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The Young Right Turns to Liberty

Rancor at CPAC shows how libertarians are battling for the soul of the conservative movement.

By John Glaser |  March 29, 2011

The new libertarian youth movement abounds with energy and brazenness, and it has already outraged the Beltway right. CPAC, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., is no longer safe for Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, thanks to irreverent young activists who this year greeted the Bush alumni with boos and a shout of “war criminal!” Chants of “USA!” from Cheney’s supporters drowned out the libertarian hecklers, but the point was made: the conservative establishment has a battle on its hands.

The hostile reception for Cheney and Rumsfeld—as the former bestowed upon the latter a “Defender of the Constitution” award—was just one symptom of the generation gap. Another was the controversy surrounding the inclusion of gay Republican group GOProud among CPAC’s sponsors. But most telling of all was the exhibition hall, where the most crowded corner was occupied by Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty and young activists packed the booths of groups such as Students for Liberty. With this showing, it was no surprise Ron Paul won CPAC’s presidential straw poll for the second year running.

What was unexpected was the old guard’s reaction. As the results were reported, with libertarian-leaning former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson claiming third place in the poll, Young Americans for Freedom—a conservative group founded 50 years ago last fall—announced it was kicking Paul off its board of advisers. YAF denounced Paul and his supporters as “the anti-conservative left within our movement.” An “anti-American, anti-defense, anarchist fringe,” YAF’s open letter warned, “has become more openly evident at CPAC and beyond, where your support base has become synonymous with those who consistently blame America first.”

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The fight didn’t stop there. Talk-radio host Kevin McCullough wrote a piece for Fox News entitled “Disrespectful Libertarians Hijack CPAC Poll—And Its Mission,” saying “it has been the inclusion of the libertarian aspects of the past two years that has thrown the message of conservatism askew” thanks to these radicals “combining the desire for economic greed with the amoral desire to promote any behavior regardless of its cost to our culture.”

McCullough may be right to feel threatened. The youthful libertarian movement has experienced rapid growth in recent years. The Students for Liberty campus network expanded from just over 100 groups in 2009 to approximately 430 at the beginning of 2011. Similarly, the two-year-old Young Americans for Liberty—a continuation of Students for Ron Paul, despite its nominal resemblance to YAF—boasts 180 chapters nationwide and 3,000 dues-paying members. YAL recruited more than 700 students to attend CPAC 2011, a presence that certainly contributed to the backlash.

“Liberty-oriented student groups are extremely active on the local campus level—often outpacing the more traditional conservative organizations,” says Bonnie Kristian, YAL’s director of communications, who previously worked for the Leadership Institute, one of the primary centers of conservative activist training. “The libertarian-leaning groups in general seemed to be the busiest on campus” during her time there, she observed.

More established groups on the other side of this rift, like the College Republican National Committee, still hold formidable sway. In the last election, CRNC representatives recruited “14,868 [students] as volunteers who called, door-knocked and rallied Republican candidates to victory all over the country.” In contrast to the fledgling libertarian student groups, the CRNC has been around in some form since the turn of the 20th century and has annual budgets in the millions of dollars. This sort of mainstream muscle can temper feelings of momentum for overexcited young libertarians.

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No matter, says editor in chief of Reason.com Nick Gillespie. “Looking at the machinery of Republican activism is one thing,” he contends, “but when you look at the heart and soul of the party, what you see now is a party that is totally bankrupt, literally, figuratively, and spiritually. So whoever are these Republicanoid operatives that are being churned out by some college committee, the party they’re serving is either going to become more libertarian or die.”

This new environment of libertarian ideas and activism among young people is partly a response to mainstream conservatism’s blunders since the 1980s and 1990s. “I think Bush, the financial crisis, and the wars absolutely revived interest in an alternative to a big-government warfare-welfare state,” says Cato Institute Executive Vice President David Boaz. Kristian sees this too. “People my age have grown into political awareness almost exclusively under the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama,” she says. “All we’ve seen is ever-growing debt, war, abuse of our civil liberties, corruption, corporatism, misery-inducing monetary policy, and general irresponsible growth of government. It isn’t difficult for us to understand the two major parties do not have our best interests in mind.”

Notably, what establishment conservatives resent about these young dissenters is exactly what they celebrate. McCullough blasted the libertarian CPAC kids as “not consistent with the average conservative voter in America.” This movement’s response seems to be, “Exactly.”

In mid-February Students for Liberty held its annual conference, which brought together 500 young activists from throughout the country—more than triple the attendance in 2009. Clark Ruper, SFL’s vice president, believes a culture clash with the older right is unavoidable. “At CPAC you had the problem of the old-guard conservatives not liking the fact that young people don’t care about the social-conservative issues. Young people are just more socially tolerant than past generations, and they don’t like this.”

“We live in a time now where you cannot for very long successfully suppress an important American political tendency,” Reason editor in chief Matt Welch told TAC. “And for 15 years, give or take, both sides, and Republicans in particular, suppressed and tried to rout the limited-government tendency within the broad right-wing tent.”

But not everyone sees youth politics as heading in the same direction. Ron Robinson, president of Young America’s Foundation, thinks “the young conservative movement is recovering from the 2008 debacle” that was Obama’s victory. He doesn’t anticipate a shift in sentiments towards more cultural tolerance and political libertarianism, but rather expects a conservative reinvigoration in reaction to the “political correctness and multiculturalism” that have made young people “inordinately susceptible to Obama’s allure.” He believes libertarian youth activism bodes well for the conservative movement, as young liberty activists ultimately “learn we have real enemies in the world, and some personal choices—including abortion, drug use, and promiscuous sex—lead to a destructive and unsustainable lifestyle.” As for increasingly socially liberal attitudes among young people—exemplified by reactions to the GOProud controversy—he says, “I wouldn’t read too much into that.”

Some conservatives take the split with libertarians merely to be so much infighting. They are eager to keep libertarians under the conservative umbrella. Brian Darling, the Heritage Foundation’s director of U.S. Senate relations, tells TAC, “I don’t think that there’s that much of a difference between young libertarians and conservatives.” He argues that the issues on which conservatives and libertarians disagree “are not at the forefront of the national debate” and “should be put aside.”

Neoconservative commentator Charles Krauthammer, appearing on Fox News, said the youth libertarian movement is just “a lot of college students who want to be Ayn Rand. And, you know, soon they will grow up and become conservatives.” Darling concurs: “People who consider themselves conservatives find a lot of synergy with libertarians. I mean, maybe some of them were libertarians in college and then just shifted a little bit.”

But the youthful hordes disrupting CPAC and building libertarian organizations from the ground up roundly disagree. “Older generations may try to classify us by the bipartisan dichotomy through which they understand the world,” said SFL president Alexander McCobin at the opening of the group’s conference, “But this just reflects their misunderstanding of who we are. We’re more interested in advancing liberty than being restricted by the structures that others impose upon us.”

The at times rancorous split between libertarians and conservatives is not an entirely new phenomenon. The rise of Barry Goldwater in the early 1960s represented a vigorous reaction to New Deal and Great Society statism and spurred many young libertarians into activism for more radical notions of liberty. Young Americans for Freedom, a group founded by young Goldwater activists after the Arizona senator’s bid for the Republican nomination in 1960, was torn apart later that decade by strife between libertarians and anti-communists over drugs, Vietnam, and the draft.

Gregory Schneider, an associate professor at Emporia State University and a historian of American conservatism, has advised Young Americans for Liberty and the broader youth libertarian movement not to let the past repeat, saying they “would do well to avoid the chronic sectarianism that beset just about every libertarian group in the 20th century.” But many of today’s youthful activists insist they aren’t fighting to reclaim conservatism, they’re rejecting it.

“Young people,” Gillespie tells TAC, “have grown up in such an existentially libertarian world, because ultimately the message of libertarianism is that choice matters. And people now have so many more choices than they’ve ever had before.” In March 2008, Gillespie and Welch wrote of an impending “Libertarian Moment” and predicted a “glorious future” for the young and politically homeless. “Decentralization, niche markets, and choice are the coin of this new realm,” they wrote. And politicians “will ignore that epochal shift at their peril.”

Polling data, however, paint a less clear picture. The progressive New America Foundation cites a 2008 survey conducted by the Pew Center for People and the Press and the Harvard Institute of Politics that found “youth were more likely than their elders to believe that the government can and should solve social problems and that the government should do more to address global warming and the economy.” The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that “56% of young adults wanted health insurance coverage for all Americans, even if that meant increased government spending.”

[1]Gillespie admits that while young people show interest in more open borders, tolerance for alternative lifestyles, and drug legalization, “they’re also more interested in giving free money to everything because they don’t necessarily understand how you pay for stuff.”

Gillespie and Welch are not the first to predict a libertarian moment. In 1971, journalist Lewis Rossetto saw a similar shift right around the corner. Political refugees, he wrote in the New York Times Magazine, “are organizing independently under the New Right banner of libertarianism. The birth of the New Right occurred when libertarians finally accepted the fact that they had been abandoned by the liberals, used and misled by other radicals and sold out by the conservatives.” Back then, he thought that “advocates of individual freedom not only continue to exist, but are increasing in number.” But the ensuing years brought not “libertopia,” but a mixture of progress and pain.

The generational political shift now underway may bear similarly mixed results. Discontent with the governing class and its ideologies is palpable—and was vividly on display at CPAC this year. “What is going to rise in its place,” however, says Welch, “is an open question. And for sure [the trend] is not always going to go in our direction. But it does create dynamism in what is probably the most sclerotic sector left in American life”—as Cheney and Rumsfeld have already discovered.

John Glaser is a TAC editorial assistant.

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28 Comments (Open | Close)

28 Comments To "The Young Right Turns to Liberty"

#1 Comment By Brian On March 29, 2011 @ 8:43 am

These courageous young people fill me with pride.

The strike devastating blows against the empire. They will not simply “go away” or “grow up” and join the Chinese debt-funded imperial nonsense.

Nor will they accept Euro-Bolshevism.

America has a bright future with leaders like these!

#2 Comment By jack Ellis On March 29, 2011 @ 9:48 am

I would politely request that the American Conservative Magazine not promote the Libertarian cult that ensnares so many of our bright young people.

This cult appeals to the childish impulses within bright people in their 20s – that they should be allowed to do whatever they want, without family obligations, strong group loyalty to a specific community or to a specific nation. Everyone is supposed to be able to do whatever they want without parental type figures telling them “No”. In the case of our bright college students, the authority figures on campus are mostly PC cultural marxists, intolerant lying Leftists – so one can understand why children might want to rebel against this parental authority.

The appeal of Libertarianism is “liberty” – freedom and for bright, good hearted people – lots of freedom can be a pretty good thing – it is not however something that can be given to the entire world.

This notion that free markets, unrestricted individualism will somehow “save the world” – bring prosperity and freedom to places like Haiti, Somalia, the Muslim world, American urban ghettos – this is insanity, and suicide for what remains of Western Civilization.

Our bright Conservative college students might want to use their freedom to read Austrian economics books. The Mohammed Atas and young Mike Tysons of the world will use their freedom to do other, very destructive things.

Plus, this Libertarian, economic conservative cult is proven loser in Presidential elections. The American voting public rejects this program every 4 years, but we can count on the Libertarian cult coming back again and again – Ron Paul won less than 2% of one party’s delegates, yes this brutal rejection doesn’t phase the libertarian cult – they’re back for more.

Please, folks

Don’t feed the Libertarians!

And if you or you college age son or daughter has become a true Libertarian believer and they are convinced that they can spread this free market gospel to SAVE THE WORLD… Please have them try to spread this Libertarian gospel off the coast of Somalia and not to practical American conservatives looking to win something for a change.

#3 Comment By Liberaltarian On March 29, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

@ jack Ellis

Of course a lot of Libertarian ideas will strike mainstream Americans as extreme. As a former leftist, there are a lot of things about Libertarianism that I disagree with, and many of their policy solutions would probably prove disastrous if implemented 100%.

That said: Libertarians are the ONLY people advocating financial responsibility. Right now young people such as myself (27) feel very, very strongly about that, and we aren’t going to put up with any half-baked solutions.

What are the chances that Libertarians will *ever* get into power? Slim to none. By voting for Libertarians and supporting the movement however, you can send a signal to the Republocrats that they need to get serious about balancing the budget. Historically, that’s how 3rd parties in America work: 3rd party gains influence and increasing votes, 2 party system adopts some of their better ideas, 3rd party dissapears.

In an ideal America that’s not how it would work, but that is how it has worked in American history

#4 Comment By Don Yarish On March 29, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

I don’t think this movement wants to save the world just America. The basic principle of limiting government to protecting persons and property and leaving everything else to be sorted out by individuals and communities will not go away, the Founders and the Constitution support it. Libertarians like Dr. Paul ARE Austrian economists so i don’t see the point above, and most of the Founders would agree that minding our own business is far better than “saving the world from itself” a distinctly Neo-Con American Empire notion that woud be repugnant to the Founders but not to the WallStreet/Miliatray Complex of Big Brother.

#5 Comment By Steve in Ohio On March 29, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

I don’t agree with the “young folks” on all of their issues, but the youth supporting Goldwater were probably looked down upon by the GOP establishment 50 years ago. What’s exciting is they’re bringing young blood into the movement. We need everybody on the right (except the interventionist empire lovers) to form a governing coalition. Perhaps Rand Paul in a few years will be a fusion candidate most conservatives as well as libertarians can support.

#6 Comment By KurtH On March 29, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

It is funny and disconcerting at the same time to see ‘traditional’ conservatives express anguish over the beliefs of libertarians.

It’s funny because for some reason, these ‘traditional’ conservatives have for a very long time defined themselves as the only true conservatives. Traditionalists become very unhappy when their preferred ideals are not just questioned but challenged.

It’s disconcerting for many of the same reasons. Traditionalists seem to think they should be able to bring the libertarians into their fold for their votes, their GOTV drives and their energy. Traditionalists also think it’s fine to use this and then not give these same libertarians anything for their work & energy. No they will use them and then expect them to be quiet and get back into the pack and be a good little conservative. Traditionalists have done this very same thing to the Religious Right time and time again. Lip service and that’s it. But Traditionalists are now angry that other fellow conservatives who don’t feel & believe everything that the Traditionalists feel and believe are willing to actually challenge their being used.

At what point did you think it wouldn’t come to this? And many, even some of the responders to this post here even say ‘So What? Get back in line whipper snapper!.’ Far be it from me to point out you need to address this in an adult manner. I am sorry to say it is the Traditionalist who think King if the Hill is how things are ruled. They are going to fight to their last losing election the idea they might be wrong.

#7 Comment By Don Yarish On March 29, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

Also it is interesting to see how many regard Libertarianism as radical when the Constitution and Founding fathers were Libertarian indeed.

America has mutated very far from the original intent of it’s founding and would shock and dismay the likes of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who if they were alive today would be called impractical Libertarians and railed against by “Traditionalists”

#8 Comment By Leah On March 29, 2011 @ 8:57 pm

I just have to say, that I’m a young person (well, considered young by most). I didn’t support Clinton, or Dole, I supported Pat Buchanan (who started this magazine by the way.) I supported the Constitution Party candidate in the last two elections, and this year, I’m going to be supporting Ron Paul. Why is this? Surely NOT what the Ellis man above states about these ideas being CULTISH. No, no, sir. The republican party, for years now, has ensnared this country into foreign wars for TOO LONG. Some of us are sick of it. We’re told that “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” Bull. We’re sick of hearing that too. We’re sick of hearing about defense of the unborn, when REPUBLICANS HAD 8 YEARS in which to actually DO SOMETHING about it, and came up with a weak, lame bill that “wouldn’t save one baby from third term abortion” as Dr. Ron Paul, OB GYN exposed.

So, we get pigeonholed, into one party or the other. Apparently Mr. Ellis here hasn’t heard about the false left/right paradigm that we’re being forced to swallow. It’s also known as ‘incrementalism.’ Little by little, this country was being taken over by communists (and you can call it whatever you want, as GK Chesterton used to say about capitalism in its definition) and if we don’t do something now (it may already be too late, but let’s just say, for now, that it’s not,) this country will be a dictatorship, no matter WHICH party wins in 2012.

The republican party, as Pat Buchanan RIGHTLY said 11 years ago, has been HIJACKED by the neoCONS. The only opponents of these neocons, ideologically, is this “cult of libertarians” as you call it. These people believe in the same ideas as the Founding Fathers… something that the ‘ol wing of the party has NO idea about anymore… LIBERTY.

And, all these wacko libertarians you claim don’t support the social agenda of the republicans? I’m sorry, but that is entirely short sighted and WRONG. Most of us believe that abortion is MURDER, and that something needs to be done other than just grandstanding about it. We believe in JUST, CONSTITUTIONALLY APPROVED WAR, which has been ignored by the NEOCONS and the democrats for decades now. We believe that the government isn’t supposed to take care of us from cradle to grave, stealing money from someone, and giving it to someone else. We don’t believe in “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND” or any other anti-constitutional compromise. We believe PARENTS have the RIGHT to homeschool their children and that we shouldn’t be forced to put something in our bodies (vaccinations) when we can freely rip a child out of a mother’s womb with no legal consequences. (Do you not see the sheer hypocrisy of the current Republican party here?)

I believe that the old wing of the Republican Party had better do some SERIOUS BRUSHING UP on the Constitution, because if Ron Paul doesn’t get the nomination and we get another NEOCON to run for president, I’m telling you, we’re going to DOOM this country with another 4 years of Osama (ahem, I mean, Obama) and we will ALL be hurtin’ for certain.

#9 Comment By Chad Campbell On March 29, 2011 @ 9:47 pm

Dear Jack,

I am a former 20 something college educated neocon. I’m now a 36 year old libertarian, husband, father of five, former USAF officer, NRA member, hunter, farm owner, and 6 figure income provider who teaches catechism class at church and is staunchly pro-life. Do I fit the stereotype of the inexperienced young amoral, leftist, entitlement hungry libertine pretending to be conservative simply because I disagree with you that prohibitionist and nanny style statism are good methods for achieving moral objectives? Or does my stance against the death penalty on economic grounds and the fact that genetic testing has exhonerated many death row inmates make me a commie?

Do not make the mistake of thinking that we libertarians are all pro-choice, all think promiscuous sex is good, or that we all want to sit around smoking pot while discussing the wonders of Atlas Shrugged. We simply disagree that the government should be in the business of regulating the free choices of adults in any way when those choices do not infringe on the natural or statutorial rights of others. Your example of Ata and Tyson is a red herring. Your very example points to use of freedom that DOES infringe on the rights of others, and we hold those to be criminal actions.

We simply don’t think the so called “right wing” should tell us what to do or not do with our bodies or in our bedrooms, and we don’t think the so called “left wing” should regulate what kinds of light bulbs we can install in the rest of our rooms or how many gallons of water our toilets can flush. Also, we don’t hold these ideas simply because we have some infantile dislike for parental authority. We reject the idea that the policies of control enacted by those bureaucrats and politicians who want to take over for our parents are effectual, and that many – if not most, do more overall harm to society than good.

#10 Comment By Ryan Hunter On March 29, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

Mr Ellis,

Young libertarians have no delusions about saving the world. That is a delusion you suffer from in your advocacy of modern conservatism, whose neoconservative crafted foreign policy of democratic proselytizing by force hinges on the fallacious notion that the world can in fact be saved – by government. Where you developed this view of of a young libertarianism in pursuit of a life lacking personal responsibility is beyond me and can only indicate that you yourself have never explored the topic. At the core of Ron Paul and the libertarian movement’s philosophy is that care and support should be derived from the family and community in voluntary acts of charity. Not through coercive taxation to fund bloated government bureaucracies that poorly target the needs of the people it purports to serve, in process displacing the role of community and personal responsibility.

As a young person with libertarian leanings, let me say, the last “conservative victory” squandered years of my life in war zones, ballooned a national debt that will jeopardize any prospect of my generation retiring, all while gleefully and without any conservative opposition, inflating the welfare state. So excuse me if I abstain from feeling invested in any further victories of the current conservative status quo.

#11 Comment By Libertarian Jerry On March 29, 2011 @ 11:18 pm

50 years ago,as a young man,I supported Barry Goldwater and the “old right.” I saw in him a quest for the philosophical roots of many of the founding fathers.Things and ideas like decentralized government,free markets,low taxes,property rights,limited foreign policy and individual self responsibilities. With the passage of over a 1/2 a century, I have seen both the Republican and Democratic Parties accepting all the the things that I and Barry Goldwater had fought against over 50 years ago. In today’s day and age,there is very little difference between the 2 major parties. The only difference is the extent of socialism and fascism that has been established over the last 100 years in America. In essence the Republican Party has morphed into the party of “me too” Socialists. There has been no concerted effort by the Republicans,once they have attained, power to turn back and dismantle the New Deal or the Great Society. In fact the modern Republican Party has been a care taker and expander of these Social Welfare systems. In the end,the only real chance for America to turn back the tide of statism and collectivism that has inundated America is to take over the soul of the Republican Party and to begin the intellectual fight to dismantle the Socialism that is strangling America. The “young turks” that have turned their backs on the elitist neocons are the Republican Party’s only hope.

#12 Comment By George On March 30, 2011 @ 7:01 am

My 19-year-old son and I attended Ron Paul’s speech at NCSU this week. In the crowd of 1500 there were a lot of young people but there were also some old timers like myself. Maybe some of them, like me, were veterans of the old, “original” libertarian movement, begun when the Society for Individual Liberty split with YAF in the early 1970s and the late Murray Rothbard became their intellectual leader. There’s been a lot of water over the dam since then, but to me the message of the Young Americans for Liberty is essentially the same as that of the old SIL: free markets, free minds, and avoidance of foreign entanglements. With part 1 of the filmed version of Atlas Shrugged due to premiere in April, the elements comprising this “American Spring” are not new; they are a renewal of a movement that began way back when.

#13 Comment By Bill Fanning On March 30, 2011 @ 7:19 am

Well-said, Don Yarish.

#14 Comment By Rand On March 30, 2011 @ 11:35 am

Maybe, just maybe, the libertarian conservatives will realized that they are not wanted in the Republican Party and will focus their efforts in growing the only Party that consistantly supports their principles….the Libertarian Party.

#15 Comment By William R. James On March 30, 2011 @ 11:59 am

The two faced republicrat party has proven it’s two faces look the same direction. Neither respect the constitution, and both care only about buying votes with tax dollars. We’ve had enough. Let the theocratic socialists have the republican party, and keep nominating socialist failures like Dole and McCain. We need a second party. The republican party has no conservatives in it’s leadership and doesn’t want any.

#16 Comment By Chuck Hicks On March 30, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

My two favorite libertarians: John Randolph of Roanoke (see Russell Kirk’s biography) and Hans-Hermann Hoppe, author of _Democracy: The God that Failed_. Both champions of the right of association/disassociation and tradition, and uncompromising opposition to mass democracy, interventionism, fiat money and central banking.

#17 Comment By Ed Marimba On March 30, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

Mr. Glaser’s piece is a pretty good overview of the Libertarian/Paleo-/Neoconservative rodeo. The subject deserves a longer article, or a book. I also enjoyed Jack Ellis’ comments.

When I was in college in the early 1960’s, students would get together, drink beer, and talk about Marx, Engels, and socialist theory. So it’s refreshing that many of the college youths today are having similar discussions– but instead about Mises, Hayek, Paul, and limited government!

Political parties are similar to unions. They really stand for nothing besides their own enduring existence. Libertarianism will never rise to be a prominent party. As someone pointed out, there is too much divergent opinion in the movement to unify under one label, so it will be difficult for the leadership to come together. And who thought up the name Libertarian anyway? The public doesn’t understand what that means. It’s just an amorphous intellectual distinction that sounds a little like “vegetarian”.

I’ve supported both the Libertarian and Constitution parties. There was a time during Harry Browne’s time when the Libertarian leadership offered to change the name of the party to the Liberty party, which would have been immensely more attractive. The membership voted it down. So Libertarianism is a group of theories looking for a cohesive unit.

Ron Paul is a Republican. Rand Paul is a Republican. Most of the prominent Constitutionalists in politics today are Republican, from Lee to Christie to Rubio. These and their ilk have a chance to gradually pry the Republican party away from the neoconservative glue. They and others are the basis of the new Republicanism, and their influence will certainly grow over time.

#18 Comment By Dan Litwin On March 30, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

Power corrupts, and no people can ever be trusted with the level of power that has been accumulated in DC.

Abortion? A state issue.
Drugs? A state issue.

Even immigration, as article 1 section 9 originally specified.

It’s all got to devolve back to the states or the people due to the inability of humans to control themselves once they have power over others.

Humans are weak when it comes to handling power, which is why libertarians should reject big government, and why everyone should join the libertarians.

#19 Comment By Wilma Rhodes On March 30, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

I’m 60 years old and a long-time loyalist in the Republican Party. I couldn’t be more thrilled about the excitement that YAL and candidates like Ron Paul and Gary Johnson have FINALLY brought to our moribund political establishment. But one thing that makes me sick is all these so-called “conservatives” who claim that libertarians have abandoned social values. One thing that impresses me is that young libertarians fully understand how morals and values are utterly necessary in our society and that it is statism that has undercut our morals and our religious values. If conservatives think that the power of the state is what is needed to protect social and religious values, they are SICK, SICK, SICK. The power of the government is what has undermined our traditonal moral values, and only individuals and individual families can maintian those. My religion will stand on its own if you will just get the government to stick to what the Constitution limits it to doing. Those comments from the YAF folks about young libertarians abandoning the moral underpinnings of our nation were not correct and they were very uncalled for. I consider myself lucky to have gotten pulled into the Ron Paul movement and the exemplary young people that I have met through that phenomenon.

#20 Comment By Brian C On March 30, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

The new libertarians are a breath of fresh air to the conservative movement. While the “traditional” conservatives are ruining the country (I’m looking at you John Boehner, and you Sen. Hatch) along with their “friends on the other side of the aisle” real conservatives are finally making a stand — and these folks are the “libertarians” among us. While Mr. Ellis above may deride them, they are the future and he, thankfully, will be the past. We are quite tired of neo-cons that haven’t met a bomb they couldn’t resist dropping or a country they needed to regime-change. The cult they have chosen is supporting a Leviathan government, massive spending, an out of control military-industrial complex and debt for our children’s children.

The simple fact is that the libertarian side wants liberty, freedom and a Federal government that looks more like the Founders wanted than what Gingrich, McCain, Romney, Boehner, or any of the other foolish politicians we have posing as “Constitutional Conservatives” today that are bent of destroying what little freedom we have along with their Socialist brethren on the Left.

As someone that use to write checks to the Republican party — and finally left the party because of the lack of real leaders in it, I’m happy to support these new folks. I will not give my vote to the (R) in 2012 if he or she isn’t a true conservative bent of re-shaping the Federal government and decreasing it in a major way. I guess that means I’ll support Rand or Ron Paul, or Gary Johnson. Because when it comes to freedom and liberty being taken from you, all the others and Obama are about the same.

#21 Comment By Bruce Majors On March 31, 2011 @ 4:16 am

The modern libertarian movement was created out of FEE seminar attendees and Objectivism study groups when YAF threw out its libertarian members in the late 60 for supporting the end of the Viet Nam war, drug decriminalization, and gay rights, screaming “Lazy Fairies” (“laissez faire”) at the libertarians being ejected from the convention.

They left and started the Libertarian Party, Reason, CATO etc.

#22 Comment By Giovanni On March 31, 2011 @ 10:18 am

@Jack Ellis –

”This cult appeals to the childish impulses within bright people in their 20s – that they should be allowed to do whatever they want, without family obligations, strong group loyalty to a specific community or to a specific nation.”

This is why you are wrong – you believe that family values are to be imposed and enforced by government. These are obligations of the soul, not of government. You mistakenly believe that the government has the moral right to decide for consenting adults, whom we marry, what we ingest or how we live. Just as the liberal mistakenly believes it is the decider of how the fruit of your labor may be spent, you the conservative mistakenly believe it is the role of government to force adults to subscribe to a certain lifestyle. Your description of the libertarian is intellectually dishonest, ignorant and insulting.

There is nothing childish about coming to the enlightened realization that value is relative and what is valued to you may not be valued by another. This is also, overwhelmingly, a simple respect for another human being and his or her rights – so long as he or she does not infringe upon your rights.

”that they should be allowed to do whatever they want, without family obligations, strong group loyalty to a specific community or to a specific nation.”

This sounds frighteningly similar to something a self righteous megalomaniac would say and a clear example of the insanity that has affected the human soul – rules – always for the ‘other guy’.

If I wish to estrange myself from a relative, I am free to do so as I please, and not you, or any governing power has any moral right to decide otherwise – to make personal decisions.

”Plus, this Libertarian, economic conservative cult is proven loser in Presidential elections. The American voting public rejects this program every 4 years, but we can count on the Libertarian cult coming back again and again – Ron Paul won less than 2% of one party’s delegates, yes this brutal rejection doesn’t phase the libertarian cult – they’re back for more.”

Citing disasters such as Somalia only serve to display your lack of understanding on our ineffectual and murderous foreign policy – the epic-fail policy that belongs to you. The only ‘brutal rejection’ is had by those such as yourself who continuously root for superficial teams and vain men who promote failed policies such as occupation, destruction of civil liberties and inflationary theft of the poor. Winning an election means nothing when we still lose as a country. The only loser is you.

God speed to all libertarians trying to help you knuckleheads understand that all of your ideas have failed us consistently. It’s this overwhelming failure that compels us to teach this free market ‘gospel’ to those such as yourself before you wind humanity up in a ditch.

Austrian economics isn’t gospel – it is morally sound. It isn’t intended to save the world, it will simply enable human beings to be efficient where government always fails. There won’t be Utopia – there will simply be less destruction, more efficiency and more rights.

#23 Comment By MTK On March 31, 2011 @ 10:32 am

I am not a libertarian by any means but I for one took great pleasure in seeing the neo-cons and party hacks suffer during CPAC.

I just wish there was a bigger ‘Old Right’, paleo-conservative, or whatever you want to call it movement out there.

#24 Comment By Joe On March 31, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

It always makes me laugh when people call libertarianism dangerous because we can’t possibly have people running around doing what they want, being total hedonists.

Our culture already rewards total hedonism as the ultimate freedom and wraps it up in a message of liberty through consumerism.

If libertarians were elected, guess what? People would still have sex with multiple partners and do drugs all day instead of work. Just like they do in your neoconservative utopia.

The difference is that libertarians actually preach (AND VOTE FOR) liberty for the rest of us, the producers, etc.

As for Mohammad Atta “doing what he wants” in a libertarian system, you are making the argument that gun control advocates make. And I retort with the elementary logic that criminals don’t follow your laws anyway!

If we had free markets and a responsible foreign policy. limited SUPPLY of oppression and hypocrisy, their would be less DEMAND for terror. Of course, talk radio drones on the right don’t know anything about the history of America pst WW2. Peasants in Ecuador have a better understanding of our world than mainstream Republican control freaks. Ever heard of Operation Gladio? Yeah, didn’t think so.

Don’t feed the neo-trotskyite stalinist republicans.

#25 Comment By Adam_Smith On March 31, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

If there is any group best described as the “the anti-conservative left” in any right of center organization it would be the so-called “neoconservatives”. The only reason these Scoop Jackson ex-Trotskyist defectors from the left were ever accepted in Republican ranks is that they were mistaken for foreign policy experts. Their arguments had some plausibility in the context of the Cold War but that time is past and so is theirs. If YAF foolishly keeps the neocons but exiles the libertarians it will certainly be its downfall.

#26 Comment By Mickey Zellberg On April 1, 2011 @ 7:35 am

“…It always makes me laugh when people call libertarianism dangerous because we can’t possibly have people running around doing what they want, being total hedonists….”

That’s the cheap and easy criticism of libertarians.

The deeper problem with the libertarian way–especially for conservatives—is that an uncontrolled free market dissolves the very social mores and strictures upon which capitalism is founded.

When everything is for sale, everything marketised, the tacit bonds between humans are destroyed: Church, family, community. These things matter to conservatives.

#27 Comment By Blair’s Paid Ego Parrot On April 5, 2011 @ 3:49 am

Yes,Mr Ellis is very misinformed.The Government IS force.Because it (should have) the responsible monopoly on force,it needs to be as small as possible or it will inevitably attract and be taken over by the most avaricious and power hungry people (which has happened).Many would say a Government should be limited to provide Military,Police and Law Courts only.I have rights by virtue of my humanity and everybody has the same by virtue of theirs.Libertarianism is a philosophy deduced from the basic nature of man and I hold it as a logical conviction.Unfortunately,I just can’t accept that Anarchy can work as the notion of ‘competing police forces’ (ie hired protectors/providers of retribution in that situation) is tenable.

#28 Comment By Philippe Desrameaux On August 18, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

I am a 20 year old Registered Democrat, newly founded Libertarian frmo South Florida and I stumbled upon this article. After Ron Paul’s 2012 election & Rand Paul’s attention from MSM, this was written and posted 2 YEARS ago, and I think that the Liberty Movement/Libertarian Movement has made great steps toward success. Anybody wanna disagree?