by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Last week I had a wonderful talk with Glenn Beck on TheBlaze. He asked me if I was a “classical liberal.” I said, “Absolutely.” I named Friedrich Hayek, and could have mentioned Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, or Arthur Laffer.
But I got to thinking about four-time 19th century British prime minister William Gladstone. I told Beck that if I had lived back then, I would have been a Gladstonian. His classical liberalism included smaller government, lower taxes, free trade, and individual liberty. I told him that’s the direction I want today’s GOP to go.
But something was scratching my aging brain when I got home from the Beck interview. So I Googled “Gladstonian Republicans.” Sure enough, I found a Wall Street Journal op-ed by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. They described how Gladstone cut the size of government by a quarter over three decades, while Britain was the world’s superpower and the British population jumped by 50 percent.
Gladstone believed in tax cuts “so that money could ‘fructify in the pockets of the people.’” He was a true liberal.
From Micklethwait and Wooldridge: “The Victorians believed in a ‘night-watchman state’ — one that left citizens as free as possible to pursue their own ends, provided that they did no harm to anyone else.”
Bush, Walker, Perry, Rubio, Christie, and the rest: Are you listening?