Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Will the Republican Coalition Hold? 

In the wake of reported anti-libertarian tendencies at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), several bloggers have been either speaking of a possible Republican Party schism or assessing the event as not being too significant. Personally, this is just more confirmation of my premise set forth before speaking of the political realignment happening in America.

Today's "big, but moral, government" Republicans represent the influence of conservative socialists moving from the Democrat to the Republican Party. Really, if one is really talking about "neo-cons" and not just using the phrase as a pejorative or an alias for "the Jews" they are really taking about is this group. The ascendancy of activist and fringe elements in the Democrat Party have driven more of these people to align with their moral peers rather than their political peers. An the more the Republican Party moves left politically the more attraction the Party exudes over this group. I think we are approaching a cusp that many in both parties do not seem to fully grok (not saying that I do either). I also think those who better see the totality will be better positioned to nudge the political future of America in the direction of their choosing.

The eventual prize to be won by complete effective Republican Party dominance of the political sphere will most certainly be schism. And that will not be a bad thing. The nature of our election mechanism and especially the "winner-takes-all" presidential race naturally produces a bicameral machine. The lack of an effective national opposition will result in drawing the same from within the party of strength. I say this notional schism will not be bad because I feel the current opposition in American politics is largely moral and I think the country will be better served by returning the opposition to one of a political liberty basis.

In the history of the United States, political alignment has tended to shift between the axis of morality and axis of liberty, often responding to the needs of the times. In early America the important issues were all about how much power should be centrally vested in the federal government. As this question seemed to reach a general consensus (or at least an agree-to difference of opinions), the moral issue of slavery became more central in national politics. Moving forward into the '20s and '30s we see again the question of federal power taking center stage. In the '50s and '60s the issues of social justice and Civil Rights won the podium. But I see those moral issues largely settled and the current danger to the heart of America again being the reach of the government into our personal lives, the liberty to decide our own fates without being serf to any man or government.

The real challenge will be if the Republican coalition can hold together long enough to politically crush the power of those wanting to continue fighting for moral change. Libertarians (little-l) rightfully recognize that neither party represents their interests of restricted government and personal autonomy, but most recognize the marriage of convenience forged with social conservatives is still a necessary evil. But even if the Democrats, as the exist today, cease to be a political power, the success and effect of a libertarian schism from the conservatives does not necessarily spell success for those desiring small government.

Rather than the old axiom that "power corrupts," I tend to subscribe to the idea that power attracts the corruptible. One of the biggest disadvantages of small government, personal liberty advocates is that it is precisely those sorts of people who do not want all the hassle associated with obtaining the power necessary to effect their will. Most politicians seek power precisely because they want to tell others what to do. It is only in rare cases is the motivation provided by a negative desire the match to the motivation by a positive desire. I only hope the libertarians can solve this issue before they jump ship. Otherwise, a Republican schism, regardless of the state of the Democrat Party may only end up completing the cycle and returning us to where we've been.

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