by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Among the highlights of Jonah Goldberg‘s latest “G-File” newsletter at National Review Online is this brief assessment of the notion that a libertarian would be more likely than a conservative to win support from the political Left.
Let’s assume that [New York Times Magazine column writer Robert] Draper is right. This is the libertarians’ moment. Well, I’ve got bad news for my libertarian friends. That moment will last exactly as long as, and no longer than, it takes for libertarians to actually take power. The instant there is a libertarian president or a libertarian majority in Congress, liberals will immediately and passionately denounce libertarianism as evil, cruel, sexist, and racist. This is the story of progressivism and it will never change. Any non-progressive movement that gains power becomes The Enemy. If Rand Paul is the nominee, I guarantee you people will look back on Draper’s piece as a set up. Liberals do this all the time. They designate out-of-power factions as the good conservatives or good right-wingers, because that makes them sound open-minded (“I don’t hate all conservatives, just the ones in charge.”). But then once they have a chance of seeing their ideas implemented, the fearmongering begins. If Rand Paul’s the nominee, the New York Times will be bludgeoning us with bones from his father’s closet until Paul is a Klansman. Remember, this is the crowd that told us Mitt Romney gave some woman cancer. People forget that liberals loved neoconservatism in the 1990s when it was out of power. Once it was in power (or perceived to be) under George W. Bush, it became foreign and scary and “Straussian.” Today green-eyeshade Republicanism of the Nixon-(Poppa) Bush variety is all the rage. But when Nixon and Bush were president, liberals shrieked “Fascism!” Liberal nostalgia for Reagan or Goldwater is remarkably hard to reconcile with the way liberals treated Reagan and Goldwater when they were in power.
Progressivism, stripped of its philosophical flare is ultimately and irreducibly about power. Any idea, movement, or politician that threatens the power of progressives and the(ir) administrative state will be cast as the greatest evil in the land. Libertarians who think otherwise are betraying their own anti-utopian creed.