"Libertarian Conservatism"? Hardly.
So, after discussing the rise of fundamentalist conservatism as a social, cultural, and economic force to be reckoned with, after dispensing with"progressive conservatism" as a viable option, I've now read George F. Will's take on the"return" of"libertarian conservatism" to the Republican Party. Will believes that if this past week's GOP convention proves anything, it is that there is a renaissance among Goldwater-type conservatives who apply the limited government philosophy to both economic and social spheres of life. Will admits that this wing of the party is"not fully ascendant." You can say that again! But Will thinks that by showcasing people like Rudy Giuliani (a complex case for this New Yorker to evaluate), Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other"moderate" voices, the GOP is sending out a message that it can be the"Big Tent" it has long advertised. (Goldwater, after all, in his later years, was an advocate of abortion rights and gay rights.)
If you'd watched some of the coverage of this convention, however, you would have heard from a lot of delegates who, quite simply, were none too thrilled by the fact that the advocates of"abortion" and"gay rights" were getting so much prime-time. It seems that ever since the Patrick Buchanan debacle of 1992, the GOP learned that it could keep its fundamentalist base intact (who are they gonna vote for? The Democrats???), while trying its best to appeal to those independent young and suburban swing voters who are more likely to be a bit more socially liberal. Clearly, this strategy is not really designed to win"big states" on the West and East coasts. The"libertarians" are, for the most part, coming out of California or places like New York, two states that will probably figure in the Kerry Electoral Vote column. But it's still a strategy that might pay off in some hard-to-call states.
Still. When, curiously, on the eve of the convention, Vice President Dick Cheney tells us how proud he is of his gay daughter Mary, while backing off from the administration's call for a heterosexual marriage constitutional amendment, the right-wing slams back. Perhaps the controversy cost poor Mary and her significant other a place on the podium, while the rest of Cheney's family joined him after his acceptance speech on Wednesday night. Whatever the reason for her lack of participation, it was a true Hegelian moment for those of us who notice such things: the absence spoke much louder than the presence.
Sorry, Mr. Will: This spoonful of"libertarian" sugar may influence some voters who would rather not take the fundamentalist and/or neocon medicine that the GOP wants to shove down the throats of the American electorate. But this prescription is not for me. I'm still voting for None of the Above.