There is a civil war going on in the Republican Party. There are many ways to define the two sides (the establishment v. the anti-establishment, managerialists v. minarchists, communitarians v. individualists, big government types vs. small government types), but they ultimately break down into two: statists and libertarians.
Statists include people like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum (sorry, but he is) and many others.
Libertarian types include people like Ron Paul and Rand Paul, as well as newcomers like Mike Lee and Justin Amash. (Four months ago I would’ve included Gary Johnson, but he’s been driven out of the Republican Party)
The statist types accept government as the means to fix ills in society. They may disagree about the details of tinkering with specific programs, but, in the end, they support the welfare-warfare state. Big government doing big things. And while they may mouth support of free markets, personal liberty, personal responsibility, fidelity to the Constitution and limited government, their positions on big government solving problems makes them the same as Barack Obama (who often uses rhetoric supporting those same principles). The libertarians, by contrast, actually believe all that stuff. They take it seriously.
These two positions exist on a continuum, but Rick Santorum and Ron Paul exist opposed. One need only read Rick Santorum’s comments about libertarians to understand that they are incompatible.
I am slow to realize things, so it was only this week that it struck me that this conflict (which flared up so visibly two years ago) is still alive and well. I knew it when I saw that Orrin Hatch, of all people, is facing a primary challenge. Now, I have no problem with Orrin Hatch per se, but he has a problem with libertarians and felt the need to lash out against them.
People fear self-identifying as libertarian; they think it synonymous with hedonism. Indeed, it is not. It's about leaving people alone, free of government molestation (with all its consequences), to pursue their own happiness (If your definition of the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of hedonism, I would advise you to reexamine your life).
One can be a social conservative and be a libertarian. They are not incompatible. It just means you take free markets, personal liberty, personal responsibility, fidelity to the Constitution and limited government seriously.
Libertarianism has to do with state action. If you think it’s probably a bad idea for people to smoke pot every day, but don’t think there should be a law against everything that’s a bad idea, you're thinking along libertarian lines.
Mitt Romney is clearly in the big government camp (sorry, but he is), and in that way he is no different from President Obama. He may disagree on the margins, he may tinker with the specifics, he may manage the massive government apparatus better, but his is the same overall view: governments solve problems.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war and every one needs to realize that and take a side.
Some of you who believe in limited government may think that Mitt Romney is the answer, because Barack Obama must be stopped.
I reject this. I see no virtue in replacing one statist with a slightly different one.
You say "Yes, but we have no choice. You go to war with the Romney you have."
Bunk. This is a sales pitch, used every four years by statists of both sides, and its widespread acceptance is a sign of its effectiveness, not its truth.
The first presidential election I was aware enough to pay attention to was in 1992. That year we saw a third party candidate step in and become a major contender (And don't fool yourself -- Ross Perot was seriously in the running until he sabotaged himself.) He reached a high enough level in the polls that he was allowed into the presidential debates. He was a serious candidate.
This year there is no eccentric billionaire, but we do have Gary Johnson poised to capture the Libertarian Party nomination. He is not a nobody, some random crank or a lowly congressman. He was the successful two-term governor of New Mexico.
He tried to run as a Republican, but he was excluded from debates based on polls where his name did not appear. So he jumped ship and is now running as a Libertarian.
Your response may be, "I'd consider voting for him, but he cannot win." But if everyone who said that voted for him...
We have a choice in this election: statism or freedom. Pick a side.