Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“I am convinced that there are more threats to American liberty within the 10-mile radius of my office on Capitol Hill than there are on the rest of the globe.”     Ron Paul,    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul506.html

February 9, 2012

Could a Santorum Nomination Bring About a Libertarian Renaissance in the GOP?

by Stephen Littau

A Daily Caller headline caught my eye yesterday from the Cato Institute’s John Samples: Is there a libertarian case for Rick Santorum? If Samples aim was to write an outlandish headline to bring attention to his article, it certainly did the trick*.

In the article, Samples does not make the case that Rick Santorum is a libertarian in any way, shape, or form** but makes the opposite argument (as if there is any question). So if Santorum stands against everything libertarians are for, how can anyone possibly make a libertarian case for Santorum?

Samples explains:

I think he would drive more secular and independent voters away from the GOP ticket. A ten-point Republican loss in a year when economic weakness suggested a close race would be a political disaster not just for the candidate and his party but also for the ideas they embody. Rick Santorum could be the George McGovern of his party.

Such a disaster might open the door for a different kind of GOP along lines indicated earlier, a party of free markets, moral pluralism, and realism in foreign affairs. Ron Paul has taken some steps this year toward creating such a party. He has attracted votes and inspired activism. His son or another candidate might take up the cause in 2016 and build on Paul’s achievements. Fanciful thinking? Perhaps, but it may take an electoral disaster to free the GOP from the ideas and forces that Rick Santorum represents.

Though I supported Ron Paul in the caucus and encourage everyone to do likewise, I doubt he has a realistic chance of winning in 2012 (I hope I’m wrong). In the likely event that Paul does not win the nomination, my next move is to support the Libertarian Party nominee (who will probably be Gary Johnson, my preferred choice to begin with). IF a Santorum nomination lead to a purging of the socialcons, and a resurgence of libertarian, small government principles then I would say that in the long run Santorum’s nomination victory/general election defeat would be worth it. IF it all played out just as Samples thinks it could, 2016 could be the best opportunity for libertarians to make a comeback.

But that’s a big if.

This all assumes that the GOP establishment would finally learn its lesson; not at all a safe assumption. Then again, because the establishment really only cares about winning elections rather than principle, yet another defeat for the most coveted prize (i.e. the presidency) may force the establishment to reconsider libertarianism.

We also have to consider the possibility (however unlikely) of Santorum actually winning the general election. If fuel is north of $5.00 a gallon on election day and the economy is in worse shape than it is now, the independent voter may not be as concerned about social issues or civil liberties but rather economic issues. IF Rick Santorum becomes the next POTUS, what becomes of the modest libertarian gains made within the GOP?

I say forget about the Machiavellian calculations, vote your values, and let the chips fall where they may.

Related
Rick Santorum is Not as Pro-Family as He Would Have Us Believe

Rick Santorum, The Anti-Libertarian

Rick Santorum Revives The Lincoln-Douglas Debates; Unwittingly Takes Douglas’ Side


*Anyone who writes opinion pieces be they editorials or blog posts uses this trick sometimes; I’m not being critical of Samples here. I’ve been known to do that on occasion and the headline of this post is also an example.

** The senator himself has said at various times that he is not a libertarian. On this point we are in full agreement.

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3 Comments

  1. Few people vote. Few voters pay attention. Few of the voters who pay attention have long memories. Few of the voters who pay attention and have long memories agree about the causes of events.

    Santorum could fiddle while America burns, or set the match himself. Obama has done both. People only care that “he seems like a good guy” or “he seems like he wants what I want.”

    Put your money on team dynamics. The team wearing our shirts is better than the team wearing your shirts.

    Americans are just that stupid.

    Comment by Akston — February 12, 2012 @ 8:16 pm
  2. It will certainly be a good example of the election of another iteration of Bush Republican values should Santorum be elected. Based on past experience I think that there are terribly few people willing and able to choose a non-D non-R candidate for President due to rose colored glasses and sports team mentality at work.

    However I still have hope, there is always opportunity out there.

    Comment by Thane Eichenauer — February 12, 2012 @ 10:51 pm
  3. It’s amazing how many think they can use Machiavelli to ride the back of the tiger — to craft an outcome contradictory to the stated aims of the tiger himself. This is fantasy football played with a loaded gun. Rick Santorum as the Republican presidential candidate would mean the ascendency of the economically illiterate, Bible-thumping ignoramuses of the Republican Party, and, if elected, a certain war with Iran.

    Comment by Terry Hulsey — February 13, 2012 @ 8:05 am

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