I think this is why Brink Lindsey’s formulation is ultimately so unsatisfying. I’ve argued that the problem with the current fusionist bargain is that many conservatives and libertarians have developed markedly different goals for their ideal political order. But Lindsey fails to show that libertarians and contemporary American liberals are any closer on this question.
Consider how little it seems to take to qualify as a Libertarian Democrat. Jon Tester gets credit for his anti-Patriot Act stance; his fellow Montanan Brian Schweitzer is pro-gun. Fair enough. But is combining these civil libertarian stands with economic statism really all that much more libertarian than a conservative Republican who combines support for Social Security privatization with opposition to gay marriage?
You could argue, I suppose, that the Patriot Act is such a unique threat to freedom that a Democrat who opposes it deserves a pass for backing national health insurance. But in this case, it would be the conservative Republican and not the Libertarian Democrat whose policies, if enacted, would actually bring about a smaller federal government.
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