Jim DeMint Gives The Middle Finger To Libertarian Republicans

Only a few days after Mike Huckabee dissed libertarians on Fox News Channel, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint did the same thing:

One doesn’t expect excessive amounts of wisdom from Sen. Jim Demint (R-SC), the troglodyte who recently told an audience, according to the Spartanburg Herald, that “if someone is openly homosexual or if an unmarried woman sleeps with her boyfriend, then that person shouldn’t be allowed in the classroom,” but this is a new level of stupid. When asked to comment on Gov. Mitch Daniels’ suggestion that it’s time for détente in the culture war, Demint tells Fox News that one “can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative.”


As Hot Air’s Allahpundit points out, DeMint’s comments point out the possible conflict between social conservatives and more libertarian oriented Republicans:

Originally, I thought this message was just something DeMint was pitching at Christian conservatives to convince them that the tea party’s libertarianism is overblown, that they’re still a cherished constituency despite the reordering of conservative priorities to favor spending over “values.” But now I think he means it, which makes me wonder. For instance, last I checked, Glenn Beck’s a fiscal conservative (and notably a fan of the idea of Americans turning back to God) but also … fine with gay marriage. DeMint himself, however, is not: He told Al Hunt last year that neither the feds nor state governments should have the power to legalize same-sex unions. Per his God/government dynamic, I would think he’d support getting government out of the marriage business altogether and trusting in Judeo-Christian morals to handle this problem, but he still supports state recognition of traditional marriage as far as I can tell. Likewise with his comments about how gays and unwed mothers don’t belong in the classroom. Said GOProud’s founder Chris Barron of that, “The idea that someone who says they believe in limited government would support the government weeding out gay teachers and unmarried sexually active female teachers simply defies logic.” So maybe our error here is in assuming that when DeMint says “fiscal conservatism,” he means it as a byword for “less government” universally.

And Jim DeMint has made no secret of his desire to use the state to enforce his social goals. Just a few years ago, for example, he said that that gay men and unmarried women shouldn’t be allowed to teach in public schools, so it’s fairly clear that when it comes to the shrinking the size, scope, and power of government Jim DeMint is not onboard. Libertarian-minded Republicans should take note of that fact.

To the extent Jim DeMint was ever on my 2012 “short-list,” he’s off it now.

Update: Jason Pye nails it over at United Liberty:

Republicans were able to regain control of the House of Representatives because the economy is tanking. Social issues were of little concern to voters. Even at CPAC, the annual conference for conservatives, attendees were much more concerned about the economy than social issues.

I believe very much in free markets, but I’m not a social conservative. Why? Because I believe liberty applies to more than just economics. We are sovereign individuals, and we are entitled to live our lives free of government intervention, provided we are not infringing on the rights of others. It’s what John Stuart Mill called the “harm principle” in his book, On Liberty.


if the GOP takes the mid-term election as a mandate to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment or to find some other social boogeyman to go after, they’re going to wind right back up in the minority


  • http://stephengordon.com Stephen Gordon

    Thanks, Doug. You beat me to the punch on this one.

  • Akston

    Exactly so.

    President Obama won on a platform of “He speaks well and he’s a change from George W. Bush…we’ll leave the rest to hope.” Then a unified Democratic government forced a massive health insurance bill into law over the strong objections of a majority of Americans. I believe that move alone cost them a great many seats this time around.

    These seats changed in large part thanks to the Tea Party. As is true in most grassroots movements, participants’ agendas can vary widely, but the core theme was shrinking overreaching government and fiscal restraint. If the Republicans ride the Tea Party wave and decide to use it for anything other than shrinking overreaching government and fiscal restraint, that wave will drown them next term.


  • procopius

    If anything “social conservatism” has constantly given the finger to pretty much anything that can encompass either fiscal or national policy conservatism.

    I would fault you for simply contributing to the overblown, deceptively magnified social issues, but DeMint himself already discredited himself enough by -knowingly- taking part in this long established, grand political comedy. (he doesn’t give a damn about your real morals folks, he’s too smart to genuinely care about that.)

    To see him do that alone, I’m not lamenting gay couples or the “tragic plight” of young folks living in some backwoods community, I’m looking at DeMint essentially telling us that whenever actual crucial decision points on -real issues- are reached, he is dedicated to follow the instructions of a “public-sentiment” script given him.

    So actually I agree with the author, but for different reasons.

  • procopius

    Also, I would disagree that Jason Pye “nailed it” exactly by using John Mill’s harm principle as the ultimate reference on the matter.

    This is because, although Mill made it clear in his prose the delineation of a society’s duty to act upon an individual’s “self-harm”, what is more than likely to happen is modern interpretation WILL be simply juxtaposed with a utilitarian “duty” regardless. That is simply the nature of an incrementally tyrannical state.

    Mill said, quite nicely:

    “But the strongest of all the arguments against the interference of the public with purely personal conduct, is that when it does interfere, the odds are that it interferes wrongly, and in the wrong place. On questions of social morality, of duty to others, the opinion of the public, that is, of an overruling majority, though often wrong, is likely to be still oftener right; because on such questions they are only required to judge of their own interests; of the manner in which some mode of conduct, if allowed to be practised, would affect themselves. But the opinion of a similar majority, imposed as a law on the minority, on questions of self-regarding conduct, is quite as likely to be wrong as right; for in these cases public opinion means, at the best, some people’s opinion of what is good or bad for other people; while very often it does not even mean that; the public, with the most perfect indifference, passing over the pleasure or convenience of those whose conduct they censure, and considering only their own preference.”
    -Mill, -Of the Limits to the Authority of Society Over the Individual-, “Of Liberty”

    But just an example to what I’m saying about modern juxtaposing and consensus interpretation of Mill:

    “He [Mill] does argue, however, that individuals are prevented from doing lasting, serious harm to themselves or their property by the harm principle. Because no-one exists in isolation, harm done to oneself also harms others, and destroying property deprives the community as well as oneself.”

    I’ve only seen modern false condensing of philosophy like this over the years, and THAT is what modern society is going to take away from a reference to John Stuart Mill, not his actual, text but only the modern completely incorrect version. And that is why if you’re going to quote a moral philosopher in your work, you better make sure that your intended audience actually knows what you are talking about first.

  • http://www.libertarianrepublican.net Eric Dondero

    Honestly, it pains me to say this, but this is a greatly dissapointing comment from DeMint. He owes his libertarian supporters an explanation.

    Eric Dondero, Publisher
    Libertarian Republican

  • Jen

    Damn straight. This libertarian Republican supported the GOP this time around but if those fools try to squeeze government so small that it fits into my private life, they’ll find themselves right back in the minority in 2012.