Reason has an interesting debate on the question of libertarian political strategy. Should libertarians seek to forge an alliance with conservatives or liberals or neither? Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg and Tea Party leader Matt Kibbe argue for reconsituting the libertarian-conservative coalition that was badly frayed if not completely severed during the Bush years. Cato Institute scholar Brink Lindsey argues against that view. Although I am much closer to Lindsey’s political views than Goldberg’s, I find myself agreeing somewhat more with Goldberg’s position in this particular debate.
Yup! He should be.
I’ve addressed this on at least two different occasions. Here’s the gist of the first one:
When asked whether the government should be involved in something, the libertarian will default to “No;” the liberal, to “Yes;” and the conservative to “I don’t think so.” What a lot of conservatives forget is that their answer and the libertarian answer is not quite the same; once a conservative is convinced that government intervention is acceptable or even laudable he will enthusiastically support it*. And what a lot of libertarians forget is that while “No” and “Probably not” are not quite the same, “No” and “Yes” will never be the same; even in places where the results would be the same the process is significantly different**. In other words: to a libertarian, a conservative is an ultimately unreliable ally (and vice versa). But a liberal’s just going to be somebody who’s only right by accident..
*The interstate highway system. The US military as a mechanism for enforcing American foreign policy positions. A federal banking system. Sure, they’re not particularly controversial now (and online protestations to the contrary, they’re not particularly controversial). But at the time…
**Let’s take, say, same-sex marriage. A libertarian thinks that two people should be able to enter into whatever contracts that they like; a liberal thinks that it’s not fair that two people in love shouldn’t be allowed to marry. Same goal, right? …up until the point where the liberal cheerfully introduces a law making it illegal for private organizations to refuse services to same-sex couples on moral grounds, and the libertarian starts blinking.
The second is considerably shorter.