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Fallout from CPAC

Someone named Kevin McCullough is outraged that the winners of the straw poll taken at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, DC last weekend were Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Gary Johnson.  This result, he believes, was due to libertarians' "stuffing the ballot box."  After all, many social conservatives decided not to attend this year in protest of the decision to allow the gay and lesbian group GOProud to participate.  McCullough's candidate of choice, Mike Huckabee, apparently did not do as well as he had hoped, despite the fact that he allegedly "has beaten the president head-to-head in nearly every poll taken."  The fact that Huckabee didn't bother attending may have had something to do with that.

Aside from being puzzled as to why a bunch of libertarians would have voted for Mitt Romney, and wanting to see those poll results that show Huckabee consistently beating Obama, my general response to Mr. McCullough is this: if you and your friends are going to boycott CPAC for fear of catching a bad case of teh gay, don't complain when those who do show up cast their votes for candidates who are not social conservatives.  That's not "stuffing the ballot box"; it's simple math.

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Discussions - 6 Comments

John Moser and I don't agree on much. But he is 100% right on this topic.

That's all well and good, John -- but try to win national elections without all those "homophobes." Go ahead, try.

if you and your friends are going to boycott CPAC for fear of catching a bad case of teh gay

The question at hand is whether it is necessary or proper to form social organizations (concerned with political action or no) for which the distinguishing feature is the sexual disorders of the members of said organization. If it is not, you have to ask what kind of common cause you can have with people who insist on forming such organizations.

Robert J. Smith was deemed unfit for public office in the state of Maryland by Gov. Ehrlich for uttering the term 'sexual deviant' on Maryland Catholic Radio. Alex Knepper, who is just this side of a certified felon, was deemed fit to attend CPAC. You are all welcome to whatever it is you fancy you are building.

And did Mitch Daniels really say he wants a "truce" on social issues? We should all realize that such a "truce" really means surrender -- the Left never rests on these issues. When in power, they use legislation (e.g., Cuomo on gay marriage in New York). When out of power, they use the courts. Mitch, we can't take a breather on these issues lest we lose faster than we are losing already.

I fear that the unhappy marriage between conservatives and libertarians will last only as long as the liberal ascendancy does. The cardinal value of libertarianism is radical individual rights. The cardinal value of conservativism is ordered liberty. These are not compatible values.

Libertarians of the sort you find in the Libertarian Party, at the Reason Foundation, or at the Cato Institute are a small minority in the public at large. They have a considerable institutional presence in economics and business faculties. However these profs appear to take little interest in social questions.

Robert Ehrlich is not (as far as I have been able to tell) consistent enough or principled enough to be called a libertarian. He is a Chamber-of-Commerce Republican. He is also, as is John Moser, a member of the professional-managerial bourgeoisie. In Robert Ehrlich's mind, simply articulating a particular understanding of sex and family life merits your removal from public life. For John Moser, making explicit and operational those understandings in voluntary association merits derision. Our problem is that our haut bourgeoisie has its own fancies and self-understandings, and they are fairly incongruent with social order in the long term (or medium term).

Libertarianism/objectivism has a harsh elegance and symmetry that appeals to smart people with a strong need for ideological tidiness and consistency. Moreover, it allows them to avoid all the hard choices of real conservativism (e.g., discrimination against those who threaten social order) while also avoiding the inanities of Leftism. A seemingly perfect middle way, but a cop out as well.

Unfortunately for these tidy thinkers, human nature has several contradictory drives (e.g., sex/love, individualism/collectivism, hierarchy/egalitarianism) that severely militate against such elegant ideological finesse. We are dealing with real human beings here, not Benthamite utility-maximizers.

In short, being an Objectivist at age 20 means you have the strength of mind to see through all the indoctrination. By age 40, you should have accumulated enough life-experience to understand that radical individualism can't work. To paraphrase E.O. Wilson, "nice theory, wrong species."

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