If I may strain a strained analogy, how many "legs" are under the Tea Party "stool"?

As I've said before, if conservatism is a "three-legged stool" (as Robert Knight claimed not long ago), then I don't have a reliable conservative stool to sit on, because I don't like the traditional values "leg."

But what I'm trying to figure out is where it says I have to have this alleged stool. Assume conservatism is a stool and I don't like that leg. Where do I go with that? Not sit on the stool? I don't really call myself a conservative, but if liberals want to call me that I'll accept it as an insult, and attempt to defend myself even though it isn't my label.

Yet still, I want to know more about the leg I don't like. What are its elements?

  • Intolerance of homosexuality?
  • The demand that fertilized eggs be treated as human beings, and that women who kill them be treated as murderers?
  • The insistence on imprisoning (or even executing) human beings for consensual crimes involving consumption of disapproved substances?
  • The demand that church and state be united together?
  • As I have explained in innumerable posts, I don't believe in those things. And not only I have never claimed to be a conservative, I have said a number of times that if those things constitute conservatism, then I am not.

    What are the consequences of that? Is it like, there's a rule that says "No stool for you, you bad bad libertarian?"

    As I say, it's not a huge deal for me if I am not allowed to call myself a conservative.

    But I think I can fairly call myself a libertarian (if a small-l one), as the various political tests show that's the best label for me. And in addition to being a libertarian, I am also a supporter of the Tea Party movement.

    The other day, I saw a post Glenn linked which was titled "The Tea Party Needs to Stick Together." That's a sentiment I agree with wholeheartedly, and I even said so recently in a post about attempts to ban certain dog breeds:

    There are plenty of nuts on the right who libertarians think are nuts, and plenty of libertarians who think those who think libertarians are nuts are nuts. And there are plenty more people on the left who think that not only are the former and the latter both nuts, but they are nuts who should be demonized.

    Demonized nuts need to stick together. It's the old hang-together-or-hang-separately principle.

    So, not only do I have absolutely no problem with an alliance between libertarians and social conservatives, I think that what makes the Tea Party movement so powerful and dangerous to the rulers is that it has been able to bring together a broad coalition of people who might disagree with each other (and in some cases even hate each other), but who find common ground on three basic issues:

    Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets.

    If you have a problem with the above, then clearly the Tea Party is not for you.

    But I have been to plenty of Tea Party meetings and events, and found plenty of libertarians like myself, plenty of social conservatives with whom I know I would disagree if I wanted to waste time debating social issues, as well as an impressive number of Ron Paul anti-war type libertarians with whom I would also probably disagree on defense issues if I wanted to waste time on them.

    It never occurred to me to worry about the three-legged conservative "stool" in the context of the Tea Party, because the Tea Party is not a stool, but a coalition.

    If I had to depict it, it might take the form of Venn diagram of at least four rings, overlapping to various degrees, the overlapping area being of course the above Tea Party principles.

    So, while I agree with Wendy Wright's assertion that "The Tea Party Needs to Stick Together," I think the best way to do that is to stress the common areas of overlapping agreement, rather than insist upon making a strained analogy between this broad and decentralized movement and the conservative stool (itself a strained analogy):

    Tea Partiers are not much different from the foot soldiers of the Reagan Revolution, who were not driven by political party as much as by concern that our own government was causing our country to deteriorate by weakening our military, economy, families and standing in the world.

    The Reagan coalition generally fell into three camps: 1) People concerned about national security, 2) Others worried about economic issues, and 3) Those alarmed by a breakdown in morality, family, and religion (with abortion embodying an assault on all three).

    They became known as the three legs of the conservative movement, joined together like the three legs of a stool. But it would be a mistake to think that these three legs linked together out of political expediency. That would imply that the legs are separate and any one could be replaced or removed and the movement could still succeed.

    A coalition is by definition agreement upon a common goal, which in the case of Ronald Reagan was the election of Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan did not demand that the component members of his coalition agree with each other, nor did their mutual presence in a coalition supporting him mean that the issues were necessarily interrelated.

    Any more than it means that an anti-gay Tea Partier has to agree with a pro-gay Tea Partier, that a Ron Paul anti-war Tea Partier has to agree with a conservative Tea Partier he would call a "Neocon," that an anti-drug war Tea Partier has to agree with a pro-drug war Tea Partier, or a pro-abortion Tea Partier has to agree with an anti-abortion Tea Partier. The point of the coalition is mutual agreement on Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets. Those who want to do things like picket Planned Parenthood and adult bookstores, or protest the military-industrial complex, Neocon war machine, cannot reasonably expect to see their protests become Tea Party events, and to the extent they do, they diminish the effectiveness of the coalition.

    In the case of the Tea Party, then, it strikes me as simple logic that if divergent views in a coalition have to be seen as analogous to legs on a stool, then the Tea Party stool has a number of legs -- legs which might be incompatible, even contradictory, but which agree on the common goal of supporting the stool.

    So, while I am not sure the stool analogy is a good one, if there is a Tea Party stool, it has a lot of legs, and the more the better. But it would be foolish to claim that these legs are philosophically interconnected beyond their common goal. If I work with someone who favors the drug war because we agree on the Tea Party principles, does that mean that my opposition to the drug war has to somehow be philosophically interconnected with his favoring of it? Why? As long as he doesn't have to agree with me, and I don't have to agree with him, I don't see a major problem.

    There is one thing that I think is an emerging problem for the Tea Party movement, though. In the recent election, some of the Tea Party candidates had views which -- rightly or wrongly -- were widely perceived as going beyond Tea Party principles, and those candidates lost.

    I think if they had done a better job of sticking to Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets, they might have won.

    (I'd say that some legs seem to think they're more important than the stool, except I much prefer the Venn diagram to the stool analogy. And if we must speak in terms of stools, how do we know there is only one? Might it be worth asking how many stools are sitting on the Tea Party's legs?)

    UPDATE: Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all.

    BTW, I like the email Glenn quoted that said "Our stool only has one big stake driven deep into the bedrock -- Quit spending all the money!" That analogy forces me to ask another question: "how many 'legs' does a flagpole need?"

    Comments appreciated, agree or disagree. (Likewise, conspiracy theories are cordially entertained....)

    AND MORE: Glenn Reynolds updates his post and noted (in response to a comment that libertarians are "always too busy taking and complaining to do any work") that I was out campaigning -- which I was.

    If only we libertarians could campaign the way we complain, the world would be a better place!

    posted by Eric on 11.03.10 at 02:23 PM










    Comments

    3) Those alarmed by a breakdown in morality, family, and religion (with abortion embodying an assault on all three

    I absolutely disagree with that.

    The Moral Majority (yes, it was neither, sigh) and the rest of the religious right tried to glom on and scared the hell out of me, but it was 1) and 2) (defense and fiscal sanity) that drove Reagan's coalition.
    Ronnie did not harp on religion, when I think of his greatest speeches and quotes, none of them involve religion.
    He was a Hollywood actor, their morality isn't the religious right's.
    They're not even in the same sport much less the same ballpark.
    Ronnie didn't fight abortion, he fought commies both foreign and domestic.

    Veeshir   ·  November 3, 2010 2:51 PM

    Umm. No, Veeshir. He was also socially conservative (or at least talked that way).

    Reagan on abortion.

    As a small-l libertarian (I'm a bit hawkish), I'm perfectly willing to form a coalition with the third leg, AS LONG as they are up there with the "Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets."

    However, many socons are jumping into the tea party just because they don't like the Democrat's social progressiveness. And couldn't care less about fiscal conservatism. And I want them OUT.

    Kathy Kinsley   ·  November 3, 2010 4:09 PM

    FWIW, here's Reagan on libertarianism:

    http://reason.com/archives/1975/07/01/inside-ronald-reagan/

    ***QUOTE***

    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.

    ***END QUOTE***

    Eric Scheie   ·  November 3, 2010 4:56 PM

    Kathy,

    I seem to recall that RR signed off on a bill legalizing abortion in CA.

    He became "socially conservative" when he was on the national stage. And one of his best friends died in the arms of his mistress. While RR was President.

    RR was also stepping out on his wife before he divorced her and married the other woman. Pretty socially conservative that.

    =====

    I do like social conservatives - a lot. OTOH they are like liberals in so many ways: "we need a government solution for...."

    Which just shows their lack of imagination and faith.

    See 1 Samuel 8.

    ====

    And of course we have the social conservative "solution" to some people's problems with some drugs. A solution which has turned Mexico into a narco state. Which finances criminals in America. Which finances the Taliban in Afghanistan. And worst of all it has lead to the great popularity of rap music.

    ====

    I have no faith (heh) that social conservatives believe in small government any more than liberals do.

    But social conservatives are crafty. It is always "I believe in small government "except for...." and then the liberals chime in: "I have a few exceptions in mind too." And we are off to the races.

    M. Simon   ·  November 3, 2010 5:13 PM

    And Kathy,

    Where exactly is the Drug Prohibition Amendment?

    M. Simon   ·  November 3, 2010 5:19 PM

    "Where exactly is the Drug Prohibition Amendment?"

    Don't give them ideas. We might eventually get it declared unconstitutional if we're lucky in future judges.

    Certainly doesn't seem that we can convince the populace that they long since lost that war.

    Kathy Kinsley   ·  November 3, 2010 5:35 PM

    Btw, Eric - I don't actually really like most who style themselves as 'social conservatives' primarily. I do get along fine with libertarians with socially conservative ideas, since they want to use social pressure, not laws (fine with me).

    And I agree completely with M. Simon on "But social conservatives are crafty. It is always "I believe in small government "except for...." and then the liberals chime in: "I have a few exceptions in mind too." And we are off to the races."

    I'd love to see a different party split... the "Government RULEZ" party and the "LEAVE US ALONE" party. There'd be some candidates I could actually vote FOR.

    Kathy Kinsley   ·  November 3, 2010 5:40 PM

    I have posted my questions about evidence of brain function and that tended to bring an abrupt and sudden halt to discussion. What I have not posted are my questions for those who propose that every fertilized egg is a human soul.
    The Christian faith teaches that the human body is simply a vessel for the immortal soul. A lump of clay is not a vessel until it is shaped and formed. It must be able to hold what it was designed for. It is usually taught that the mind and the soul are different and distinct yet inexplicably linked. How can there be free will or decision making without a mind? Consider that many fertilized eggs never implant or are spontaneously aborted and consider too the cases of human chimeras. On rare occasions two fertilized eggs implant too close together and fuse to become one embryo. This can and does result in a normal appearing person with two distinct sets of DNA. Google ‘I am my own twin” and ask yourself ‘If every fertilized egg is a human soul how could two souls become one person?’ Don’t let someone else drag you into their dogmatic groupthink. Understand first and foremost, none of us are all-knowing; none of us are God. Ask, seek, study, and make sure you don’t act like you are.

    We can have discourse, if we ask rational questions; rather than use the disagreement for our own ends.

    Will   ·  November 3, 2010 5:50 PM

    Will - that's an interesting point. But I'm probably not the one to ask. I have the same questions. (And yes, I have asked about some of those, though I hadn't known about the 2 sets of DNA thing.) I'll certainly look that up and ask that question elsewhere.

    My faith(?), btw, is that I simply don't KNOW. So it goes. I'm a militant agnostic. "Prove your god exists" or "Prove no god(s) exist(s)" (unlike most, I'm agnostic on all religions - not just the one I was brought up in). Can't really be done - either way - so I don't know.

    Anyway - as far as this election goes... all I have to say, The Who said long ago.

    Kathy Kinsley   ·  November 3, 2010 6:42 PM

    The stool analogy stinks.

    M. Simon   ·  November 3, 2010 6:59 PM

    I have no doubt that there is a God. He talks to me all the time. And the advice is invariably good.

    But it could also be my mild schizophrenia.

    M. Simon   ·  November 3, 2010 7:04 PM

    I am not trying to gain control over anyone with my questions, thoughts, and ideas. I know I'm not smart enough to offer an easy; or any other kind of answer. I just hope to someday see the debate taken away from the demagogues.
    Is there a God? Let me just say that if there is, I'm not Him, and I know it.

    Will   ·  November 3, 2010 7:17 PM

    I would like to think of the movement as being more like a bicycle wheel with multiple spokes, the tension on each having to be tuned precisely, so that the wheel can work as a balanced and strong wheel.
    sorry for the run-on sentence:)

    Daniel Fielding Smith   ·  November 3, 2010 8:49 PM

    So what happened to the big tent? I'm with Simon, a stool analogy reminds me of...never mind.

    Frank   ·  November 3, 2010 11:44 PM

    I more or less agree with much of your point of view except for : The demand that church and state be united together?

    I don't recall ever hearing such a demand outside of Muslim countries. Please cite.

    Choey   ·  November 3, 2010 11:54 PM

    The social conservatives are tag-ons with no actual political power -- they willingly destroyed the Reagan Coalition because they couldn't accept that (l)ibertarians could have any moral standing -- c.f. the scads of editorials in conservativeland, ca. 2002-2008.

    Given a chance, they will do exactly the same to the Tea Party, and the TPs leaders are both justified and correct in repudiating any notion that social conservatism is a necessary part of the movement.

    BoxingAlcibiades   ·  November 3, 2010 11:55 PM

    Excellent post.

    Right after Obama won the 2008 election, I said that it would take a coalition of Libertarians and Social Conservatives to reverse course. We must find common ground an work from there.

    Take, for instance, the federal funding of abortions. Social conservatives will oppose federal funding of abortions because abortion is an abomination. Similarly, Libertarians will oppose federal funding of abortions because federal funding is an abomination.

    While I am split on social issues (oppose abortion, support gay rights), I agree that the Tea Party movement must be free of such distinctions. It is the common ground that we seek to return the role of government to the proper size and price tag.

    Terry   ·  November 4, 2010 12:00 AM

    Where do you get the misguided idea that conservatives want state and church to be united?!!!!

    Have you not read the Constitution?!!

    Are you reflexively assuming, as do all progs, that any call for what is right and good is a call for the state to impose this by force?!

    I used to frequent this blog. Now I wonder what has happened to it.

    qrstuv   ·  November 4, 2010 12:05 AM

    I think your characterizations of SoCons are somewhat harsh. I consider myself a SoCon, and (point by point) I don't hate homosexuals--my oldest and dearest friend is a lesbian (yeah, I know), and my parents had many gays in their circle of friends; whatever I may think about fertilized eggs, I'd venture to guess that you are not an extreme pro-abort (which I define as someone who is for abortion on demand and without apology, including partial-birth abortion and government-funded abortion) and that we could undoubtedly find a middle ground on the issue; I am very uneasy about the Drug War, though I do believe that drugs harm society as a whole (very like booze); and I certainly don't want to live in a theocracy.

    All that being said, I think my views are fairly typical among SoCons. Sure, there's the usual proportion of nutters and extremists, as is true of any movement (presumably you would not wish me to judge the homosexual community based on NAMBLA, right?), but I think it's important to distinguish between what people believe would be the basis of their ideal society, and how much they are willing to use the state to enforce it: even most folks I know who express a desire for a more church-centered society aren't ready to merge church and state (since most of them are evangelicals, they see that as a Catholic thing and therefore suspect).

    So I think your concerns about SoCons are somewhat...overstated. Just, y'know, sayin'.

    David Hecht   ·  November 4, 2010 12:11 AM

    > Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets.

    Very well said. I have never identified myself either as a Republican or as a Conservative, because in the last few decades these terms have had a strong social-conservative component. I have no problem with social conservatives or social liberals arguing forcefully for their positions in *society*, but the tea party needs to stick to the narrow sphere of *government* -- and focus on making it narrower and narrower. Get more and more of the social stuff, liberal or conservative, out of the government and focus on "Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets"

    reader   ·  November 4, 2010 12:15 AM

    Do I hate homosexuals? No... I just don't think same-sex marriage is right or necessary. Let them have a civil union.

    I'm big time pro-life but think that changing the law will do no good... it's hearts and minds that we can change because we are right and good.

    Drug use should be de-criminalized but society doesn't need to embrace widespread use of very harmful drugs like crack cocaine, meth or heroin.

    I don't want religion in government but I don't want Christianity excluded either. A prayer at a high school graduation is not the same as preaching in the classroom.

    Roux   ·  November 4, 2010 12:16 AM

    As for intolerance of gays and lesbians, certainly there are conservatives who have a hard time with that, but social conservatism, i.e., traditionalism, should not be confused with conservatism as a political ideology.

    Too often the word "conservative" is used when something more like "traditionalism" is meant. Witness e.g., reports of "conservative" clerics in Saudi Arabia. Do not fall for it.

    qrstuv   ·  November 4, 2010 12:16 AM

    I have morals/values I believe are good but have reached the point in life to witness many of those claiming my intolerance as the ones bigoted in disposition. It's just fact, claiming the ideals respecting human dignity and liberty having freedom with justice is now utterly deluded with hypocrisy.

    Steevo   ·  November 4, 2010 12:21 AM

    The great breakthrough for the Tea Party was the conceptual, and practical, separation of fiscal and social conservatism. Rather, the concept of separation wasn't new, but the Tea Parties have so far acted as if they really mean it. They have little to say about social issues; their demand is that whatever the government's (or the public's) social agenda, it must be something the US economy can afford. A very sensible position; perhaps the only sensible position.

    Naturally, we can expect this key breakthrough to be attacked by those wishing to steer (or co-opt) the Tea Party movement in directions more to their liking. Xenophobes, isolationists, racial supremacists, La Raza, pro-life/pro-choice activists, labor unions, eco-chondriacs, and fundamentalists of every stripe can be expected to persist in their efforts to pervert and dilute - and thereby destroy, even if inadvertently - the basic Tea Party concept.

    What else the Tea Party might mean isn't clear yet. There could be a significant nationalist component, but that might be nonessential. Venn diagrams would indeed be more useful than furniture analogies.

    tom swift   ·  November 4, 2010 12:23 AM

    A better analogy is the modern laying hen. She can survive without her wings, the Superhawk wing, and the even tinier Libertarian wing, but without breast, beak, brain why she's just some hot wings waiting for bleu cheese dressing. Her center is the Base, it combines Values, National Defense (another value), and Limited Gov't (another value) inside one breast. These are Socons.

    The Base does not need the Libertarians. Fact is, there's a good arguement or three to be made or considered that we'd be better off without them.

    So stop trying to impose your morality on me, eh?

    Tennwriter   ·  November 4, 2010 12:34 AM
    M. Simon   ·  November 4, 2010 12:59 AM

    Strawman much?

    blaster   ·  November 4, 2010 1:05 AM

    The Base does not need the Libertarians

    So true.

    But independents who are in the main libertarian are required to win elections.

    You know: Reagan DEMOCRATS, Republican Libertarians (Rand Paul, Ron Paul, etc.), libertarians, The Republican Liberty Caucus, Libertarian Republicans, the socially liberal fiscally conservative who don't identify with any faction, etc.

    M. Simon   ·  November 4, 2010 1:06 AM
    M. Simon   ·  November 4, 2010 1:07 AM

    So stop trying to impose your morality on me, eh?

    Funny. Libertarians want to leave you (and every one else) alone and that is a moral imposition?

    Project much?

    M. Simon   ·  November 4, 2010 1:13 AM

    I'm a social conservative - maybe even a Bible thumper and true believer in Jesus Christ to you. I've often noted your type incredibly uncomfortable with any discussion of faith and God. The weakness is yours, not mine. Believe as you must.

    But having said that, I'm also pragmatic. I share the same basic tenets of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets, even though capitalism itself has a few weaknesses, human nature being one. I'm more than happy to walk with you to defeat modern day liberalism because I believe the Republic depends on it. Render unto Caesar...

    But don't think for a minute I'm not a Christian first, that I'm not naive to your own form of hostility and irreligious nature not too awfully different than the most rabid lib, and the problem arises not while we fight together, but if and win we both win.


    Anonymous   ·  November 4, 2010 1:21 AM

    I apologize. I did not mean to make that last statement anonymously. Late night last night celebrating. ;)

    Tex Taylor   ·  November 4, 2010 1:23 AM

    Good grief - I still can't get it right...

    But don't think for a minute I'm not a Christian first, that [I'm naive] to your own form of hostility and irreligious nature not too awfully different than the most rabid lib, and the problem arises not while we fight together, but if [and when] we both win.

    Time for bed.

    Tex Taylor   ·  November 4, 2010 1:26 AM

    I agree that Eric has painted a fairly strawman caricature of a 'so-con', basically accepting the progs cartoon bogeyman at face value.

    Kathy above said " I do get along fine with libertarians with socially conservative ideas, since they want to use social pressure, not laws (fine with me)."

    I was a hardcore libertarian in high school and college back in the 80s, but I have actually grown somewhat more socially conservative. The problem with her take is that the progs nearly have a 'that which is not forbidden is compulsory' take on these issues, which wants to bring the full weight of the [public] education, regulatory policy -- and where they can get away with it, law -- to effectively make the opposing views thought-crime. The purist libertarians in effect enable this by not opposing this overreach. The progs don't demand tolerance (absence of persecution), rather they demand *approval* even in the private realm.

    It is not theocratic to oppose this.

    A more specific point re: your 'fertilized egg' comment -- it is absolutely reasonable to argue that a zygote or embryo should not receive the same consideration as a conscious woman (even the Catholic Church acknowledges a difference wrt emergency medical procedures), but the 'it's just a blob of tissue so don't impose your religion on me' camp doesn't have much of a leg to stand on, as the purely *scientific* case is readily made that the embryo is human, as evinced by its complete, distinct, and unique genetic identity.

    newscaper   ·  November 4, 2010 2:40 AM

    I was a three term Republican Precinct Chairman from George W's first run for Governor until I retired from active politics due to my health. I say this because I have a certain amount of experience in working politics.

    During those three terms I noticed who did what. The Country Club Republicans put up most of the money and provided meeting places. Important.

    The religeous right provided a lot of work. It was they that walked precincts and they that worked phone banks. Very important.

    The libertarians talked. The libertarians also complained. They were always too busy taking and complaining to do any work.

    Perhaps things are different now, I don't know. I have been retired for twelve years. Yet from what I have read, it's still the same, the RR folks working, the CC folks contributing and the libertarians talking about how the other two groups are RUINING EVERYTHING!!!!!111!!!

    I would like to say that this has changed for I have a pretty big "leave me alone" streak when it comes to politics. I got involved through my work with a shooting club, the 2A is my big issue. Yet I see no trace of a change. The libertarian wing will suck the hind tit until y'all stop talking and start working.

    Peter   ·  November 4, 2010 4:20 AM

    My first reaction is "grow up"!

    Oh my goodness. If you hadn't written that, can you imagine actually having to read it? Are you kidding me?

    Mike   ·  November 4, 2010 4:30 AM

    As soon as you elect a socual conservative, you've elected someone who has issues more important to them than reigning in big government. There is only a coalition of social conservatives and tools.

    Greg   ·  November 4, 2010 6:30 AM

    "The Base does not need the Libertarians"

    Because it just did so brilliantly in 2006-2008, right?

    Look, the Tea Parties are about one thing and one thing only: the need for limited government. There's plenty of other issues that I'm sure we can haggle, scream and rant at each other over. And let's do that separately. I really don't care if you're a leather-clad transvestite pot smoker from San Francisco or a snake-handling pastor from the Bible-belt. If you want to limit the size and scope of the federal government, we should all find a way to work together on this common goal. Don't try co-opting the rest of us with your personal agenda. Frankly, I'll make no bones about it. I believe that if we can get the size and scope of government appropriately curtailed, many of these issues will become moot. If you have to bear the consequences of your own choices, then the decision is on you.

    Bill Dalasio   ·  November 4, 2010 8:03 AM

    Limited government is the key. The Catholic Church has a principle it calls "subsidiarity": that governance should be exercised by the lowest and closest level capable of carrying out the task. This is not a new idea. The so-cons and libertarians make common cause every time they advocate devolving power back to the states and localities, and to the people.

    (Besides that, did anyone else find it amusing to see a blog named "Classical Values" starting a post off with "I don't like traditional values"?)

    craig   ·  November 4, 2010 8:36 AM

    Bill,

    Were you somehow under the impression that 06 and 08 were the fault of the socons? They were the fault of the RINOs and Crony Capitalists.

    M. Simon,

    Exactly. That is a moral imposition. You believe that its morally wrong to impose on others, which just shows that you're a statist theocrat just like me.

    And when I say, the Base does not need Libertarians, I mean to say we don't need them to win elections. Of course, we need Moderates who are not nearly as Libertarians as you make out (I'm probably more Libertarian than the vast majority of them), but going Libertarian is not the way to win most of them.

    You win by sounding a clear and beautiful trumpet and bringing moderates to you, not by going to them. Once they're with you, you flex a bit to attend to their issues, and BAM! Landslide.

    Anonymous   ·  November 4, 2010 9:47 AM

    Bill,

    A lot of these other issues will become moot as you say. But without socons in charge the federal gov't won't shrink.

    It really is a choice. Socons or socialism.

    I know how M. Simon has chosen. He has chosen poorly. Given the extreme choice between gulags and blue laws, I'm not certain which he would pick. Or as the Emperor said 'the hate is strong in this one'.

    I do not think there is a high probability path to the future where the nation limits gov't, survives, and socons defer to their betters in the libertarian movement.

    Tennwriter

    Tennwriter   ·  November 4, 2010 10:02 AM

    Tennwriter writes:

    I know how M. Simon has chosen. He has chosen poorly. Given the extreme choice between gulags and blue laws, I'm not certain which he would pick.

    Funny. Just yesterday I wrote him something very similar. I said the choice was between DEADLY liberals and Annoying conservatives.


    DiogenesLamp   ·  November 4, 2010 10:21 AM

    I do like social conservatives - a lot. OTOH they are like liberals in so many ways: "we need a government solution for...." M Simon

    While I can't prove it its been my observation over the years that the socons have takin to expanding government as a response to the liberal attitude of "_____ happened and there should be a law against it." When it starts to run contrary to their beliefs they started to use governmnet in the same way.


    For the record, its my belief that if we had a "Constitutionally Limited Government," Roux (12:16 AM) has it right.

    wilky   ·  November 4, 2010 10:54 AM

    "Bill,

    Were you somehow under the impression that 06 and 08 were the fault of the socons? They were the fault of the RINOs and Crony Capitalists."

    Actually, no I don't "blame" the socons. However, blame is, at best, incidental to my point. The Republican leadership (and I'll agree with you, largely RINOs and Crony Capitalists) treated libertarians as largely dispensible in 06 and 08. Not so much socons. The results proved disasterous.

    Bill Dalasio   ·  November 4, 2010 11:23 AM

    "...But without socons in charge the federal gov't won't shrink.

    It really is a choice. Socons or socialism."

    No offense, but it isn't really all that clear to me that that distiction necessarily holds. Plenty of "social conservatives" have proven willing, or even eager, to throw individual freedom under the bus. Pat Buchanan ("economic nationalism") comes to mind right off the top of my head. To a lesser extent, Mike Huckabee sounded similar themes. Now, I understand that lots of social conservatives don't buy into that particular brand of Kool-Aid. Heck, my experience is that there are plenty of social conservatives who would be happy to spread their case by suasion without government enforcement. But, I don't think you can expect libertarians to develop a taste for statism because it has a cross, rather than a hammer and sickle on it.

    Bill   ·  November 4, 2010 11:42 AM

    But don't think for a minute I'm not a Christian first, that [I'm naive] to your own form of hostility and irreligious nature

    I'm not irreligious. In fact God talks to me all the time. I just believe social questions should be solved socially - not with government guns.

    M. Simon   ·  November 4, 2010 12:24 PM

    Socons are currently (for the most part) moral socialists.

    The "socons or socialism" is just a cover. Socons are socialists (broad brush - generally true) in the cultural realm. i.e. cultural socialists. Obviously if your case is weak you do need government guns to make it.

    I would like to convert socons to libertarians (some are already).

    Putting your faith in government is wrong. 1 Samuel 8.

    M. Simon   ·  November 4, 2010 12:30 PM

    By limiting Federal government it gives much responsibility of many things back to the state and local governments - which is where it should be. But looks like we agree on what types of libertarians we are.

    Edgelady   ·  November 4, 2010 3:23 PM

    Excellent article. You summed up the key points of the Tea Party perfectly, and also clarified why Tea Partiers are not necessarily the same as conservatives.

    I dont mind voting for a social conservative, as long as they also subscribe to the 3 key fiscal conservative principles you describe here, and make fiscal conservatism at least as important as their social conservative views. Senators Coburn and DeMint are good examples. But if any repub tries to give me any kind of conservatism without fiscal conservatism (as happened all too often under Bush) they can go take a hike.

    I wish there were some real fiscal conservative dems, since I might actually prefer them to conservatives, but I have noticed that when a dem says he is fiscally conservative, it normally just means he will pay for all his new spending with tax hikes, and grow government slightly slower than the other dems.

    The reason the Tea Party has produced a potential enduring majority, is they combine the best common features from 2 completely different philosophies, conservatism and libertarianism. If they ever depart from that, and one faction tries to coopt the movement for issues the other faction opposes (either the libertarians trying to get the Tea Party to suport legalized drugs, or the conservatives trying to make the Tea party support social conservative goals), the cooalition will fracture, and their majority disappear.

    My standard is the Tea Party can endorse a fiscal conservative with libertarian/moderate social views (typically to run in a dem state, like Scott Brown), or a fiscal conservative with conservative social views (typically to run in a repub state, like Coburn), but should never endorse any candidate who does not put fiscal conservatism first in their priorities.

    richard40   ·  November 4, 2010 3:43 PM

    One other comment. If we are looking for a single figure to represent the Tea Party, I would vastly prefer Rand Paul to Sarah Palin, since Rand Paul puts his small government fiscal conservatism clearly in first place, while I suspect Palin, if given a choice, would choose social conservatism first.

    richard40   ·  November 4, 2010 3:54 PM

    M. Simon writes: "But independents who are in the main libertarian are required to win elections.

    "You know: Reagan DEMOCRATS,..."

    Forgive me for correcting you, but "Reagan Democrats were, in fact, largely the *opposite*: they were fiscally liberal and socially conservative.

    In the main, Reagan Democrats fell into one of two broad categories: (1) blue-collar urban ethnics (Italians, Irish, Poles, etc.)--"Al Smith Democrats"; and (2) Southern rural whites--"William Jennings Bryan Democrats".

    There was also a small number of Jewish intellectuals ("Scoop Jackson Democrats") who later became associated with "neo-conservatism". These were of little electoral consequence, but the heft of their ideas was strong: one might even argue that GOP foreign policy is largely a product of their intellectual labors, and certainly many of them were prominent in the Reagan administration.

    In 1976, Reagan had to fight to get an unambiguously pro-life plank into the GOP platform. Meanwhile, over on the Democratic side, Ellen McCormack ran as a pro-life candidate in the primaries, earning nearly a quarter-million votes and outpolling such "serious" candidates as Milton Shapp, Birch Bayh, Hubert Humphrey and Ted Kennedy.

    There is an argument that the Democratic and Republican parties have exchanged positions almost 100 percent since 1972.

    David Hecht   ·  November 4, 2010 4:16 PM

    Lamp,

    Sweet. Great minds and all that. Bill Dalasio makes this point very well too with his rants about who exactly is engaging in social coercion, and who is not, in the last decade. You have an elegantly brief way to put it. I may steal it.

    Bill Dalasio,

    I tend to think Socons get treated as dispensable all the time. But it got especially bad then, and so it was Socon irritation (fanned by Libertarian agitators) which did in the R's.

    Next Bill,

    In this huge political grouping in the nation, there are bound to be a few people with issues. I may have one or three myself.

    I have issues with Buchanan because of his treatment of Jews. It makes one wary. With Huckabee, I'm still not sure where he stands, but I suspect his arguement that a lot of his opposition is classist prejudgice is accurate.

    I view classist prejudgice as an admission of stupidity on the part of the pre-judger.

    You like me, are a statist theocrat. You stand by what you think are moral principles like Libertarianism that should be coerced on others. You don't believe in the Law of the Gun.

    And its fine if Libertarians don't choose socons. In that case, socons will probably do better without them. I could assure you that we're reasonable people us socons, but most libertarians are not reasonable about socons. You just have to decide for yourself.

    Richard40,

    Wow, you guys are persistent, and clever. Yet another way of stating the same thing. You socons sit down at the back of the bus. Smoothly done too.

    Tennwriter   ·  November 4, 2010 5:16 PM

    Yet still, I want to know more about the leg I don't like. What are its elements?

    # Intolerance of homosexuality?

    # The demand that fertilized eggs be treated as human beings, and that women who kill them be treated as murderers?

    # The insistence on imprisoning (or even executing) human beings for consensual crimes involving consumption of disapproved substances?

    # The demand that church and state be united together?

    ===========================================

    This sort of grotesque caricature of positions you don't agree with (and, it would seem, don't even really understand) hardly reflects well on you.

    flenser   ·  November 4, 2010 6:45 PM

    To David Hect:
    You completely distorted my position. I do not demand that socons sit in the back of the bus behind Libertarians, at least not for republicans. I just demand that any socons that want to call themselves Republicans dont put the Fiscal Conservatives in the back of the bus, like they did during Bush. And if the repubs do again, they will suffer the same fate they did in 2006-2008. If you cant depend on Repubs to be fiscally responsible, they are completely useless, at least to me.

    For the Tea Party on the other hand, both socons and social libertarians are in the 2nd seat, because the fiscal conservatives are driving. This is what the cooalition is based on, since it is the only thing both Republicans Libertarians, and many moderate independents that voted for Tea Party candidates have in common. If you have read any descriptions on a Tea party platform, you should notice it is all based on fiscal conservatism. Social issues are purposely not mentioned, so both conservatives and libertarians can endorse that platform.

    If you want to be social conservative, and fiscally big government leftist though, get your grubby hands off the Tea Party, and join the Buchanon Brigades or march with Jerry Falwell, and start droning on about "compassionate conservatism". You can also be a repub, although not one I, or the Tea Party would ever support.

    If you ever closely look at Ronald Reagan, his basis was a Goldwater Republican, mainly small government fiscal conservative. He also became a social conservative, in order to form a winning national cooalition. Same thing with the winning cooalition under Newt Gingrich. As long as Repubs remain small government fiscal conservatives, they will remain a winning cooalition, but if they lose it, like they did during Bush, they lose bigtime.

    richard40   ·  November 4, 2010 7:15 PM

    "Socons are currently (for the most part) moral socialists."

    ---------------------------------------------


    No, libertarians are for the most part "moral socialists". You are terrified of what people might do with power and so you seek to take it away from them and give it to government bureaucrats, aka "judges".

    The idea of a representative democracy in which the laws ultimately reflect the will of the people is as horrifying to libertarians as it is to socialists.

    flenser   ·  November 4, 2010 7:17 PM

    Another note to David Hect. You said libertarians were statists that would "coerce others". An even more gross distortion. The whole basis of libertarianism is non-cooercion. The government should not force anybody to do anything, other than the basic described by Thomas Jefferson, "to restrain men from injuring one another". You are free to condemn whatever moral practices you wish, as long as you refrain from using big government threats to force your beleifs on me. I in return will not force my moral beleifs on you. I will never use force against anybody unless they first use, or threaten to use force against me, or try and steal my property using force or fraud.

    richard40   ·  November 4, 2010 7:24 PM

    "I just demand that any socons that want to call themselves Republicans dont put the Fiscal Conservatives in the back of the bus, like they did during Bush."

    ----------------------------------------------

    That's just idiotic. I've noticed that libertarians tend to assume that, anytime the GOP moves in a big government direction, it's due to the so-con bogey-man.


    There are far more factions in the Republican Party then those two and far more powerful factions as well. The strongest push for more government within the GOP comes from the business wing of the party. The Bush era Republican party reflected the wishes of the Chamber of Commerce and Wall Street. Direct your complaints about its policy choices to those groups.

    flenser   ·  November 4, 2010 7:26 PM

    To Flenser, another gross distortion.

    Libertarians do not like big government activist judges any more than we like big government activist politicians. You have confused libertarians with liberal leftists. We want restraint from all 3 branches of government. Each should be a check to prevent big government overeach by the other branch, as the founders intended.

    And we are not a democracy, we are a republic, based on the rule of law, and a constitution, to provide checks on government power. If you ever bothered to read the founders writings, you would notice they feared the potential tyranny of the majority as much as they feared the tyranny of the King. They wrote a constitution, with strict limits on government, and a bill of rights, specifically to prevent majority tyranny. And the French revolution provided ample proof of what horror could come from completely unrestrained majority rule.

    The constitution provides for a strictly limited government. I still beleive in it, despite how badly it has been distorted lately, mainly by leftists, but also occasionally by big government socons. If you dont, you have a perfect right to say so, but I dont want you in the Tea Party.

    richard40   ·  November 4, 2010 7:40 PM

    Flenser: Your last point I actually agree with. Catering to big business with crony capitalism, as was too often practiced under Bush, and has continued under Obama (despite his hipocritical anti corporate rhetoric) is just as evil, if not more so, as overeach by socons or leftists.

    Most big government regulation, while suposedly to restrain big corporations, actualy harms small and medium businesses through compliance costs, while the big guys can get special exemptions and favors, and the politicians and burocrats get rich.

    The best, and only real way to prevent crony capitalism is to trim government regulatory power sufficiently so it is no longer worth bribing government regulators and politicians to gain a compeditive advantage.

    richard40   ·  November 4, 2010 7:49 PM

    "If you ever bothered to read the founders writings, you would notice they feared the potential tyranny of the majority as much as they feared the tyranny of the King."

    -----------------------------------------------

    I have read them in rather greater detail than you have, and they feared no such thing. If they HAD feared such a thing, it was rather dim of them to construct a political system under which the majority ruled. But as their writings make clear, the great experiment which they embarked on was one in which the people would rule themselves and make their own laws.

    As for big government activist judges, I must have missed all the times when libertarians expressed their disgust with the courts for making up their own law under the loose fiction of "interpreting the constitution".

    flenser   ·  November 4, 2010 7:52 PM

    Flenser, in our republic, the majority does not rule, the constitution rules. Mind you, the constitution is designed to eventually to respond to majority rule, after long term patient consideration, but not majority whim, and not at the expense of anybodies basic freedoms (I prefer freedoms to rights, since rights have been distorted by leftists to the right to have government give you something).

    One of the best parables of the hazards of unrestrained majority rule is a group of 9 wolves, and one sheep, having a majority vote on what to have for dinner. Although I have less respect for majorities than that. The example I would use is one sheep, and 9 blood sucking leeches.

    And you are dead wrong that the founders had no fear of majority tyranny. One of the main reasons why the bill of rights was passed, was a fear that majority votes by the federal legislature would trespass on basic individual freedoms and the rights of the states.

    richard40   ·  November 4, 2010 8:16 PM

    "As for big government activist judges, I must have missed all the times when libertarians expressed their disgust with the courts for making up their own law under the loose fiction of "interpreting the constitution"."

    Again you appear ignorant of libertarian views, and confuse us with liberal leftists. Libertarians have constantly railed against the courts ever widening interpretation of the comerce clause, allowing excessive government regulation, or the Kelo decision, that degraded property rights. I even think that Roe v Wade was badly decided, since I beleive it should have been a state decision (not all libertarians agree with me there).

    My basic standard would be any court decision that expands government power, beyond that practiced at the time of the founders, or clearly granted in subsequent amendments, is most likely bad.

    last post, got to sign off.

    richard40   ·  November 4, 2010 8:24 PM

    >>"Flenser, in our republic, the majority does not rule, the constitution rules."

    In our republic the constitution is the creation of the majority! So the majority very much rules, at least when the courts are not subverting the constitution.


    >>"you are dead wrong that the founders had no fear of majority tyranny. One of the main reasons why the bill of rights was passed, was a fear that majority votes by the federal legislature would trespass on basic individual freedoms and the rights of the states."

    So the majority which passed the bill of rights was terrified of what the majority might do? Nonsense, they were worried that the Federal government might become an anti-majoritarian tyranny, of the sort they had just rebelled against. That was the reason for restricting the powers of the central government, not fear of the majority.

    All of which would be evident to you if you bothered to read the papers the Founders left behind.

    flenser   ·  November 4, 2010 9:27 PM

    newscaper's comment was also quoted at Insty. It accords entirely with what I have seen up NH - a different conservative mix than Texas, I think.

    Read it again. And again. I'm a generally non-aligned conservative (preferring the term "postliberal," actually), but I caucus with the socons because they listen to other people, they do the work, and have fewer paranoid nutcases.

    As I work in mental health and actually know a lot of the paranoid nutcases in this small state, I say that with considerable confidence, BTW,

    Assistant Village Idiot   ·  November 4, 2010 9:49 PM

    The consensus (from an informal survey I have done) of the "abortion is murder" fols is that it should be treated as:

    Misdemeanor manslaughter and the woman goes free.

    When you put it like that it hardly seems worth all the ink spilled. i.e. Most folks who say "abortion is murder" don't really mean it. Because if it is murder it has all the elements of murder one.

    M. Simon   ·  November 4, 2010 9:52 PM

    I know how M. Simon has chosen. He has chosen poorly. Given the extreme choice between gulags and blue laws, I'm not certain which he would pick.

    Isn't it obvious what I have picked? I'm with the TEA Party. I vote Republican.

    But the Blue Law folks represent a danger to the coalition. Not everyone is as forgiving as I am.

    You will excuse me if I articulate the view point of those not as committed as I am. But it needs to be said. I want to hold the coalition together.

    The policies of a coalition are defined by its weakest member. Otherwise you lose those at the margins. Lose enough of them and you get defeat instead of victory.

    M. Simon   ·  November 4, 2010 10:06 PM

    but the 'it's just a blob of tissue so don't impose your religion on me' camp doesn't have much of a leg to stand on, as the purely *scientific* case is readily made that the embryo is human, as evinced by its complete, distinct, and unique genetic identity.

    By that reckoning abrading another person's skin is "murder" since cells with complete, distinct, and unique genetic identity have been destroyed.

    BTW different religions have different takes on when the "crime" of abortion is serious.

    M. Simon   ·  November 4, 2010 10:38 PM

    You are terrified of what people might do with power

    Guilty as charged. Lord Acton:

    Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    That goes for judges as well as the legislature.

    M. Simon   ·  November 4, 2010 10:59 PM

    Richard,
    Due to Eric's peculiar comment board structure, you were arguing with moi, Tennwriter, not Mr. Hecht.

    M. Simon's view is that the weakest link in a coalition defines the policies of that coalition. Also, the typical Libertarian comes out with some variety of 'shut up socons', or 'if only we could get rid of these troublesome priests' like clockwork.

    So, the idea that Libertarians wish to have socons sit at the back of the bus is proven.

    You personally, Richard, may not be such an arrogant and pushy person, but you're associated with folks who are so.

    I'm amused that I'm a big gov't type now. Want to guess who's more willing to cut gov't? Me or you? I'll open with getting rid of NASA and all of the Big Science grants except Defense and Epidemic related. No cyclotrons, no fusion programs....fund it privately or not at all.

    Your problem is you don't know what a socon is. Socons are conservatives which means they hate big gov't..

    And for your next reply to me,not Mr. Hecht. Libertarians as you say don't want to impose more than the basics. So you are willing to impose, to coerce. And good for you, but I'm willing to only impose the basics that need to be imposed too. Now my basics might be different than yours, but hey, we're both morally imposing away.

    M. Simon,
    But you proudly proclaim you voted for Obama over Keyes. So, no, its not so clear.

    And see, that's the difference. You want to hold the coalition together. I'm willing to,if its not too much bother, and if the lazy so and so's start getting out an pushing once in a while, and quit sniping at the guys doing most of the work. But if not, well, we can probably do better without the coalition.

    This is a Conservative Party. The Whole Enchilada from National Defense to Natural Law to No New Taxes to Not Another Dead Baby. If you can't support part of that from conscience, fine, but quit sniping and trying to twist the Party. Otherwise, there's the door. Everybody will be happier if we go our separate ways.

    Tennwriter   ·  November 4, 2010 11:24 PM

    I do agree with Richard's comments about Libertarians being against overweening judges, and M. Simon's quote of Lord Acton...'cept its 'Absolute power tends to corrupt...' I think.

    Which I like. I favor cynicism about cynicism. I need to remind myself that humans not only fell into rebellion and corruption, but they were made good. So when something works out unexpectedly its not such a surprise to me. Or as Lord Acton was trying to say...perhaps 1 out of a 1000 times, absolute power is okay.

    Tennwriter   ·  November 4, 2010 11:39 PM

    "I tend to think Socons get treated as dispensable all the time. But it got especially bad then, and so it was Socon irritation (fanned by Libertarian agitators) which did in the R's."

    Tennwriter,

    No offense, but what social issue did the Establishment Republicans dispense with in 06 or 08? It strikes me that they thew the libertarians and free marketeers under the bus on Social Security reform, bailouts, Medicare Part D, the Highway Bill, etc.

    Bill Dalasio   ·  November 5, 2010 8:34 AM

    "You like me, are a statist theocrat. You stand by what you think are moral principles like Libertarianism that should be coerced on others. You don't believe in the Law of the Gun."

    The banning of coercion is not coercion, Tennwriter. Libertarians (the philosophy, not the party) are not going to do a thing to stop social conservatives from going to church, raising their kids as they see fit, denouncing moral decay or holding to traditional values. That is your decision and you have to make that call in terms of your values and bear the consequences on your own dime. But, there's no rational basis to conclude that you have the right to make those decisions for others, not if they're bearing the consequences for those decisions on their own dime.
    You'd likely laugh at a leftist who claimed that your property was your own due to his forebearance in not taking it. But, to claim that a ban on coercion is coercion itself makes nearly the same presumption.

    Bill Dalasio   ·  November 5, 2010 8:55 AM

    "And its fine if Libertarians don't choose socons. In that case, socons will probably do better without them. I could assure you that we're reasonable people us socons, but most libertarians are not reasonable about socons. You just have to decide for yourself."

    No, actually, both sides will lose. The leftists, as we both know, have a coercive agenda of their own. And because so many of them are guided by the presumptuion of their own superiority rather than a 2,000 year old religious tradition that recognizes human fallibility as a key tenet, I find them much less reasonable. And they're quite good at convincing everyone that libertarians are a bunch of freaks and social conservatives are a bunch of tightasses. That's why I think it makes much more sense for libertarians and social conservatives to hash out their differences with each other than try to one-up each other and give the leftists the leverage they need to take advantage of both sides.

    Bill Dalasio   ·  November 5, 2010 9:16 AM

    Bill,

    The Establishment always, after throwing a hissy fit, ends up giving lip service to the socons, and then does nothing about their issues in a serious way. Besides, those free marketers....those are socons too.

    So you complain about getting tossed under the bus? We live down there.

    We talked about this before Bill. Libertarianism is a moral position. You agreed.

    As to your last post, its a bit scary I'll agree going into uncharted waters. But I tend to think that socons would do better on their own, and so would the nation. Libertarians would do far worse, but that doesn't bother me much after the abuse I've gotten over the years.

    Tennwriter   ·  November 5, 2010 12:16 PM

    "We talked about this before Bill. Libertarianism is a moral position. You agreed."

    Well, sure its a moral position. To the extent that any political philosophy is a moral position. That isn't in dispute. I'd say its a reasonable baseline position for statecraft.
    As to striking out on your own, I'd say best of luck to you. Just don't be too surprised when your kids HAVE to attend a secular public school, speech codes stop you from saying anything too offensive, and you have to turn in your guns. Just look on the bright side. The same state power that bound you stopped those whacky libertarians from letting people hire hookers, smoke marijuana, or blow all their money in a card game.

    Bill Dalasio   ·  November 5, 2010 4:57 PM

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