Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A new conservative category

John Fonte proposes civic conservatism. I can endorse his limited agenda, so long as it’s articulated so as not to be at odds with religious pluralism (which may be easier said than done). My reason for this caveat is that someone like Stephen Macedo might be inclined to take the "civic" and run with it in order to marginalize religious groups whose devotion to egalitarian inclusion doesn’t match his own aggressive agenda.

Discussions - 11 Comments

Does he mention Pat Buchanan? Of all the "civic conservatives," Buchanan is the leading figure. The way this man has been "read out" of the GOP is shameful.

Interesting comment by dain--can we distinguish between civic conservatives and nativist conservatives? Civic conservatism is one aspect among many of real conservatism, and it’s not realistic to push the civic or citizen thing too far.

As I remember it, it was Buchanan who left the GOP, not vice versa, back in 1999.

Actually the establishment Republicans pushed Buchanan out for daring to oppose Bush I in the primaries.

Unfortunately they got their way and we got Bush II.

Yes, that’s correct. Pat is old-style GOP, and these new dreamers just can’t handle a man like that. His "welcome" among the neo-cons and the libertarians has shall we say...less that warm.

Okay, maybe I’m wrong about who dissed whom first (although Pat openly repudiated the party in 1999, when he decided to seek the nomination of the Perotistas), but don’t blame the libertarians. They had absolutely no say whatsoever in what the GOP does (nor do they now). I didn’t know a single libertarian in 1992 who liked George H.W. Bush, thanks both to his invasion of Iraq and his violation of the "No New Taxes" pledge. On the other hand, I know plenty of libertarians who backed Pat Buchanan; in fact, the anarchocapitalist Murray Rothbard was absolutely enthusiastic about his candidacy. (I know because he told me so.)

Hmm...that’s hard to understand, John. Pat is a protectionist, and a closed-border guy par excellence. Why would Libertarians endorse him? I’ve heard libertarians call him a fascist (not national spokesmen, but friends)...Pat is definitely no Libertarian. I remember hearing Pat discuss his less-than-pleasant visit to CATO. Odd.

Regardless, Pat is a "civic conservative" in the best sense. He’s an economic and political nationalist, and his motives for restricting racial/ethnic groups from immigration is not bigotry, but a careful reading of history’s cautionary tales of how polyglot nations fail.

Buchanan was anti-NAFTA, but so were a lot of libertarians who complained that it would create a massive transnational bureaucracy. Rothbard, who believed fervently in free trade, justified his opposition to NAFTA on the grounds that it wasn’t actually free. Libertarians also appreciated his views on foreign policy. True, most of them objected (and still do object) to his stance on immigration, but that was a far less potent issue in the 1990s than it is today. A lot of libertarians therefore viewed him as much better than Bush I.

In any case I didn’t mean to start a discussion of political philosophy. I was responding to your suggestion that libertarians in the GOP helped to throw Pat out of the party. It simply isn’t true.

I think it is quite likely that some libertarians in the GOP have had a hand in shunning him, John. Short of a survey, it’s hard to know one way or another. I do believe that Pat himself thinks that libertarians have been hostile to him, in the GOP and out.

Only if your definition of "hostile" is that they disagree with him. Most libertarians I know sympathize with the "Old Right" tradition that Buchanan espouses, despite disagreements on certain issues. But all of this avoids the real point, which is that libertarians have never made up, and don’t make up now, a significant enough portion of the GOP to do anything about it. Tell me, who exactly among the Republican leadership during the 1990s was a libertarian?

John, since we are talking about the GOP, obviously big "L" liberatarians aren’t involved. But the GOP leadership has had (and still has) libertarian-leaning leaders. How about Armey, or Sununu (for the 1990s, that is)? I could name more, but what’s the point?

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