Who Has to Give and Who Has to Take to Win National Elections?

I’m rather tired of seeing some people in the Republican coalition trotting this out: in order to win, libertarians and conservatives must find common ground. This is true of any two factions who want to form a coalition, and that’s obvious. But if you read the article, I read their argument as saying, essentially, that libertarians just need to shut up and vote the way we tell you to. Why? I would say that social conservative aren’t in the position to be dictating terms here. It’s often said Mitt Romney lost for being a weak kneed Massachusetts moderate, but the turnout for 2012 would seem to say he was fine by evangelicals:

“Evangelicals turned out in record numbers and voted as heavily for Mitt Romney yesterday as they did for George W. Bush in 2004,” Reed observed. “That is an astonishing outcome that few would have predicted even a few months ago.  But Romney underperformed with younger voters and minorities and that in the end made the difference for Obama.”

The GOP isn’t having a problem with the evangelical vote, save one. The one issue is that the evangelical vote isn’t enough to win national elections. So when it comes time to finding that common ground, I’m not sure it’s libertarians, however this article wants to define them, who need suck it up and give on some issues.

Political coalitions aren’t built on a great mutual fondness; they are built on bringing together factions who hate “those other people” more than they hate each other. I think the social conservative wing of the party needs to think hard about what they might be willing to give up, if we’re going to avoid another eight years of Hillary. My first suggestion would be to accept that the great culture wars against homosexuality are lost. My second would be to accept that shrinking the size and scope of government is the best way to promote strong families.

28 thoughts on “Who Has to Give and Who Has to Take to Win National Elections?”

  1. The major argument is that conservatives accepted 2 moderate Mc Cain and Romney and lost. Social cons did vote but a lot of the GOP did not.

    The real worry is that the conservative and libertarian and social cons are out numbered by the welfare cheats and liberals.
    My experience is that social cons will not compromise but libertarians will and are more willing to work with Democrats

  2. My first suggestion would be to accept that the great culture wars against homosexuality are lost.

    Given the next apparent step is punishing anyone who will not slap a silly grin on their face and celebrate homosexuality, say sayonara to liberty.

      1. Government should stay out of marriage. Pure and simple. No one need be “punished” by government.

    1. Why does accepting something have to rise to the level of crushing free speech? The left is in favor of such things. I don’t see the libertarian right embracing speech restrictions.

      Also, the part I think the article gets right is that we can find common ground in restoring the Constitution and Bill of Rights. But the article also seems to suggest that social conservatives don’t need to give anything up in order to have a winning coalition. I don’t think that’s the case.

  3. The Forbes article was about the pro government security versus those who are afraid of the government and do not believe that the NSA intercept program is constitutional.

    1. How about I post a few links to pics/articles of gay rights protesters pushing their agenda in schools using taxpayer money, suing priests who refuse to cop to marry them, and generally using the smear tactics and intimidation they pretend to speak out against? If it’s all about love and tolerance, why haven’t they any for us?

      Like I say… get government out of marriage. Problem solved.

      1. This is a real problem. You do have cases of gay rights activists trying to co-opt the government to force their views on others through force of law, in violation of the rights of free religion and conscience. This is something people on the left have to address. Because if gay rights means shitting on the First Amendment, you can count me out… and nominally it’s something I’m willing to go along with.

      2. It does happen, and that is why I don’t think that there should be any such thing as a marriage license. However, that wasn’t the discussion here. The discussion was about how the religious wing of the Republican party is alienating those of us with more libertarian leanings.

        I feel guilty voting for any party or candidate that would trample my rights, which is why I sat out the last election. I just can’t vote the lesser of two evils, because it is still a vote for evil.

        The Republicans need to stop legislating their religion, and ease up on the hate if they want my vote.

        The left spends their time legislating what I can do with my money, and the right spends their time legislating what I can do with my penis.

  4. If the right wing would lay off the gays and abortion, I would like them a lot more. Being very pro 2A, very pro gay rights, and very pro choice makes it very hard to pick who to vote for.

    1. “Being very pro 2A, very pro gay rights, and very pro choice makes it very hard to pick who to vote for.”

      Trying being Pro-freedom. You’ll find there’s even less choice.

      1. I am pro freedom, but those three topics are at the top of my list. It goes down from there. It will never be perfect, but if we can all merry whoever we want, own all the guns we want, and not be forced to have babies if we don’t want to, I think that is a good start. If we could end the drug war and if the government would stop domestic surveillance, that would be cool too. Am I missing any major personal freedoms that are under attack by law/ legislators on a regular basis? I am asking because maybe there is more I need to pay attention too. I hope not though, My wife is sick of hearing me talk about politics.

        1. Sounds like you care about your “stuff” about all. Abortions and guns for all. I hope you’re not on the GOP strategy team.

    2. I’m pro-choice, but less rabidly so. I tend to think there’s no right answer in the debate, and I’m not as committed to the idea that I know where life should begin as a moral and legal matter, so it’s something I can compromise on.

      Objectively, I think the GOP probably needs to keep their position on the abortion issue unless they want to lose evangelicals in droves. There’s also no great generational divide on abortion that I’ve seen, so I’m not convinced the pro-life position is killing the party’s future as long as they stay away from the extremes of the issue.

      But there is a generational gap on gay marriage, and even a lot of older people are changing their minds on the topic. Additionally, a lot of young people wouldn’t vote for anyone who’d punish their gay friends and vote to treat them like second class citizens.

      1. Being against violence — gun, knife, or abortion clinic-assisted is a consistent position to take. If you take a textual interpretation on the 2nd, you should take it on the 14th as well. Otherwise being pro-gun fits the narrative of not rally caring about other life issues, just wanting to cling to guns while forgetting about everything else.

    3. More and more conservatives will, in time, come around to supporting marriage rights for gays. I believe I have “evolved” to the point where I can see no harm in it. But supporting the killing of the unborn for the sake of convenience or in the name of “freedom” is where we get off the train.

  5. I estimate I have been labeling myself “libertarian” for about 30 years now; at least that’s around the time I went to my first LP meeting. (I had been trying to find them for a couple years before that, here in PA, but they were elusive.)

    Anyway, the first thing I would ask the author of that article is, what does he mean by “libertarian?” Certainly that Rand Paul is labeled “libertarian” suggests there is some species of the animal we never would have recognized back in the 1980s. My best estimate is the word has changed to mean, “anyone who doesn’t like this government.” However, there are no indications they wouldn’t love all to pieces a Godly Government, or a Constitutional Government, as long as they got to define what Constitutional meant. Or what God meant, for that matter. So, maybe the distance between conservatives and these latter-day libertarians isn’t that wide after all.

    While I have never been a Republican longer than a few weeks at a time, when I would change my voter registration to vote for a select candidate in a primary (something I will never do again) there is a good chance I have worked the polls for more Republicans that I ever did for Libertarians. That was because, at least here in PA, we used to buy into that “coalition” bullshit bigtime, and be convinced that there really could be a reciprocal alliance cooperating on what we libertarians referred to as “steps in the right direction,” i.e., Republican half-hearted and and half-assed steps toward individual liberty — which — like meaningful steps toward true gun rights — never quite got off the ground, because the “time just was not right” to go for the real deal. But, we were always supposed to “get serious” and support what the Republicans said was “achievable,” and was important to them, while what was important to libertarians were silly, get-real, utopian issues.

    Which is a long-winded way of getting around to saying, while I register with no political party anymore, I long ago decided that what issues are drop dead, poison-pill important to me, “on principle” as a small-l libertarian, are just as important to me as, say, the social conservatives’ issues are to them. And if for some reason they want a coalition with anything I’m associated with, they have to tell me first what they intend to give up. Because, I intend to give up nothing. My time for being a patsy expired more than a decade ago, and it took a few decades to get there.

    1. Andy B, your “time for being a patsy expired” is refreshing for me to hear. I am in my mid-20s, and was drawn to libertarianism soon after becoming interested in politics. Shortly after that seed started growing, I became ardently uncompromising in the issues of liberty, and came to regard them as of higher importance than the peripheral issues that are used to polarize the left and the right.

      Yet, most of the libertarian-leaning baby boomers and early Gen-Xers I encounter are willing to compromise, because they perceive each “greater evil” boogeyman as “the one that must be stopped”. Instead of voting for who they believe in, they vote for who they think can stop the threat. The boogeyman wins the day, the voters who were trying not to “throw their votes away” get frustrated with the political process and sit out the next round, rinse, repeat.

      I find political involvement much more rewarding when I am uncompromising, no matter how unpopular my beliefs are.

  6. What I think is missing here is that you need to get a right-leaning populist to run, and keep him talking. Plain and simple. I think the person who wins a national election has to speak to economic matters first, which also speaks to matters of the family. There is a credibility gap there for a Democratic party that seems to have done nothing for working people.

    That would be the easiest strategy. I’ve said it before: embrace economic populism. This will mean closing off trade to some areas and bolstering domestic industry, maybe increasing the minimum wage and focusing on why people are upset about health care costs.

    I think some will hold their nose at that, but the country has to get working again for people to invest and for families to prosper. And to buy guns, yes. If anything, the GOP should dump its ties to wall street, Koch Brothers, etc. Yes, the bailout was a bad idea, but instead of adhering to purity on economics, explain how it hurt families.

    Get rid of the neo-cons and the aggressive foreign policy. We can’t pay for that anymore (literally and figuratively).

    The GOP can remain “pro-family” and make sure there there is suitable economic policy in the forefront to win. This would also help get the focus off “social issues” (which still obviously matter) due to lack of focus on other matters.

    1. I think these days you can actually embrace economic populism and get most of the way to be a freewheeling freemarketeer with little trouble. So much of the economy has been captured by people manipulating regulations for their own benefit, it’s not funny. Can you even tell where banks end and government begins these days? I’m not sure I’d go so far as embrace a Ron Paul style gold bug, but I’m not sure reeling against the fed these days is as crazy as it would have seemed 10 years ago.

      1. Yes. I go back on forth on Ron Paul’s strategy of focusing on the Fed. Certainly I believe our lack of sustainable monetary policy is a problem, but the explanation doesn’t help his cause. It causes people to question government decision-making, but it doesn’t go the extra step of warranting support for the man saying it.

        But you do have a point on the banks. Generally, banks upset people, and banking and government monetary policy go hand in hand these days. Again, though Ron Paul never closed on this. I think his son does a better job, but I fear that the “purity” on economic matters (much like the purity on social matters that some on here generally despise) will get him into trouble.

        I really do see a governor being the presumptive nominee. To me that’s Christie, Jindal, or Martinez. Maybe there’s a dark horse somewhere I’m forgetting.

        BTW Sebastian… have you heard any rumblings about Biden looking seriously at 2016? I read it today and couldn’t believe it, but thought you may have scoured the web to find something.

        1. I tend to agree that the fed can be a problem, but my issue with Paul is that I don’t think going back to the gold standard fixes anything. I’m not sure you can get government out of banking completely, but that creates a lot of potential abuse, and I think we’re seeing some of that abuse.

    2. “What I think is missing here is that you need to get a right-leaning populist to run, and keep him talking.”

      To recover slightly from my rant above, I would be even more general and say that if you adopted the simplistic definition of “libertarian” as, someone who is an “economic conservative but social liberal” you would probably have a winning national ticket, if you could get the candidate past the primaries. And, I don’t think such a candidate would necessarily have to be a “moderate” in any wishy-washy, blow-with-the-wind sense; they could be passionate defenders of each of the issues they embraced. They just would not adhere to any faction’s laundry lists.

      Admittedly being “economically conservative and socially liberal” would result in many practical conflicts when it came to implementation, but in terms of national “mood,” I think it would be closer to what is embraced by coming generations than anything the Republicans have embraced at the national level so far.

  7. As a libertarian, I have issues with the SoCons positions. However, they only want a few things that I find objectionable while the collectivists want everything. So I think there is a principled position for libertarians to come to a compromise with SoCons. The problem is the third faction-the establishment Republicans. They are collectivists or at least fellow travelers. And they have very little following outside of the so called elite. A populist alliance is the obvious answer.

Comments are closed.