Libertarians and Republicans

As a libertarian that voted rather unenthusiastically Republican in the last election, I am right here with Ryan Sager:

some libertarian types may have been upset with President Reagan's
deficits, he was at least singing from their hymn book: Government is
the problem, not the solution. George W. Bush on the other hand has
never even gone to the trouble of aping a small-government posture.
Instead, Bush has adopted one of Reagan's other famous lines, sans
irony: I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.


represents a fundamental shift in the direction of the Republican Party
and a threat to its traditional alliances. The shift is self-evident.
Instead of being the party that tries to rein in entitlement spending,
the Republican Party is now the party of the $1.2 trillion Medicare
prescription-drug benefit. Instead of being the party that is opposed
to even having a federal Department of Education, the Republican Party
is now the party of extensive intrusion into local schoolhouses by Washington.
And instead of being the party of the rule of law and state's rights,
the Republican Party is now the party of Congressional intervention
into the thoroughly adjudicated medical decisions of an individual

A few weeks ago I wrote here that about the high-stakes battle over judicial nominations.  When Republicans were out of power, they could be trusted to support non-activist judges against liberal activist alternatives.  Now, however, my fear is that Republicans may have shifted their stand, seeking to nominate activist conservative judges.  Leaving no one at all in Washington to support a constitutional separation of powers.


  1. Billy Budd:

    Unfortunately you are spot on. As a life long Republican I feel sold out and abandoned. Bush is spending money like a drunken sailor and has lost me on his irrational pandering to Vincente Fox. I am a poor lost soul swimming in a fish bowl......

  2. dearieme:

    I've argued for a couple of years that W is a leftie. Responses differ. The British humour me, the Continentals look mystified, US Republicans wince and US Democrats rage.

  3. rox_publius:

    you "fear"?

    there's no "fear" about it. you are spot on - and a bunch of us are standing around looking for a dance partner.

  4. chadeo:

    I think it is becoming clearer that the Republican Party works very effectively as a minority party and the Democratic Party is a horrible minority party. Perhaps this will change in time, but right now it does seem like the Republicans have started to abandon some core aspects of their party platform now that they have taken power. The time would be ripe for the opposition party to pick up on those themes and use them as a way to build a coalition to drive the Republicans out of power. Unfortunately I do not see that happening any time soon.

    Congress is the real problem here as they are the ones who have most power to either expand or contract the government. The Republicans tended to limit the size of the government when the president was a Democrat. They seem to have lost the desire to do this as soon as they also had a man in the White House.

    The problem for me is the fact that I see no high level effective foreign policy coming from the Democratic Party. So while I think that the Republicans work very well as a check on a Democratic executive, I do not want to place a Democrat in the office of President until we have done more to reform the Middle East. Thus I have no real choice but to accept a larger government as the Republicans start to use the power of the majority to keep that power in the future.

    If the democrats could find an aggressive, effective, foreign policy that did not rely on the UN, I think they would have a great shot at the White House. Then the Republicans would be forced back into working against the executive, and thus limit government.

    I am not sure how much people with a libertarian bent can do to try and influence the emergence of such a Presidential candidate from the Democrats, but it is something I am thinking about.

  5. benway:


    Power politics is defeating ideals. To the victor goes the spoils, but unfortunately, following the victory, republicans are ignoring the fiscally conservative, limited-government platform that won the election in favor of a socially conservative, big-spender agenda.

    I reluctantly voted republican as well. Now, I'm going back to my historic stance that the ideal state of the federal government is partisan gridlock. At least, its harder for either party to do damage that way.

  6. Void Where Prohibited:

    Coyote on Libertarians and Republicans

    Link: Coyote Blog. When Republicans were out of power, they could be trusted to support non-activist judges against liberal activist alternatives.

  7. Void Where Prohibited:

    When Conservatives go bad

    Link: TCS: Tech Central Station - Cuckolded by the Conservative State. This is why libertarians are worried about the Republican Party having a

  8. Max Lybbert:

    I think one aspect of this conversation is missing: as Professor Bainbridge says "I see federalism and limited government as means to an end, while [many libertarians seem] to see them as ends in and of themselves" ( ). In other words, I believe the Constitution begins "We the People, ... in order to [list] ... establish this Constitution"; not "We the People, because we think it would be pretty neat to see where this federalism thing goes, establish the following system: [rest of Constitution]."

    I don't feel all that comfortable with a big government, and given my druthers, I'd pick a small one. However, I can settle for a large government if it respects my rights and defends me against people I can't beat myself.

    The Professor explains *his* reasoning in more detail in an earlier post ( ).

  9. zola8:

    Hiyas ppl, i got here cause of bag pic, anyone have the recipe to make it? I can't comment on your politics as i am canadian, but i like your naivity and vigour!

    P.S. my spelling sucks
    like the purse, if anyone can send me instructions on how to make one, cheers! :D