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The Liberty Movement's Moment
The liberty movement is positioned to provide principled leadership for a reconstituted conservative coalition in the post-Trump era. Also, A Tale of No Spines and A Vacuum of Principle.
This is the fifth issue of Self-Evident, the revamped Liberty Hawk Newsletter now migrated to Substack.
This issue is a re-printing of the October 16, 2019 newsletter first published at The Liberty Hawk.
The Liberty Movement’s Moment
One of my chief philosophical arguments is that the divorce that has occurred between the conservative and liberty movements over the last twenty years has led to a marginalizing effect for both. Absent the moderating effect that a coalition of individualists and traditionalists provides, both have trended to the margins.
While the liberty movement has its own flaws, philosophical meanderings, and…eccentric…behaviors, as an out of power movement it has largely been left unstained by the Trump era. A chief example of this would be Justin Amash, who can boast one of the most solidly conservative voting records in Congress while existing in political independence outside Trump’s shadow. Other figures, such as Mike Lee, have navigated the moment with only lightly singed eyebrows (though his vote against witnesses did no favors for the longevity of his influence).
It’s true that a surprising number of libertarians have gone all-in on Donald Trump’s supposed war with the deep state. But more and more of these erstwhile defenders of liberty are shedding their libertarian skins and conceding they are really just nationalists and culture warriors who only opposed Leviathan when it was in someone else’s hands.
I truly believe that the Liberty Movement is positioned to provide principled leadership for a reconstituted conservative coalition in the post-Trump era. The question really lies in whether they can set aside their Randian purity tests and fever dreams of minarchist utopia in order to become a movement for responsible governance instead of merely a peanut-gallery for anti-government discontent.
Crucially, though, we need to master the ancient art of coalition building. A movement based on founding principles comprised of individualists on one hand or traditionalists on the other only provides half of the founding equation (After all, the federalists crafted the body of the constitution but the anti-federalists assured its soul).
This idea of fusionism between the two movements to provide a truly powerful coalition for founding ideals is the heart and soul of The Liberty Hawk. As both a traditionalist and an individualist, my driving desire has been and always will be to conserve liberty.
A Tale of No Spines
I can picture it now. I’m on a tour of the White House with a witty tour guide and he’s just been asked, yet again, where the secret entrance JFK supposedly had for Marilyn Monroe to come and go is located. The tour guide scratches his head and replies, “We’re not sure, but chances are Donald Trump has found it and stashed the spines of the Republican Party there.”
But seriously. The thing I have found the most mind-boggling about the Trump Era is the way in which 2016’s lesser evil morphed into 2019’s greater good.
Once upon a time, even the most rabid Trump supporters had to cling to the “Flight 93 election” idea, where supporting Trump was the equivalent of storming the cabin with no certainty that anyone could fly the plane. Anything, anyone, was better than Hillary Clinton in the White House, even that crazy guy from the Apprentice.
Fast forward to today and you just might be accused of being a libtard commy for not considering Donald J. Trump the greatest president America has ever had. In 2016, they just wanted your vote. Now they want your soul. You must worship at the altar of Trump’s sheer awesomeness.
In other words, President Trump has managed to corral the conservative base so effectively into his corner that every step taken out of sync of Trump’s id is a gamble for Republican politicians. In a very real sense, the spines of the Republican Party really are mounted in some hidden away corner of the White House, trophies of Trump’s Corleone-like conquest.
A Vacuum of Principle
In a very real way, much of the modern Republican party has become morally compromised. Forced to give cover to a President who is as unmoored from any sense of consistent principles or vision as he is from the idea of life-long fidelity, they have found themselves having to defend something different every day, often in direct violation of what the “alternative facts” were the day before. Worse, they have had to justify things that no sane conservative would ever let slide from a Democratic president.
Whether the next Democratic President comes in 2020, 2024, or beyond, that day will most assuredly come. And, when that President begins issuing executive orders, declaring national emergencies, and belittling congressional oversight, the Republican Party will find itself wholly incapable of mounting a principled opposition that any sane American won’t find hypocritical to the nth degree.
Any honest estimation of the conservative movement and the Republican Party after four years of defending and enabling Donald Trump would have to admit the ultimate result of this political moment has been the creation of a vacuum of principled leadership.
As the millennial generation, the most socialist and progressive generation in American history thus far, surpasses the baby boomers in voter participation, there has grown to be a startling dearth of credible conservative voices to counteract their leftward trend.
Now, What Have You Got?
Stay Free My Friends,