An interesting, more in-depth read for a Monday morning: Robert Locke, former associate editor of FrontPage magazine, unleashes a full-scale intellectual assault against the libertarian philosophy on the pages of the American Conservative.
It’s a must-read for those who are interested in exploring the nuances and distinctions within the broader Republican, center-right coalition. While those on the left side of the political spectrum are well occupied in their own deep internecine squabbles, it is important to remember that the broad majority coalition has its own serious disagreements, too.
Judging from a visit to a website like this one, Locke’s big beef with libertarians stems from deep-seated disagreements over the immigration issue. Locke and many of the hardcore cultural conservatives believe the President’s immigration plan amounts to full-scale amnesty, earth-shattering and devastating in its ramifications. Hardcore libertarians meanwhile continue their ideological push for open borders, which means neither major party’s proposals can go far enough. Immigration presents itself as one of the most dangerous wedge issues potentially to split the center-right coalition.
Locke’s position is not politically feasible at this point, while the hardcore libertarian idea is not at all palatable. Their philosophy has only lost credence in a post-9/11 world. While the general libertarian emphasis on civil liberties serves as an important counterpoint in the war on terror, their larger philosophical explanations have been called into question. Explaining terrorism as the result of material or economic causes places the Libertarians closer to the modern Left on the political spectrum.
But then again, there’s a reason why capital-L Libertarianism has not and never will succeed in American national politics. To get a glimpse why, you just need to go back and read Locke’s American Conservative article, intriguingly titled “Marxism of the Right.” While I wouldn’t go as far as Locke does in his piece, a lot of his assessments vis a vis the modern libertarian movement are correct. A lot of libertarian ideas may happen to be good, but following their reasoning wholeheartedly presents a series of problems.
It’s fun from time to time to stray back into these philosophical debates that I fondly remember from my college days – Hillsdale College is an eclectic place in this regard.
In the end, though, we need to find the common ground of pragmatic partisan Republican principles and support the statesmanlike leader who most effectively moves our nation and our world in a direction supportive of these broad ideals. While not perfect, George W. Bush has done a superb job on this count.
Hat tip to Real Clear Politics.