Libertarians changing conservative landscape

By on February 17, 2011

Eleven thousand activists gathered in D.C. this weekend for the Conservative Political Action Conference, the largest right-wing gathering of the year. Groups like Youth for Western Civilization and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays spewed the hate speech that one might expect from a gathering of this sort.

However, the groups with the largest, most visible presence at CPAC did not promote a message of hate. Libertarian organizations like Young Americans for Liberty and Our America Initiative were the talk of the conference, and social conservatives lost handily in the annual straw poll.

Instead of bashing Paul and his supporters, conservatives should be attempting to emulate them. What Republican besides Paul or Johnson could inspire and motivate a large-scale youth movement in 2012?

Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, who both favor the legalization of marijuana and oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, finished first and third in the poll, respectively. Only two percent of respondents chose promoting traditional values as their most important issue. Even Students for Sensible Drug Policy had a presence at the event, handing out flyers that stated “The War on Drugs is a War on Conservative Values.”

But the pro-war social conservatives fired back after the conference. Young Americans for Freedom (or maybe fascism, they never can seem to remember which it is) kicked Paul out of the organization, citing his opposition to the war. YAF Chairman Michael Jones said, “God has blessed the United States with liberty and the strength and heart to spread that liberty to all of his children. Rep. Paul has abandoned this mission, abandoned the United States’ citizens, and abandoned the citizens of the world in their quest for their God-given natural rights.”

Libertarians are making the effort, reaching out to conservatives and offering them an opportunity to stay relevant. Instead of bashing Paul and his supporters, conservatives should be attempting to emulate them. What Republican besides Paul or Johnson could inspire and motivate a large-scale youth movement in 2012?

Young people understand that there is no reason to get excited about conservatives like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, who talk about small government but still want to control what substances (or genitalia) people can put into their own bodies. Only a consistent message of freedom will appeal to those young people who realize that government has failed us, and most mainstream Republicans certainly don’t offer that.

Comments

About Matt Ciepielowski

8 Comments

  1. AlphaMale

    February 17, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Ron Paul / Gary Johnson 2012!!!!!

  2. Eric Dondero

    February 17, 2011 at 11:54 am

    You mistakenly conclude that we Libertarians are mono-lithic on foreign policy and defense issues. We are not. Ron Paul and his followers represent the leftside of the libertarian movement on foreign policy. There’s a strong and growing “Hawk Libertarian” movement, around both the Libertarian Defense Caucus and the Republican Liberty Caucus, that supports fighting back against Islamo-Fascism.

    Islamists want to outlaw Marijuana, Booze, Gambling, Prostitution, and stone Gays and “loose women” in Town Squares. How is that consistent with libertarian values?

  3. ral

    February 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Libertarians work with all groups worldwide in every country, often on a non-partisan basis. Check out http://www.Libertarian-International.org, http://www.isil.org and http://www.cato.org for interesting stuff.

  4. Jay

    February 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Well Eric, is it worth our soldiers lives’ to promote democracy in other nations? Is it issued in the constitution to be the world’s police? Do we have the money to support the undeclared wars for another decade? It looks like the people are already revolting in the ME and a lot of it has to do with the US propping up these dictators for so long. So they might acquire freedom from themselves – yay! Now I do not know enough about a “hawk” libertarian’s view on foreign policy to debate so perhaps you could enlighten me: Do you support the unconstitutional Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war? How about secret prisons? There is a fine line between being a defense hawk (which Ron Paul actually is) and a neo-conservative who is imperialistic and militaristic.

  5. Brinck Slattery

    February 17, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Thanks for coming down to CPAC, Matt – It was a great event!

  6. YWC New England

    February 19, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    As a YWC member, I don’t expect much from reporters but I feel like we should clear up at least a few things in Matt Ciepielowski’s sloppy attempt at a hit piece on conservative groups at CPAC, including Youth for Western Civilization.

    Mr. Ciepielowski creates a straw man of social conservatives and lumps Youth for Western Civilization into this narrow category. Though he talks about conservative dissent on the drug war, he neglects to mention that Youth for Western Civilization’s honorary chairman Tom Tancredo also supports the decriminalization of marijuana. The vast majority of YWC members also voted for Ron Paul in the straw poll.

    Though he is known for his limited government rhetoric, Paul (and his son, Senator Rand Paul) have both taken strong stances against birthright citizenship and express sound positions on illegal immigration. On foreign policy, most YWC members are non-interventionists and favor an America First foreign policy.

    The difference between YWC and left-libertarians is that YWC believes you can’t have limited government along with open borders and a welfare state. This is also the position of Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard (a crucial influence on the Paul movement), Hans Herman-Hoppe, and Ron Paul himself. While many libertarians would prefer to avoid these issues so reporters like Matt Cieppielowski don’t whine about them, if you are actually serious about fighting the state, we have to confront them.

    What, precisely, is so hateful about pointing out the hypocrisy of racial preferences in college admissions, the excesses of multiculturalism on college campuses, and the refusal of the federal government to enforce immigration law?

    If anything, the conservative movement is getting more conservative and turning out the Bush-style neoconservatives, who, it should be remembered, were pushing for amnesty for illegals and accusing non-interventionists of “racism” for not believing that the Muslim world would suddenly transform into American-style democracy.

    Ron Paul is far to the right of George W. Bush on every issue. But of course, that fact takes away from Mr. Ciepielowski’s juvenile narrative.

    • AquaBuddha

      February 20, 2011 at 10:41 am

      YWF had shirts that said “straight pride” at CPAC. Disgusting hate organization.

  7. SH

    February 22, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Is there such thing as a libertarian who doesn’t come from a privileged white background?

    Can’t wait for vagina doctor Ron Paul to lose every primary again in 2012.