This recent post in The Nation tells the story of a young idealist Libertarian who is "mugged by reality." Basically, this young libertarian goes out into the real world and discovers that not "only governments have the power to deprive citizens of freedom.” Working for a corporation, this young idealist discovered that no matter their legal status, the corporation does not have the heart of a human person.
Ignore the liberal conclusions and careless switching of the terms "Libertarian" and "Conservative" throughout the post, and think about the issue as faced by young people all across this nation. The Republican Party's message is that entrepreneurs drive the nation and are the hope of the future. The reality is that most young people are listening to this and find themselves completely unable to relate or obtain such status.
College prices have skyrocketed, and their parents, if they even have a supportive family base, are most likely unable to help. These young people are looking at the world and wondering how they are supposed to achieve the American dream, when culture has disintegrated and left them without a community to help. To them, it seems that the GOP is telling them to make it on their own, while the Democrats are offering help from the government. Detached from family, church, and any other form of localized community - what is the modern young person to do?
This sense of isolation, felt by many young Americans, should be taken into account as the Republican Party moves forward. It should be asked if a doctrinaire libertarian approach can speak to these concerns, and build a healthy and cheerful conservatism.
I suspect that it cannot. For the modern libertarian, it seems that freedom and individualism are the ends and highest goods. For the conservative, they are means to the end. The end and highest good are the well-ordered society grounded in civic and moral virtue.
Conservatism has always recognized that capitalism may need to be tempered at times in order to preserve the true freedom of the individual. This is why De Tocqueville warned of a coming "aristocracy of manufacturers," and Kirk spoke out against "commercial collectivism."
Their answer, whether townships, Main Street, or distrubtism, has always been an idealization of localized community.
In the mid-twentieth century, anti-Communist propaganda hammered Marxism for reducing the human to a number. It is ironic that an untempered market would treat the individual the same.
Before the GOP continues down its current path with the belief that a more libertarian approach will win more voters, they should consider the type of society such a doctrine will create, and if it truly will be electorally attractive. Will voters, especially young people, see their new doctrine as one that empowers them to become entrepreneurs? Or will they see it as a cold, Randian, pyramid of ability that leaves the 47% trapped and unable to rise?