I Try to Say This

OFTEN AND IN DIFFERENT WAYS, but I suspect — because nobody seems to get it — that I haven’t pushed it enough.

Reading this post from Dr. Helen, the concept bloomed in my mind again.

People are asking for a conservative culture, for conservative principles, for a coherent conservative political philosophy. At the same time, (and largely due to the looniness of the Libertarian Party), people of a conservative bent disparage self-named Libertarians as loons.

Get this: conservativism is an outlook. It is a weltanschauung. It is not a political philosophy. Currently, and for approximately the past half-century-plus, Americans with a conservative view of the world have been mostly small-l libertarians.

The problem is that a lot of people who call themselves libertarians are no such thing. Many are closer to anarchists, and have somewhat looney takes on such matters as the public ownership of roads, the granting of utility monopolies, and other (::gasp::) “infringements” on the free state by governments. But scratch a self-named conservative and you find one who’s chief political aim is the preservation of liberty, of the beautiful idea, of the American Experiment, as laid out in the Declaration and Constitution. Someone who recognizes the need for government — particularly but not limited to defending the borders, maintaining the roads, running the courts, and delivering the mail — but also that government is a remarkably inappropriate instrument applied to most problems.

That is a true libertarian.

You’re not looking for conservative values. You are a conservative person. You want to figure out what it is you think work conserving. If that’s liberty, then you need to understand the true libertarian philosophy — individual rights, individual responsibility, limited government, maximum economic and commercial freedom, self-determination.

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