Liz Mair raises a number of good points in her column today about the Mountain West. The Democrats are making headway in this traditionally Republican region. The individualistic culture of the area may make it less than fertile ground for big government conservatism. But the Interior West’s libertarianism can be overstated. Daniel McCarthy is on to something when he calls it just the Semi-Libertarian West.
To take one example: Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is often cited as an example of the new, less government-happy Democrats who can appeal to Moutain Westerners. Mair notes that the Democratic presidential candidate Schweitzer prefers is Bill Richardson, who received a higher grade from the Cato Institute than 20 Republicans. Yet Schweitzer himself received an F while Richardson only got a C. In Richardson’s case not bad for a Democrat (or in this era, a big government Republican either) but nothing to write Ayn Rand about.
I’ve written about the exaggeration of the Libertarian West at greater length here. It’s a key swing region of the country, but Goldwater Republicanism isn’t in much better stead there than in newly Democratic New Hampshire.