James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Defining Moment

My latest at the Partial Observer.

It's a brief sketch of the diversity of positions and opinions that fall under any particular label or banner, whether it is "Christian" or "libertarian" or "conservative." Excerpts:

There are self-described libertarians who support the War on Iraq, for example. There are libertarians who support tax and spending cuts in principle but oppose tax cuts today, and others who believe that terrorism is a big enough threat to justify greater federal powers in the PATRIOT Act. There are libertarians who are anarchists, and others who support taxes on land values. There are libertarians who believe in states‘ rights, and others who would use the federal government to check abuses in local government. There are libertarian Republicans and libertarian Democrats and Libertarians and libertarian independents and libertarian non-voters.

Looking beyond these issues, and questions of who is and who is not a "real" libertarian, you will find unanimous support from self-described libertarians on two issues: repealing drug laws and repealing gun laws. This not to say that libertarians think these are the most pressing and important issues of our day. But these are the defining marks.
Conservatism has always been hard to define in a practical sense. It has always been a drift, a state of mind, rather than a coherent ideology. Conservatives have been foreign policy realists, idealists, and isolationists. Protectionists and free traders. They have been supply-side tax cutters and deficit hawks. They have been hard-line against drugs, and also against it. They have called for a stronger role for the federal government in some areas, and have resisted the growth of government. Conservatives praise capitalism, and the agrarian life. They tend to be flag-wavers, but some of those flags are of the Confederacy. Some derive their ideas and attitudes from Edmund Burke, others from Sean Hannity.

Where is the agreement? What makes a conservative? Conservatives are united in their opposition to activist federal judges.

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