Social Conservatives vs. Libertarians...

An unnecessary war?

The schism between libertarianism and social conservatism has been exploited ruthlessly by the statist left and some of Ron Paul’s disciples.

But social conservatives want more freedom, not less. On that, at least, SoCons and libertarians should be united...

In defending their own freedom, social conservatives have not forgotten the phrase “free exercise thereof,” three words in the First Amendment that anti-religion leftists usually ignore.

With their debatable critiques of social libertarianism and progressivism, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich et al. are right to point out that government is increasingly hostile to those who choose to exercise their natural right to be free of the anti-conservative mandates and social engineering projects of the radical left.

Conservatives and libertarians may choose to have constructive conflict over some issues (e.g., expanding the role of government in homosexual relationships), but if there's any hope of reducing the oppressive power of the state, social conservatives and libertarians need to present a united front.

*Tangential addendum:

The distinction between "personal freedom" and "economic freedom" is a sham.

  • Paying taxes for schools that indoctrinate my kids to left-wing ideology -- personal or economic?
  • Incandescent lightbulb ban -- personal or economic?
  • Cigarette taxes that penalize smoking -- personal or economic?
  • Higher personal income taxes -- personal or economic?
  • Contraceptive mandates -- personal or economic?
Personal freedom and economic freedom are inseparable.

Why is this important?

Progressives use their personal freedom scam to mislead libertarians into thinking that outside of the economic realm, progs and libertarians share some common ground (e.g., marijuana, gay marriage, abortion and the war against "fundies" and shadowy theocrats).

Don't be fooled. Progressives have always wanted to control everything, personal and economic (and they'll use religion to get what they want, if they can).

Progressive statists buy political support with ephemeral state-approved personal "freedoms" the same way they buy votes with redistributed income.


Could it be that the paranoid "social conservatives want to create a totalitarian theocracy" meme and the idiotic "libertarians believe in no government and want poor people to die" mischaracterization come from the same place (and for the same dishonest and divisive reasons)?


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  2. yada, yada, yada... Social conservatism does not equal more individual liberty. It results in the exact opposite. aka: Rick (the Rickster Santorum) as one glaring example.

    Classical liberalism {as in Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the founding fathers} on the other hand does result in more individual liberty. But don't let facts stand in the way of statist hyperbole and platitudes.

  3. I agree with Les.

    The problem is that social conservatives and libertarians can't co-exist.

    Socons are all for economic freedom but completely feel the need to dictate what individuals choose to do.

    The are on the wrong side of every social issue such as drug prohibition, homosexuality, marriage (which the government has no business being in anyway), prostitution and just about every other choice that consenting adults make with the exception of gun ownership.

    Socons are really no different from the leftists that want to take away our economic freedoms; they both want to use the government as a tool of control, just with a different end in mind.

  4. "Social conservatism does not equal more individual liberty."

    I think this depends on how you look at the issue. Government shouldn't be partial to the agenda of social progressives, i.e., government should not trample the rights of social conservatives.

    (Historical note: Prohibition was a product of the Progressive Era. Now look at their dictatorial policies on contraceptives. See any parallels?)

    Santorum's views don't match mine, but his willingness to defend the rights of social conservatives should be welcomed by classical liberals and libertarians alike.

  5. @Chris W

    What are socons doing to "dictate what individuals choose to do"?

    Prostitution is a local issue. It's an interesting debate topic in libertarian circles, but it's almost moot in real-world politics. Prostitution is almost universally rejected in this country.

    Similarly libertarians have failed to win a lot of hearts and minds with their stance on drugs. I think I pay more attention to politics than most people, yet I hardly know where hardcore libertarians stand on that as a practical matter. Legalize heroin? Methamphetamines? Really? Can a libertarian explain to me how that would work?

    I could go on. Many libertarians seem to think that government could and should get out of marriage (again, how would that work?), but they generally seem to be happy with expanding the role of government in marriage through its involvement in homosexual marriage. That doesn't add up for me.

    I know there are some Socons who have bad ideas, just as there are self-described libertarians who have bad ideas. But to say that Socons, as a group, want to control people's lives, is an ugly overgeneralization.

    I find most libertarian ideas to be very attractive, but social freedom is a two-way street. I'm not sure how clear that is to most libertarians.

  6. Well, it is perfectly clear to me. I personally don't give a damn how the socons lead their lives. Just don't tell me {or other liberty minded folks} how to lead mine. Get it Catholic Church, Fundies, Rick (the Rickster) Santorum, and Obama the "Hope and Change" jokester???

  7. "I personally don't give a damn how the socons lead their lives."

    I know you don't, Les. In that regard, I'm "preaching to the choir" so to speak.

    But if anybody stands up to the statist left for Socons or for anyone else, I think they deserve credit.

    We're fighting statism against overwhelming odds, so collaboration between socons and libertarians is of vital importance. Whether it's school choice or Obama's contraceptive mandate, we can't miss opportunities to work together.

    On a practical level, I don't think the rift between socons and libertarians is as big as it often seems.

    Key point: Statists, much better than the rest of us, seem to understand the importance of forming coalitions and making incremental progress.

    If we don't work together as much as possible, statism will steamroll us.

  8. I used to oppose gay marriage, gay adoption, and gay service in the military - not anymore. But that doesn't mean I am going to let the gay agenda run roughshod over my rights. Their special protections create new classes of criminals. Their indoctrination of inclusion tries to dictate to me and my children what to think of their disgusting, degrading, unhealthy, unnatural, immoral and indecent lifestyles. If the only difference between hetero and homosexual relationships was anatomy, we wouldn't have a problem.

    The problem with drug legalization is that drugs remove volition, especially the highly addictive drugs. Societies that decriminalized drugs are worse for having done so. Marijuana legalization has destroyed Jamaica. I'm open to careful experimentation with legalization, but I'm not optimistic about the results. I also don't want to smell it in my air, so people can smoke in their own homes. Home use isn't enforced anyway, so the point is mostly moot.

    I can philosophically agree that if a woman wants to sell her body, she should be free to do so. Hell, some practically do that anyway. But wherever it is permitted, there is widespread disease, exploitation, abuse, and other crimes. I have a hard time seeing the line between willing and unwilling prostitutes. For many, it is a trap that ends their lives early. Again, it already takes place in massage parlors, hotels, and private homes. Society is pretty tolerant of behavior when it keeps under wraps. I'm very sure we prefer it that way. Drug addicts always know where to find drugs. Sex addicts know where to find sex. I'd prefer my children not pass by a legal brothel or hemp shop and wonder what goes on inside. Bars are already bad enough.

    I'm no prude. I just think polite society should stay polite and certain things should remain out of public view. We can stop the War on Drugs without legalizing or decriminalizing anything. We stop looking for it, but we prosecute it when it becomes a problem. Consider it like a speed limit or BAC limit.

  9. Where this theory fails is with born again types that are basically Dominionists. Steve Deace comes to mind. I just got through an argument with one and to me a lot of socons are no different than progressives, it's just a matter of what they want the government to control. These people seem to think our founders were bible thumpers and born agains that consulted the bible for all decisions, just like they do. This is pure eisegesis and I don't see the link other than some wanting to make the tent big enough to defeat Obama.

  10. "Legalize heroin? Methamphetamines? Really? Can a libertarian explain to me how that would work?"

    There are a lot of points being made here, but I'll just address this one simply. It would work exactly like it did before the government got involved in prohibiting substances. It's a recent phenomenon.

    Thanks Dickey Nixon. The first prohibition didn't work either.

  11. I would make another point. I am a libertarian with "conservative" values. (The definition of conservative keeps changing.)

    I live my life, and have raised my children to live by conservative values as I perceived them.

    But I oppose any force based government "solution" that uses the law to do anything except defend the actual rights of the people. That should be the cutoff in my mind.

  12. I prefer the term classical liberal. Generally speaking, conservatives are pro-government/authority.

  13. I grew up in Indiana and conservatism there meant Economic freedom, freedom of choice and moral restraint based upon ones personal beliefs and societal survival.

    When I take one of tests that puts most people as liberals, I am a moderate with slight libertarian and slight right wind tendency. In life I seem to be far right and far libertarian. So say what you will, the two can coexist.

    I am for restraining myself based upon my personal morals and understanding of what conditions allow society to thrive. The heavy hand of government takes false credit for every crime I do not commit and it sickens me. The poor are hopeless and the blessed are punished because of a state that views us all as threats in some way or slaves or both.

  14. It's pretty simple, government on any level should not infringe on what consenting adults choose to do as long as their actions do not do harm to an other person's liberties. In almost every case government prohibition has created the black markets and the criminality involved in them.

    The problem I have with Socons is that they want to legislate morality in the same way progressive want to legislate charity through the welfare state.

  15. "The heavy hand of government takes false credit for every crime I do not commit and it sickens me."

    We have a winner! Man, I wish I had written that.

    That one goes on my blog. Thanks

  16. I am a libertarian and fiscal conservative, but I am also personally a social conservative on some issues on a very personal level. I want far less government and there are examples from around the world where decriminalizing drug use has worked (Portugal) and privatized retirement (Chile). Government doesn't solve problems just takes our money to make them worse. Name one thing the government has done beside polio where they got involved and solved the issue and stopped spending our money on it? They keep taking more and more to better education, but education is steadily getting worse. They keep taking more and more to help the poor, but we now have more poor than ever. The feds need to return to their Constitutional box and focus on what we or the states can not do for ourselves like national defense and interstate commerce. They need to butt out of everything else and stop wasting our money. We should be allowed to handle most issues on a local or state level, where we have better representation.

  17. @Grant Davies

    "It would work exactly like it did before the government got involved in prohibiting substances. It's a recent phenomenon."

    I have to profess my ignorance. (So I thank everybody for the respectful discussion.) The Nixon era was before I was born so I don't know how well the pre-Nixon policies would work in today's culture with today's most popular addictive substances.

    From the standpoint of a person in the health care industry, I understand the fact that people are going to do what they want, but what Nick Rowe said ("...drugs remove volition, especially the highly addictive drugs") really struck a chord with me.

    A meth addict would brutally murder his own grandmother with his bare hands for more meth.

    People who are addicted to narcotics and methamphetamines are not rational and they are not "free individuals" in any meaningful sense of the term -- i.e., they've already traded their freedom away.

    But libertarianism is "a political position that advocates a radical redistribution of power from the coercive state to voluntary associations of free individuals."

    I would submit that the relationship between a drug addicted person and the drug dealer mirrors the relationship between slave and slave owner. There's no libertarianism in that relationship. It may start as a voluntary interaction between free individuals, but it does not continue on that way.

    But the rest of society will pay the price (in freedom and in dollars) for the addict's behavior. We can sit waiting for the addict to destroy himself and his community -- and violate others' rights in the process -- or we can try to be proactive.

    I'm not saying that what we're doing is working, or that it's moral, but I don't know if the pre-Nixon policies would be better, or result in more personal freedom.

    We're not passive with respect to epidemics of highly infectious disease (mandatory vaccination, quarantine, etc.), and I'm not sure if, on a practical level, we can treat highly addictive freedom-destroying substances any differently.

    I might make this analogy... if tobacco addiction is comparable to the common cold, methamphetamine addiction is comparable to smallpox. The approach to the two sets of problems is entirely different because of the nature of the addictions/diseases.

    Getting back to the points in my post, I'm just not sure that the purported gulf between libertarians and SoCons is as great is it seems, even on this issue.

    Would a move away from SoCon-friendly drug policies to libertarian-friendly drug policies look as radically different (on the street, in real life) as they do in abstract discussions?

  18. @Chris W

    "The problem I have with Socons is that they want to legislate morality..."

    I agree with that. You can't legislate morality and you shouldn't try. When people like Santorum hint at such notions, I am opposed.

    I haven't seen a lot of Socon moral legislative proposals lately, but the next time I do, I will speak out against it.

    On the other hand, even a libertarian-friendly government would be built within a moral framework (i.e., my rights end where your nose begins). That's an idea on moral values.

  19. "The problem I have with Socons is that they want to legislate morality in the same way progressive want to legislate charity through the welfare state." - Exactly, and they don't mind using tax money to further their own agenda, either. For example, most of the people I know who have pro-life as their most important plank refuse to consider cutting for programs that are "for the children" because they fear more women would have abortions if those safety nets didn't exist.

  20. Right-Klik said, "I haven't seen a lot of Socon moral legislative proposals lately, but the next time I do, I will speak out against it."

    Gay marriage is the best recent example. Libertarians think the government doesn't need to issue marriage licenses to anybody. SoCons think that marriage is between a man and a woman, and the government should make darned sure it stays that way. (In fact, government marriage licenses came to fruition as a way to keep blacks and whites from marrying each other. Used to be that if you lived with a guy, you were considered married for estate purposes.)

  21. @The Right Guy

    "Where this theory fails is with born again types that are basically Dominionists... I don't see the link other than some wanting to make the tent big enough to defeat Obama."

    Dominionists are an obscure group unknown to almost everyone, including SoCons. Dominionists reprent the average SoCon about as well as Timothy McVeigh represents the average libertarian.

    Bigoted christophobes like Michelle Goldberg are desperate to find scary dominionist boogeymen hiding under every bed (even libertarians are not spared from this paranoid suspicion), but it just ain't so:

  22. RK:
    The shit is already legal and people still do it. More laws won't stop it, never have. The mob made more money during prohibition. That said, the question is, how do you stop people from taking drugs and acting badly?

    As far as Dominionism goes, Steve Deace is pretty much an admitted one and you'll find more agreement with born again and evangelical types. The next thing you know we'll find out Jefferson and Adams were AOG and spoke in tongues. These eisigesical efforts are what they are.

  23. @AngelaTC

    Homosexual marriage is a very bad example for the case you're trying to make. Libertarians are not trying to get government out of the marriage business. On the contrary, they've been applauding the expansion of government into homosexual relationships:

    On the other hand, they're not out there trying to get polygamy legalized. Why? Is libertarian sentiment based on principle or pragmatic considerations, or do they just want to feel hip and cool?

    If libertarians are acting on principle with regard to government recognition of marriage, they should either be advocating for polygamous marriages or working to end heterosexual ones. I haven't seen a serious effort in either direction.

    And FYI, marriage license were not invented for purposes of racial segregation, and they go back to the medieval period, at least. But that's quite tangential to this point.

  24. @AngelaTC

    "...refuse to consider cutting for programs that are for the children..."

    I agree that SoCons should be fighting for less dependency on govt, not more, but I don't know if "most" SoCons are like the ones you know.

  25. "...the question is, how do you stop people from taking drugs and acting badly?"

    With the most highly addictive drugs, "acting badly" (i.e. violating everyone else's rights while forfeiting one's own) is virtually guaranteed. So the question is whether a libertarian ideological approach is likely to differ in any meaningful way from any other approach in the end.

  26. Guarantee? I prefer probability. My question was an honest one and deserves an honest answer. I didn't ask it from any particular political school of thought, but was looking for you to elucidate what your solution would be.

  27. Sorry. I actually thought that was a rhetorical question.

    I don't have any brilliant proposals.

    I recognize that there are serious problems with what we're doing, but I don't think legalization would work. You'd have the same people causing the same problems for the same law-abiding freedom-loving citizens who have to pay for the hospital bills and property damage and law enforcement costs ... but the drugs would be a little more accessible.

    Drug addicts are going to live outside the law (even libertarian-friendly law) even if you legalize the substances.

  28. The drug addicts are a serious problem but not the primary problem or the bigger problem.

    The war on drugs causes more problems than the use of them.

    The criminality and social degradation are caused by the drug trade itself. The prices are high because of it and there is no venue for conflict resolution.

    The WOD not only doesn't work, at all, it makes it worse, much, much worse.

  29. @Grant Davies

    I appreciate that argument and suspect that there is a great deal of truth in it, but I am not 100% confident that it is true.

    The cost of drug addiction comes not just from the war on drugs but from the immense health care costs, theft, property damage, consequences of associated prostitution, etc...

    And I'm not convinced that low-cost drugs would necessarily decrease drug related crimes significantly. Addictive drugs are pretty cheap as it is, and drug addicts will commit violent crimes to feed their addictions whether they need $5 or $50.

    Moreover, legalizing addictive substances won't necessarily result in a surge in supply. What sort of businessperson wants to sell a product that will literally destroy a huge percentage of the customers? And the customers who do survive often become irrational, violent sociopaths... And the costs of the consequences are passed on to the rest of the community...

    I don't believe that the addictive drug industry would populated by paragons of libertarianism.

    I would submit that a legalized addictive drug industry would scarcely feature the "voluntary associations of free individuals" that libertarians want to see more of.

    But I'm open to evidence to the contrary.

    1. The thing with your argument is, you're giving consequences for the legalization of Drugs/Prostitution/Gay Marriage/etc. But couldn't you use the same logic for gun ownership and guns rights? Can't you say Americans freely buying/trading guns and weapons is detrimental to the safety of American citizens? Any human who's angry for some reason can and will shoot-up a school/office/church/etc. But that's the price we're willing to make for freedom. And the offender/criminal/insane person who criminally take advantage of their right to bear arms usually get their weapon of choice from a "law-abiding" gun owner who never shot a person a day in his/her life. The people who go on shooting rampages are usually also law-abiding citizens with no criminal records either.

  30. The war on drugs is a failure, will continue to fail, and at huge cost. When drugs became illegal a illicit industry was created. As usual, well thought out. Moralists won the day. And here we are.

  31. I'm a moralist. Drugs will fry your brain, just look what happened to Whitney.

    I'm so sad I think I'll go drink a six pack. Hell, it's 10:30 here in Illinoistan, I need a drink....

  32. I live a very socially conservative life, but think that libertarianism is the best political fit for my faith. In the New Testament, Brother Paul didn't agitate for Christians to piddle about making people moral, but just to get out the Gospel Truth. This comes through the freedom of speech and other civil liberties that libertarians best represent.

    The "socially conservative" issues today were largely framed in the Progressive era: Prostitution was not illegal before 1920ish, prohibition, marriage licences, school attendance and all these government-social controls were laid down by our ever-socially planning pals the banksters. By the way, where do you think all that drug money winds up? In the bank accounts at Wells Fargo and other Fed Cartel institutions. The border remains porous because of the tremendous amounts of drug money coming through. The Big Pharma Cartel also wants to keep a lock-down on any legalization measures--controlling competition is the name of the game. For more inforamtion about the government and drug trafficking, check out the Dark Alliance series by Gary Webb - he committed suicide over it---two bullets in the head. You know it's got to be good with a suicide like that!!


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