August 09, 2006

If Ayn Rand Hadn't Been a Fundamentalist Atheist

by PG

She probably could have written this supposed manifesto of conservative Republicanism. And the reference to the Almighty is a fairly glancing one, essentially just to get in the natural rights argument, with no citation of Christianity or any other faith's beliefs regarding actual policy.

I sincerely don't understand why someone who honestly believes that the use of free will is a paramount value would support the conservative Republican crusades against legalized abortion, non-reproductive sex, flag-burning, violent and sexual culture, etc., unless his understanding of "God-given free will" is that the government is supposed to keep us from doing stuff that God hadn't intended us to do. If Tom Coburn is one of your most admired politicians, clearly God only gave us free will to keep gays from adopting children and lesbians out of the little girls' room.

I can see the moderate Republican getting more mileage out of the Sharon Statement, because the part about the genius of the Constitution can be used as cover for being indifferent to the aforementioned crusades while fiercely supporting the necessity of keeping judges from being the ones to legalize abortion, pull Lawrence and Johnson out of Texas jails and allow Grand Theft Auto to be sold. (Although inasmuch as the Statement only talks about separation of powers in terms of federalism, the moderate Republican will have to throw in another tenet to cover her disdain for state judges' undemocratic protection of civil rights and liberties.

Seriously, is there some strand of genuine and consistent libertarianism, rather than merely capitalism uber alles, in mainstream conservative Republicanism? From what I can tell, they don't like the minimum wage even when imposed locally and would happily resurrect Lochner's economic substantive due process to fight such regulations if they could. But they simultaneously don't like SDP to protect civil liberties from exercises of state police power. This of course is just mainstream liberalism in reverse, but I have to say that the argument for allowing the state to regulate our economic relationships, while having a higher barrier against the state's regulation of non-economic relationships, seems reasonable to me.

I know at least one Republican who maintains a fondness for Rick Santorum due to the senator's having once gotten a jab at a privacy advocate who used the cliche about keeping the government out of people's bedrooms. Santorum said something like, "So suppose a man meets a woman, takes her out to dinner, brings her home, puts on romantic music, leads her into his bedroom and asks her to ... clean it for less than minimum wage, would you want to keep government out of the bedroom?"

Personally, I would say that if wages were involved, the government may be; if there's no legal tender handed out and nothing to be reported to the IRS, the government generally should avoid regulating clearly consensual relations among adults unless the behavior would create a direct burden on society (poorly done S&M that lands people in the emergency room, for example, though I don't foresee legislation that mandates safewords).

Libertarians can be anti-legalized abortion, not only regarding Roe but on the merits of the issue, if they believe that fetuses are legal persons whose rights are being violated. Otherwise, there's precious little room for doctrines of free will and liberty to be used in support of legally enforced cultural conservatism.

August 9, 2006 01:40 PM | TrackBack
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