There Is Nothing Libertarian About Conservatives

03/17/2015 01:15 am ET | Updated May 16, 2015

I'm no fan of the conservative Heritage Foundation. I think conservatives are the biggest threat to individual rights in the country today. I think they need a good thrashing at the polls to evict the Religious Right fleas and ticks from the conservative movement. Perhaps, if they do, they will become halfway decent. Goldwater warned Republicans about the religious nuts, but they didn't listen.

At least one Heritage conservative is saying something worth hearing in regards to this so-called "libertarian populism." Whether or not it is populism I'll leave for others to decide, but it isn't libertarian by any stretch of the imagination.

Ron Paul, and his son Randal, continue to push that agenda and other conservatives have jumped on their bandwagon. However, as Heritage writer Heath Hansen notes, "there is little about libertarian populism that is distinctly libertarian...."

Tell that to duped libertarians who keep sending money to the Paul family employment machine!

Hansen admits so-called "libertarian populists [are] reticent to simply call themselves conservatives." I agree. Conservative thinking in this country is a cesspool. Ayn Rand called it "the God, family, tradition swamp." She was too kind. It should be noted that Rand would never have supported either Paul for office, for the same reason she rejected Reagan, "Abortion is a moral right--which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered."

Hansen concedes, "The size and scope of government, as well as the national debt, have massively increased under Republican-controlled congresses and administrations."

Of course it did. You can't have the warfare state and Religious Right moralism without big government. Modern conservatism is inherently big-government oriented. If you want to police the world, as well as every uterus, marriage and bedroom in the country, you have to spend money. Big government is inherent in the conservative agenda.

Hansen says, " It is not surprising that many on the Right decided to cut ties with conservatism and seek sanctuary within libertarianism. Such seems to be the case with libertarian populists. The primary thrust of libertarian populism is to drastically reduce the size and scope of government--a goal near and dear to libertarian and constitutional conservative hearts."

That is where I think he's in cloud-coo-coo land. Conservatives don't want to reduce the size and scope of government; they just want to redirect government spending toward making war and pushing the morality of tent revivalists and sham faith healers. That some libertarians foolishly saw these Neanderthals as allies is to their lasting shame.

Hansen quickly shows, however, that his return to limited government encompasses the warfare state. He rejects libertarian views on foreign policy and makes the case for war. So much for reducing the size of government.

Hansen next argues that the libertarian populists have to give up any luke-warm support they might feign for social freedom. He tries to make the claim that support for marriage equality has peaked and is in decline. Hansen deludes himself and his readers; " there is also a possibility that conservative arguments against gay marriage are actually influencing the public debate. As the true nature of the same-sex marriage movement has emerged, with activist judges redefining marriage contrary to popular will and religious liberties routinely being trampled, people may be starting to push back."

On the same day Hansen published this nonsense, the Wall Street Journal announced, "Support for gay marriage has risen to an all-time high in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, reinforcing it as one of the fastest-moving changes in social attitudes of this generation." Even more troubling for Mr. Hansen is "35% of conservatives supported gay marriage in March, up from 26% in April, 2013."

The ink wasn't even dry on his claim before he was proven wrong, but that is a problem conservatives are surely used to by now.

Hansen thinks libertarians should drop social freedom because it "creates significant tension within the conservative-libertarian alliance." Tough shit, Sherlock. There is no conservative-libertarian alliance.

As Hansen rightly noted, most so-called libertarian populists are just conservatives too embarrassed to call themselves conservative any more. That they are rightfully ashamed of the conservative label doesn't actually make them libertarian.

Hansen wants "libertarian populists" to drop all libertarianism -- which wasn't much to begin with -- and simply embrace the anti-freedom agenda of the warfare Jesusland fanatics on the Right. Yet his own column is proof that no self-respecting libertarian should have anything to do with conservatives, even conservatives such as Randal Paul.

The simple matter remains that you can't have "limited government" if conservatives are in power. They don't embrace policies necessary to reduce state control. As historian James Morone wrote, "turn to moral control and you'll find a powerful government pushing deep in American society."

More importantly, the moralistic campaigns of the evangelicals is precisely what undermined legal principles protecting economic freedom. Antitrust expert Herbert Hovenkamp said the America of the 19th century was one of "economic individualism" and "moral collectivism," or what I call "socialism of the soul."

The moralistic campaigns of the era -- anti-lottery, anti-liquor, anti-gambling, and anti-sex -- were at first undermined by the economic freedom upon which this country was founded. Quickly, moral campaigns won the hearts of "activist judges" who pushed for greater state power to regulate certain exchanges and property, and those precedents created the very "living constitution" theory conservatives today abhor. Big government in America may have been supported by Progressives, but it was conservatives who created precedents on which individual rights and economic liberty were crucified.