Cheap shots can be expensive . . .

A primary reason I blog is to oppose people who want to run our lives for us. Liberal activists, the MSM, and some of the louder, shriller (do I hear "triumphant"?) religious conservatives I count as among those who want to run our lives. A principle difference between the MSM, though, and religious conservatives, is that the latter need to win in order to run anything.

So I found it depressing to see (via Glenn Reynolds) apparent confirmation of one of my depressing theories -- that religious conservatives (especially the type I've criticized for wanting the Republican Party to lose) not only think they're running the Republican Party, but feel justified in hurling insults at libertarians.

....triumphalism permeated the proceedings. The Republicans, having just held the presidency and consolidated power in Congress, are perhaps entitled to some gloating. But out-and-out arrogance was the order of the conference, as well, and that is what threatens to undo Republican gains in the long term.

Arrogance toward Democrats isn't the problem -- though that was everywhere, from Ann Coulter's conservative stand-up routine (kind of a Republican version of "You might be a redneck if…" delivered to wildly cheering fans) to the popular t-shirt slogan, "What blue states? I only see red?"

No, the arrogance that will prove problematic, ultimately, was that directed at the libertarian-leaning conservatives by the social conservatives.

What a pity.

They're forgetting that in a democracy, they need to win. They need to build and maintain coalitions. Such coalitions are anathema to the people who opposed Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I think they'd rather lose than see people like him win. The sort of coalition proposed by QandO would help avert this impending loss:

...."socially tolerant, fiscally conservative" moderates as Schwarzenegger, and Rudy Giuliani may prove unbeatable on the national stage. If we want to remain a voice within the GOP, I suspect we'll need to hitch our wagon to their coalition, while we still have some political capital. Such a coalition will require uncomfortable compromises, but I really don't see any other possible alliances.
(And, BTW, Ramesh Ponnuru, in his dismissal of anti-government conservatives during the 1995-1996 period, in my view too quickly forgets the pivotal role played by the media spin of the Oklahoma City bombing.)

I couldn't agree more with Glenn Reynolds' statement:

I think that a shift toward religious conservatism is likely to cost the Republicans votes.
Not only is it going to cost them votes, it's going to cost them big time in terms of lost energy. There are plenty of small "l" libertarians who believe in getting along with people, but once it becomes clear that there's no getting along, a sort of "screw-em!" mentality develops. Once it becomes mutual, it's too late.

There are signs it's getting ugly, and mutually so. As Bill at INDC Journal puts it:

I would advise all of my respected socially conservative friends and fellow bloggers to take note: a lurch towards sane national defense and fiscal policy by a charismatic Dem or three (it could happen), coupled with one too many sneering "RINO" jokes from you hard righties, and this moderate - and many like me - are gone. One day we'll simply snap, our better judgment overwhelmed by a wacky sense of humor and stewing anger, and you'll wake up to a nightmarish world where the senior senator from Mass rides into the sunset as SecState and Billary is floating doomed socialized medicine schemes out of the Oval again.
If libertarian-minded Republicans get pissed off enough, they'll start agreeing with the Democratic position that the religious conservatives are running the show. They might not vote for the Dems, but the psychological fallout will be devastating, because the Democrats know how to capitalize on it. In my view, the key to Democratic victory in the near future will be to portray the Republican Party as in the death grip of religious conservatives.

In this way, demoralized libertarian Republicans will help the other party even if they still vote Republican. Voter psychology works that way. The American people are centrist and tend towards libertarian conservatism. (Note that more than one-third of Bush voters favored legal abortion in one form or another.) But if they think the Republican Party has been taken over by shrill Alan Keyes types, they'll simply decide they've had enough of them for awhile, and they'll vote Democrat.

Demoralized libertarian Republicans are therefore worse for the Republican Party than are demoralized religious conservatives. Assuming demoralized religious conservatives don't sit the election out, they make the Republican Party look more reasonable and centrist with their sulking and griping. Libertarian sulking and griping, on the other hand, makes the party look far worse in the eyes of the voters.

Now, while I admit my bias as a small "l" libertarian, I think this boils down not to what I want, but simple arithmetic. Almost math.

And my math tells me that pissed off libertarians hurt the Republican cause much more than pissed off religious conservatives.

How much does it really cost not to insult people, anyway?

posted by Eric on 02.23.05 at 07:31 PM


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Can both conservative and libertarian Republicans share a weekend at a political convention without driving each other crazy?... [Read More]
Tracked on February 24, 2005 9:40 AM


It's not just libertarians. I am a strong, non-libertarian, conservative- or classical liberal, supporter of the President and the Republican party--but I am not a believer in God. Like another conservative, the poet Philip Larkin, I view religion as "that vast moth eaten musical brocade, designed to tell us that we never die". The notion that one cannot be a conservative unless one possesses religious faith is absurd, and if the Republican party adopts that ideology it will lose a lot of support.

Stephen   ·  February 23, 2005 10:54 PM

I have no problem with believing in God, and I do myself. But to attach religious belief to partisan politics -- especially specific deities and their alleged texts -- is to court disaster. Such "Party of God" nonsense is what this country was founded AGAINST.

BTW, I don't believe in the Great Tyrant in the Sky, the Bigot God of 9/11, whatever you want to call that angry demonic deity. But to some people, tyranny is the essence of "God," and refusal to believe in a tyrannical God is heresy. Republicans who think this way tend to be at odds with with the First Amendment, as well as this country's founding -- so they seek to rewrite both to suit the demands of their tyrannical God.

Which is one reason why I'm proud to call myself a Pagan.

Eric Scheie   ·  February 24, 2005 9:39 AM

Republicans will continue to diss libertarians with impunity until you stop trashing imagined enemies like the Clintons, calling Kerry a Commie, and turning up your nose at the valid interests of the rest of us; and start facing reality, seeing where your real interests lie, and forming a coherent and relevant vision that ordinary Americans will appreciate.

Stop acting so comically surprised - us libruls have been seeing the far-right's threat to our liberties, and their growing dominance of the GOP, at least since 1980. You could have joined forces with us then, but you were too busy idolizing Ayn Rand, worshipping unscrupulous businessmen as demigods, sneering at religious faiths you clearly did not understand, and otherwise making yourselves irrelevant. If the Republicans don't respect you the morning after you bent over for them, you have only yourselves to blame.

Raging Bee   ·  February 24, 2005 9:46 AM

I admire Ayn Rand -- and Whittaker Chambers and E. Merrill Root. Thomas Molnar and Alain de Benoist. I am a Religious Conservative Libertarian. I am Libertarian in that I am for more individual freedom and responsibility and for less government. I am Religious in that I believe that individual freedom, rights, and responsibility come from above, from a Divine order. I am Conservative in that I want to conserve these values, this polarity, this tension, Individual Freedom and Divine Order, and, therefore, that civilization which has expressed this tension of these values more than any other, i.e., the high culture of the West, within which America is now the freest and mightiest nation. I have recently completed a post on the style of the Right, dealing precisely with this tension.

Polytheistic Godliness, Selfishness, Sexiness. Conservative Lesbian Individualist Theology. The Ego striving for the Infinite.

So, Cato, how does our current President, or today's GOP, uphold the values you just listed above?

Raging Bee   ·  February 25, 2005 10:05 AM

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