Home/Daniel Larison/“Libertarian Intelligentsia” Tying Itself In Knots to Avoid Supporting Ron Paul

“Libertarian Intelligentsia” Tying Itself In Knots to Avoid Supporting Ron Paul

TPM reports on “libertarian intelligentsia” dissatisfaction with the GOP field (via Lemieux):

“There’s a belief that the field represents a pre-Tea Party Republicanism,” said Michael D. Tanner, a senior research fellow at the Libertarian Cato Institute. It’s a crop of left-overs, he explains. Libertarians wanted Paul Ryan or Chris Christie.

I don’t want to assume that the views expressed in this report are representative of libertarians or even libertarian policy wonks, but the idea that there were any libertarians interested in Paul Ryan and Chris Christie is baffling. Leaving aside Ryan’s foreign policy, let’s remember that this is someone who voted for Medicare Part and frequently defends it as good policy. Except for his criticism of some aspects of drug prohibition, I can’t think of anything that would make Christie a libertarian favorite. In what universe are Ryan and Christie the preferred libertarian choices?

It’s not as if libertarian Republicans are lacking for options this year. Johnson’s campaign never got off the ground, but he would have been an obvious choice. Whatever their problems with Ron Paul, it’s preposterous to say that he “represents a pre-Tea Party Republicanism.” Libertarians aren’t obliged to support the most sucessful libertarian Republican presidential candidate active during their lifetime, but surely they could come up with more plausible alternatives and some better excuses.

No doubt Huntsman will be thrilled to learn this:

While less than perfect, libertarians are hoping for a Jon Huntsman resurgence to spare them from Newt and Mitt. “I think there is burgeoning interest in Jon Huntsman,” says Boaz, though perhaps “too late to matter.” While not a card-carrying libertarian, says Tanner, he possesses the right combination of a very conservative economic agenda and more moderate positions on foreign policy and social issues.

It’s true that Huntsman breaks with the party on some individual foreign policy and social issues, but overall Huntsman is more conservative on social issues than almost anyone else in the field, and his “moderation” on foreign policy includes support for bombing Iran. It’s impressive how far out of their way some of these folks will go to avoid supporting the candidates with whom they agree on virtually everything.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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