Phillip writes: I have done a lot of writing about how frustration over spending may hamper turnout among conservatives and swing control of Congress to the Democrats (see the March issue of TAS and also here), but my basic point earlier today was that the type of libertarians Tierney found in Amsterdam already defected from the Republican Party. So, I don’t think Gillespie’s statement that, “Most of the libertarians I know have given up on the G.O.P” means much for November, because I’m sure he would have said the exact same thing two years ago.
Well, you’ll find reams upon reams of my complaints about spending in Spectator back issues as well, but my point was while we might not want to adopt the position of this or that sect of libertarians on the issues of our times (defining or otherwise), there is a clear and undeniable statist impulse in today’s GOP that needs to be countered lest the party become more a mirror image of the authoritarian left than it already is. That’s why libertarians giving up on the GOP is a problem, not how many digital votes they bring to the e-ballot box. Would the GOP’s diverse constituencies writ large ever want to convert to the Church of Classical Liberalism? Hell, no. Nevertheless, to allow the libertarian influence to wither on the vine completely will have effects far outside the fiscal realm, although it should be noted that almost every post-9/11 boondoogle has been labeled a matter of national security. (Farm subsidies against al Qaeda, right?) If the last six years have proven anything, it’s that the GOP already lacks watchdogs in its ranks. The other liberal side of the fence provides mostly demogouery in service of election strategy. Who else can provide that dissent and oversight without being seeing as granstanding for the next election but libertarians?
There is no reason to trust the GOP itself to have any philosophy other than winning. Hence, conservatism with any soul is not necessarily (or even usually) Republicanism. In many instances Bushism has just proven to be liberalism with a face and name tag the home team can root for. So I don’t welcome the further diminishment of influence from libertairians or any other segment of the coalition making up the GOP that would still know an ideal if they bumped into one on the street, whether I agree with everything they espouse or not.