The responses to the recent post here titled Ron Paul Votes Against the Safety of Our Troops and yesterdays post titled The Primary Campaigns are Getting Interesting were very enlightening to me. I think they are worthy of further discussion.
First a couple of observations about the discussions on the two posts linked above. Libertarians are uniformly enthusiastic and united in support of their candidate, Ron Paul. Conservatives, on the other hand, are not united or all that enthusiastic about their candidates. Bob Mack left this comment yesterday: “The worst thing about any pool of candidates for political office is that one of ‘em is going to win.” And that pretty much sums up the dilemma for conservatives.
Another observation I made, and this might surprise the libertarians, is that conservatives “seem” to be a bit more flexible than the libertarians. By that I mean a significant percentage of conservatives have indicated a willingness to support Ron Paul if they continue to find reasons not to support the any of the other candidates. From the libertarian commentors, I don’t see any flexibility.
And that brings me to the subject of today’s post. I strongly believe that, for the benefit of both groups and for America, conservatives and libertarians need to seek out common ground and join forces so that together we can turn this ship of state around and hopefully avoid the terrible disaster that the Obama administration is leading this country toward today. As I said the other day, the two groups are stronger together than apart.
If we are to find common ground, we must first try to understand what are the primary differences that keep us apart. Last night, The Classic Liberal, came back and made what I consider to be the best defense of the libertarian point of view. You can read the entire comment by going to the first link above and scrolling to the bottom of the page. For now, I want to share part of the comment for purposes of discussion. The Classic Liberal sees the crux of the problem that some conservatives have with Ron Paul are Paul’s principles on war and the use of military force to impose America’s will on other countries. Here is some of what he had to say:
Principled … Do you teach your children not to be principled? Is being an unprincipled Christian something to aspire to? Is a lack of principle the key to success? Why, then, do we praise politicians for lack of principle? Isn’t it fair to sa that’s what’s got us into this mess?
Conservatives have to make a choice: Foreign wars or domestic economic recovery coupled with more liberty. No candidate offers both. They can’t. It’s impossible. We get one or the other. The choice is yours.
Nobody, I repeat, nobody could successfully conquer the United States. Period. The logistics are mind-boggling alone. The only way Sharia or communism or any of that crap takes hold in America is from within.
I think The Classic Liberal has put his finger on the most import difference between conservative and libertarians. So let’s talk about this.
Some libertarians seem to be of the opinion that they are principled but conservatives are not. I would ask libertarians not to think of conservatives as knuckle dragging war mongers. We are not. Most if not all conservatives were against our involvement in Libya. Most conservatives feel we did have to go after the Taliban in Afghanistan but that we completed our mission a long time ago and it is time that we bring our troops home. Conservatives have been split on our involvement in Iraq. Conservatives do believe there is waste and corruption in the military-industrial complex. We could probably even agree that we don’t need as many troops deployed around the world as we currently have. But yes, conservatives do believe that our country does have valid reasons to be concerned about our interest in the world.
Maybe I can boil down the concern that conservatives have with a Ron Paul President, or any other libertarian President, into these questions. How can Americans be comfortable that a Ron Paul President would protect America from nuclear first strike from a rogue nation like Iran? Would Ron Paul’s principles allow him to authorize a preemptive first strike against Iran if the need arose? Conservatives are not worried that Iran or any other country is going to conquer the United States. I believe that Ron Paul believes in a strong national defense force. But, defense can mean the use of preemptive force and conservatives want to know if a libertarian coud do it or would a libertarian only be willing to respond after the US had already been attacked?
So, if the above adequately describes the primary difference between conservatives and libertarians, is there any hope for finding common ground? I think there is. Joining forces has far more advantages than disadvantages, in my opinion.
John Scotus of the Tree of Mamre blog, also made a comment on my Ron Paul/Troops post. John apparently wanted to say more but didn’t want to start a fight here at Conservatives on Fire so instead he wrote his own post the next day on why Ron Paul would be a mistake as President. Both conservatives and libertarians should give this article a read. In referring indirectly to my post, John had this to say:
One point in particular was about having a libertarian-conservative coalition to defeat Obama. This is essentially the fusionist idea advanced by William Buckley and Barry Goldwater in the early 1960s, and adopted by Ronald Reagan and most people in the GOP in the 1980s. It was a winner then, and is a winner now.
By libertarian-conservative coalition, and specifically fusionism, the idea was that the government should be conservative on most issues, such as national defense and social concerns, but for the most part should simply leave people alone. Thus, the strongest and most complementary aspects of conservatism and libertarianism would be combined…
I wasn’t aware of this fusionnist idea tha t John refers to but I sure do like it..I would like to see the Libertarians elect as many congressmen and senators as they can in 2012. Then by joining forces with the conservatives (not the Republicans), we could go a long ways toward putting this country back on the right track. We could solve our monetary and fiscal problems that are ruining this country. Together we could begin the process of changing our government back to something much closer to what our Founders had in mind. I, for one, would be willing to compromise on our area of difference in order to move forward on those issues where we are in agreement.
Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?
Update: John Scotus has provided some links on fusionism: