Sarah Palin & The Libertarian Republicans

Reason’s Radley Balko takes a look at Sarah Palin and concludes that she’s about the best libertarian Republicans can expect right now:

[W]hat I like about Palin should bother McCain. Palin actually has staked out unorthodox positions on a number of interesting issues, and they’re issues that McCain and the Republican base that has embraced her would probably find troubling. Palin’s taken a lot of heat, for example, for her (relatively loose) ties with the Alaska Independence Party, an organization that favors a vote on whether the state should secede from the union. Palin has also been friendly with the state’s Libertarian Party. Palin’s willingness to engage pro-liberty, deeply anti-federal political organizations—even fringe ones—is refreshing. But it’s wholly at odds with John McCain’s “country first” nationalist fervor.

Palin was also one of just three governors in the country to issue a proclamation in support of “Jurors’ Rights” day, an event sponsored by the Fully Informed Jury Association, which encourages the doctrine of jury nullification. Nullification is an idea abhorred by tough-on-crime conservatives.

Palin also comes from a state whose constitution has one of the strongest privacy provisions in the country. Alaska’s traditional reverence for privacy and personal autonomy is reflected in a number of issues that would likely be at odds with the national Republican Party—or at least the Bush administration—including a rejection of the Real ID Act, and the de facto decriminalization of marijuana.

Palin supported both the Iraq War and the surge, but in the past she has said she also supports a defined “exit strategy,” an approach explicitly rejected by McCain, who has said we may well be in Iraq for decades.

Palin’s persona thus far seems to be more in the tradition of Alaska’s frontier, individualistic conservatism than John McCain’s Weekly Standard-style national greatness conservatism. It’s a philosophy that’s skeptical of government, instead of what Repubilcans stand for now, which is to embrace government, so long as Republicans are running it.

Of course, as Balko points out, we are voting for President in November, not Vice-President, and there’s no reason to believe that a Vice-President Palin would have significant influence over policy in a McCain Administration. Moreover, there’s the distinct possibility that becoming part of Washington’s power centers will change Palin enough that her previous, somewhat positive, record will be meaningless if she ever does become President. However, there may be something significant in the fact that McCain has essentially crowned as his successor someone who could help move the GOP in a more libertarian direction.

Sarah Palin isn’t enough to convince me to vote for John McCain, but he could’ve done a heck of a lot worse.