A Conversation with paleo-libertarians, minarchists, libertarian right, classical liberals, conservatarians, fusionists, liberty leaning conservatives, paleo-conservatives, and constitutionists.
By Clint Bishop, American Third Party Report, September 7th, 2016:
Hey you! Yes you, the libertarian or conservative with libertarian leanings that doesn’t feel quite at home in the Libertarian Facebook groups. You aren’t alone. Most people aren’t comfortable with, nor find amusement in picking fights for fun. Sensible people, regardless of ideology, don’t typically revel in the type of chaos that we witness on a daily basis – the squabble with one goal in mind, to drive each other closer to anarchical views. Who wants to end every discussion being called a ‘statist’ simply because your views aren’t the most radical on the thread, or sacrificing your principles in order to be the one that gets to say it? Of those of us who are Christian or religious, what fun is it to fear literal persecution in groups intended to beget the opposite effect? I suspect that many endure the nonsense because we don’t necessarily mesh with the warmonger neo-conservatives that comprise the Conservative Groups or their hypocrisy of claiming to be for small government while promoting everything that keeps central government strong. On the same token, there’s never really been anywhere else to go that’s remotely viable, particularly as the Libertarian Party has finally garnered long awaited national recognition, despite squandering it away by nominating a moderate Presidential Candidate and a gun-hating, CFR loving VP Candidate, as well as having the Convention tarnished by images of a naked fat guy running across the stage for the world to see. Despite all of this, the LP and the libertarian groups still seem to be where all the ‘cool kids’ hang out.
All of that being said, I recently interviewed seven individuals from various liberty-minded, closely related philosophies in an attempt to determine a few things:
- Has the Libertarian Party moved too far to the left to represent prudent libertarians?
- Has the Republican Party moved too far center, and maintained such an authoritarian path that it can no longer represent paleo-conservatives, liberty leaning conservatives and conservatarians?
- Is there room between, or to the right of, those two parties for a another party to grow, properly represent them, and become a viable option for the near future?
One thing you’ll notice in the subtitle is that neo-conservatives, constitutional conservatives, and the newly identified “alt-right” were not mentioned. This was necessary for distinct reasons. First, neo-cons have altered the path of the Republican Party to an irreconcilable place in terms of interventionism and globalism. Despite their professed views regarding government, they embrace the state and its power structure and propensity for corruption. “Constitutional conservative” is probably one of the most misused terms among the political right. I can vouch for this because just months ago I , myself, was a neo-con who erroneously touted the term to describe myself. After a few months of studying the Constitution and the original intent of the founding fathers, I can honestly say that very few who claim the term for themselves today are deserving of it, rendering it practically useless. They can be educated and guided, but were not practical for the purpose of this article. As for the supposed “alt-right”, this seems to be a pejorative term referencing to Trumpidians, embraced by dissenting sects of the remaining Republican Party who are too afraid to leave. They are, therefore, useless to me as well.
The other thing you’ll notice is that the libertarian left and all forms of anarchists were left out. The reason is simple, I wanted adults. If you lie in Mommy’s basement on her laptop, or a phone on her plan, and argue abstract ideologies with likeminded dissidents who hide behind their keyboards then I have no use for your opinions. Let’s be honest, without the phenomenon of social media and your (ironically) state provided education then you likely would know zilch to little about the libertarian philosophy and movement. If you argued with the general public as much as you do online you’d end up on the bloody end of a disagreement more often than not, crying “But, but Muh NAP…”. Let’s face it. Not many truly believe that we’d be better off with absolutely no government. We believe in small government, but few are interested in reintroducing feudalism to the world.
So why paleo-libertarianism and the libertarian right? These dimensions of libertarianism seem to understand, even acknowledge important aspects of our society that their libertarian counterparts discount, or even disregard as views perilous and incompatible with liberty. Common sense and morality guide their reasoning. As Paleo-libertarian Tony Cansoneri, writer for Liberty Hangout,defined it, a Paleo-libertarian is “a libertarian who believes that culture and tradition are key components of freedom and that a free and voluntary society can uphold these and defend these better than state. [Paleo-libertarians] also believe in radical decentralization of government and many, if not most of us, are skeptical of multiculturalism and believe that to the extent it exists today, it is a nasty byproduct of government largess that leads to much turmoil.”
“Paleo-libertarians also believe in radical decentralization of government and many, if not most of us, are skeptical of multiculturalism…”
That sounds refreshing for levelheaded libertarians, doesn’t it? He continues, “I would say that a paleo-libertarian is essentially a very far right conservative at heart and typically believes in old school traditional values and western culture as necessary components and who sees social and cultural conservatism as a byproduct of a free society. The more free a society is, the more moral and virtuous it can truly be. . .We are strong supporters of religious liberty and the freedom of association. Yet we also hold that the individual right is supreme and the extension of the individual (private property) is what all rights truly stem from.”
It seems that traditionalism, even patriotism, isn’t highly regarded among libertarian circles; almost as though they’re believed to be incongruent with individual liberty, yet these are important Americanist ideals. One of the most surprising discoveries in my interviews was the fact that ALL SEVEN value patriotism and traditionalism (at least on a local level on one). Likewise, five of seven were religious and only one was agnostic. While I’ve never found solid, scientific polling on the religious makeup of the Libertarian Party, I’ve personally found it to be very unwelcoming to the religious, particularly Christians. The informal polling I have found suggest that a very high percentage of libertarians consider themselves agnostic or atheist – to, the tune of 40% agnostic within the Party compared to 7-20% of the national population. Classical liberal Clay Hesketh, one of the Rand Paul supporters interviewed and the only agnostic of the seven, states “I believe that tradition and culture are important on an individual or community level, but not on a state or national level. I’m skeptical about multiculturalism because it can become a veiled form of segregation.”
Another staunch Rand Paul supporter and a minarchist libertarian, Paul Maurone, says in regards to traditionalism and patriotism, “They are positive. Patriotism should be defined as a vigilant allegiance to our nation and Constitution – NOT to our politicians who are running the show.” Unprovoked invocation of the Constitution is something you’ll rarely see among the libertarian left or anarchists, of whom usually hold our founding document in contempt.
As someone who considers myself a paleo-conservative Constitutionist, I was particularly interested in the conservative and Republican views. Christian and liberty leaning conservative, Nancy French, proclaims that ideally traditionalism and patriotism play an important role in our society. As for Christianity, she says “I think we as a country we are experiencing the problems that we are because we have systematically removed God and Christianity from our lives.” AMEN!
Long time Ron and Rand Paul supporter, and libertarian/constitutionalist Susie Clark declares, “I no longer call myself a Libertarian. They have gone liberal. I am pro-life and not for open borders. I am a little ‘L’ libertarian, but I like Constitutional Conservative. The Libertarian (Party) no longer upholds the Constitution, they worry more about drug policies, they mock Christianity, and that’s not what Rand or Ron Paul stand for. How can you hate religions and people because of their faith if you constantly put down Christianity? Therefore, they do not believe in the 1st Amendment.”
Regarding traditionalism and patriotism Susie says, “I am from Oregon and patriotism is loving your country and traditionalism, what our founding fathers stood for. I believe they built this country on Christianity. When they included religion in the 1st Amendment it was because of so many different denominations; such as Catholics, Protestants, Quakers, etc.” She continued, “I believe in the Bible and I honestly believe what is happening around the world today is written. . . I think we should put our faith in God. What we can do is to help people see and trust God, not politicians.”
When asked to what esteem she holds the Constitution, Susie answered, “(It’s) 2nd below the Word of God. The Constitution was written by men who fought against a King. They gave us the Constitution to make sure it does not happen again.” This is a complaint I hear often relevant to the libertarian left and anarchists. They have no respect for the Constitution and consider the parchment barrier a failure, rather than grasping the concept that it can never serve its purpose without us doing our part. Unfortunately we aren’t.
An interesting and informative interview was one conducted with Michael Stevens, a fusionist. Fusionism is a philosophy popularized by Frank Meyer in the mid to late 1900’s. Many say that it has faded out of existence, while others claim that politicians such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are modern day, prominent fusionists. The most distinguished fusionists of all were Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater. Describing fusionism, Michael states that “Fusionism is an idea that combines the ideas of libertarianism and conservatism into a pro-liberty and pro-morality philosophy. We are for limited government, economic freedom, individual responsibility, and no gun restrictions. We value federalism on issues like drug legalization or decriminalization. . . Fusionists see that one has to have morality to have liberty. You also cannot have liberty without life. Ronald Reagan said in 1975 that ‘…the heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.’ I believe fusionism is true conservatism. Its roots date back to our founding as a Republic where our roots have both a conservative and libertarian foundation. The individual is the highest form in this philosophy. We believe in reducing the role of government (per) the Constitution. The government’s job is to protect individual rights in the Bill of Rights and (as) outlined in the Declaration of Independence. We believe in a Christian founding but believe in the separation of church and state, as Jefferson intended, not as it is interpreted today. We believe in one where the Federal government is on one side of the divide and the State and local governments, as well as the Churches, are on the other. . . On issues of the economy, leave the government out but enforce a moral compass in the economy. In terms of ideology, between libertarianism and conservatism the thin line on the political ideological scale is where fusionism or libertarian-conservatism lies. It’s more of a balanced philosophy that believes in the idea of liberty that coexists with the rule of law.”
Along with other differences I have discussed, I believe that the “balanced philosophy that believes in the idea of liberty that coexists with the rule of law” is an important distinction. The libertarian left and the anarchist purists seem to believe that the ideology of libertarianism, as an absolute, is the only ideology worth advocating. The problem is that the experience that is taken into account by the conservative ideologies and paleo-libertarianism can’t be ignored, especially when compared to an ideology of concept only. With regards to religion and government, Michael continues, “On the issue of school prayer and religion in schools and displays of it in public places like a courthouse, I think it solely rests on the states. If the state constitution allows for it, I think it is fine. The 1st Amendment was created out of fear of the federal government creating a state church, much how Britain had the Anglican Church. The first words of the 1st Amendment are, ‘Congress shall make no law…’, not the state or local governments. . . At the time of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, many states had state churches…” Great point! Michael went on to explain that he doesn’t believe that prayer or religious teachings at public schools these days are a great idea, and that it’s a duty of the Church and families to teach religion.
Constitutionist Sandi Kirk declares, “Good solid morals are the cornerstone of our Constitution. It’s impossible to assure liberty for all unless we hold the same principles for others as we want them to hold for us. The human morality is the same as the Christian morality, and vice versa. The founding fathers acknowledged that our inalienable rights are given to us by our Creator at birth. They do not come from man or documents, not by governments, but from our Creator. The principles of self governing also cannot be changed by man, government, or document. Every official takes an oath to God that he/she will protect and defend our Constitution.”
When asked whether or not there was room for another party outside of the three largest, I received a wide array of answers. Some were disgusted with partisan politics altogether; one thinks there isn’t room outside the top two, much less three; and a few think there is definitely room for more parties. None seemed privately content with the leftward move of the Libertarian mainstream. From the outside looking in, I’m not sure how the Libertarian Party is amassing so much support since the right side of their base seems so disenfranchised. It’s quite analogous to the Republican Party, to be honest. It, too, has maneuvered leftward, yet misrepresented right-wingers continue to stick around. The contrast with the Republican Party supporters, I suppose, is that they are stationary due to fear or apathy. The Libertarian Party, contrarily, has garnered its latest wave of support due to momentum it has obtained over the past two to four years due to an excited base. It simply seems, now, to be suffering growing pains as its rapid leftward shift is alienating Christian supporters, the right side of the movement, and those who have evolved from their previously neo-conservative views to a more libertarian perspective.
A summary of these differences doesn’t give the initial impression of incompatibility between the Libertarian Party and movement, and the libertarian right and liberty leaning conservatives. Yet upon more meticulous review of the actual disparities, it seems more grave. The acrimony that many libertarians have with regards to Christianity, traditionalism, patriotism, and even the Constitution, is tough to swallow for many. Add the pro-life sentiment held firmly by most of the libertarian right, at odds with the libertarian left, and you get quite a rift. Many recent articles by respectable libertarian publishers and statements by influential personalities have begun calling for fellow libertarians to cease the vitriolic treatment of libertarian Christians and the libertarian right. These differences don’t include others that many of the aforementioned philosophies hold in direct conflict with the Libertarian Party and it’s platform, such as the damaging consequences of weak border security, the adverse effects that the platform’s (figurative) open border policy would precipitate, the perceived obsession with drug legalization, the perpetual evolution towards the outright promotion of anarchy by the purists, and the widely embraced dogma of the NAP – which along with anarchy, places far too much confidence in and grossly overestimates the goodness of man. We are not benevolent beings by nature. We are very much opportunistic and that leads to greed, violence, etc. What virtue we possess seems to not be ascribed to the proper places by the libertarian left; those consisting of our founding of Christianity, our culture, God’s natural law, etc. These reflect our morals, not humanism or progressivism.
Regardless of whether a person finds oneself at odds with the majority of the stances listed in the previous paragraph or whether it’s all of them, plus more; it’s quite a fissure in any relationship. I don’t find it necessary to enter into such detail with regards to the Republican Party but I will touch vaguely on the subject – only vaguely because the targeted audience of this article has likely already left the GOP or are only there in support of specific officials, such as Rand Paul, Justin Amash, and Thomas Massie. Of the many issues that one may have with the GOP, major ones include these: the Party has shifted further left over the past decade, to the middle, away from its base; it has also shifted more towards authoritarianism, moving away from the nation’s shift back towards individual rights; the neo-conservative movement has pervaded the Party and the result has been an extra-marital affair with perpetual war; and the Party has seemingly acquired amnesia relating to its supposed affinity for godly governance, forgetting God.
Belaboring the points? I shall, but only a little…
If I haven’t stated so yet, I’m very fond of the Constitution. To my pleasant surprise, all seven of those interviewed hold the Constitution in high esteem. My personal disdain for the libertarian left is its disregard for the Constitution, in spite of the document’s quintessence of our great core philosophies, such as classical liberalism, paleo-libertarianism, and paleo-conservatism. This unique combination, coupled with our Judeo-Christian founding and principles, has created the greatest (yes flawed, but greatest) nation in the history of mankind. I wonder where we would be now had we begun with the theoretical leftist side of libertarianism, absolute voluntaryism, and utopian anarchy, founded in secular humanism. A modern day feudal system? Most likely, or something similar. If enacted now? I see corporate monopolies replacing government and forming a global government. Well, that’s close to what we have now so perhaps not the best argument, but you get the point…
Room for More Parties. An Epiphany
So we have a group of mostly Christian, patriotic libertarians and conservatives with no party to closely represent their values. Both no longer acknowledge God (for the religious ones), one wants perpetual war and loves big government, and one doesn’t value traditionalism, patriotism, pragmatism, or the Constitution (in many cases). Many that do value the Constitution in both parties aren’t originalists when referencing it, several only use it where it is deemed beneficial in context to their current argument. One has shared power for far too long, only to become the epitome of corruption from localities and states up to Congress and the Executive Branch. The other, after 45 years has finally reached relevancy nationwide, but seems to only have space for those willing to be stifled in their religious and traditionalist beliefs in exchange for humanism and multiculturalist activism. I have news. There is another choice…
It isn’t cool to say I’m a member of the Constitution Party. Your libertarian friends who reside on the left side of the spectrum or who don’t understand the meaning of the word will likely call you a theocrat. You aren’t going to find many college friends rushing to join their campus YAConstitution instead of YAL or YAF. Julie Borowski isn’t likely to be caught binge tweeting pro-Darrell Castle tweets. There probably won’t be any Constitution Party hotties featured in Babes for Liberty and it’s doubtful that you’ll find a notification on your Facebook account informing you that Liberty Laura has spontaneously stopped in her car to orchestrate a pro-Constitution Party live stream (as much as we’d all love that!). One thing you will see is people toeing the party line over principle for the Libertarian Party this cycle. I kind of understand. They have worked hard, are getting national attention, and it’s not their fault that a far less than perfect libertarian earned the nomination. Wait…yes it is! What if the liberty leaning Republicans did the same? And the Democrats, for that matter? The LP would still be garnering 1% of the popular vote instead of polling at 5-13%. The point is, go where you feel represented and get involved. The Libertarian Party has taken 45 years. The Constitution Party is entering its 25th year. The Green Party has passed the 15 year mark. The two party system has given us nothing but a headache, complete and utter cronyism and a largess and incompetent government. The political spectrum is far too broad to be represented by two or three parties.
Finally, for those on the libertarian right, the liberty leaning conservatives, and everything between, you CAN bake your own cake (not a Nazi one if you’re a Jew, unless you want to) and eat it too! There is a party that holds the founding fathers’ principles, teachings, intent, and vision for our posterity dear. There’s a party that believes in ending the Fed, staying out of other countries’ affairs, ending perpetual war, repealing the 16th and 17th Amendments, leaving the UN and other organizations and treaties that surrender our sovereignty to foreign and international courts and organizations, dissolving the unconstitutional conglomerate of acronym Alphabet Soup federal agencies, that is anti-Agenda 21, and is for small government, besides the Libertarian Party. This same party holds our foundation (not establishment of religion) of Christian morals and principles, traditionalism, patriotism, and the importance of the 10th Amendment in high esteem. It holds our Constitution as its namesake and focal point, unlike any other party.
We may not have the current organization in place that the Libertarian Party has, but it’s the most organized of any minor party, right of center. Chances are the platform won’t be absolutely perfect for you, there are planks I’d like to see changed and others I wouldn’t mind worded differently. The Constitution isn’t the most hip document among our nation’s youth, and isn’t understood remotely enough to affect the type of change we need. But one thing is certain, with every new member and every dedicated new constituent we get closer to changing every one of those categories. Don’t worry about what your anarchist friends will say. Don’t fall for the tired old argument that only a two party system will ever be in place, or that there is only room for a third party. Don’t think that parties don’t matter at all. It’s much easier to be an activist in numbers rather than riding solo. Become a Constitutionist, join the Constitution Party!
Clint Bishop is a Constitution Party member, Darrell Castle supporter and ATPR contributor.