April 24, 2013

ROSS DOUTHAT’S PIECE ON “LIBERALTARIAN DEMOCRATS” AND WHY GUN-CONTROL FAILED sounds kind of like my USA Today column on guns and gay marriage. Key bit:

Obama isn’t the Marxist of conservative paranoia, but his economic vision is far more dirigiste than libertarian — which is a big reason why many of the economic libertarians who had soured on the Bush-era G.O.P. ended up returning to the Republican fold. (Though not Lindsey himself, I should note.) On national security, meanwhile, the Democratic Party is plainly much less libertarian — and the Republican Party, mostly thanks to Rand Paul, slightly more so — than it was when Lindsey was drawing up his form of fusionism.

But on most cultural issues, the Democratic Party clearly has grown steadily more, well, “liberaltarian” since Lindsey coined the term. Again, if you look at things on a right-left axis, as the Politico piece quoted above does, the resistance to even modest gun control measures among many swing-state Democrats seems like the exception to the Obama-era party’s leftward shifts on gay marriage, immigration (where the party’s Byron Dorgans are all but extinct), and recreational drugs. But if you look at things from a libertarian perspective instead, it’s all perfectly consistent — the freedoms of gun owners being of a piece with the freedoms of migrants and pot smokers and gay couples — and an indication that the Democrats are simply becoming more culturally libertarian across the board.

When you combine this trend with the Republican Party’s sharp libertarian turn on economics and modest libertarian turn on civil liberties, you could argue that libertarian ideology has never enjoyed more bipartisan influence than it does right now.

Which isn’t to say that we’ve gone all that far. . . .

On a less cheerful note, on Twitter, Douthat also recommends James Poulos on The Pink Police State. “So citizens of a Pink Police State (I should say subjects) are apt to surrender more and more political liberty in exchange for more and more cultural or ‘personal’ license. And the government of a Pink Police State tends to monopolize and totalize administrative control while carving out a permissive playpen for the people. This tradeoff has a creepy economic component.”

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