Benjamin Franklin famously said that “we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” He was making the obvious point that when you’re faced with a determined foe who will cause great harm if you fail to defeat him the path of wisdom is to find common ground with your natural allies. Sadly, conservatives and libertarians have spent so much time squabbling in recent years that we’ve made it easy for Barack Obama to institute the biggest expansion of federal government in the history of our increasingly inaccurately named republic.
[mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ]’s campaign is a historic opportunity to bridge the divide between the warring cousins of the right and refocus our attention on defeating the left. The mainstream media, ever eager to undermine Paul’s candidacy, has been in a tizzy recently over reported defections by hard-core Ron Paul supporters from the Rand Paul camp. The story goes that they’re unhappy with [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ]’s conservative stance on certain issues; such as signing on to the Iran letter and supporting increased defense spending. At the same time, and somewhat ironically, many conservatives (including no small number of Redstate commenters) maintain a nearly pathological refusal to give [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] a fair hearing because he happens to be his father’s son.
Thus we have two paths in front of us. Option one, libertarians demand politically impossible purity and stay home while conservatives allow hurt feelings from previous election cycles to override good political sense. Option two, we all get over ourselves and concentrate on the business of winning an election. I for one am for the latter.
The thing that makes [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] a once-in-a-generation candidate is precisely the fact that he can appeal to both libertarians and conservatives. Like most libertarians he strongly believes that government is too big, too powerful, and too opaque. But like conservatives he recognizes that there are legitimate reasons for certain government institutions, notably in the area of national security, so long as those institutions are run according to democratic principles and consistent with the requirements of the U.S. Constitution. Like most conservatives he has strong moral beliefs built around his faith. But like libertarians he believes the best way to preserve religious freedom is to keep the government out it. I could go on and on, but the point isn’t to comprehensively review Paul’s stances and label them conservative or libertarian. The point is that he can only be a bridge candidate if he takes on the best elements of both great intellectual movements of right.
A candidate that is purely libertarian or purely conservative can’t win the Presidency in 2016. There aren’t enough of either. Maybe in a parliamentary system we could all vote for our own set of ideologically pure candidates and form a coalition government after the election. But that’s not our system. Our system is winner take all. If we can’t put aside our differences before the election we won’t win it and then we can’t govern. I’m sure that some will say why support anyone if I can’t have a candidate that I agree with 100% all the time. The answer is in the alternative. The Republican nominee will not be running against the perfect conservative or the perfect libertarian. The Republican nominee will be running against Hillary Clinton or someone to her left.
Everyone right of center can agree that we need to stop downward spiral of decreasing liberty and expanding government. We need a Republican to win. Libertarians should enthusiastically support the most libertarian candidate to run for President since Thomas Jefferson, even if they have some points of disagreements. Conservatives should support a man who has worked hard to find common ground with them, and who can carry their message to a new generation skeptical of the establishment. Together we can win this election.
Conservatives and libertarians: Let’s hang together. Because if we do not our we (or at least everything we believe in) will assuredly hang separately.