The problem, though, is that the libertarians that rise to Republican prominence tend to have some pretty awful racial baggage. As MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin details, Rand, like his father Ron, came from a “states-rights” libertarian tradition brimming with neo-Confederate sympathizers. Hence Ron’s famously racist newsletters and Rand’s famous opposition to the Civil Rights Act; where they come from, these views aren’t all that uncommon.
That’s not say to say that the Pauls are racists themselves, but rather that they’re beholden to a constituency who is. Libertarianism is, right now, a very small movement very much on the political margins. The neo-Confederates continue to make up a significant portion of the libertarian movement (if not its intellectual ranks), partly due to a self-described “Outreach To The Rednecks” campaign orchestrated by leading libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard.
This creates what one libertarian writer, Reason Magazine’s Mike Riggs, calls a “paradox:” “Libertarianism is too small to afford infighting,” Riggs suggests, but “also too small to afford people like Hunter becoming representative.” The smart, well-meaning libertarians — the ones who could help the GOP and quite possibly the country — can’t kick out the neo-Confederates, which means that elected libertarian officials will always have some ties to some truly terrible folks. Libertarian power is capped by its own power base.
Reversing the anti-GOP trend among non-southern white voters will probably require changes in messaging or policy, probably by moderating on both economic and cultural issues. The Electoral College encourages the GOP to make gains across a diverse swath of swing states, and they need to push back against the equally diverse Democratic attacks that have hobbled the GOP: the attacks on cultural issues that hurt Republicans around Denver, Washington, and Columbus; the depiction of the GOP as the party of the elite, which has hurt the GOP just about everywhere; and yes, the challenges immigration reform poses in Las Vegas, Denver, Orlando-Kissimmee, and Miami.
The National Review has an interview with an interesting congressional candidate, former conservative columnist Quin Hillyer. I do like his term limits pledge, although I’m suspicious about how he quickly he entered the race.
I will campaign with an ironclad pledge: a personal six-term limit, with the only exception being if I am, or am about to become, speaker of the house, majority leader, or chairman of the Ways and Means or Appropriations Committees, because it would be devastating to my district not to take those positions. Unless I’m in one of those four positions, it’s an ironclad pledge.
Make no mistake: I’m pro-choice. There is a tragic incompatibility between the good of the mother and the good of the child, and while that child can’t survive outside the mother’s body, I resolve that in favor of the living woman instead of the future child. But that doesn’t mean I view abortion as having the same moral weight as a haircut or a nose-piercing–just another personal choice about what you do with your body. So if I were an editor, I probably wouldn’t publish an essay that presented it that way.