Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Has the Republican Party been taken over by Ron Paul Libertarianism?- An analysis of the causes, history, and effects of the GOP's Libertarian Streak

In the course of following-- or attempting to follow-- the crazy ups and downs of the near fratricidal intra-party war currently being waged in the Republican primary for which candidate will be the party's standard bearer to go against Barack Obama in the Fall, one thing has become increasingly clear, or maybe two. There are deep fissures of division among the parties core constituencies, with each passionately devoted to their policies and version of the truth vis a vis what they think it will take to defeat the sitting Democratic President in November.

In this regard there are none for whom this is more true than Ron Paul supporters, who in spite of few victories thus far in the campaign, and even fewer delegates, clearly compensate by sheer determination and enthusiasm for their cause.  We thus thought it appropriate to take a moment and examine this core component of the modern Republican party in light of a few key considerations, 1) The history and roots of Libertarianism (in the Gop and nationally), 2) The effects within the party with an emphasis on primary and general election politics, and, 3) The potential consequences of Ron Paul Libertarianism upon national policy as expressed in social, economic and foreign policy.

The Libertarian "wing" of the Republican party makes up one of three key groups making up the bulk of the Republican base today, the other two being the Christian or cultural conservatives and so-called "Establishment" or "country club" Republicans. And while the Libertarians certainly agree with the other two "legs" of the Republican stool, if you will, on the need to defeat President Obama to meet party goals and reverse various national policies and objectives of the Obama Administration which they view as destructive to our economy and very way of life, they differ markedly in both the specific policies they view as most destructive as well as their level of enthusiasm and dedication to the party in general. As this author can personally attest, this has sometimes resulted in a seeming unwillingness and/or or inability of the those on the extreme end of the Libertarian wing to "play nicely" with the other wings in the GOP, and has led in the eyes of the other two legs, fairly or not, to a perception that the Libertarian wing has a "take their ball and go home" attitude not conducive to party unity and the ability to come together for common goals necessary to achieve electoral success.  Of course, this could perhaps be equally said of any of a major party's key groups, and in the case of the GOP could perhaps equally apply to the Cultural converservatives for whom "social issues" are most important, or the "establishment Republicans" for whom stability and an emphasis on free market economics is most important.  However, those wings of the GOP are not currently the subject of this article.  Rather, this post shall examine the history of the Libertarian movement in general and within the GOP, the reality of the perceptions often associated with and the practical effect upon the party, i.e., how it helps, or hurts, in our humble opinion, the GOP's overall chances to win, (and as an aside, Ron Paul's chances at the nomination).

For starters, as alluded to above, the Libertarian wing is easily a contender, along with the Christian/cultural conservative wing of the GOP, for the most enthusiastic group in the party.  Many have noted that the Libertarian movement, and the youthful and energetic "fresh blood" that it brings into the party, is critical to the Republicans' success in the kind of campaigning and "street level" politics that provide energy and awareness among the general public in a way that is helpful to the party and its nominee leading up to the General election.  However, there is a darker side, a "cost" if you will of their particular brand of politics as well, one which this article will examine in detail.  To do that we must delve into Libertarianism's beginnings.

The national and political history of American Libertarianism

American Libertarianism has its roots in American politics going back to the nation's founding.

The philosophical underpinnings of American Libertarianism

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