Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Libetarian Awakening??

The CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) meeting this week is notable for two names….Glenn Beck and Ron Paul. Glenn Beck the author and radio/television talk show host seems to be a conservative evolving into a libertarian. Ron Paul, the Republican Congressman from Texas, who ran for the Republican Presidential Nomination in 2008, has always described himself as a libertarian. He actually ran for President as a Libertarian in 1988.

Glenn Beck’s appearance and Ron Paul’s winning of the presidential straw poll with 31% are notable. It makes the point that traditional conservatives are, at least to some degree, rebelling against the Republican Party. And if rebelling is too strong a verb, they are at minimum sending a message that business as usual will not do. This along with the Tea Party movement should bring some alarm to Party officials. While the Republicans will pick up seats in the Senate and House this November, they may not do as well as they could if these disgruntled conservatives think the Republican on the ballot is nothing more than a Democrat lite.

Glenn Beck, in his speech, beat up the Republican Party pretty badly, and with good reason. Based on the response to his talk you’d think that conservatives are actually ready to embrace personal responsibility and limited government. According to Mr. Beck the only true function of government is to “protect us from the bad guys”, to wit; a Justice Department and Defense Department….very libertarian. Call me crazy, I don’t think they are ready to really embrace these notions.

The ones who voted for Ron Paul in the straw poll are concerned about the government debt and the economy more than anything else. I don’t think most of them support his foreign policy; isolationism with the exception of trade. Ann Coulter, for one, likes Ron Paul except for foreign policy. This vote is a message to the party to rethink its domestic policy. Ron Paul would shrink the size of government, abolish or seriously refocus the Federal Reserve and go back to a gold standard. He embraces Austrian Economic theory which is the 180 degree alternative to Keynesian Economics. He would abolish Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid…….SCREEEEETCH. WHAT??? You mean I wouldn’t get MY Social Security?

So, what will be the outcome of all this politically? As a perpetual skeptic I’m not expecting much. Our entire culture, even among conservatives, embraces entitlements to some degree; at least when it comes to them individually. Our biggest entitlements are social security and medicare. Together they represent unfunded liabilities of up to $70T by some estimates. They are, therefore, the lion’s share of our future fiscal problems but I’d be willing to bet that a large majority of Republicans expect to get theirs and will not tolerate much “adjustment”.

But that’s ok too. When the whole system implodes people will learn that life and death go on and the ultimate truth; that they are responsible for their own lives will be learned. And the lessons of our Founders will be re-learned.