Monday, December 19, 2011

Andrew Sullivan, Ron Paul, and the Future of the GOP

Andrew Sullivan thinks that Ron Paul offers the GOP the only shot at relevance for future generations. Sullivan has endorsed Ron Paul as his pick for the GOP nomination.

Though Andrew Sullivan can be very persuasive, I think he's backing a losing cause.  At root, I think Sullivan knows this; but I think he relishes a Paul/Obama encounter about the future of America in the campaigning for the 2012 Presidential Election.

It would be an interesting spectacle; but Obama will bury Paul.


Eric said...

I'm backing Ron Paul and hell I'll even admit he doesn't have a chance in the primary or the general election. I do agree with Sully on some things though, and one is huge: Ron Paul is the first political figure in decades to come along and offer young people an attractive alternative to the steady dose of liberal ideology they receive at school and in the media. The concept of freedom and liberty as viewed through a libertarian lens and contrasted to liberal and conservative perspectives is one that can be very inspiring to idealistic young people, and conservatives are fairly horrible at selling it (even Ron Paul isn't a very good orator... libertarianism hasn't had a great spokesperson since Milton Friedman died). My biggest hope for Ron Paul is that he will play the role of Barry Goldwater to a future Ronald Reagan. He doesn't have to win the primaries to achieve that goal.

Huck said...

I basically agree with you, Eric. I can see how libertarianism is very attractive to youth. Why it is so attractive is an interesting topic to debate. The answer to that question is also the answer to the question of why Ayn Rand is popular among the youth.

The idea of liberty and freedom in libertarianism is very individualistic and self-centered. I would contend that as people grow older, the appeal of the collective good, or, perhaps better said, the public good, becomes greater. This applies both to conservatives and liberals.

Concern for (and feelings of responsibility towards) others, acknowledgment of our mortality, and concern for the society that shapes the environment in which we live all tend to soften the libertarian edges of youthful egoism and feelings of invincibility.

And I just don't think libertarianism can ever conquer that basic human condition of other-orientedness.

Eric said...

Where I disagree (and where conservatives often fail to inform) is that one of the most fundamental concepts of libertarianism is "other-orientedness"; specifically, that we should avoid at nearly all costs threatening others with violence in order to force them to do what we want. Libertarianism rejects the idea that it represents a "mature and sophisticated" philosophy to force others to engage in charity at gunpoint. You may want to paint that as a selfish philosophy, but you can only do so by ignoring the fact that it is rooted in "other-orientedness", that it is rooted in a protective, shepherding instinct and not based on a desire to exploit. The selfish and exploitative philosophy is the one that says, "It is too expensive/troublesome/time-consuming for me to fix this problem by myself, so I must force everyone else to help me do it."

Now, libertarians aren't absolutists on this concept; most will admit that government does require some forced participation, chiefly when it comes to national defense (though as we see with Ron Paul, libertarians often call for a much less robust military than liberals or conservatives). But the fact is that libertarians are more concerned about resisting the urge to intrude upon the liberty of others than any other political group in America.

Also, in no way is libertarian ideology at loggerheads with the idea of a robust pursuit of service to the public. You are correct that as people mature they become more interested in serving their community, but they can do this while maintaining a libertarian perspective... in fact, there it is quite empowering to say, "I'm going to pursue and support the changes I'd like to see in my community because ultimately I can't hold anyone else but myself responsible for the realization of that vision."

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