By Anthony Stark
Like suburbanites that live between the inner city and the outlying rural areas, Libertarians and Constitutional Conservatives within the Republican Party occupy what might be called “The Inner Fringe.”
It’s not part of the “Outer Fringe,” where radical ideologies thrive and where exotic conspiracy theories run rampant, nor is it part of the moneyed “Inner Party” Establishment.
Both the Constitutional Conservatives and the Libertarians know the Inner Party Establishment RINOs use the Outer Fringe to attack them; they realize that the bombastic Outer Fringe allows the RINOs to position themselves as “moderates” who have the legitimacy, experience and gravitas to win elections by appealing to voters who are “in the middle.”
Therefore, the question to both Libertarians and Constitutional Conservatives is: “What can be done to increase our influence against the Inner Party Establishment?”
The answer is: unity.
In the 2012 election, Senator Rand Paul, a Republican with a strong libertarian background, surprised some by endorsing Mitt Romney, a candidate criticized by the Right as being too moderate, for president.
In a June 2012 interview, Sen. Paul said: “People say that ‘you’re selling your soul.’ No, I’m supporting the party… in order to try to work within the party to get things [done] that I believe in… An endorsement doesn’t change any of [my] philosophy.”
Despite the fact that he could not be certain Mitt Romney would govern in a libertarian manner on numerous issues, the interviewer concludes that Sen. Paul’s endorsement was “based on political reality.”
If a Libertarian such as Rand Paul can endorse an Establishment moderate like Romney, I see no insurmountable obstacle to Libertarians and Constitutional Conservative Groups, who agree far more than they disagree on almost all issues and who are far more in line with each other than either is with the Inner Party.
Both must begin working together to pressure the Inner Party to move in its mutual direction.
However, significant tensions exist inside the Inner Fringe.
Libertarians reject the more interventionist foreign policy views of the Constitutional Conservatives and chafe at the social conservatism that is, while sometimes strategically muted, widespread within it.
For their part, Constitutional Conservatives sometimes find the Libertarians to be ideologically rigid and consider their policies regarding drug legalization and lax border control policy to be politically impractical. Further, they find the tactics of many Libertarian zealots, including opinion poll “bombing,” covert infiltration of conservative groups and a penchant for building personality cults around their leaders to be sophomoric and counter-productive.
However, I suggest these differences can be overcome and that the basis of a Grand Compromise can create a United Right composed along the following lines:
- The Constitutional Conservatives would accept ALL aspects of Libertarian economic policy, period. They would completely accept the Libertarian position on all economic issues – auditing the Federal Reserve, tax cuts, spending cuts, reduction in the size of the deficit/debt, reduction in the size of government, reduction in the size of bureaucracy, elimination of whole federal agencies (such as the Energy and Education Departments) as well as limiting the size of government wherever possible and devolving power back to State and Local governments wherever feasible.
- Both Libertarians and Social Conservatives can resolve their differences on issues such as abortion, family issues and drug decriminalization by realizing that the answer to their arguments is already provided by the US Constitution.
While all are free to espouse their views and seek to change the views of others, residents of each state must decide social issue policy for itself under the Tenth Amendment. If individuals find that the policies enacted by majorities in their state are morally offensive, under the Tenth Amendment those individuals should be free to move to a state more in tune with their positions on social issues.
- For their part, Libertarians would accept an amended version of National Security Conservatism in foreign affairs, which itself would begin with the Conservatives agreeing with the Libertarians that the United States should pull back from neo-Con interventionism such as occurred in Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, and Libya. They would both agree that they would only support intervention where American security interests are clearly at stake.
For example, such a view would recognize that the 2001 attack on Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban was a necessary retaliatory action, but the attempt by the United States to “nation build” there was a serious mistake; it would recognize that current policies vis a vis Iran and ISIS are dangerously naïve and doomed to fail because they are pathetically weak and ill conceived.
This bargain would allow us to be able to defend ourselves using all options at our disposal and recognize that destroying our enemies does not automatically entail a responsibility to engage in “nation building” or “exporting Democracy” to countries that are too chaotic or culturally adverse to accept it.
It would recognize that our relationships with our Allies must be based on what is in the best interest of the United States, not on altruistic desires to help those who are unwilling to contribute anything in their own defense.
For their part, Constitutional Conservatives must recognize that archaic, entangling treaty arrangements such as NATO, America’s relationship with the impotent UN and expensive one-sided relationships with faux “allies” such as Pakistan must end.
We must cut loose from a Western Europe that is totally dependent on the USA to fight their battles for them in places that are far more suited for them to “police” such as Serbia, Bosnia and Libya. Constant calls for the United States to exhibit “leadership” should not be an excuse for allowing feckless, ungrateful allies to shirk their military responsibilities and do nothing but carp from the sidelines when the going gets tough.
However, Libertarians must accept that Free Trade alone is not a substitute for military strength and that neo-isolationism is not a foreign policy but the absence of one; history has proved this to be too dangerous a policy for our Nation to follow in a modern world full of maniacal terrorist groups and indeed sometimes irrational rouge states.
Having a strong military and being able to destroy enemies that attack the United States is absolutely necessary; humanitarian crusades and “nation-building” former enemies after their defeat ARE NOT.
This bargain would allow would us to be able to defend ourselves using all options at our disposal and recognize that destroying our enemies does not automatically entail a responsibility to “re-build” them.
Thus both conservative American security interests are preserved and Libertarian fears of adventurism are respected, as Rand Paul indicated in his speech to the Heritage Foundation:
As to the issue of “preventive war,” the resolution of this issue should be deferred and allowed to be determined by the historical process; that is, if there is no 9/11 style attack on the United States within the next 5 – 10 years, support for “pre-emption” will wither and die. If, on the other hand, we do experience such a catastrophic event, it is likely that the electorate will demand pre-emption as a prophylactic against further attack.
In either case, the resolution of the issue should not be allowed to interfere with a coming to terms of the two most important Limited Government groups that are critical to changing the political landscape from one dominated by both the Left and their statist counterparts in the RINO Republican Establishment.
Political reality dictates that a solid compromise needs to be built around these 3 areas in order to allow the Libertarian / Constitutional Conservative Inner Fringe to unite around that which they agree on against the Inner Party RINO Establishment, which exerts far more influence than their numbers justify, thus permitting it to undercut the political agendas important to the Inner Fringe.
But while the Left remains the external enemy, it is the internal enemy, the sclerotic, appeasing, Crony Corporatist sellout RINOs, who remain the poisonous enemy WITHIN that is subversive to the cause of the Liberty Movement.
It is they who undercut Constitutional Conservative / Libertarian challengers to their power in political primaries.
It is they who disrespected Ron Paul, a libertarian Republican candidate who received millions of votes in the primaries by denying him a speaking position at the 2012 Republican Convention and instead gave it to the RINO governor of New Jersey, who later blew so many kisses at the incumbent Democrat President that many viewed his actions as contributing to the Republicans losing the presidential election.
It is they who demanded – and received – grudging unity from Constitutional Conservatives to help elect THEIR preferred candidate and then blamed and attacked Conservatives for insufficient loyalty.
It is they who align with the corporatists in the Banking Industry, the statists in the Chamber of Commerce and other large, special interest financial donors against us both.
We will never have a chance to return to a limited government under the Constitution as long as we allow ourselves to remain split; we will never displace either the Left or the Establishment RINOs who have betrayed everything we believe in unless we unite against them both.
Constitutional Conservatives need the youth, enthusiasm and fresh ideas of the Libertarians to move beyond their Base and build on their electoral victories; Libertarians need the proven ability of Constitutional Conservatives to win in wave elections and finally become a permanent part of the electoral mainstream.
We desperately need each other to win and to grow.
All else flows from this bargain; all other pro-Liberty individual rights groups can be swept into the coalition on the basis of this compromise: Social Conservatives, Libertarians, Pro-Life, Pro-Gun, Religious Freedom, Pro-Israel voters, Privacy Rights voters, Fiscal Conservatives, National Security Conservatives, Pro-Veteran groups and those who wish to see a “strict” interpretation of the Constitution will all line up in opposition to the appeasement wing of the Statist RINOs who, save for the lip-service they pay them, oppose the agendas of almost ALL of the above.
We must accept the fact that, in reality, the RINOs arrogantly disdain and dismiss the members of this proposed coalition.
We must accept the fact that the RINOs are our enemies and may, since they pose as our “friends” are even more dangerous to the Cause of Limited Government.
I am aware that those who remain on the Outer Fringe of both the Constitutional Conservative and Libertarian factions will resist any compromise with purist principles, but coalitions are built on the Inner… not the Outer Fringe.
If Rand Paul can see the utility of this approach, certainly “Inner Fringe” Libertarians and Constitutional Conservative groups can unite to make a common cause in the struggle for the soul of the Republican Party and to advance the Cause of Limited Government.