Libertarians and neocons
I don’t disagree with a single word of Ross Douthat’s analysis of libertarians, and their place within the conservative coalition:
The inconvenient truth…is that anti-welfare state libertarianism remains enormously unpopular with American voters, and so fiscal libertarianism can only have a place at the political table if it weds itself to something like an Irving Kristol-style neoconservatism, and takes pride (as it should, given the correlation of forces pushing for ever-larger government) in keeping America’s public sector from swelling to the size of Europe’s, while seizing every opportunity – as in the welfare debates of the 1990s – to make the government that we do have run more smoothly. This marriage worked well in the eighties and nineties; it hasn’t worked so well in the era of George W. Bush, primarily (I would argue) because of his Administration’s disinterest in policy detail, which turned what should have been a neoconservative domestic policy into a mix of pork-barrel politics and Nixonian attempts to out-liberal liberalism. But the marriage of libertarianism and neoconservatism – of Cato and AEI, if you will – is still the best deal that libertarians are likely to get, so long as they care more about the size and scope of government than they do about lifestyle politics. If they want to leave the GOP coalition and throw in with the party of statism over stem-cell research and gay marriage, fair enough – but they shouldn’t tell themselves fairy tales about the political history of the last thirty years along the way.
This guy should really consider getting a job as a political advisor or domestic policy specialist in some future Republican administration. Anyway, read, as they say, the whole thing.