Helen Weir
Mr. Morris, you misunderstand us!
By Helen Weir
October 24, 2010

In an opinion piece posted at TheHill.com ("The New Republican Right," Oct. 22, 2010), Dick Morris makes some astounding assertions. Declaring the GOP "safe for libertarians" at last, he holds that there is "still a litmus test for admission to the Republican Party, but no longer is it dominated by abortion, guns and gays. Now, keeping the economy free of government regulation, reducing taxation and curbing spending are the chemicals that turn the paper pink."

"It is one of the fundamental planks in the Tea Party platform," he adds, in a sentence sure to turn the countenances of conservatives everywhere bright red (and their jugular veins deep purple), "that the movement does not concern itself with social issues."

Is that so? There are two contentions to consider here: 1) that a Republican "sea change" towards libertarianism is actually taking place; and that, 2) it would be a good thing if it were. Although he can call electoral horse races better than most, Morris turns out to be profoundly wrong on both of the above-mentioned counts.

Posting at Politico.com ("Morris Misguided on Centrist GOP Vote," Oct. 22, 2010), Frank Cannon has already demolished the former Clinton confidante's Point Number One. There is, Cannon points out, "an easy way to test his thesis:" just look around. Cannon cites Republican primary after Republican primary in which the libertarian-leaning candidate has been rejected in favor of the socially conservative one, culminating with the example of the "charismatic economic and social conservative Marco Rubio who is riding high."

"Florida governor Charlie Crist, who epitomizes the Morris thesis," Cannon elaborates, "could not win the Republican primary, and has sunk steadily in the polls since embracing what Morris now asserts is taking hold among the 'ground troops.'" Crist, of course, is the self-declared committed Republican who pledged to stay with the GOP no matter what, but promptly went independent and scrubbed all references to being "pro-life" from his website, as soon as challenger Rubio pulled definitively ahead in the polls.

If Crist is (as Cannon dubs him) a "general without an army," the Tea Party is an army without a general, except maybe General Washington. I don't believe that even the estimable Mr. Morris will succeed in dictating to the partiers what they are now and what they can no longer be, especially when he is 100% off base.

The Tea Party is not, quintessentially, a rejection of the Obama agenda, as earnestly as countless Americans (myself not least among them) want it rejected. The Tea Party is a return to our national roots; its "fundamental planks" derive not from the shifting political demography du jour but from the Declaration of Independence and its immutable, Creator-derived principles. Our basic problem with Barack is that he is attempting to stand between us and God Almighty, adding his unusual name to the dreary historical catalogue of usual suspects who have tried, in a dizzying array of ways, to accomplish this same old thing. Like all the rest our present President will not, at the end of the day, get his way.

In its ideological moorings (or lack thereof), libertarianism has more in common with liberalism than it does with Declarationism. The barely camouflaged selfishness of its quaint "live and let live" — or more accurately, "die and let die" — philosophy doesn't stand up to a moment's serious reflection, let alone real-world experience. After all, it's easy (and rewarding, and trendy) to go relativist in the United States of America. Try it in times and places where the rubber of atheistic materialism has actually hit the road, like Russia, Cuba, and the Germany of WWII.

American libertarianism and its genus American progressivism are ideological parasites, flourishing only in the favorable societal conditions produced by the Judeo-Christian discipline, self-denial, and foresight which progressivism itself rejects. Others have done the labor, and the collegiate Marxist-Lennonists have come into their gain. But the moral capital of morally-grounded capitalism has just about been spent, and the Tea Party movement represents our last chance to respect and hopefully even to replenish it.

When Mr. Morris (among others) argues that the fiscal issues have finally, happily, eclipsed the social ones, he fails to understand what our Founders did — that the fiscal issues are the social ones. After that tricky bit of the Declaration which President Obama seems bound and determined to leave out of each and every speech (or is it his teleprompter's fault?) comes the shining list: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, in that particular and inexorable order.

Margaret Sanger, after all, sold America contraception, euthanasia, and abortion-on-demand on primarily economic grounds. Do away with the unwanted, she argued, and families and nations will never again have to feel financial strains. Jails will empty out; child abuse will be abolished; suffering of all sorts will sink into extinction; and marital bliss will reach critical mass.

Where are the scientific rationalists when you need them? If the President and his people are so fond of facts, why aren't they out there declaiming the American anti-life experiment as a miserable and utter failure? Evidently, there is no such thing as a shovel-ready eugenic utopia, either. The reality that an economy which kills off its own participants is bound to fail is not the reason we oppose abortion and its satellite evils, of course, but it does demonstrate that the reasons advanced on their behalf are way beyond bogus.

But if libertarianism is a chip off of the old block of liberalism, why are libertarians increasingly gathering under the conservative aegis instead — a phenomenon which Mr. Morris perceives but also misperceives? Possibly because relativism's adherents haven't had occasion to think through the implications of their own belief system before. Now that the Obama contingent is fast-forwarding that worldview's internal logic, people aren't liking what they see, and many are able to muster the intellectual honesty to admit it. More power to them. Truth, as St. Maximilian says, is not something which any of us can change. We can only seek it out, deepen our understanding of it, and conform our lives to its dictates, no matter what, which goes for individuals and movements, political parties and nations, and the human race as a whole. And yes, for two-bit conservative columnists and former Clinton advisors, too.

© Helen Weir


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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