Project August: Day 2 – Wherein I Criticize Conservatives

The first post of Project August was made late in the evening, and now the second one comes early in the morning. Yeah, well, I am not sleeping at the moment, so I might as well make with the writing. Anyway, on this morning of Friday, August 2, 2013, I will be talking about conservative politics from a libertarian perspective. Dun dun DUN! You have been warned.

UPDATE [12:56PM ET; August 2, 2013]: My apologies to my readers and to Old Right Musings. I had forgotten to put in the links to to Old Right Musings and the post there to which I respond here. That was much uncool of me. I have now added the links, and I hope you all will forgive me. Carry on.

The post to which I will be responding comes from the fellow over at Old Right Musings, “The Myth About Conservatism”. That post is basically a complaint about libertarians claiming that conservatives “want to tell you what you can do in the bedroom.”

We’ve all heard it before.

“The left wants to tell you what to do with your wallet, and conservatives want to tell you what you can do in the bedroom. Only we libertarians don’t want to tell you what to do.”

The problem with this libertarian slogan is that it doesn’t even remotely resemble reality. Not even Rick Santorum honestly believes that he can or should have the power to dictate what you do in the bedroom. I can’t remember the last time I heard a conservative candidate for office anywhere even remotely suggest that anything done in a bedroom between consenting adults ought to be criminalized.

I cannot recall a liberal candidate literally talking about what people should do with their wallets either. But then, the saying is intended as catchy shorthand for the politics of liberals and conservatives, not a literal statement about what they are openly trying to accomplish. Criticizing it as a literal statement is not exactly a straw man argument, but it is close.

As for conservatives not saying anything done in a bedroom should be criminalized, ask them about legalizing prostitution. I am sure many of them will suddenly find a reason to be concerned about the legality of what happens in a bedroom.

And while most if not all of the anti-sodomy laws are now off the books, they did at one time exist purt near everywhere in this country. And had plenty of conservative support. As did laws against people with pale skin having sexual relations and/or marrying people with dark skin.

So it is not as if the saying about conservatives being concerned about what happens in the bedroom sprang out of nowhere.

There are a couple other points from the Old Right Musings post I also want to address.

The author says the homosexual marriage objection made by conservatives is not about what happens in the bedroom. Yeah, it is. The conservative argument that marriage should not be redefined to allow homosexuals to marry does not stem from a concern about how tax benefits are handed out. Many conservatives are okay with civil unions that are legally pretty much marriage in all but name. The conservative opposition to homosexual marriage is generally about not wanting to allow homosexuals to have sex within the bounds of a marriage.

Later the author asks “whatever happened to the libertarian mantra of ‘get the government out of marriage’?” It is still alive and well. It is also, unfortunately, a long way from becoming reality. To the best of my knowledge, no politician in Congress is advocating for that. If there is one, more power to him or her. But getting government out of marriage is as likely to happen soon as getting rid of Social Security. There are too many folks who believe they have a vested interest in “protecting” marriage, like the aforementioned Rick Santorum, for getting government out of marriage to gain political traction any time in the near future. Meanwhile, support for legalizing homosexual marriage is growing.

I have to believe that Reason-type libertarians know that conservatives lack the willingness and the ability to create anything even remotely as powerful in the realm of morality as the Democrats/liberals/leftists have in the realm of personal economic freedom. The “wallet/bedroom” slogan is really a smear, a way for libertarians to simultaneously differentiate themselves and tarnish their opponents.

Libertarians who read reason in magazine and/or online form probably also know that not only have very conservative laws about what happens in bedrooms only relatively recently (within the past 50 years) left the books in some places in the U.S., but also that many conservatives would be very happy to start pushing for more moralistic laws if they thought they could get the political support to get such laws back on the books.

Also, what the liberals push in terms of economics is no less moralistic. They want gargantuan government run welfare programs and massively labyrinthine economic regulations because they believe such is the right and moral thing to do. It all stems from people deciding their morals should be made into laws. This is a poor plan all around, left or right.

As for the wallet/bedroom comment, it is no less or more a smear than the nonsense regularly said in the many, many attempts to minimize libertarianism and belittle its advocates. You know the lines about how libertarianism is too utopian or too cynical or too ignorant or too naïve. Or the stories about how libertarianism is really just social Darwinism that would leave everyone dying in isolation. Or the notion that libertarianism is amoral.

So if the wallet/bedroom comment is used to push back against that nonsense, then by all means we libertarians should make good use of it when we can. Does it tarnish our opponents? I certainly hope so. But if it does, then, in my opinion, it does so far less than their own actions.

Okay, enough politics for now. Have a good day, everyone. I have work to do elsewhere. And I have to figure out which post to use for tomorrow’s Project August post. I only have twenty-nine more days to go…

Wait. What? Twenty-nine days? Um… feel free to leave suggestions for posts I might use to complete Project August. What? No… I mean, yes, of course I planned it this way. Exactly this way. Yes, indeed. I know exactly what I am doing. Mostly.

One Response to “Project August: Day 2 – Wherein I Criticize Conservatives”

  1. […] at Liberate One seems to be fascinated with my thinking on libertarianism, for he (or she?) has written another critique. If that author reads this reply, I wonder if he or she may be so kind as to at least inform me if […]

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