Not fear, but principled opposition, from libertarians to Rick Santorum

Smart, conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin asks Why are libertarians afraid of Santorum? Our resolute opposition to his conservatism comes not from fear, as though irrational, but instead from our own liberty-oriented principles. (Rubin crafts her post title carefully to frame the discussion most favorably to Santorum.)

David Boaz of Cato answers her question in the way most libertarians would, by emphasizing that libertarians’ worry is ‘philosophically-minded’:

Being philosophically minded, what scares me most about Rick Santorum is not his specific policy mistakes but his fundamental objection to the American idea of freedom. He criticizes the pursuit of happiness! He says, “This is the mantra of the left: I have a right to do what I want to do” and “We have a whole culture that is focused on immediate gratification and the pursuit of happiness … and it is harming America.” And then he says that what the Founders meant by happiness was “to do the morally right thing.”

He really doesn’t like the idea of America as a free society, where adults make their own decisions and sometimes make choices that Santorum disapproves. In practice, I worry that he would continue and intensify Bush’s big-government conservatism….

There’s a cynical way in which some libertarians would welcome a Santorum
candidacy in the fall, on the theory that he’d do so poorly that the GOP would thereafter reject his approach.

Perhaps that’s true, but national rejection of Sen. Santorum’s approach in November would mean endorsement of Pres. Obama’s approach, and that’s simply another big-government solution.

For it all, there’s no libertarianism in those libertarians who insist that anyone who might defeat Pres. Obama is worthy of our support. The Kochs have this extreme view, and it’s why they’ve gradually (and now suddenly) stopped looking libertarian to movement families.

They insist on using all the movement as mere fuel for the conservative, partisan-in-fact Americans for Prosperity. Tens of millions of dollars later, the Kochs have made AFP influential, but libertarianism weaker.

Where they lead we’ve no reason to follow: no opposition to Pres. Obama justifies libertarian support for Sen. Santorum, who offers the liberty-movement nothing at all.

Posted originally on 3.15.12 at Daily Adams.