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InsiderOnline Blog: February 2005

I Thought We Were All Just Getting Along.

I've been thinking of writing about the alleged impending split between libertarians and social conservatives, which Ryan Sager and Ramesh Ponnuru have been arguing about this week. Amy Ridenour beats me to the punch with a thoughtful post and the benefit of her years of experience.

Nonetheless, I'll add my young, green thoughts to the mix. My prescription is about the same as Amy's-- chill pill, folks. As one of the conservatives in the audience at CPAC who didn't boo libertarians, I'm with Amy in thinking that relations are a lot better than those boos suggest. On the last day of CPAC, for instance, I sat at The Heritage Foundation's booth with a libertarian colleague, across the aisle from The Objectivist Center's booth, and next to Americans for Tax Reform. There are certainly differences between these groups, but there was no booing or throwing of objects (which could have been very bad, as the Objectivists always have a hefty edition of "Atlas Shrugged" handy). It was almost as if we were a coalition...

As a conservative, and a social conservative in most regards, I'm thankful for libertarians. As far as I'm concerned, people who love free markets, guns, and America are welcome in a coalition with me. Perhaps I'm more apt to embrace libertarians because I spend a lot of time with our real opponents-- my liberal, sometimes-dang-near-socialist friends. Debating (and I use the term loosely)20-something socialists will teach you to LOVE talking to a libertarian.

I also think the street-cred of "libertarianism" as opposed to "social conservatism" does a lot to attract young, counter-culture types to the center-right coalition who might otherwise be lost to loony leftism. That's a win for all us liberty-lovers. I know when I focus on the libertarian aspects of free markets, lower taxes and other conservative positions, I'm able to talk to folks who wouldn't go near me if I used the word "conservative" to characterize them. "Libertarian" overcomes a lot of stereotypes young people have of conservatives, and it's always made for more productive political conversations in my experience. That seems like a good thing to me.

So, consider this my bear hug for both social conservatives and libertarians. We need each other, and I think we'll stick together. At least from my perspective, out in the CPAC audience, there was a lot more getting along and good debate than booing.

Posted on 02/22/05 04:50 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

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