Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham: 'Count me in' on Libertarian Ideas, Our Differences Are 'Tactical'

2016 in one Lindsey Graham interview


Glenn Fawcett/DOD

There may be not a single true Scotsman libertarian in the running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, but candidates—announced, putative, longshot—are paying lip service, or positioning themselves as champions against it, like never before.

There could be a handful of senators you might identify as libertarianish—you can hash it out in the comments—but would Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) come to mind? His ideological soulmate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who likened libertarianish political figures like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), or "whoever," to "wacko birds." But Graham says, sure, libertarians might be loud, but it's just a tactical difference. Graham's with libertarians.

From a Gazette profile that begins "Call Lindsey Graham the adult in the room":

"Libertarians want smaller government. Count me in. Libertarians want oversight of government programs and making sure that your freedoms are not easily compromised. Count me in. Ted Cruz wants to fight Obamacare. Count me in," Graham says.

"Our view of limited government and free enterprise is pretty commonly shared," he continues. "What we wind up doing is having tactical differences."

One difference is that for Graham, regardless of the issue, "I want to fix it rather than yell about it."

Or just say "shut up." Lindsey Graham, like a lot of Republicans in and out of office, is comfortable talking the talk about "smaller government" and freedoms "not easily compromised," but from the war on terror—which Graham without a doubt wants to expand—to growing federal budgets, something Republicans have barely, if at all, tried to stop, Republicans too are a party of big government.

In the Gazette profile, Graham says he'd run on experience, not rhetoric—though he's obviously not above using that too—something we'll hear from candidates on both sides, especially those with lifetimes in public service. It'll be Vice President Joe Biden's pitch if he runs. And like with Biden, Graham's got a long history in the Congress, so there's nary a problem he insists he'll be able to "fix" that hasn't been there along with him for decades.

Expect a 2016 field, on both sides, flooded with candidates like this, touting their experience watching whatever's "wrong" with America happen from their positions in Washington for decades as credentials for "running" the country, and ready to rhetorically appropriate whatever popular or useful ideology might be hanging there for the taking.