Libertarians have a drug problem, and this addiction to drugs is holding them back from becoming an influential voice in American politics.
I am not referring to an actual addiction to a drug itself. I am referring to a libertarian’s inability to talk about issues without bringing up drugs.
Try it sometime. A conservative can have an in-depth conversation with someone who calls himself or herself a libertarian and agree with them on almost every issue. Conservatives and libertarians are cut from the same small-government cloth. But inevitably, just as you are ready to join forces with your new like-minded libertarian friend and conquer the political world, they will bring up pot.
Like a young girl falling in love with a boy who is hooked on drugs, you realize this “conservatarian” relationship you thought would be so beautiful was never meant to be. It all fell apart once you realized your new libertarian friend was hooked on the drug issue.
At first, it is easy to dismiss this destructive addiction. The relationship seems perfect in the beginning, but then you see the signs. It usually starts during an innocent-sounding political conversation. They might mention something like, “If conservatives would only stop incarcerating young Americans for petty drug offenses, then we could work together.” Or maybe they say, “I agree with you on everything, but first we need to decriminalize all drug– use.” Or, “We have to end the war on drugs.”
Here is an interview I did with Bleeding Heart Libertarian Matt Zwolinski. This college instructor joined me to discuss the possibility of conservatives and libertarians uniting in the common cause of shrinking our overreaching government. The interview was going so well – and then, POW! The drug issue came out of nowhere and sent my head spinning.
Conservatives and libertarians have a chance to save America if they can unite. A “conservatarian” coalition could put some actual liberty-loving people in positions of power.
But libertarians are not the only ones at fault in this failure to unite small-government minded voters. Conservatives are hung up on an issue, too.
Conservatives are staunchly against big government until it comes to police power. For some odd reason, there is nothing a police officer can do that will cause some conservatives to criticize them. Police officers are the sacred cows of conservatives.
Why is it that so many conservatives (who are usually against big government) support police who abuse their power? If conservatives could rationally parse the good, Constitution-loving police from the police who abuse their power, they could sing Kumbaya with more libertarians, and minorities who feel disenfranchised by police brutality and a movement that excuses it. Overly powerful law enforcement is no different than any other overreaching part of government that tramples constitutional rights, so why the pass for them from conservatives? A new coalition of libertarians, blacks and conservative voters could unite under the common cause of reigning in big government.
How many black Americans would vote for a conservative candidate if they would just say, “I am with you! I believe the police do need to act only within their constitutional limits! Abusive police are the same as an abusive IRS, TSA, CPS, etc. This is the consequence of big government run by Democrats! Vote for me!”?
There are some good cops, and some bad cops. There are suspected criminals who deserve to have been shot by police, and there are others who didn’t deserve to be killed. There are private citizens whose rights have been trampled by rogue power-tripping police officers. And there are police officers who honor the Constitution and selflessly risk their lives to save others every day. Why can’t conservatives and libertarians take each instance on a case-by-case basis and focus on reining in big government?
I believe libertarians and conservatives could put their differences on the back burner and defeat the big-government statists in power if conservatives would soften on their staunch support for police, and if libertarians would break their addiction to the drug issue. It is tough to break an addiction, but not impossible, and I believe breaking these old habits are imperative to saving our republic.