Reason: Don’t Get Too Comfortable With the GOP’s New Love For Libertarians

DonkeyHotey / Foter / CC BY

DonkeyHotey / Foter / CC BY

  writes:  In what many described as yet another indication of a monumental shift happening in the Grand Old Party, the Republican National Committee last week passed a resolution calling for an end to the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

But the party’s apparent shuffling to a more limited government, civil liberties-conscious platform may not be as genuine as some believe.

The RNC’s resolution, which passed by an “overwhelming majority,” declares “the mass collection and retention of personal data is in itself contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

These are strong words for the party that stood by President George W. Bush when he secretly (and illegally) ordered the NSA to spy on the domestic communications of Americans without any warrants at all. Time magazine’s Zeke Miller branded the RNC’s resolution “the latest indication of a growing libertarian wing of the GOP.”

It’s not just on NSA surveillance that Republicans are choreographing a shift. Chris Christie, Republican Governor of New Jersey and expected 2016 presidential candidate, made headlines earlier this month when he condemned the “failed war on drugs” in his second inaugural address.

Departing from the traditional Republican orthodoxy that more prison beds equal less crime, Christie railed against the canard that “incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse.”

Rand Paul (R-KY), another expected presidential candidate and the perceived leader in the GOP’s libertarian swing, has also worked in Congress to eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug possession.

“[M]ore and more conservatives are clambering down from the prison ramparts,” wrote political scientists David Dagan and Steve Teles in a 2012 article in The Washington Monthly. “Change is coming to criminal justice because [of] an alliance of evangelicals and libertarians” on the right, they claimed.

Many libertarians have also been pleased with Republicans’ triumphant rekindling of anti-spending, anti-debt rhetoric, which seems to owe its rebirth to the election of Barack Obama as a catalyst.

All of this is done with an eye toward the poll numbers. Americans increasingly oppose draconian drug war policiesdebt-ridden government, and excessively interventionist foreign policies.

But libertarians would do well to keep in mind a simple lesson of politics: Never trust a party out of power

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4 Comments on “Reason: Don’t Get Too Comfortable With the GOP’s New Love For Libertarians”

  1. […] Pundit from another Planet John Glaser writes: In what many described as yet another indication of a monumental shift […]

  2. Reblogged this on aurorawatcherak and commented:
    I tend to agree. I’m a non-partisan, which may make it easier to acknowledge the history of the major parties. They tend to co-opt the ideals of third parties over time, thereby making them attractive to third-party members. Then, when the shift of membership has been made and the third-party fades into insignificance, the main party begins to ignore the co-opted ideals.
    That said, I think Rand Paul really is a libertarian who joined the GOP to get elected. But, yes, there are plenty of GOP Congress members pretending toward libertarian ideals in hopes of attracting the more conservative-libertarian base that is just about fed up with the status quo.

    • The Butcher says:

      Also, a political party’s purpose is to win elections, and to accumulate and hold power. A conservative or liberal is more concerned with policy, ideology, point of view, values, principles. Understandably much different than the role of a national political party, either democrat or republican.

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