Fear Of Republicans

Instantman, in reference to an article about women and the sexual revolution, says:

This kind of stuff, by the way, is the reason why a lot of Democrats who are basically in agreement with the Republican party are still afraid to vote for Republicans.

This seems to be a common attitude among many libertarians (and to the degree that labels apply, I think that one fits Glenn about as well as any), particularly the ones who approached that philosophy from the left (i.e., former Democrats). I once had an extended email discussion (back during the election) with another libertarian friend (who’s also a blogger, but shall remain nameless) about how as much as he disliked the socialism of the Democrats, he felt more culturally comfortable with them. Again, this is a prevalent attitude of products of the sixties. You know, Republicans were uptight fascists, and Democrats were idealistic, free-living, and hip.

While I’m not a conservative, my own sexual and drug-taking values (and life style) tend to be. I just don’t think that the government should be involved in either of these areas. But my voting pattern is that I’ll occasionally vote Republican (I voted for Dole over Clinton, the only time I’ve ever voted for a Republican for President), but I never vote for a Democrat for any office. The last time I did so was in 1976, and I’d like that one back.

There are at least two reasons for this.

First, I’ve found many Republicans who are sympathetic to libertarian arguments, and in fact are often libertarians at heart, but see the Republican Party as the most practical means of achieving the goals. There may be some Democrats out there like that, but I’ve never run into them. That’s the least important reason (partly because I may be mistaken, and have simply suffered from a limited sample space). But fundamentally, the Democratic Party, at least in its current form, seems to me to be utterly antithetical to free markets.

But the most important reason is this–while I find the anti-freedom strains of both parties equally dismaying, the Democrats are a lot better at implementing their government intrusions, and there’s good reason to think that this will be the case even if the Republicans get full control of the government.

This is because many of the Democratic Party positions are superficially appealing, if you’re ignorant of economics and have never been taught critical thinking.

Who can be against a “living wage”? What’s so bad about making sure that everyone, of every skin hue, gets a fair chance at a job? Why shouldn’t rich people pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes?–they can afford it. Are you opposed to clean air and water? What’s wrong with you? How can you be against social security–do you want old folks to live on Kibbles and Bits?

To fight these kinds of encroachments on liberty requires a lot of effort and argument and, in the end, it often loses anyway. Consider for example, the latest assault on the First Amendment that passed the Senate today, sixty to forty. Many Republicans voted against it. I don’t think any Democrats did.

[Thursday morning update: Best of the Web notes that two Democrats did vote against it–John Breaux and Ben Nelson. Good for them. They also have a hall of shame for the Republicans who voted for it.]

On the other hand, the things that libertarians like Glenn and Nameless fear that conservatives will do (e.g., in matters sexual), are so repugnant to most Americans that they’ll never get made into law, and if they do, the legislators who do so will quickly get turned out of office. So, you have to ask yourself, even if you dislike the attitude of people who are uncomfortable with the sexual revolution, just what is it, realistically, that you think they’d actually do about it if you voted for them?

The bottom line for me is that Democrats have been slow-boiling the frog for decades now, and they’re very good at it. I tend to favor Republicans, not because I necessarily agree with their views on morality, but because I see them as the only force that can turn down the heat on the kettle, and that they’re very unlikely to get some of the more extreme policies that they may want, because the public, by and large, views them as extreme.