These are confusing times for label makers and label takers. In the 1980’s defining a conservative or a liberal seemed fairly easy. All one had to do was point at Ronald Reagan and ask, “Love him or hate him?” Not at all a difficult task. But for some who were looking very closely at the workings of DC in those days, defining a conservative was confusing at best and impossible at worst. Reagan’s takeover of the Republican Party and seemingly the political Right along with his vast non-Republican support appeared to signal a conservative victory in the war of political philosophy. When conservatives and libertarians heard Ronald Reagan say, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem!” and when we heard, “This is the issue of this election; Whether we believe in our capacity for self government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” these words stirred the heart of every liberty loving American. But there was a cancerous flaw in the Reagan Revolution. Because of this flaw, the more carefully you look at the goings on in DC from 1980 till 1988, the fuzzier the definition of conservative gets.
For the Reagan Revolution, its death began before its birth. Today, few remember the hard primary fight Reagan had against his opponents George H. W. Bush, Howard Baker, John Connally, Bob Dole, and others (all hard core Right Wing statists). Few remember the harsh hateful words that Bush would throw around at fundraisers and at stump speeches accusing Reagan of holding all kinds of crazy extremist positions. Few remember how Reagan nobly refused to sling mud at his fellow Republicans no matter how vile they became. And fewer still realize that Reagan’s winning of the Republican primary in 1980 was anything but a lock. The national convention was sewn up before it began, but the individual state conventions were politics at their worst. In the gap between the state conventions and the national convention, deals were offered and promises were made. The Old Right of the party finally gave Reagan a choice. Take Ford as VP and appoint Henry Kissinger as Secretary of State and Alan Greenspan as Secretary of the Treasury, or take Bush as VP and appoint his crew to the positions. Otherwise face a fight at the national convention. Reagan compromised his principals and accepted the lesser of evils. With that, the Reagan Revolution drank its hemlock before it cleared the birth canal.
Of course everyone spoke the conservative words of the Revolution, and some taxes were cut. The economy did recover by way of the typical bubble making process, so well known to those in the Austrian School of Economics, but leviathan government grew at speeds never seen in a generation. DC essentially whipped out its massive credit card and bought a few years of prosperity. When the next bust cycle hit, the Republican’s were discredited and a half liberal womanizing redneck was able to point his finger and say, “Its the economy, stupid!” all the way to the White House. In those years the Old Right of the Republican Party entrenched its self, but with a new tool. The Old Right learned that if they spoke the conservative talk, they could go back to their compromising ways and work with the Democrats and none would be the wiser. And thus they did until 2008 when the nation completed the task of tossing the bums out of power.
This left a very confused body of faithful conservatives. Many asked themselves who they were and to what label did they belong? The word “conservative” had been so completely polluted by the right wing statists that its meaning was almost completely lost. Old time conservatives were never afraid of a fight, but were never warmongers. They always insisted on fiscal responsibility and were abhorred by national debt. How could the word conservative now mean endless war, welfare expansions in Medicare, warrantless searches, forced national IDs, massive federal intrusion into local schools, and government agencies created for the sole purpose of spying on American citizens? Conservatives began looking around and they spotted a curiosity. Their old allies, the libertarians, had clean hands. Conservatives began to ask themselves, “Maybe I’m a libertarian after all.” But they were wrong.
Often times its hard to tell who is a liberal, who is a conservative, and who is a libertarian, and who is none of the above but is a pure statist willing to sell anyone down the road for more power. The media, in its true evil nature, propagates the lies of the statists by focusing on the so-called “Hot Button Issues” while pretending that statists don’t exist. The fact is, these “Hot Button Issues” are very important, but can easily be resolved using libertarian principals rather than choosing to believe the media lies and trust the State for the answer.
For example, the quickest way for the media to discredit a libertarian is to bring up the drug issue. Some conservatives and some liberals will side with the libertarians in the fact that the War on Drugs is a dismal failure and a massive waste of time, money, and resources. Its not hard to point to the prison system and say, “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t keep drugs out of prisons, much less schools!” Or just consider how difficult it is for a 14 year old kid to buy a bottle of Jack Daniel’s compared to a bag of pot? Of course, a bag of pot is easy for a 14 year old to buy. That bottle of Jack is almost impossible! Funny how prohibition and black markets work, isn’t it? But unfortunately the cries of the bleeding hearts and the confused sheep win the day when whipped into frenzy by the media and the statists howling the threats and spreading the fear that America would suddenly be overwhelmed by crazed drug fiends prowling the streets raping and pillaging, if it were made legal. Facts don’t matter when the media is involved. Only hype makes viewers stare at the stupid-tube.
Ah, but the subtlety of difference was missed in the above paragraph. Notice that some liberals and some conservatives sided with the libertarians. They did so for practical reasons. A basic understanding of economics allows one to quickly see that outlawing anything creates a black market for it, thereby driving the price up dramatically and creating a money making tool for criminals. But here the difference is missed yet again. These liberals and conservatives can clearly see the practical reason, but miss the moral reason altogether. The consistent libertarians don’t reject the War on Drugs because its impractical, they reject it because of their understanding of property rights and the proper function of government. And the statist doesn’t seek to perpetuate the War on Drugs because he thinks it’s winnable or because it’s his moral duty to tell people how to live their lives. He perpetuates the War on Drugs because it increases the power of the State!
The liberal and the conservative tend to look at the immediate cause and effect and support what they think will provide good results now. The consistent libertarian judges by a different scale. The libertarian philosophy is based on an understanding of natural law, property rights, and responsibilities. As the libertarian applies these natural law principals to each and every aspect of life it becomes easier and easier to understand how to live a moral life and how all of society can become free, peaceful, and prosperous. The libertarian doesn’t seek to solve every individual problem in society because the philosophy of natural law will, by way of the “invisible hand” that Adam Smith wrote of, guide society to a solution as long as that society follows natural law.
The statist will insist that only a powerful State can solve problems! The libertarian understands that to give any issue into the hands of the State will both increase the problem and increase the power of the State to further invade peaceful society. The libertarian understands that most if not all problems are caused by the State to begin with, and more State is not the cure. It’s simply sugar-coated steps to slavery.
So the difference between the conservative, the liberal, and the libertarian boil down to two things. One is the libertarian trust in natural law, and the other is the ultimate dependence on the State by liberals and conservatives. The libertarian believes individual issues like abortion, gun control, deficit spending, taxes, gay marriage, welfare, drugs, and even war its self; all fade away with legitimate government and the abolition of the State. But as long as liberals and conservatives allow the media and the statists in the two parties to use the “Hot Buttons” to keep them focused on fighting each other, they will never open their eyes to the two massive leaches that have attached themselves to America’s jugular veins interrupting the flow of blood from America’s head to its heart. One Republican leach on the right jugular and one Democrat leach on the left jugular, draining the American people of their wealth, their morals, and their children’s future.