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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Conservatives and Libertarians: There's A Difference?

Bruce Bartlett provides a simple, generally correct primer on the history of and current split in the coalition between libertarians and conservatives. He highlights some points from Ryan Sager's new book.

Writes Bartlett on the then and now:

By 1980, these different strands of the conservative coalition united behind Ronald Reagan, who skillfully pulled them together under the Republican tent. By 1994, the coalition was strong enough to gain control of Congress, and Republicans truly became the nation's governing party for the first time since 1932.

Sager argues that George W. Bush has effectively destroyed this extremely successful political partnership by siding with the traditionalists and ignoring the libertarians. He threw a few tax cuts at the latter, like bones to a dog, but at the same time endorsed a vast expansion of government spending that will soon lead inevitably to tax increases.

Bush's courting of the evangelicals has increased friction between them and the libertarians, who now have become deeply alienated from the Republican Party, Sager argues. They may not be ready to become Democrats, but neither can the libertarians be considered a reliable part of the Republican coalition any longer, as they were in the Reagan era.

I thought all non-liberals were just racist fat cats.

So, where is this libertarian-leaning Republican? As I have written, I am appalled at Bush's overall spending, his growth of the federal government programs in education and entitlements (No Child and Medicare, for instance), government intrusion into political contributions (McCain-Feingold) and trade barriers and tariffs. On any of these domestic issues, Democrats do not provide a more libertarian alternative. Their only grievance is the programs do not go far enough in income redistibution.

I still hold our security as the trump issue. Anyone failing to recognize the importance of defeating the global jihad against the West is ignoring the core issue of our time. On that, and in some ways, that alone, GW Bush has my support. I am still waiting for the loyal opposition's plan to combat terrorism from Islamic terrorists. I cannot endorse any plan that does not include an aggressive pursuit of terrorists worldwide (Buchanan's stay at home approach is a guaranteed failure). Until I hear something serious, I am faced with no option.

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