November 23, 2002

PLAYING NICE

PLAYING NICE: Jonah Goldberg, responding in The Corner to the only thing I had time to link to yesterday, says that libertarians should be more respectful of conservatives if they expect the same. Apparantly, he hasn't noticed how libertarians treat each other, let alone conservatives. I think it was Cato founder Ed Crane who said something like when two libertarians agree with each other, both think the other sold out. Abortion and immigration have been contentious in the past, but after Sept. 11, unsurprisingly, the foreign policy fission has gotten particularly bitter at times (if you read blogs widely, you probably have an inkling of what I mean; Brink Lindsey mentioned this most recently here).

The Libertarian Party is not a serious political project, and those who really think it can be are dwindling in number (along with party registration roles). Small-l libertarians make fun of the LP way more than Jonah Goldberg ever has. As to the sniping at conservatives, it comes naturally to many libertarians who arrived at their politics in large part by what disgusted them about some quarters of the right. It's often stupid and childish, but don't sweat it; we'll fight about it amongst ourselves ("Don't call Bush a moron! Would you prefer Gore?" "He wouldn't be any worse!" "You're nuts!"). The point of Barnett's piece was to suggest ways the Right can welcome libertarians into their political coalition; the Republicans are better positioned to win by picking up libertarian votes than the LP is to win by picking up conservative votes. In fact, this was the weakest suggestion Barnett made; specific ideological deliniation-- or even a few cheap laugh at the libertoids' expense-- is more important to many conservative writers than coalition-building. If it wasn't, they probably wouldn't be "conservative writers," at least not primarily; they'd be working for a PAC.

Posted by John Tabin at November 23, 2002 06:57 PM
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