Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Of Palin and Libertarianism

By Gil Weinreich
With gratitude to Ken for opening up his blog, I will add my thoughts on the current discussion of Palin and libertarianism. As much as a lightening rod as she has been, it bears noting that she is not the leader of the GOP or primary opposition to the Democrats for the foreseeable future. The only force that stands between responsible government and "creeping socialism" right now is Mitch McConnell, a shrewd legislative strategist and the Senate Minority Leader. Well, perhaps I should add Rahm Emanuel, whose duty as Obama's chief of staff will be to keep the Democratic extremists from derailing the Obama Administration's more "moderate" legislative agenda.

As for the future of the GOP, count me as a strong supporter of Palin. Libertarians like to attack social conservatives as threats to their liberty, but the cultural and political barriers to change are so enormous that even Ronald Reagan accomplished very little on the social/cultural front.

The true threat to liberty is not social conservatism, but rather the continuing erosion of societal values. To take one recent example, look at the civil rights ballot measures champtioned by Ward Connerly in Colorado and Nebraska. In formerly solid-red-state Colorado, the initiative narrowly lost. In Nebraska it passsed with 58% of the vote, meaning that in the one of the most conservative, wholesome corners of the Midwest and America, as many as 42% of the people supported politically correct but discrimatory affirmative action.

Not every issue goes as close to the heart of equality under the law as this one, but on a range of issues -- whether it be the freedom to own guns or affirmations of the religious values (all those "bitter" people out there) on which this country was founded -- social conservatives are the last ones holding the fort. My perception is that few do so with determination because they know how our culture of political correctness filters their beliefs as divisive, bitter, intolerant, etc.

Maybe it will take a plain-talking Alaskan with innate political talent and an appealing persona, who has not spent time in elite educational insitutions, to make American bedrock values "cool" again. To paraphrase the late William F. Buckley, I'd rather be governed by Sarah Palin than all the folks on the Harvard Law faculty, or even at Reason magazine.


RightKlik said...

I like Sarah Palin. I hope she has the opportunity to put her talents to good use. But is she world leader material? Consider Bobby Jindal. He's just as conservative and talented as Palin.

Kenneth Silber said...

Thanks for the post, Gil. Unfortunately, I have less confidence that social conservatives are holding down the fort in defending limited government, as evidenced by the enthusiasm many had for Huckabee's economic populism. As further example, there's Richard Land's piece in yesterday's WSJ, in which "core values" seem to exclude economic freedom.

Gil Weinreich said...

I think we need to evaluate these politicians on a case-by-case basis. Per Ken, Huckabee was horrible --- and not just on economics; he thought our feckless foreign policy wasn't humble enough. We don't need a Republican Jimmy Carter.
Per rightklik, Jindal is indeed very talented. But I return to Palin for a moment: This idea that she is a freedom crusher is media-contrived nonsense. Remember Palin backed Forbes --- the most libertarian of the mainstream Republicans -- in the 2000 GOP primary. I hope we see both Jindal and Palin on the road to 2012.