The Federalist: Opinion: David Harsanyi: Rand Paul is Right, Social Conservatives Should Embrace Libertarianism
This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger
I don't want to sound overly technical here but it all depends on what you mean by a social conservative. If you are talking about conservative, which means to conserve, then from a political standpoint that means being in favor of conserving social freedom, which is the ability of people to manage their own own lives without big government interfering. If this is what a social conservative is, then great, I give you Rand Paul, and conservatives and libertarians should be able to work well together.
Conservatives like to talk about the dangers of big government, and if you are a conservative, at least in the American sense, then you are opposed to big government interference in our economic and personal lives. If you are worried about government interference and you want to conserve your freedom, meaning to limit the size of government, then you should not be in favor of a Federal marriage amendment because you believe marriage is a State issue, to use one example. Why? Because conservatives are also Federalists, who believe in States' rights and local control.
But if we are talking about religious conservatives and how they relate to libertarians, then we are talking about a whole new ballgame because what is conservative politically is not always conservative religiously. Yes, if you are a conservative, political or religious, you believe in conserving life, and I know of some religious conservatives who are opposed to the death penalty as well as abortion, for example.
But with issues like marriage, privacy, pornography, women's place in the world, if you are a religious conservative, you are interested in conserving how society as it was previously and seriously putting limits on these areas to preserve our moral health. However, if you are a political conservative you probably believe this is not the business of government, especially the Federal government, to oversee what free adults do in the privacy of their own homes.
The Republican Party at its best going forward, if it wants to remain a major party, will be conservative libertarian with the potential for growth because it then would be able to compete with the Democratic Party throughout the country and probably continue to have a strong base in the South, with religious conservatives who will have nowhere else to go and with young people who are managing and running businesses including their own and do not want big government interfering in their economic or personal lives. With a coalition like this, the GOP would do very well in the future.
There should be no friction between conservatives and libertarians because they tend to believe in the same things although differ when it comes to national security and foreign policy. However, the real friction will continue to be between libertarians and the Christian right, who for obvious reasons will never get along very well because libertarians see government at all levels as too big and the Religious right sees government as too small as it relates to our personal lives.