The US Republican Party has many problems. Being ‘hardline libertarian’, as Thomas Goldie suggests, is not one of them. I know this because I am a libertarian, and anyone who has read anything about libertarianism, ever, knows there’s been nothing libertarian about the GOP since Goldwater. I appreciate that Thomas’ article is about a phenomenon, the cause or justification for which is not extremely relevant to the point he’s trying to make, but being one of the people on this campus who is neither progressive nor conservative, I have to defend libertarianism.
US Republicans went into Iraq and Afghanistan. Libertarians don’t think the government can properly run the post office down the road, let alone a foreign country thousands of kilometres away. We believe that genuine free markets thrive on true competition, which doesn’t happen when you have bailouts. The Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP), which many Republicans, including self-proclaimed Ayn Rand devotee Paul Ryan, voted for, is not libertarian. Wanting to build a fence along the Mexican border? Not libertarian. The PATRIOT Act? Not libertarian.
Thomas is right that the Republicans are playing wedge politics. But it’s regular, old-fashioned, populist-conservative wedge politics. Libertarianism’s got nothing to do with it.