Looking at liberal blogger Ezra Klein’s “laundry list of Republican Party flip-flops”, the Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll finds a pattern:
In every policy area mentioned above, the Republican party has become more libertarian. Some Republicans used to like Keynesian stimulus, now they don’t. Libertarians never did. Some Republicans used to like individual mandates, now they don’t. Libertarians never did. Some Republicans used to like cap and trade, now they don’t. Libertarians never did. You get the idea. There is a reason Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has been speaking so highly of Ron Paul.
This shift, Carroll contends, corresponds with polling data showing that “Americas are just becoming more libertarian“, with “Republican leaders” merely “responding to those changing beliefs.” The growing distrust of government solutions (to social and economic problems) has become particularly pronounced since Obama took office.
In a piece on former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s speech this past weekend to the California Republican Party Convention, Reason magazine’s Tim Cavanaugh contends the the Golden State GOP has floundered largely because its leaders have failed to embrace libertarian ideals:
The party is marginal and becoming more so, but the leadership is deathly afraid of the one proven source of Republican energy and enthusiasm – because that source is considered too marginal. If the California Republicans continue distancing themselves from the libertarian movement, they will continue to suffer, and so will everybody else who has to live in a state where one party has absolute power and the other refuses to compete.
He’s onto something. Talk to small businessmen and -women here in Southern California, even to Democratic City Council candidates in West Hollywood, and you’ll hear these entrepreneurs grumbling about the amount of bureaucratic hoops they have to jump through before they can open up a new enterprise. People across the political spectrum fault the state’s overspending and its overgenerous benefits to public employee unions.
In short, people here would welcome a government which scales back its intrusion into the marketplace — and reduces its expenditures.
To that end, we in California might more readily embrace a more libertarian Republican Party. As would the nation as a whole.
A libertarian shift within the GOP, like those recent votes in Congress, would show Republican leaders embracing the emerging American consensus on the size of government.
NB: Tweaked the post after its initial publication to make my point clearer.