Here is the difference: a political party is a label you wear on the outside, and a political philosophy is a label you wear on the inside. One is what you join, and one is who you are.
Democrats suffer from some peculiar form of self-loathing which prevents them from describing themselves as “liberals”, even though they are; and they recoil at the term “socialist” despite it accurately describing their agenda.
And Republicans have no difficulty whatsoever in proclaiming themselves to be “conservatives” and “capitalists”; in fact they boast about it. Their dysfunction comes later when it is time to actually do something conservative or capitalist.
It is no surprise that a full third of the American electorate now self-identifies as independent. The conventional wisdom holds that we independents can’t decide if we are liberal or conservative and end up stuck somewhere in the middle.
While it might be that some people find it hard to decide which party to vote for, it is hard to believe there are many people who can’t decide who they are. In fact, I don’t know anyone who can’t decide if they are liberal or conservative - do you?
It is fitting that mixing red and blue produces the color of a bruise. A quarter century of pandering politicians “moving to the middle” has delivered to us the worst of both worlds – a permanent welfare/warfare state that is bankrupting us both economically and morally.
However, there is a different and more important middle; and that is the space between conservative and libertarian on the continuum. Let’s call it conservatarian. Many thousands of readers of this column aren’t certain if they are conservative libertarians or libertarian-leaning conservatives. This conservatarian middle is what wins elections these days - need convincing?
Conservatarian is the space claimed by the Tea Party that sent a record number of reformers to Washington, D.C. and state capitols around the nation in 2010.
Conservatarian is the gravitational pull that compelled even establishment RINO’s to vote to audit the Federal Reserve.
Conservatarian is the energy that made Ron Paul the last man standing against Romney when all the others fell by the wayside.
Conservatarians are the reason Wisconsin’s Governor is named Walker.
Some people can’t see past the things that divide libertarians and conservatives; and there are indeed enough to warrant the two different nameplates. But I prefer to focus on the things that unite us, because when we are united we win elections.
And when we win elections we at least give ourselves a chance to restore liberty as our nation’s first principle instead of just writing about how nice it would be to live free again someday.
Polling has shown that Americans, by a 2:1 margin, want less government, not more. Less government is the bedrock conservatarian ideal – we are the 2 and liberals are the 1. While libertarians and conservatives may differ about how much less, we both want a whole lot less of the stuff than we have now.
Free trade, individual liberty, sound money, school choice, lower taxes, a fairer tax system, family sovereignty, gun rights, religious freedom, Constitutionally limited government, tenth amendment, property rights – conservatarians are united in support of these things.
The welfare state, warrantless seizure, world government, crony corporatism, nationalized industry, nanny-statism, vote-rigging, corruption, excessive regulation, sovereign debt, central banking, “nation-building”, bailouts, TSA, and forced unionization – conservatarians are united in opposition to these things.
President Ronald Reagan ran twice as a conservatarian, extolling the virtues of freedom and American exceptionalism while railing against government. He did not hide his libertarian leanings when appealing to conservatives, and he did not disguise his conservative values when appealing to libertarians. You may recall that he pummeled the liberal establishment…twice.
That liberal establishment is in decline; but for its iron grip on a shamelessly tanked media, progressivism would have long ago joined utopianism and communism into the “nice try” category of epic fails that sounded good but delivered misery.
My liberal friends will naturally dispute that claim, conveniently ignoring the fact that the states in the most desperate fiscal condition are the bluest and cities closest to implosion are the ones with the longest history of one-party rule. Hint: it is not the Libertarian Party.
Their excuses for why their political philosophy has not worked all boil down to “you did not give us enough of your money”. Right…and the reason my bacon diet did not work is that you did not give me enough of your bacon.
Conservatives who fear that we libertarians are some kind of mutant libertine/anarchist hybrid from a different galaxy should take a good look at Governor Gary Johnson’s record in New Mexico. If vetoing bills were an Olympic sport, he would need three more necks just to hold all the medals.
Or better yet, look at his campaign platform – he is our Libertarian Party candidate for President – and tell me specifically where the presumptive GOP nominee has a more conservative position. Here is an appetizer to pique your interest: Johnson would overturn Roe v Wade.
Every election brings up the specter of the 3rd party “spoiler”. Listen, if every single conservatarian – conservative, libertarian, and “tweener” – goes out and votes their conscience, then President Obama will be crushed.
Whether it is 70-30 or 60-30-10 does not change the mandate. In fact, a strong Libertarian Party showing across the country would help keep the shallow-rudder GOP from drifting once they get back in power.
So what about you? Can’t decide if you are a libertarian conservative or a conservative libertarian? Don’t worry – just call yourself a conservatarian and let the political parties join you.
“Moment of Clarity” is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim’s website www.timnerenz.com to find your moment.