We all have pre-conceived notions about each other. Liberals have the cliche jabs they toss at us. And, we have our own for them. So, what if you were asked to define conservatism in a few words? Chances are, if you’re a conservative, the phrases you might throw out there would be…less government, lower taxes, Constitution, Traditional Marriage, Pro-Life…right? That being said, how might a conservative define the liberty movement?
I’m guessing that its probably common for a conservative to associate “libertarianism” with…pot heads, sex addicts, legalizing drugs, fiscally conservative liberals…got you pegged?
Well, if I just described you, you might need to adjust your thinking. The liberty movement has infiltrated conservatism, and they ain’t goin’ nowhere.
Check this out. Here are a couple of political labels that can be synonymous with libertarianism.
Tea Party = Libertarian
Constitutional Conservative = Libertarian
Here are the names of some big-name Libertarian politicians- Ronald Reagan, Ron Paul, Ted Cruz, Justin Amash.
The pro-drug, sex-crazed picketers might be a prominent group that labels themselves as libertarian, but libertarianism, at its core, is simple and fundamental. Put simply, libertarians stand for free markets, limited government, and noninterventionist foreign policy.
I was fortunate enough to attend a session at CPAC called “The Liberty Movement and its Role at CPAC 2013.”
Panelists included Nena Bartlett, the Executive Director of Ladies of Liberty Alliance, Dr. Merrill Matthews, Resident Scholar for the Institute for Policy Innovation, Peter Schiff, Host of “The Peter Schiff Show,” and Doug Stafford, Chief of Staff in Senator Rand Paul’s office.
Doug Stafford said, “The Liberty Movement needs to be the conscience of the conservative movement to make sure they stay at their roots.” His boss, good ol’ Rand Paul, the talk of the nation, has taken the approach of infiltrating the Republican Party to, like Doug said, be the Republican Party’s conscience in actually bringing them back to their roots.
Rand is a conservative libertarian – just this week he proposed a bill called, “Life at Conception Act.” Only about 20% of Libertarians are liberal, so the majority of Libertarians are actually conservative. More liberal Libertarians will sometimes scoff at the conservative Libertarians who vote Republican, rather than voting 3rd party, but both types of Libertarians can see eye to eye on a number of issues.
Nena Bartlett posed the question, “Does being a registered Republican mean anything more than being able to vote for a Republican in the Republican primaries?” These days, I’d say no.
The truth is, Washington is full of RINO’s. After this breakout session, I tweeted, “One of the #CPAC panelists just said he’d rather have a Democrat in office than a RINO. Thoughts?” and one of my friends asked, “What is a RINO?”
RINOs are “republicans who have abandoned all conservative principles,” as Merrill put it.
Many answered my tweet echoing the sentiment of the CPAC panelist saying they’d rather have a Democrat, because at least then, you know what you’re in for.
So, why does this liberty movement have such a following? Many speculate that libertarians like Rand have gotten the attention of young people, around the country, because this group is one that stands for principle rather than politician.
Libertarians seem to be more authentic than Republicans and that works for the younger generation as Generation X/Y prizes authenticity above all else.
Merrill Matthews said, “What is important to a political party is not necessarily what’s important to an idealogical movement.” He went on to give some examples, “For a political party, its unity that’s important. For an idealogical movement, diversity is important. We want different ideas, we want different inputs in there. We want people bringing new and fresh ideas.”
“For a political party, the candidate or the elected official is whats important. Political parties are willing to put up with lousy ideas, scandals, and ethically challenged people…’But its OUR candidate, so we have to stand behind that person’…For a movement, its the ideas that are important. Not the candidate or the party elected official. And for the political party, compromise is often necesarry. For a movement, compromise is often a bad word.”
So, can a lifelong Republican fit into the libertarian category? Absolutely. Someone involved in the tea party or anyone who often quotes the founding fathers and pushes for limited government, fits right in.
Nena Bartlett said, “Although I am a Republican, I didn’t choose the Republican Party. I would say it’s that that the Republican Party chose me through candidates like Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Justin Amash.”
As she became more involved in politics, she said she realized that telling a Republican that she was a Libertarian was like “admitting to some sort of dangerous addiction.”
We can all admit that conservatism is going to become extinct, unless something changes. Libertarians aren’t like these RINO’s who are fighting to undo the fundamental ideas that make Republicans conservative. Libertarians simply want to appeal to all groups in an area we can all agree – our need for LESS government.
Democrats everywhere were cheering Rand on, during his 13-hour filibuster. Why? Because he was standing (literally) for something that most all of us can agree on. So, it’s not time for us to lower our standards or to change our views. It’s time for us to embrace others within the conservative bubble. Libertarians and Tea Partiers and Republicans and Right-leaning Independents must work together on common ground if we want to move forward.
How would you define your political affiliation?