L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 912, March 5, 2017
by Sean Gangol
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Back in 2007 I published an article on TLE, titled, “The Problem with Conservatives”. In the article, I discussed how the conservatives that I knew always acted shocked when I told them that I had views that didn’t completely match theirs’. I even mentioned how my conservative co-worker/friend, Ron, seemed to have had a hard time comprehending how I didn’t share his views on drug prohibition, abortion or gays adopting children. I will admit that I was somewhat harsh when I compared the looks on his face to that of someone being anally raped. I did that because I wanted to introduce some humor to my article to keep it from seeming dry or boring. Don’t get me wrong, I still stand by my arguments, but I could have been a little less harsh or vulgar. Though I know that there were some readers who thought it was funny, while others thought that I had an obsession with anal sex.
If I have any real regrets about that article, it’s that I painted all conservatives with one broad brush. At the time, I wasn’t a regular reader of conservative literature or a regular listener of conservative talk radio. It was the same for conservative talk shows on Fox News. Though I did occasionally catch an episode of Hannity & Colmes (back when they both had a show together). Back then, I thought all of these news sources were just a little too right-wing for my taste. Once I started to read conservative literature, listen to conservative talk radio and started watching conservative news shows, I came to realize that when it came to ideas conservatives seemed much more diverse than the left. It’s not to say that the left doesn’t have its dissenters, such as Dave Rubin, Juan Williams (some of the time), Thaddeus Russell who wrote the most excellent A Renegade History to the United States and then there is the divide between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters. Yet, for the most part it seems like the left is the most tribalistic when it comes to ideas. They seem to only believe in diversity when it comes to minorities who tow the left-wing tagline. It’s not a coincidence that almost all left-wing talking points are identical.
Right-Wing commentators on the other hand never have the exact same stance on any one issue. For starters, I thought at one point that all conservatives were anti-gay, but I would learn that there were many conservatives who don’t necessarily have any animosity towards gay people, but aren’t too keen on gay marriage. Then you have conservatives like Ben Shapiro who take the libertarian position that all marriage should be privatized and not subsidized by the government. Not to mention that one of the most prominent of the conservative provocateurs is a gay man named Milo Yiannopoulos. It is also worth mentioning that the late Barry Goldwater who is considered by many to be a symbol of classic conservatism, supported the right of gays to serve in the armed services.
I also became even more surprised to find that all not all conservatives share the same view on drug prohibition. Arch Conservative, William F. Buckley, supported drug legalization. Then you have conservatives who are at the very least okay with legalizing marijuana though not particularly enthusiastic about it, such as the late Andrew Breitbart and comedian Steven Crowder. Not all conservatives are war mongering interventionists either. Russell Kirk back in the day wasn’t at all a fan of military intervention as well as modern day paleo-conservatives such as Pat Buchanan. There are some conservatives such as Larry Elder, Neal Boortz, Ron Paul, Glenn Beck and Greg Gutfield who are only a few steps from being full blown libertarians.
It’s not to say that conservatives don’t have their shortcomings, otherwise they would be libertarians. I just think it is intellectually lazy to make generalizations in the same way that the Bill O’ Reilly’s of the world assume that libertarians just want to sit around all day and smoke pot. I also came to the realization that Conservatives are the only counter balance that we have against the extreme left.
That is why I defended conservative talk radio when the left talked about reintroducing the so-called Fairness Doctrine that would require all radio stations to devote equal time to all points of view. On the surface, it sounds good, but it requires radio stations to give time to the points of view that don’t bring the same ratings as the right-wing viewpoints. This would force radio stations to get out of the talk radio business altogether. Plus, it would give the government more power to silence talk radio hosts in the same way that Franklin Roosevelt would use The Fairness Doctrine to bully any opposition to his administration.
If we learned anything from the left’s pathetic attempt at talk radio, it is that conservatives, despite their flaws are actually much better at engaging their audience over the radio waves than the left. Personally, I think the biggest advocates for left-wing talk radio should have been right-wing commentators. Why? Because the left made them look good. Deep down I think the left knows this and that is why they can only beat the right if they have a total monopoly in the market place of ideas. If the left can’t use the force of government, then they will try to shame the right into silence by blaming every ideological based shooting on their rhetoric, even if it had absolutely nothing to do with the price of tea in China.
I can also say that while there are certainly differences between libertarians and conservatives, it is much easier to have an adult conversation with a conservative than with many of the so-called liberals. I remember when John Stossel spoke about his experience working at ABC after he made it known that he had become a libertarian. The reception that he got from his colleagues was anything but cordial. Stossel said that the late Peter Jennings even called for his termination from the network. When he got his own show on the Fox Business channel, he found that his colleagues there were much more tolerant of Stossel’s libertarian beliefs. There Stossel could at least debate ideas without anyone trying to get him fired. That is why we need conservatives. Even on a bad day they are the best buffer that we have against the left. Once they are effectively silenced, the libertarians are next. The only reason why they haven’t turned their attention to the libertarians (at least as much) is because they represent only ten percent of the population. It’s the very thing that Richard Dawkins realized about the Christians that are being wiped out by Isis. They were the best buffer that the atheists had against Radical Islam. Now that they are being massacred left and right, the atheists and secularists will have nothing to stand between them and Islamic extremists. That is how I feel about conservatives. Yes, even the Bill O’Reillys and Ann Coulters of the world.
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