Skip to comments.Is there a libertarian case for Rick Santorum?
Posted on 02/09/2012 9:52:24 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Rick Santorum had a somewhat super Tuesday on February 7th. He won all three Republican presidential primaries, thereby reviving a campaign that had failed to follow up on his victory in Iowa. Santorum could become the sole alternative to Romney for the Republican nomination. If that happens, he could become the GOP nominee in 2012. Should libertarians vote for him?
Heres my (broad) definition of a libertarian. A libertarian cares about individual liberty and thus limited government. Those concerns lead to further commitments to free markets in economics, moral pluralism in culture, and realism and restraint in foreign policy. Government provides a legal order in which individuals pursue their vision of the good life. Politics is more about living together at peace than about making people virtuous.
By his own account, Santorum is anti-libertarian, describing the philosophy as radical individualism and a source of cultural decay. He opposes moral pluralism in favor of a society and government that recognizes and acts on Christian virtues. Santorum speaks of free markets, but his cultural commitments are bound to require limits on economic liberty. He also indulges in an economic populism that implies protectionist policies that favor the manufacturing sector. Like many Republicans these days, Santorum also seeks salvation for the Middle East through American military power.
So will libertarians support Obama in the fall? Not necessarily. They will be able to vote for former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, the likely candidate of the Libertarian Party. He offers an easy way around choosing between the president and Rick Santorum.
Maybe not. Lets stipulate that Johnson cannot win. If libertarians vote for him, and not their second choice (either Obama or Santorum), they might cause the election of their third choice (Obama or Santorum). Hence we come to the question of the lesser evil.
Is Obama a correct second choice for libertarians? The president is similar to the former senator in one way: both see government as pursuing a moral crusade on behalf of some value. Like generations of progressives, Obama wishes to remake American society in pursuit of social justice, not Christian morality. As Friedrich Hayek understood, Obamas search for social justice necessarily abridges economic liberty. Obamas Libya mission shows that his administration shares George W. Bushs disdain for realism in foreign policy.
As they say in sports, its enough to make you wish they both could lose. But they cant.
Heres my libertarian case for Rick Santorums nomination (though not his election). Since the early 1990s, Christian conservatives have formed an ever larger portion of the GOP. In Santorum, they would have what they have long sought: a candidate embodying their commitments to a politics of faith. Neoconservatives would also have a candidate committed to transforming the world through foreign policy and military action. The Obama-Santorum race would be more than just a struggle for power between two men. It would be a referendum on ideas and policies that have dominated the GOP for more than decade.
One recent poll has the former senator running even with Obama, but most polls have shown a decided gap of about eight points between the incumbent and Santorum. Right now the latter is not well-known to most voters. As Santorum becomes better known, he might close the gap with Obama. More likely, I think he would drive more secular and independent voters away from the GOP ticket. A ten-point Republican loss in a year when economic weakness suggested a close race would be a political disaster not just for the candidate and his party but also for the ideas they embody. Rick Santorum could be the George McGovern of his party.
Such a disaster might open the door for a different kind of GOP along lines indicated earlier, a party of free markets, moral pluralism, and realism in foreign affairs. Ron Paul has taken some steps this year toward creating such a party. He has attracted votes and inspired activism. His son or another candidate might take up the cause in 2016 and build on Pauls achievements. Fanciful thinking? Perhaps, but it may take an electoral disaster to free the GOP from the ideas and forces that Rick Santorum represents.
-- John Samples is director of the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute and the author of The Struggle to Limit Government.
RICK SANTORUM’s FISCAL PRIORITIES:
* Santorum supports Congressman Paul Ryan’s plan toallow workers who retire in 10 years to choose from a variety of plans, with some part of the premiums paid by the government. Premiums would vary, depending on income and health. Current retirees, and those retiring before 2022, would stay on traditional Medicare.
* Santorum wants to bring the Social Security program into balance by gradually raising the retirement age for younger workers and changing the indexing of benefits.
* Santorum wants to cut non-defense spending to 2008 levels. He would end energy subsidies and other wasteful government programs, cutting $5 trillion over 5 years.
* Santorum wants to simplify the tax code by moving from five to two rates, 10 percent and 28 percent, and eliminating many deductions. This is in stark contrast to President Obama, who proposes new taxes on different classes of Americans every few months.
* In addition to lowering personal income tax rates, Santorum would abolish the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, which is adjusted downwards every year by Congress. Even so, it is now paid by millions of Americans, particularly those with large families in states with high income taxes.
* Santorum would lower corporate tax rates, at 35 percent now the highest in the world. He would cut the rate to 17.5 percent and allow the cost of all business equipment to be deducted in the year of purchase. Manufacturing would have a zero rate of tax.
* Santorum administration would be to replace senior government regulators who are at war with the American worker with competent officials who will encourage growth in the American economy and an expanding workforce.
* One of Santorum’s highest priorities is to repeal the new health care law, and replace it with competition and choice for health insurance, the way people purchase auto, home, and life insurance.
Moral pluralism???? That’s a new term for moral relativity, with which we are all too familiar. Foreign policy realism is what we see from the Obama administration.
This sounds like a Mitt Romney endorsement to me. (I didn’t finish reading the article)
My rather broad definition of a libertarian is just a Democrat who doesn’t want to pay his own taxes.
Libertarians should stay out of politics and stick to checking out books at the libertary.
Perhaps there could be... one wild card he might consider playing is — if he were to get the nomination — making an offer to Rand Paul for the VP slot.
I don’t know if Libertarians would be totally upset with another Obummer term. One thing I notice is the that they almost never bash Obummer. Ron Paul, the standard bearer for the movement, always bashes the GOP but never Obummer. Libertarian supporters of his also spend all their time bashing the other candidates instead of focusing on the real threat, Obummer. They may think he is their best shot for legalized drugs, which seems to be their overriding issue.
And yet the founders were predominantly Christian. So people with a given worldview can start the country, but someone with the same view coming along later could not help preserve it? This government was and always has been a delicate balancing act between the rights of the individual and the will and the welfare of society. Ron Paul goes too far. Is it “realism” in foreign affairs to think that Iran is benign and will simply relent if we just mind our own business? At one end of the spectrum is anarchy, the libertarian direction. At the other is a totalitarian state, Obama’s direction. The goal should be in the middle tending toward the freedom end.
I was thinking “moral pluralism” might be a subset of “multiple realities.” (smile)
The author, John Samples, seeks to discredit Santorum strictly on his position on abortion, without actually mentioning “abortion”.
It is my understanding that abortion is a divisive topic in libertarian circles. So the author avoids mentioning it. Go ahead, do a search. No mention of “abortion” or “pro-life” anywhere in the article.
The author begins with this statement: “He opposes moral pluralism in favor of a society and government that recognizes and acts on Christian virtues.”
To the best of my knowledge, the only Christian virtue that Santorum champions as a role in government is the Right to Life.
The author then builds the rest of his argument by further broadening the influence that Santorum’s pro-life stance will have: “Santorum speaks of free markets, but his cultural commitments are bound to require limits on economic liberty. “
See how this slimy article works?
- don’t mention abortion...even though that is what the author bases the article on. Too divisive for libertarians.
- expand the argument further by using the term “...are bound to ...” See, now the author is free to make Santorum to be anything he wants him to be
- takes part in the modern trend of bashing “Christian virtues” - it is all the rage nowadays
It’s an endorsement for libertarianism. Just listen to Ron Paul’s platform or watch John Stossel’s. Libertarians march in lockstep on their policy views even more than progressives. They want virtually no government spending, no moral imperatives coming from the government, and an isolationist foreign policy. I think in the medium-to-long-term there are a very real and growing threat to Republicans, either internally like Ron Paul or as a third party.
The Republican party doesn’t have as well-defined an ideology as either libertarians or progressives (which have basically taken over the Democrat party). I guess our ideology is conservatism, but there is disagreement on what that means or to what degree it means it. The religious conservatives as exemplified by Rick Santorum have nowhere else to go but Republicans, being hated by both libertarians and progressives. I like the small-government, big-business-skeptical populism coming from Palin and Newt, but the exact policy implications behind that message are still being shaped.
The Republican party seems to be more fractured and splintered in its ideology than ever, which is probably why this primary is so erratic. There is a serious, fundemental divide shaping up between the libertarians and the religious conservatives, not to mention a more moderate wing in-between of socially liberal fiscal conservatives who might not be dovish on foreign policy. It just looks like we’re going to be stuck fighting this battle in every primary for a long time, with one side always coming out unhappy. It seems more logical that we’d eventually split into the Tea Party and the Libertarian Party, but pragmatism is probably what’s stopping that from happening for now.
One thing I’m pretty sure of, Mitt Romney is the second choice of the Ron Paul people who are rational enough to be considering a second choice. Which is another reason Newt/Rick are unlikely to make their way out of a brokered convention. Their combined votes would have to beat Mitt and Ron’s combined votes if the alliances go that way.
Santorum looks like a Conservative, but talks like a Statist. His words to the commies at NPR:
One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a libertarianish right. You know, the left has gone so far left and the right in some respects has gone so far right that they touch each other. They come around in the circle. This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I dont think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldnt get involved in the bedroom, we shouldnt get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals cant go it alone. That there is no such society that I am aware of, where weve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.
Im not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom.
So what are you saying? That the government should
-keep abortion legal for any reason
-cut the military to the bone
“One thing Im pretty sure of, Mitt Romney is the second choice of the Ron Paul people who are rational enough to be considering a second choice. “
Because the one thing they really want is universal Romneycare to take care of them after they OD’d on heroin.
Sen. SANTORUM: I think I would probably tailor that a little more than what the president has suggested, that I'm not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom. What we should be teaching are the problems and holes and I think there are legitimate problems and holes in the theory of evolution. And what we need to do is to present those fairly from a scientific point of view. And we should lay out areas in which the evidence supports evolution and the areas in the evidence that does not.
This author is an idiot if they would support Obama (a full on marxist over Rick Santorum).
However, it would be funny if his prediction of having Santorum the nominee comes true—and then Santorum Wins!
Libertarians can even support Santo on social issues.
The ultimate liberty is LIFE. There is a huge libertarian argument that the unborn has rights. Wait until that unborn is born and is old enough to consent to his own abortion. Most libertarians I know when asked their permission to have themselves aborted would say NO WAY. Obama, not being even in the slightest interested in liberty, feels his mother was “punished” with him, and wants anyone surviving an abortion to be set aside like trash and allowed to die, so he’d probably agree to his own retroactive abortion.
I know that Santorum would disagree with the right of gays to marry, but it’s not up to the President what rights any kind of household has, or what they do behind closed doors. If libertarians could just go along with 7000 years of history and leave the word marriage as it is traditionally defined, gays can do everything else but that word.
You aren’t a libertarian if you don’t want freedom of lifestyle for EVERYONE. If you only want YOUR lifestyle to be free, you’re just a selfish shmo. So it doesn’t matter whether your President is a Christian or a pothead or a cowboy. As long as he fights for the Constitution, and freedom of oppression from the government, that is what you need.
And if you like Ron Paul’s foreign policy, go live in appeasement land in Europe. You will NEVER get that here. And millions all over the world are glad of it.
I am just presenting Santorum's statist philosophy. I am not advocating for anarchy. Those are not the only two options.
Santorum's philosophy as he presented it to NPR:
They may very well both be wrong, but they are different.
Moral relativism is the belief that different groups of people can be required to live according to different moral codes, e.g. OK for some African tribes to be cannibals, but not civilized Westerners.
Moral pluralism is the belief that there may very well be one moral code that applies to everyone, but since no one has been able to convince everyone else of a particular set of moral beliefs then it is best to allow each person to live according to his own moral code within reasonable limits.
The U.S. is very much a morally pluralistic culture, and has been since its founding, e.g. there were various protestant and catholic colonies that disagreed vehemently amongst themselves on various moral issues.
Cultures can become too pluralistic in that they can allow individuals to believe and act in ways that are a direct harm to others, for example allowing the abortion of innocent human life. This is where the U.S. is right now unfortunately.
Moral pluralism in and of itself is not a bad thing, especially since we are all imperfect and do not have access to the complete truth about all things, and certainly do not have the capability of fully comprehending all of the implications of what truths we do know. However, the current form of pluralism we live under has been stretched so thin that we are now in self-destruct mode.
Like I said, new definition same old, same old.
Moral relativity is the concept that one set of moral values is as good as any other, here, there, anywhere. The term has been used for years to justify restorative justice in the court system. You know, “It’s not their fault that they grow up to be gang bangers, drug dealers and murderers, because their ancestors were so oppressed by the Western White Capitalist MEN.” “It’s their culture.”
I didn't say what you said. I directly contradicted it.
It doesn't help the conservative cause to be uninformed with regard to philosophy.
It doesn’t help the Libertarian cause to adopt Noam Chomsky-like definitions.
I’d like to add a new post modern definition, language relativity - the redefinition of words and terms to fit a specific agenda.
If you don't like the definitions at the links, then you should stop using your computer. You should see the reams and reams of intricate definitions that were required to design, build, and deploy the computers and networks required for you to access Free Republic! Should we expect philosophy, which hopes to explain the subtleties of human behavior, to be simpler in its definitions?
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is not some libertarian or leftist site. There are numerous articles written by Christian philosophers. It represents the current state of the art in philosophy.
BTW, since it is an American-based site, if anything it leans toward the analytical philosophers who are adamantly opposed to all things "post-modern" such as the deconstructivism of Foucault and Derrida. It is because they are so concerned about explaining and understanding concepts in such detail that the definitions are as fleshed out as they are.
If you are against relativism then you are intelligent and sane.
If you are against pluralism then you are opposed to the American experiment expressed in the Declaration of Independence and our beloved Constitution.
No, pluralism as you define it is value neutral, just like relativism. It is dangerous and insidious because it can be used to over turn our legal system, which is not value neutral.
Our legal system is based on Judeo-Christian law and Sharia Law is in no way equal. To consider any other culture or religion as equal to US culture or the Judeo-Christian value system is insidious and dangerous.
So do you want our laws based on Jewish law or Christian law?
They are not identical.
Thank you for your explanation of that term. I would have to say that I am always skeptical of moral concepts that seem rather vague, imprecise and/or subject to various interpretations.
Indeed the whole concept seems to be negated by the final “within reasonable limits” clause. That would seem to be a term of art that politicians, lawyers and Marxists (to name a few) could use to justify almost anything!
To agree to do whatever is “reasonable;” w/o a predefined understanding of the scope of that term seems subject to a myriad of interpretations. One thing I learned from the Clinton administration was that words and terms such as, “reasonable” have absolutely no definable meaning or limits when used by the Far Left.
Our legal system is only based on the general moral principles of the Judeo/Christian religion, not on the religion itself. It’s based more on the Judeo/Christian culture than on the religious law.
For instance, our legal system does not condemn anyone for taking the name of GOD in vane, or coveting your neighbor’s wife.
On the other hand, Sharia law is a direct dictat of Islam. A man can beat his wife, cheat his neighbor if the neighbor is not a Muslim and do all sorts of other actions that are considered a crime under our legal system. Both your plural relativism and moral relativism would say this too, is a cultural issue and should be considered equal to our Judeo-Christian based legal system.
It’s not equal under the constitution.
Still, it is kind of interesting that, although Sharia Law is very different in content from Judeo-Christian based law, the way it is currently implemented and enforced is quite similar to the way Jewish and Christian law was enforced in the distant past.
This article was written by a covert Romney-bot.
No it’s not interesting at all. The Islamic culture is stuck in the 6th century. That is the reason that there can be no equality between the cultures, no relativity, either.
Hate to break it to you Newt supporters... Newt is done, finished as a Presidential candidate,,, his biggest donor Sheldon Adelson has pulled the plug on Newt’s Presidential campaign, I guess Sheldon Adelson has seen the writing on the wall...