Last month we considered the unfortunate candidacy of Senator Obama, now the likely Presidential nominee for the once great American Democratic Party; to comment on the intellectual confusion, which has made the Obama success possible, as well as the elements of poetic justice in its destructive consequences for the careers of those on the Democratic Left, who have deliberately stirred the cauldrons of racial resentment and guilt. We wish that it were possible to suggest a likely antidote for the general effect on America and Americans, and on Conservatives in particular; but the related confusion among those who have stepped forward to confront the Obama phenomenon, makes the immediate prospect rather bleak.
The Republican Party remains in total crisis. Self-destruction--the Rove/Bush conceived legacy--continues at a rapid pace. Of all issues on which Senator McCain might have challenged Senator Obama for being "naive," the Arizonan probably picked the single worst in attacking him for an expressed willingness to sit down and discuss our differences with the President of Iran. This is no time for McCain to be parading foreign policy truculence. The self-perpetuating "War" in Iraq, perhaps even more than ill-conceived Federal spending on never Constitutionally authorized domestic programs, has been a major factor in creating the horrendous Federal deficits, which have so clearly undermined the value of the American Dollar. Reason calls for less, not more, antagonism and confrontation in the Persian Gulf. If Obama is "naive" here, McCain is infantile. Consider:
1. We can very ill afford the expenditure of money or resources--human or mineral--in an unnecessary new war.
2. Our efforts to dictate policy to nations in the Eastern Hemisphere are increasingly resented in the "Old World," even among many still friendly peoples.
3. With the passage of time, the argument that we give greater credibility or prestige to the Iranian Government by sitting down with its titular head, has become absurd. It made some sense in the first decade after apparent religious zealots overthrew the friendly Government of the Shah. Yet that was over 29 years ago. The present Government remains solidly in control; and as hostile as that Government may sometimes seem, it in no way poses a threat remotely comparable to that which President Richard Nixon defused, when he went to China in 1972, to sit down with the Communist leadership, 23 years after their conquest of China. While we admit personal qualms at that time--and the future may yet make China our mortal enemy--the contemporary picture of an emergent, capitalistic China, now "Communist" only in name, certainly appears to vindicate the superiority of Nixon's vision over that of Bush, McCain and the Neocons.
No one can guarantee that a normalization of relations with the Iranian Government will assure friendlier attitudes among this generation of Iranians. But it is certainly offers a more rational approach to that end than does our present course.
4. Finally, while our resources are already over-extended and the dollar a disaster, we still have so great a technological edge over Iran that an over-wrought reaction to their sometimes hysterical rhetoric--if it has even being reported correctly, which, given recent disclosures of the President's self-indulgent treatment of facts, must be questioned--makes us look rather silly, and something of a would-be bully to boot. It hardly telegraphs either strength or balanced judgment.
But if Senator McCain is not the American Conservative answer to Obama, can we find an alternative in the Libertarian Party?
America's Founding Fathers, for the most part, considered themselves to be "libertarian." They formulated concepts of Government upon consideration of how to maximize individual liberty, individual responsibility; how to keep Government as unobtrusive as possible, avoiding almost all intervention into the personal lives of the American people. While creating a Federal Union to provide a common defense and domestic institutions to secure uniform measures, sound currency and a legal structure, where one might have the reasonable expectation of integrity in the market place, they denied the Federal Government any role in the resolution of social issues--the proscription of what was to be deemed anti-social behavior--except in very limited areas, which had little to do with the daily behavior of the average citizen.
The Libertarian Party, today, basically subscribes to those same precepts. As such, it would seem a natural alternative for the American Conservative, looking around in virtual despair at the likely Democratic and Republican offerings. Unfortunately, the proceedings of the Libertarian Convention, shown on C-Span, May 24th & 25th, revealed a high degree of philosophic confusion in the ranks on two significant issues; confusion, which--if not clarified--will force many of us to search elsewhere for an acceptable alternative to the present two party farce. On questions of how society should respond to contemporary homosexual political and legal demands, or on the formulation of an immigration policy, most of the "Libertarians," caught on camera, were as confused and hapless as the present Republican and Democratic leadership. Moreover, the "Libertarians," being interviewed, were not libertarian--at least not on those two issues.
We would be both fair and precise. The speakers clearly and correctly opposed America's intervention in the domestic affairs of other peoples. They clearly and correctly understood that it was not the Federal Government's business to tell people how to manage their personal lives, use their property, educate their children. Thus, in general, they were consistent with what the Founding Fathers intended. On the other hand, most of those, who addressed the subject, favored decisions in Massachusetts & California that proclaimed a homosexual's right to "marry" a member of his own sex! We say, "proclaimed," rather than "established," because you cannot establish an oxymoron as reality. There is, of course, no way that two men can actually marry, as that term has been understood and honored through the ages. Marriage, to be valid, has always required consummation--completion;--and consummation has always meant the procreational sex act, not some muscular attempt to simulate some of the sensations associated with such act.
At the Convention, the "argument" was made that there are "same sex couples" who have been together for decades; for far longer than half of all present day American marriages actually last. But such is scarcely material. There are many levels and areas in which people interact in close relationships. Many of us have lifelong friends, both of our own and the opposite sex. That has nothing to do with the concept of marriage. Marriage is the societal method for sanctifying the procreational process; for securing the continuity of the family and social order. No one suggests that military comrades in arms "marry"; that business partners, "marry"; that people "marry" their drinking "buddies." It is precisely because there is one additional aspect to the proposed concept of "homosexual marriage," which makes the idea even more unacceptable than any of the other rejected concepts: the performance of an act considered an abomination by the founders of virtually every major religious denomination. The concept, then, is premised not upon the closeness of the friendship or association, but upon the forced acceptance of an act or acts that others find offensive.
It would be a legitimate libertarian position, that Police not be granted warrants to search private property for the purpose of discovering private acts, where there is no clear indication of a victim. There the principle--the right of the individual to privacy on his or her own property; the right of the individual to use his or her own body, as deemed fit--is one of general applicability; clearly a protection of individual rights. It in no way forces anyone to accept anyone else's private conduct as honorable or moral. It leaves every other individual free to condemn what is felt to be offensive; to raise one's children to condemn what is felt to be morally wrong or reprehensible. This is not what has been proclaimed in Massachusetts & California; not what now appears acceptable to many members of the Libertarian Party.
Rather, they have embraced a right in Government to force society as a whole (all of us would-be dissenters), to officially equate a deviant muscular act, an intended feel good substitute for a normal sex act between a man and woman, with that needed to consummate the most sacred of relationships; one which society has always recognized as essential for the continuation of a family, tribe, race or nation; essential to the very existence of a people! It is difficult to imagine a clearer intrusion upon the rights of the other citizens of Massachusetts and California to not have their Government used to reengineer their society; their right to be secure in the sanctity of their personal decisions and obligations; to not have the Government proclaim as law, social values that deliberately undermine what those citizens would teach their children in the exercise of free will or religious commitment. It is very sad that Libertarians, who correctly condemn the Bush Administration's efforts to reengineer social values in Iraq, cannot see that they have bought into an Activist group's efforts to use Government to reengineer social values in Massachusetts and California.
There is, here also, the implied denial of one of the major realities of human existence. While each of us is an individual, at least 99.99% of us freely identify with a social order. Not one of us in 10,000 is a totally non-social hermit. Thus, recognizing that it is not a proper role for Government, to take away the right of the individual citizen to use or misuse his or her own body, does not provide a rational basis for Government to attack or undermine social values, which voluntarily established and voluntarily maintained communities, within its domain, have developed through the generations. Allowing disparate individuals eccentricity can never justify a denial of the most basic rights to the rest of a population. Agitation for "same sex marriage" has become a vicious attempt to do precisely that. Simply put, tolerance for eccentricity is a libertarian principle. Forced acceptance of eccentric behavior as normal, is not!
Similar principles are involved in considerations of immigration policy. The libertarian issue is the right of a people--here the political communities of America--to provide for their future generations in their own lands. There is no libertarian principle in allowing others a right to flow into or over the lands of Americans; to replace Americans in the lands of their fathers. Just as true libertarians respect the rights of a father to leave the fruits of his labor to his descendants, so the true libertarian must respect the rights of a community to husband their own unique heritage and domain for their posterity. Yet, it appeared, watching C-Span last weekend, that many "Libertarians" were in favor of an immigration policy that did not recognize this basic right of any people. Some seemed almost as confused as President Bush on this issue.
A review of American history, can give us many insights into what is actually the best libertarian approach to immigration. In the early days, with still sparse settlements, with a huge continent before them, it is not surprising that many of the Founding Fathers actively sought to encourage immigration. However, a closer look will reveal that those same libertarians sought to encourage congruous immigration; educated and innovative people of the middle and affluent classes, with a sound moral compass similar to that of the existing population. (See, for examples, Chapter 15 on Immigration in the Conservative Debate Handbook, below.) Our most widely recognized libertarian of any era, Thomas Jefferson, premised his decision to purchase Louisiana--the most Constitutionally questioned action he ever undertook--as necessary to secure Anglo-Saxon culture on the frontier of the original States. Clearly, Jefferson understood the right of a people to maintain their own distinct heritage. This would include not only a right--indeed duty--to preserve their lands and finite resources for their posterity; but also the right to preserve and build upon the unique culture of their forebears.
Treating all peoples with respect is certainly consistent with libertarian principles. But making believe that people are interchangeable is only madness.
Certainly, former Congressman Barr--the Libertarian nominee--would appear a better choice for American Conservatives than McCain, Mrs. Clinton, Obama or Nader. But if the above confusion cannot be clarified, many Conservatives will have to look elsewhere for a political home in November.