Libertarians vs Christians

Too much for a comment…

I can understand the need to “govern from the center” but I think this article completely misses the point of this last election, but I’ll come back to that.

First the author contradicts himself when he says:

“The difficulty, of course, is that a conservatism that cares only about “limited government,” “fiscal discipline” and preaching about “traditional moral values” will shy away from Levin’s practical, problem-solving approach”

So first they’re not natural allies but then they’re lumped together as one? I’ll come back to that as well.

Second the contention that the “creative destruction” of market forces is by definition at odds with family values is simply ridiculous:

“Traditional values…discourage the spirit of competition and self-interested ambition essential for free markets to work, and their adherents sometimes seek to enforce codes of conduct that constrain individual freedom.”

Maybe I’m a little naïve, but a good portion of the “free-market” success books I have read (and I have read several) talk about the importance of putting ethics and morals at the forefront of your business agenda. Pretending that family values and free-market competition are mutually exclusive (macro-economically and micro-economically) sounds good, but it just doesn’t hold water. Market forces have a tendency to eventually punish destructive evil-doers on a large scale (Enron, etc.), and it’s those forces that create the right checks and balances on future corruption.

But this is where “Progressives” simply do not get it. The whole premise here is that free-markets are by definition selfish and not moral, and “values voters” need the Federal Government to enforce their morals and values. “Christian Conservatives” (and let’s go ahead and call them that because that’s what we’re talking about) do not consider the Federal Government to be the authority of moral values and ethics, and never have considered it that.

Actually, in my opinion, (and this is important if you want to understand my views on this) the whole foundation of our fine Republic is the concept that a Higher Power is where our faith and trust should be laid, and the true authority over morals and values lies there. The government, on the other hand, is created by us to serve and protect us, and not the other way around. This is why Fascism (the State is the religion), Communism (the party is the religion), Socialism (the “council” is the religion), Theocracy (the religion is the government) NEVER WORK, and WILL NEVER WORK. Because they truly do not separate church and state.

Unfortunately, this is where I believe Libertarianism has its limit; it doesn’t acknowledge the importance of religion, but depends on individuals to have their own moral center, which typically results in SOMETHING filling that authority gap…namely a regime that is the exact opposite of Libertarianism (see above).

However, Libertarianism has it right that market forces are more efficient at managing market forces than the government, and there is nothing about Christian Conservatism that would disagree with that.

Now there is the point that if Mr. Dionne were talking about lobbying groups that are pushing for less or more Federal Government controls on social and economic issues, he would be right that the two ideals are definitely at odds.

But that’s not what he’s talking about. He’s talking about voters…”the parenting class”. He tells us that the crucial segment making $30,000 to $100,000 went over to the Democrats because of the Republicans’ “flight from a solution-oriented politics designed to deal with the pressures on working- and middle-class families.”

Probably true. But if this is a sign of a divide between Libertarianism and the “Traditionalist” right, and the Republican party leaned too far to the far right, meaning the “Christian Right”, does that mean the security moms, disaffected men, and Reagan Democrats are all atheist Libertarians who aren’t into the whole “morals and values” thing?

Not buying it.

The truth is it’s unfortunately as simple as those EVIL NEOCON TALKING HEAD PARTISANS are saying:

The Republicans lost because they for 12 solid years have completely bailed on BOTH Libertarian AND Christian values.

Limited-government, and fiscal discipline, and morality issues are not dividing issues within the Republican party; they are indeed the uniting ones (and that’s why the author lumps them together again, betraying that he believes in neither)

(Actually Mr. Dionne deftly misses the point that two of the three issues that he mentions regarding Mr. Levin (health care portability and school choice) are actually limited-government concepts—but details.)

Simply put, there is nothing moral or ethical or Christian about squandering taxpayer money on earmarks, allowing moral bankruptcy and corruption to define the Congress (Cunningham, Foley, etc.), and being horrible stewards of our economy. Neither “free-marketers” nor “Christian Conservatives” appreciated any of this, and they either stayed home, or decided to throw the bums out. Meanwhile, the Democratic party jumped on an unpopular war, a raging deficit, and the aforementioned corruption, and drove voters to the polls to throw the bums out.

Not a sign of a divide, but a sign of a party who took its entire base completely for granted.

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5 Responses to “Libertarians vs Christians”

  1. Rip Says:

    Without getting into too many details, I’ll have to say that Dionne’s comment about traditional values constraining free markets is ABSURD. Traditional values constrain in other ways (such as family relations), but not in their relation to free markets.

    Logipundit…I disagree that libertarianism’s lack of belief of a divine power as a source of morals results in an authority gap that is filled by one of the authoritarian forms of government. I can’t think of a single case in which this has happened in the past. I also think you have it backwards with regards to the foundation of our Republic. The foundation, in my opinion, is a populace devoted to constraining the powers of government (libertarianism). Effectively constraining the government’s powers results in individuals in charge of their own morality… thus allowing for the choice of policing their own morality by virtue of their belief in a higher power or otherwise.

  2. Logipundit Says:

    Agreed on the first part…

    On the rest, the fact remains that the majority of neither Libertarians NOR Christian Conservatives (which I obviously consider myself a little of both) require the Federal Government to define their mores, but instead to stay out of them.

    So when Christian Conservatives (at least the ones I choose to associate myself with) get involved Federally with moral issues it’s generally because they feel the Federal Government is intruding on their religious liberties (redefining marriage–a religious institution at its core; pulling ten commandments–the basis of most of our current laws–out of government buildings; prohibition of free-exercise in public schools–under the guise of enforcing establishment) NOT because they want the Federal Government to help them enforce morals and values.

    I probably didn’t state the “atheist moral center” argument well. Admittedly my point of view may be tainted by the fact that I’m Christian and have a leaning towards Adams as a Constitutional anchor instead of Jefferson the Deist.

    But let me just say a pure Libertarian view by definition depends on the individual to find its own moral center and I would argue that having some societal definitions of right and wrong (outside of government) has been more effective than complete autonomy…or anarchy.

    Examples?

    Communism in general (in addition to the economical reasons) doesn’t work because it’s not friendly to religion…and thus becomes it.

    By far the best example, though, is the French Revolution. And it’s probably the best example because it happened IMMEDIATELY following our Revolution and ended up as much a revolt on organized religion as on the nobility. It was based STRICTLY on individual liberties and the hostility against the Church resulted in atrocities much worse than the Nobility could have dreamed of…and guess who eventually filled the chaotic gap? (a hint…he was kind of short, and it wasn’t James Madison)

    As far as having the Republic’s founding backward… you’re probably just as right, and I don’t think our views are necessarily mutually exclusive.

    It’s just the founders themselves DID turn to Providence for their authority, and I have little evidence that it would have worked as well without it (especially given the above example).

    My point is the core of Conservatism (true Conservatism in my opinion) is the marriage of “traditional” moral values AND Libertarianism (Can you think of a few examples where “Traditionalism” has gone a little far? I sure can…).

    Socialism, Monarchy, Communism, and recently “Liberalism”, and the newest, “Progressivism”…are all idealistic ideas of government that if everything goes right and those in a position of authority behave then it will obviously work…on paper. However NONE of them can really work without an inordinate amount of accountability, which virtually precludes them as realistic on a Federal scale.

    Libertarianism and “Traditionalism” are forms that by their definition taken to their logical conclusion, by themselves, result in BAD THINGS, and even some of their most ardent proponents acknowledge this. Thus they are much more honest.

    Their common element (and what distinguishes them from the others) is that the authority lies OUTSIDE the government itself. And if you put them together you get:

    You guessed it…a Democratic Republic (oversimplified, but you get the point).

    And we used to have that until true Conservatives sold out to (or turned into) “Moderates” and “Progressives” who feel it’s their duty to “creatively” use Government for purposes they deem “necessary”, instead of doing their jobs as defined by a large Democratic Republic: Serving and protecting their constituents and their markets so they can prosper safely and freely; and leaving as much power as possible in the hands of smaller, more local, and more easily accountable, where elements of more idealistic tools of Government are even conceivably possible.

    So Libertarianism and Traditional Conservatism NEED each other in order for Democracy to work.

    Is the horse dead yet, or should I keep swinging?

  3. Logipundit Says:

    OH and real quick the “ism” that was left out is by far the one that is ignored the most…and that is “Federalism” which acknowledges that the Federal government should not take ALL the responsibilities of Governing.

    This is an important component that Liberals and Progressives ignore…

  4. Rip Says:

    I agree that our approaches aren’t mutually exclusive. Instead, the comment that both traditionalism and libertarianism desire to keep morality outside of government – and, I wil add, the utmost importance of this to the foundation AND FUTURE of our nation – is right on target. And, there will always be an “ism” that in reality is a front for government over-reach. Progressivism is merely the latest.

    I’m not sure that reliance on Providence was the central difference between the American and French Revolutions and aftermath. Another factor was that the magnitude of change (from pre-war life) in France was larger, thus creating an uncertainty that is sometimes accompanied by further destruction. Additionally, the role of the church was different. Lastly, in America, there were strong leaders that were working to ensure continuity at the state/local level post-Revolution. But, to altogether ignore Providence (as many history books try to do) is absolutely inappropriate.

    Also, while I think that libertarianism and traditional conservatism have needed each other for “America” to work, I’m not sure that I would extend that to cover democracy in general.

    In response to your last comment, Federalism has been unfortunately beaten down to the point that it isn’t just forgotten by progressives but by practically everyone. At a minimum, the prominence it once played in political discourse seems to have been greatly diminished.

  5. Logipundit Says:

    Check…check…agreed.

    *Sigh*…if we only had a “Progressive” around to tell us how wrong we are on Progressivism. I think we need to come up with another ‘ism for our “reformed conservative” Progressives.

    My vote is “Creativism”. I love the idea that if we’re just more “creative” with the Federal Government, then we can forget the fact that it’s getting involved in things it shouldn’t.

    Any “Creativists” around?


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