Earlier this month, the New York Times Magazine ran a piece by Robert Draper positing that the Libertarian moment may have arrived. I was skeptical when I heard of the article, more skeptical when I read it, and my skepticism was confirmed when I read about this Pew poll:
“Libertarian” conjures anti-interventionism in foreign policy and absolutism in civil liberties. Think of Paul’s now-famous filibuster of the nomination of CIA director John Brennan over the possibility of military drones being used on U.S. soil.
But Pew’s research showed striking departures from the expected party line. Libertarians were more likely than the general U.S. population to say that it is better for the United States to have an active role in world affairs, according to the Center.
They even favored stop-and-frisk — the controversial policing tactic — a touch more than the average American, despite civil rights supposedly being one of the cornerstones of the libertarian movement.
Pew dug further into the numbers by looking back at its political typology report from June. Tellingly, out of the seven typologies that Pew identified within U.S. politics, “none closely resembled libertarians, and, in fact, self-described libertarians can be found in all seven,” Kiley wrote. In some of the early versions of the report, there was a group that looked like libertarians. They made up about 5 percent of the U.S. population.
I think the press has confused the Paulites (Paultards in impolite company) with the common garden variety person that calls themselves libertarian. My experience is that most self-described libertarians are really conservatives who are uncomfortable with the religious right and the batshit crazy teanut wing of the GOP. They may be socially moderate and fiscally conservative but they tend to be as the headline on Jim Newell’s post on the Pew poll at Salon pointed out:
Libertarians’ true identity revealed: rich conservatives OK with gay people, basically.
That’s a far cry from swallowing Senator Aqua Buddha’s brogressive agenda. That’s a word Charlie Pierce has pasted on the Junior Senator from Kentucky, and I like it because it’s as nebulous as Paul’s own beliefs. He hates big guvmint except when it involves abortion rights and then he likes it. He has already crawfished on some of the statements he made when the streets of Ferguson, MO were hazy with tear gas. Aqua Buddha is just another conventional politician pretending to be a conviction politician. He’s not going to lure minority voters to the GOP just by speaking at Howard and hanging out with Corey Booker.
I have long experience dealing with educated people who are embarrassed to be associated with the GOP’s knuckledraggers and biblethumpers. They call themselves libertarians when, in fact, they’re conservatives who live in the 21st Century. As a veteran of the 1980’s political scene, I’m getting a kick out of conservativism becoming a toxic label. The same thing happened to the word liberal in the Reagan era, which is why the term progressive was revived. I’m still not crazy about it since some early 20th Century progressives were xenophobic racists who thought eugenics was swell. That’s why I’ve always called myself a liberal, which reminds me of this speech that Laurence O’Donnell never tires of reminding us that he wrote for Jimmy Smits:
As you can tell, I don’t believe for a second that the Libertarian moment has arrived. I think the folks who insist on calling themselves that need a new term. How about Sane Conservatives?