Friday, August 05, 2005

One of these things is not like the other

There's been ongoing discussion over at the "libertarianrepublicans" Yahoo! Group, more or less orbiting around Eric Dondero's perpetual demand that libertarian Democrats name a Democratic officeholder whom they'd unreservedly dub "libertarian." My take on that is that, where major party officials are concerned, the "libertarian" label is more something to get them to aspire to than to ascribe to them at the current time (with a few possible exceptions, including Texas congresscritter Ron Paul).

To put a finer point on it, I don't like the idea of pointing at a major party politician and saying that he or she is a "libertarian." There are better and worse politicians. There are politicians with libertarian inclinations which should be encouraged; most of those politicians also have non-libertarian inclinations which should be discouraged. The bar should be set pretty high for telling a politician "you're right where we'd like you to be," or, more importantly, for implicitly telling voters that that politician represents "libertarian" views.

By way of example, I pointed out that the Republican Liberty Caucus designates none other than Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) not only as a "libertarian," but as number seven on their "Top Ten" list. for 2004. A counter-intuitive assessment, to put it mildly.

Well, speak of the Devil and in he walks. Here's Santorum on NPR yesterday morning (hat tip to BuzzMachine by way of Hit & Run, via Jim Lesczynski):

One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a libertarianish right. The left has gone so far left and the right in some respects has gone so far right that they come around in the circle. ... This whole idea of personal autonomy -- I don't think that most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. And they have this idea that people should be left alone to do what they want to do, that government should keep taxes down, keep regulation down, that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, that we shouldn't be involved in cultural issues, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world. And I think that most conservatives understand that we can't go it alone, that there is no such society that I'm aware of where we've had radical individualism and it has succeeded as a culture.

I rest my case.

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