Just How Far Will the GOP Take Its Libertarian Instinct?

It wasn’t so long ago — apparently 100 episodes of This American Life, or four calendar years — that President Bush, and his Cabinet, personally intervened to force a small-town government to open its public spaces to organized religious prayer, in seeming derogation of both First Amendment values, and the notion of local control.

Conservatives today talk about “statism” — the centralized government’s interference in the private affairs of you and yours — but could there be a better example of statism than the heavy-handed, Cabinet-level decision to cancel the act of a local government, for its failure to comply with the Cabinet’s values?

Let this be a poignant reminder that when we talk about religiously motivated law, we talk about commandments from on high, foisted upon us by the government; derived from God, perhaps, but executed by Caesar, in defense of Caesar’s god. The mind reels to think of the cognitive dissonance your average tea partier must manage to reconcile a love of Sarah Palin with her utter opposition to their putative values. Maybe they’re smarter than they look.



  1. Steve Jeffers · ·

    The Tea Party types have missed the big, obvious point: if you set it up so you can do what you want, so can the guys you disagree with.

    The Republicans do seem to have disabled their double standard detectors, as every episode of the Daily Show makes clear. The Gulf Oil Spill is a classic example of *every single actual thing that’s actually happening* demonstrably and unambiguously proving the Republican position to be wrong at every level, but it’s not even broken their stride. But we’ve had disaster after disaster, and the only distinction is between the ones completely down to Bush policies and those only indirectly down to them.

    It’s a faith-based, arational environment, but the more interesting question is ‘why?’. Is it simply the Dawkins point that if you turn your brain off enough to be a fundamentalist, it won’t come back on for other stuff?

  2. I don’t follow? Are you saying that the libertarian instinct contradicts the Bush actions (and also Palin’s likely suport of those actions) or supports them?

    1. Explicitly contradicts. Right?

      1. Of course it does which is why libertarians are dissatisfied with the Right. A lot of them believe they will eventually be better served by the Left but I am skeptical. The Left only values personal freedoms to a point and they certainly don’t jive with libertarians on the role of government.

  3. The correct libertarian (or at least, the one I always get) response to this is “but we didn’t like Bush!”

    Which may be true, but doesn’t explain why they sat on their hands while stuff like this was happening.

    1. oneiroi · ·

      In addition, continuing to sit on their hands on a variety of issues I think libertarians should be protesting (state secrets, expanded executive power, attacks on miranda rights/habeas corpus, etc).

  4. James F · ·

    It starts and ends with the infiltration of the GOP by the Religious Right. Pushing religion by government fiat shouldn’t have a place in conservatism, let alone libertarianism.

    Submitted with the caveat that the cartoonist is much harsher than I am toward the right:


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