‘we aren’t a monolith like the left’ – read the comments on left wing blogs and its – ‘the left isn’t a monolith like the right is’ yadda yadda

  4. Shut the fuck up, American Conservative Union.

    1. Hmmm.. Union, you say?
      That’s sounds a wee bit socialist.

      IMPLICATION.

  5. Gays didn’t destroy marriage or the family (neither of which is in ruins, by the way, but that’s another issue).

    NOT that the Left has been trying, mind you…

    But NO: gays are NOT the agents of evil hell bent on the destruction of the family; in fact, most want to EMBRACE those very institutions by creating families of their own. The REAL force of destruction comes not from gays but from government.

    1. “NOT that the Left hasn’t been trying, mind you…”

      Sorry… cold fingers this 26Deg F morning…

      1. Yes, nothing the left hates more than marriage and family. No leftists ever get married or have children and have their own ideas about how they ought to be brought up.

        1. If they love the family, why did they pass the Great Society programs?

          See Moynihan, Daniel for a lefty who understands the problem.

          And to quote another poster here: Forseeable consequences arent unintended.

        2. Re: Zeb,

          Yes, nothing the left hates more than marriage and family.

          That’s what happens when all your formative instruction comes form a subnormal that calls him or herself a “public school teacher.”

          “Abolition [Aufhebung] of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.

          On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution.

          The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.

          Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.

          But, you say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social.
          Communist Manifesto, Chapter 2.

  6. “‘”First and foremost that the world they’re trying to create, especially when it comes to intolerance of alternative lifestyles, is never going to happen.””

    If this is true why bother writing this long article about them? And since most of history is filled with intolerance toward alternate lifestyles why is today different? Twitter?

    “””I’m no triumphalist but everything in the past 40 years suggests that the old-style left-wing command and control models have been thoroughly vanquished in theory if not practice “”‘

    Isn’t it the practice that counts. Try having two or three children in China and see if the practice counts. Try changing your religion from Islam to anything else in much of the Islamic world and see if practice counts. And both these areas have more population then all of the Western countries combined. And in the West try building your own house on your own property without a pile of government issued permits. Try not paying “your share” of the military industrial complex or the bankers bailout and see what happens. And both these along with many others have increase in the last forty years not decreased.

    So while you worry about getting a government issued permit to get married(claiming that getting a government issued permit is FREEDOM” the debt and intervention into everyones lives has increased not decreased in the last 40 years

    1. Try not paying “your share” of the military industrial complex or the bankers bailout and see what happens.

      I’ve regularly thought of a system where funding for a program only comes from the people whose representatives voted for it. So, if you vote no, your constituents won’t have to pay for it. Obviously there would be free rider issues, but think of the awesome game of chicken they would play trying to get the 50+1 votes.

      1. I’ve regularly thought of a system where funding for a program only comes from the people whose representatives voted for it.

        While not go for the full Bernardo de la Paz model and have the representatives who vote for it pay for it out of their own pockets.

    2. Being able to get a marriage permit is not freedom. But it is equality under the law, which is also very important.

      1. Being required to get a dog license for your canary would be equality under the law, too. That doesn’t necessarily mean it would make a lot of sense.

      2. Re: Zeb,

        Being able to get a marriage permit is not freedom.

        You have that right. Asking the government for permission to enter into a contract is anathema to freedom.

        But it is equality under the law, which is also very important.

        No, it isn’t. It confers special treatment to individuals who happen to call their contract a “marriage”, leaving out any other contract that involves two people living together as a couple – that’s not ‘equality under the law’ in any meaningful sense. Government DIVIDES, Zeb, that is what it DOES. That is how it THRIVES.

        STOP LOVING THE GOVERNMENT! IT CERTAINLY DOES NOT LOVE YOU!

  7. Check it out! Gillespie is having another Pauline Kael moment! Too funny!

    1. +1

      Apparently, Nick doesn’t know anyone who votes Republican or Democrat.

  8. A person’s choice of sexual partner in no way means he or she can’t be in favor of less spending on farm subsidies

    You’re assuming that the social conservatives actually give a shit about spending less on farm subsidies. I say they don’t and that there really aren’t overlapping fiscal interests between libertarians and social conservatives. The social conservative leaders are interested in one thing and one thing only, power. Their method of obtaining it is to instill fear and outrage among their followers through the use of biblical references.

    1. You’re assuming that social conservatives are a monolothic block as well.

      It’s quite possible to believe both in the traditional family, and in a government that lives within it’s means.

      1. It’s also possible to believe in and promote the traditional family, and not impose restrictions based on your beliefs upon others.

    2. Corduroy,
      What about the social cons who believe in federalism, and just want to impose social values in their own states? They share a common goal with libertarians of shrinking the federal beast.

      Look, you don’t have to live in Utah or Oklahoma, so stop being ruled by your reflexive hatred of the religious.

  9. Being that many of them are so annoying on other issues

    *makes “Who, meeeeeee?” face*

  10. “[…][T]he fiscal con wing was exposed as just that, a total con job. Under Bush and a supposedly conservative Congress, federal outlays jacked up about 60 percent in real terms.”

    Which should tell anybody with some frontal lobes that Bush and the Repubs were as “fiscal conservative” as Herbert Hoover.

    1. Bush did not claim to be much motivated by fiscal restraint. When he ran in 2000 he tried applying Clinton’s Third Way rhetoric to the GOP. The reason he was considered the more conservative option in that election was that his main opposition in the primaries was McCain, and his general election opponent was Gore. Most conservatives who had supported Gingrich’s Congress found Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” annoying at best.

  11. Isn’t it telling that the only way people like Magill can assert their supposed masculinity is by attacking gay people? I mean, you would almost think these GOP homophobes are a bit closeted themselves.

    1. Oops, at least Magill did came to CPAC. Kudos (or cooties) for that.

  12. with about as much potential for leadership as Fredo Corleone

    Not a cocktail waitress is safe?

  13. And that by insisting, as Sen. James DeMint and Rep. Jim Jordan have, that you can’t be a fiscal conservative without being a social conservative, you’re alienating all those independents who just might give the GOP a second chance at running the federal budget.

    Let’s get some concepts straight, because I agree with Gillespie and I find DeMint’s assertion contradictory.

    A social conservative may or may not mean a person that espouses traditional values. It is one thing to HOLD dear traditional values and principles, QUITE ANOTHER to IMPOSE THEM. If you say you’re social conservative in the sense that you are NOT in favor of doling out money to special interest groups in the name of some lofty ideal, then I would agree with DeMint, et al.

    BUT, if what you mean is you would use the might of government to impose a set of cherished values on everybody else, THEN you’re no fiscal conservative, as impositions cost moola, and moola doesn’t grow on trees (despite what Bernanke and SM and the other host of Keynesians think.)

    MY take on DeMint and others is that they’re the imposition-type of conservative, and as such, they’re not being truthfull or honest about their fiscal conservatism. I am with Gillespie on this one.

    I call myself a social conservative, in that I live and let live, I peacefully trade with anybody willing to trade peacefully with me, and I mind my own business. DeMint and others, at least in MY MIND, are not THAT conservative at all.

    1. +1

      For what it’s worth, there seems to be an ongoing shift among social cons towards “holding” over “imposing.” It may just be temporary, as more urgent economic issues have become the focus of attention.

      1. I would argue that GOProud is the one trying to “impose” in this situation. After all, the question is not of individual gays being there, but rather a group organized around being gay, promoting positions that most conservatives do not agree with.

        The assumption that the right are the only ones trying to impose their view of morality on others is laughable. The gay rights movement wants to get their hands on government and use it to force everyone to tell them what they do is OK. And anybody who thinks otherwise is a fool.

        1. “The gay rights movement wants to get their hands on government and use it to force everyone to tell them what they do is OK.”

          I lost my decoder ring; wanna try that in English?

  14. “She’s wrong about much else, such as the idea that the left is monolithic (does anyone seriously believe that?).”

    Another day, another ‘Liberaltaraian’ Nick Gillespie ‘let’s split libertarians and the GOP’ article. Oddly, this time complaining about some GOP’er saying the Left is monolithic, in service of an article where he himself poses the Right as monolithic. If anything the CPAC shit illustrates factions within the GOP fighting against social conservatives. You’d think that would be a good thing.

    I’m no more a fan of the GOP sausage-making political reality any more than any other faction. Not a fan of social conservatives at all. However, you’d think in an era with a liberal president and senate (and formerly house) making big inroads in American life/law, Nick Gillespie would find something other than GOP’ers to bitch about all day.

    Aside from continual self-promotion, ‘The Jacket’ works his hardest trying to play up splits between the GOP and libertarians. If that’s your angle, fine. Join Brink Lindsey, Tyler Cowen, whoever else out in Liberaltarian space. But it get’s tiresome to tune into Reason with all that’s swirling about to continually find one of it’s prominent members biggest agendas is going after the GOP/downplaying libertarians place in the GOP.

    1. Yet another shining example of the perfect being the enemy of the good. It’s nice to occupy the throne atop the moral high ground with nary a kingdom to reign.

    2. Huh? Isn’t the whole article about how the GOP is not monolithic and has various divisions within it?

      1. Where is that? There’s (as usual with Gillespie) a long-winded diatribe about all the failings of the GOP, and how the public is moving to libertarianism.

        There’s absolutely no ‘social con’ wing is losing to better GOP’ers. It’s all ‘monolithic’ GOP stuff.

        Again, I’m not saying I expect a GOP love-fest on Reason. I wouldn’t even want that. But Gillespie has an angle that crosses from personal slant to annoying, obvious agenda.

        1. Not only that of course but the social conseravtives is probably the biggest section of the GOP.

          Think about where the GOP does good. Bible belt.

          1. The GOP doesn’t do *good* anywhere; they do, however, do *well* in the Bible belt. (This is not to imply that other parties do good, either.)

    3. Yeah! What a dickhead, forgetting the libertarian paradise that was America in the aughts.

      Fuck man, I still remember when Gee Dub legalized pot and shuttered the Department of Education.

      It is not a case of the perfect being the enemy of the good; it’s the perfect being the enemy of the fucking awful.

      Mark my words if we don’t hear the same shit from the left the next time there is a republican president.

      “C’mon guys, Pres Romney is a fascist, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” And protestations are inevitably followed by the always cogent “If you don’t like it, then have fun in the political wilderness, assholes.”

      *barf*

      1. This, this, a thousand times this.

  15. “But what’s it mean not to “personally agree with” gays and lesbians? That they aren’t really attracted to their own genders? That they don’t deserve equality before the law, which would mean equal standing when it comes to marriage, adoption, and public-sector employment protections (such as being teachers)? Acceptance of “teh gays” officially became a mainstream position last year, when 52 percent of enlightened (or maybe just curious) Americans agreed that gay and lesbian relations were “morally acceptable.”
    -The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations, Libertarian Edition: When Not Openly Hating on Gays Means You Just Might be a Libtard
    Posted on February 7, 2011, 11:44AM | Nick Gillespie

    “There’s a stunning knot of bull-dinkey at the heart of the argument that tolerance equals uncritical embrace. Do conservatives, of all people, think that the state allowing all religions to practice means official endorsement?”

    So on Monday, Gillespie goes after Palin for only tolerating and not accepting the homosexual political group, but today he criticizes conservatives for not realizing they only have to exhibit tolerance.

    Does Gillespie even remember from day to day what arguments he presents in this debate?

    1. Gillespie’s always been a let your freak flag fly sort of dude — I think I’ve heard him call it “cultural libertarianism” before.

      And I’m not sure it’s entirely inconsistent to advocate acceptance from a personal standpoint while recognizing that others need not view things the same way so long as they are tolerant.

      1. Good point,fair enough. I simply cannot get past the irony and sheer hypocrisy of it all. Do libertarians really not see it?! The moral judgments and smug “holier than thou” elitism are no longer cliche stereotypes of conservatives, it’s for libertarians (verbatim). http://www.americanthinker.com…..rstan.html

  16. Basically, it’s just preparation should a less popular candidate wins the straw poll as happened last go-around. If they can identify a group found at CPAC as being out-of-place, they can blame these, “Not True Conservatives” as being the reason for that “True Conservatives” lost.

    Didn’t have to mention Ron Paul by name!

    Dammit!

  17. I remember that O.J. Dingo ad. I never got it. I’m still not sure I get it. Wierd ad.

    1. I remember it, too. Well, not so much remember as reminded when I occasionally look at my first Playboy, April 1973. Good times.

  18. You’re assuming that the social conservatives actually give a shit about spending less on farm subsidies.

    What part of “family farm” don’t you understand?

  19. $20 says they’ll be all too quick in throwing down the Reagan card. Surely Reason Magazine remembers his 1975 interview wherein Reagan stated:

    REASON MAGAZINE: Governor [Ronald] Reagan, you have been quoted in the press as saying that you’re doing a lot of speaking now on behalf of the philosophy of conservatism and libertarianism. Is there a difference between the two?

    RONALD REAGAN: If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals?if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.

    Now, I can’t say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that like in any political movement there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point of wanting no government at all or anarchy. I believe there are legitimate government functions. There is a legitimate need in an orderly society for some government to maintain freedom or we will have tyranny by individuals. The strongest man on the block will run the neighborhood. We have government to insure that we don’t each one of us have to carry a club to defend ourselves. But again, I stand on my statement that I think that libertarianism and conservatism are travelling the same path.

    *Note to Reason Mag* – You might want to send them a copy.

  20. Homophobic conservatives are dinosaurs — you’d be hard pressed to find many under 30.

    And one day soon, God willing, they, too, will be extinct.

    1. Of course as people age they get more conservative.

      1. I haven’t.

        And by conservative, do you mean hating gays? I don’t see why young people who don’t hate gays would start hating gays as they age.

        1. And you know the next thing the SoCons will throw at you… “Just wait ’til you have kids.”

          Well, I have two kids – one 7, the other almost a year old – and while I want them to become kind, polite, well-disciplined decision makers, I also want them to be able to party their asses off without the fear of the cops barging in and busting them for indecency or (cautiously moderated) drug use.

          1. (And I DO mean when they become adults they can party their asses off.)

  21. Clouthier: “I remember being at a conference two years ago being exasperated at the naivit? of the group of libertarians…”

    No, fiscal conservatives who continue to vote for Republicans are the naive ones.

    1. Shouldn’t this kind of statement really be part of the drinking game at this point?

      It is the epitome of naive for a (probably very young and optimistic) libertarian to state that it’s “naive” to vote for either of the two parties that actually hold power. I mean, it’s probably reasonable to believe this when you are 18 years old, maybe even 28 years old, but by the time you are 38 years old, assuming you are not still living in your mom’s basement playing Guitar Hero, you’ve probably realized that third parties are irrelevant and ineffective, and that the two major parties will never let them be anything but that.

      I would have reacted differently if you’d made the reasonable argument that voting itself is naive or irrational. But really, this idea that you are changing the world one vote at a time by voting for the LP is pathetic.

      1. Since when did one political party “let” another party dictate its actions? Libertarians are effective precisely because of their struggle against mainstream political thought, and that struggle is just as relevant today as it has been throughout history.

        1. Dawn, I’m guessing that you’ve never worked your ass off to try to get an LP candidate on the ballot in some jurisdictions. The Dems and Reps have things locked up pretty tightly in most places. There are gigantic barriers to entry for “outside” political parties.

      2. Well, I think it’s naive to support politics and/or vote, Period. That’s something I’ve picked up as I’ve aged, and I consider political “power” to be a stupid pursuit for anyone worth a shit.

      3. If there’s any place the Libertarian Party has a chance of succeeding, it’s Texas. You don’t need 51% of the vote here… all you have to do is get the most votes, even if it’s 35% or less. So if both Reps and Dems disgust the Texas voters enough, all the independent or Libertarian candidate has to do is get more votes than each of them.

  22. Don’t they realize that it was the social “conservatives” (who are anything but conservative) who brought the Republicans crashing down and basically handed Obama the win? People hate bad economic policy much less than they hate government meddling in people’s private lives.

    1. You’re crazy. People weren’t voting for Obama because of his liberal views on gay etc.

      They voted for him because the economy was in the crapper and they were going to teach the GOP a lesson.

      1. I’m guessing by this insightful comment that Kroneborg is over 28 years old. Or maybe just a born realist.

        Oh, by the way matt, how often has your “private life” been “meddled” with by “the social conservatives” or the Republicans in recent years? I’m always eager to learn how personal liberties are being violated, since I despise it as much as anyone else. And, except for the asinine ban on the banking operations associated with internet poker (which is truly a giant pain in the ass, but which was supported by both parties, including just all around statist busybodies, and not just social conservatives), I don’t recall any more violations of my personal liberties in the 2000’s than in the 1990’s. I agree with Reason and most other libertarian groups that people are becoming, on net, freer every decade, the world over.

        1. You both completely missed his point, it wasn’t that people voted for Obama because of social values, they voted for him because of how horseshit the economy turned, largely thanks to the terrible SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE republican rule.

  23. What’s this? CPAC is being overrun by a bunch of gay Muslims? Interesting!

    1. When is the Gay Muslims for Santorum event?

    2. There are no gay muslims. That’s why Iran is better than the United States; Ahmadinejad said so.

  24. gays are what they do not what they are, so the gay agenda is for special rights not equal rights.

    1. “gays are what they do not what they are, so the gay agenda is for special rights not equal rights.”
      ???????

  25. In a world of increasing decentralization of power and corresponding growth in individual autonomy,

    I couldn’t say whether this is true in the world at large, but it is emphatically not true in the United States. The central government is accumulating power, here, and the sphere of personal autonomy is shrinking at a corresponding rate.

  26. He certainly has a right to hold those views, but it is false advertising to call them conservative.

    He’s right, you know. Property rights, freedom of association, and equal protection under the law have never really been Conservative values.

  27. …Mike Huckabee ragging, “CPAC has become increasingly libertarian and less Republican over the last years, one of the reasons I didn’t go this year.”

    You tell ’em Mike! There’s a reason why it’s called the Republican Political Action Committee.

    Wait, it’s not? Oh.

    1. Huckabee can go fuck himself. Oh whoops, that should be illegal too according to his book.

  28. I take these meetings as seriously as those of the Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, Urban League, Chamber of Commerce and PTA.

  29. HAHAHA Nick I love you but this triumphalism is soooo other-worldly as to make you a permanent ward of a mental institute. Do you have any idea how this country is actually governed? One hint: the federal register.

    There is no meaningful shrinkage of the state no matter which POLITICIANS are elected until I see the federal register actually shrinking. Thats it. Which entails burning down departments, firing bureaucrats and slashing books after books from the federal register. Oh and cutting spending. But as hard as cutting spending it, the federal register HAS NEVER BEEN SLASHED.

    Where come this triumphalism? Sure in ARGUMENT we have won. But in implementation, politics has crushed libertarianism since at least the departure of our beloved Calvin Coolidge

    1. Size of Fed. Reg. is not at all a good present indicator of gov’t growth. It’s much more an indicator of present federal gov’t size. The vast majority of stuff in Fed. Reg. is tweaks to what exists. Whether the tweaks are increasing or decreasing regulation, the changes have to be published.

    2. Please see the Daniel McCarthy takedown of Nick that he references here. In 2005, Nick was saying we should resign ourselves to a growthless socialist economy and hope only to console ourselves consuming cheese made from unpasteurized milk and recreational drugs while we gamble with hookers. Now the sky is the limit. Someone spiked his coffee.

  30. This article really bugged me for a while. Not in content, just in tone, but I couldn’t really get why.

    And then I thought back to my grim days as a dutiful little Republican (I was 14, lay off me). And I remembered reading a lot of stories EXACTLY like this in like National Review and such after 2004. “People we disagree with are becoming a minority!”, “Tide of history in our favor!”, etc. And that sure worked out well for them.

  31. And for that matter, for all that Republican analysis was obviously wrong/annoying, at least it followed an actual victory. What the hell has libertarianism won recently to justify any triumphalism?

    Sure seems like we’re trading command economies for corporate capitalism and old religious social controls for speech controls. I guess we’re not really worse in either case but we’re sure as hell not better.

    I just don’t see what has changed recently to justify this kind of article.

  32. social cons have lost

    They’re always losing, and they’ve never lost. Traditionalists will always have new lines to defend as social fads & fashions change.

  33. Technically a 3 legged stool is not wobbly if the legs are of different lengths. It still creates a plane. It may not be comfortable to sit on, but it’s not wobbly. A four legged chair is wobbly.

    Other than that, great piece. lol.

  34. In a historical way, libertarianism predates post-war conservatism. Libertarianism, with its emphasis on individual freedom, conscience, and responsibility, is the direct descendant of the classical liberalism that grew out of the English Civil War of the mid-17th century

    This!

    Excellent point.

  35. I’m not buying your triumphalism. libertarians are the only group advocating fiscal responsibility that has not, when given the opportunity, spent like Marines in Tijuana.

    But now the Tea Party is identified with Libertarians and (i) will fail like all the rest or (ii) succeed in solving the emergency and then give way to parties that advocate bossing people around.

  36. Since Libertarians occupy the fiscal conservatism circle, they’re getting more attention and validation than they’ve had in years. Being that many of them are so annoying on other issues, it can be grating to have them be center stage when they aren’t conservative in any other meaningful way. Still, that doesn’t mean that some ideas that had been out in libertarian land aren’t now mainstream conservative ideas — auditing the Fed comes to mind, cutting whole government departments comes to mind. Ideas that were once unthinkable are now at least being considered. How do we put these fiscally conservative ideas into practice?

    I’m sure you see where I’m going with this?

    Yeah, basically you’re going to have to keep at least a few libertarians around to demonstrate how their astounding technology works.

  37. “small-government movement includes fiscal cons, social cons, and defense cons. If these legs aren’t the same length, runs the implication, you get a wobbly seat”

    Er, not quite right. A three legged stool will not wobble if the legs are uneven; you’re thinking of FOUR legs. The point of the Reagan “tripod” is that you have three groups of not necessarily equal power that can nevertheless be happily united by adhering to Constitutional FEDERALISM. So the fiscal and defense cons get a lot of control at the federal level, while the social cons get to run amok at the state level. The problem is that when you reject federalism, you get “compassionate conservatives, aka “federal social conservatives,” who are fundamentally incompatible with the fiscal cons (primarily those of the libertarian persuasion).

  38. Since Libertarians occupy the fiscal conservatism circle, they’re getting more attention and validation than they’ve had in years.

    Well, there’s also that whole failed War on Drugs, soaring approval for medical marijuana and gay marriage, globalization of free trace… really the last 70 years have been one long empirical validation of libertarian principles.

    I don’t think most social conservatives understand that their movement is actually an offshoot of Progressivism — in the heyday of the 19th century classical liberal the government just didn’t enter into people’s lives much. It wasn’t until groups like the WCTU got behind the levers of power that government started punishing us for our own good.

  39. I am a social, fiscal, defense etc. conservative. As a Tea Partier and subscriber to Reason via my Kindle I greatly appreciate many of the Libertarian ideas. Heck, on Facebook I refer to myself as a “Conservatarian.” But I live in the Tucson area, specifically Gabrielle Gifford’s district and I curse the Libertarians who threw the election her way. Jesse Kelly was the best shot conservatives and Libertarians had of moving our ideas forward. The Libertarians voted for the supposed Libertarian candidate who didn’t have a chance in Hell of winning. If they had voted for Kelly instead, Giffords and her big spending liberal agenda would have lost. The difference in this election was the Libertarian vote. A pox be on your house, fools!

  40. Conservatives have lost.

    And Libertarians have lost even harder.

  41. Hmmmm… a libertarian who seemingly denies the basic premise of the U.S. Constitution, which sets up a federal government granted limited powers by the states, leaving those states freedom to govern themselves as they see fit. A libertarian who would impose his view of civil rights on an entire nation, irrespective of its citizens’ contrary wishes expressed repeatedly at the ballot box.

    Help me out here: who made Nick Gillespie king?

    1. Way to overread, Keppa Keppa Keppa. Gillespie is identifying a social trend, not advocating a federal position.

  42. The stool has not collapsed, there are debates within the party which are healthy, not a sign of weakness.

    And what is the 3 legged stool of Libertarianism? Legalized drugs, open borders and an isolationist foreign policy? How inspiring. At least Conservatives are in the arena fighting, Libertarians are sitting in the cheap seats and heckling both sides while doing nothing constructive.

    Sending Paulnuts to CPAC to heckle Dick Cheney and Donald Trump is not the sort of participation that leads to actual reform or accomplishment. You can take your condescending nonsense and shove it. Remember folks, more than a few people at Reason Magazine voted for Obama and would do it again.

  43. It never ceases to amaze me when liberals crow over the failures of republican liberals to do any better than democrat liberals, and then act like this failure of liberalism somehow invalidates conservative principles.

    Do you people ever listen to yourselves? You just proved that, no matter what party is in power, liberal ideas are doomed to failure!

    1. Well, well said Steve. This is effing ridiculous. Libertarians: “Bush and Republicans implemented/continued destructive (LIBERAL) policies. Therefore, Conservatism is wrong. We win.” C’mon Nick, please tell me you can do better than that. Pleeease, tell me.

  44. Nick Gillespie is right. It’s called CPAC, not LPAC. That’s why you’ll never see me there. I’m a Libertarian, not a Conservative.

  45. I will try to remember all of these arguments when I am watching BHO get sworn in again in 2013.

  46. I am unabashedly, unapologetically Conservative. But no, I am not a drone and lemming and my head does explode on frequent occasion from hearing some Conservatives talk about bud, nit pick on Obama’s golf time, or seeing the MRC’s pathetic, mind-boggling nit-pick crusades against GQ covers and MTV shows (REALLY?). Said folks do tremendous good on the whole, but such conduct does irreparable damage to Cons as well. Having said that, said levels of naivety and ignorance does not hold a candle to libertarians’ ignorance of culture wars, illegal immigration and Islamic terrorism. I am left speechless by how such a rational, intelligent person on economics can be so ignorant and irrational on other issues. Do libertarians REALLY think the live and let live mantra works? Take what you believe is the high road all you want, b/c you are essentially GUARANTEEING the left’s victory (or wait, judgmental radical right-wing Christians are equivalent to “moderate” Muslims who either a)outright condone or b)tacitly consent appalling terrorist behaviors by Muslims right?). There is a great series on American Thinker on this issue. Please do read, and forget that I said so. http://www.americanthinker.com…..n_liv.html

    1. That’s fine. I’d rather we as Libertarians lose elections and keep our self-respect. Especially if winning means being anything like the Liberal and Conservative establishments who are equally to blame for the deterioration of our country.

    2. All I know is, there are emerging majorities out there – nationwide and in select states – that are favoring full marriage benefits for gay couples or legalization of pot. More and more people, while they have their personal opinions on certain social issues, don’t care how others live their lives and don’t wish to impose their personal code of conduct upon them. These people, myself included, want a truce called in the culture war and want a society that John Stuart Mill would have wanted to live in, where you’re free to do whatever, as long as no one else is harmed.

      Trouble is, these people are either: a) apathetic to voting; b) holding their noses and voting for the religious-zealot-ass-kissing conservative Republican; or c) refuse to vote because they’re disgusted by the “if you’re not 100% for us you’re against us” polarization of politics. If we can only get these people motivated, if someone can put together a flashy multimillion-dollar promotional campaign on behalf of the Libertarians, we just MIGHT turn the tide, slowly but surely.

  47. Ainr gonna find Pride in a mans asshole.

    1. “Ainr gonna find Pride in a mans asshole.”

      But your sister’s butt was just fine, wasn’t it?

  48. What this whole thing shows is that most libertarians are not prepared to play in the big leagues, and perhaps not even interested in it.

    Hey look, we have this huge Tea Party movement that provides common ground between conservatives and libertarians, but a lot of those people are social conservatives. I know, let’s shit all over them to prove we’re better!

    Good job, Nick, et al. You’re geniuses. If you want to only associate with people who agree with you about everything, then you shouldn’t be at CPAC, or dealing with the Republicans at all. This displays nothing less than a determination to squander the best opportunity libertarians have had in a long time to actually make inroads on policy.

    The Democrats would put libertarians in re-education camps and burn every piece of Ayn Rand’s writing if they could get away with it. Conservatives open the door, and this is what happens. Pathetic.

    1. I think what the Libertarian Party needs is an image makeover. Someone with deep pockets should put together a flashy, hip, modern promotional campaign showcasing the LP as the best of both worlds, fiscally conservative but socially laissez-faire.

      And we need an animal mascot. If the LP can’t get in the editorial cartoons to mingle with the elephant and donkey, then we’ll never really be in the big leagues. (Admittedly, this is coming from the standpoint of a cartoonist.)

      1. The battle has passed the LP behind. The action is now with the TEAs.

  49. Has anyone else noticed that there seem to be many self proclaimed conservatives posting on this story? They’re all using handles that I’ve never or rarely seen commenting on H&R.

    Hey, conservatives, who sent you here? Which radio talkshow host or conservative blogger issued your orders to comment on this article?

    1. The article is about CPAC. That might have something to do with it…

  50. For information on world Libertarianism at work or to share your project, please see http;//www.Libertarian-International.org

  51. Nick,

    I believe we won the Iraq war. Iraq has been turned over to its citizens. They have a representative government vs a dictatorship.

    Afghanistan is still in doubt.

    Like the war against communism the war against radical Islam will be a long one. Patience grasshopper.

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