The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):


  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”


Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, March 02, 2012

More on Reagan, libertarianism, Santorum, etc.

It seems that the Reagan quote in yesterday's post is genuine. In The Daily Caller, there was a nice posting dated January 7, which I just discovered, including the words:

When Rick Santorum’s nephew endorsed Ron Paul in an op-ed in The Daily Caller this week, he wrote: “If you want another big government politician who supports the status quo to run our country, you should vote for my uncle Rick Santorum.” Santorum respectfully and lovingly dismissed his young nephew’s endorsement. The senator said his nephew was just “going through a phase,” and later added: “I am a Reagan conservative. I am not a libertarian. And the people who are calling me a big government guy are libertarians.”

In an interview with Reason magazine in 1975, Ronald Reagan said:

If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism … The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.

Says Santorum: “I fight very strongly against libertarian influence within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”

Santorum is not a Reagan conservative. Not even close.


Now Jack Hunter, who wrote those words, describes himself with the words:

It surprises people when they learn I’m not a libertarian. As Ron Paul’s official campaign blogger, I’m often perceived as being a libertarian and I am no doubt sympathetic to many libertarian views. But ultimately I’m a traditional conservative — a limited-government constitutionalist of the Barry Goldwater variety. That said, I’m no more offended at being called a libertarian than a heavy metal fan is when called a rock and roller — both terms represent far more synthesis than antithesis. Santorum has no comprehension of this basic philosophical and historical truism.

Being against big government does not represent the totality of American conservatism, but it does represent what Reagan called the “heart and soul” of conservatism. Reagan recognized that the “desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom” was indeed libertarianism but that it was also conservatism. This observation was fairly commonplace on the right during Reagan’s time, when “conservatism” was still more of a substantive philosophy than a Republican marketing tool. For example, in his book “Flying High,” a memoir about the 1964 presidential campaign, William F. Buckley repeatedly refers to Goldwater’s philosophy as “libertarian” and his famous book “The Conscience of a Conservative” as a “libertarian tome.”


In 1960, the first year I could vote for President, I refused to vote for either Goldwater or Johnson. (Under today's rules, when 18-year-olds can vote, I would have been able to cast a vote in 1960. But in those days you had to be 21 except in two States — Georgia and Kentucky — and I lived in neither.) I hsd seen a lot of propaganda about Goldwater, and I had been turned off by his dismissal of Nelson A. Rockefeller (my favorite politician at the time) with the words “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” So I did not see, at that time, the value of much of Goldwater's ideas. But now, after nearly fifty years, I wish I could go back and vote for him — though my one vote would, of course, not have made a difference.

I still am more of a Rockefeller Republican than a Goldwater or Reagan Republican. But more than anything else, a Rick Santorum who can say “I fight very strongly against libertarian influence within the Republican Party and the conservative movement” is the antithesis of what I want to see in the GOP's direction. And should he be the nominee, I could scarcely support him. (I am not very sympathetic to Hunter's preferred candidate, Ron Paul, either. But this is not due to his libertarianism, but other things about which I have written before.)

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