A Study In Conservatism vs. Libertarianism

Deborah Venable



I’m sure that many who take the quiz that is supposed to define one’s political philosophy end up finding out (surprise, surprise) that they fit the mold of a Libertarian.  In fact, many who espouse conservative beliefs find themselves wondering if they are not really libertarians instead of conservatives.  It is a much easier task to separate the liberal and conservative philosophies than it is to separate conservative from libertarian.  


Conservatives, such as myself, know that individualist stances trump collectivist ones in the conservation of our Constitutional liberties.  I pretty much laid all this out in an article entitled, Individualism vs. Collectivism several years ago.  It would seem that many associated with the town hall push-backs and current tea parties may actually have gotten the message.  Try as they may, collectivists have been unable to hang a singe label on these people. 


So, here we are – a people who collectively and individually call ourselves “Americans” in a battle for our country for the purpose of conserving our heritage and our culture.  It can’t be done unless we each are willing to act alone – without any further defining label than “American.”  The reason?  Our heritage and culture reflects individual rights and responsibilities in an environment that supports individual liberty. 


Some would hop on that statement as the very definition of a libertarian.


The difference is far more complicated than that.  If I had my choice, I would rather try to coexist within a libertarian framework of laws than within a nationalist, socialist, or liberal tyranny, I know that my pursuit of happiness would be at jeopardy under either.  If I adhere to a true libertarian point of view, I am not conserving a heritage or culture built on accepting God’s laws over man-made law.  That is the real and only difference.


Before anyone balks at that, yes, I know there is such a thing as Christian Libertarianism. 


They make many good points, such as this in-depth audio explanation of the most misunderstood Bible passage, Render Unto Caesar.  But libertarians are a fascinating group.  I realize they are individuals with varying social and economic views, but it is this variance that leaves me wondering how they would hope to conserve a heritage and culture that many of them do not understand or believe in.


The two major social issues that separate the conservative and the libertarian are these:


Preserving the sanctity of human life via outlawing abortion, and preserving the sanctity of marriage and family via not accepting the legal equivalent of alternative lifestyles. 


True libertarians refuse to condemn the practice of legal abortion or the onslaught of accepting alternative sexual lifestyles as normal.  They say it is because of the religion “taint” in both stances.  Above all, they do not wish to be ruled by anything that smacks of a theocracy.  Neither do I, but our heritage and culture were delivered to us by Founders who adhered to God’s laws, whether or not libertarians see it that way.  These two things lay well outside adherence to God’s laws.


Underlying these two things we have the other glaring social issue differences of legalizing such things as prostitution and deregulating illegal drug use.  You may have noticed that liberalism – not libertarianism is driving and benefiting from every victory in these areas.  I have to ask, if living in an indecent world hampers my pursuit of happiness, how can I condone such things? 


I do not agree with the continued blurring of right and wrong – decent and indecent.  While I agree that the “war on drugs” has been mishandled, that there are far too many man-made laws on the books, making far too many career criminals out of so-called drug offenders, I know that this is simply because man-made law cannot trump God’s laws.  The “just say no” approach of teaching children that use of substances made to alter one’s very psyche and ability to think clearly is wrong – thus abuse is punishable – and deals are out of the question, would be far more appropriate.  Likewise the abuse of one’s sexual psyche and physical health via prostitution and other recreational sexual choices is socially and nationally damaging – and, here again, no deal making in the punishment. 


The color grey has literally overcome black and white on both issues because we are not conserving our heritage and culture.


Perhaps the libertarian view on most economic issues is the one I can most closely agree with.  They do tend to uphold individual liberties vs. government infringements in most if not all areas.  Free trade agreements can get a little sticky and should be approached carefully because of our heritage of backing away from foreign entanglements.  This leaches over into all foreign policy, foreign wars, and our ability to maintain a strong national defense. 


But I would ask the libertarian who says we have no right to “intervene” in foreign affairs these questions: 


Do we have no right to reach out and help a neighbor who cries out to us?


Do we have no right to militarily strengthen or weaken friends or foes languishing in hopelessness or plundering in tyranny?


Do we have no right to consider a victory to one over another a benefit to our national security and stability?


The fact that far too few American citizens who vote for our representatives in government and our military commander-in-chief ever think about the effects their decisions make on America’s stability and our foreign entanglements is irresponsible to say the least.  Only after they disagree with some outcome do they deem it necessary to voice concern and seek to split our national resolve.  That is simply due to an ignorance of our heritage and culture.


Whether we wish to accept it or not, America has had great influence over our foreign neighbors since our beginning.  Positive influence greatly outweighs negative, but those not well versed in history insist on bemoaning any American influence anywhere – even internal influence on our own countrymen.  Hence, the continuing progressive onslaught to deny American exceptionalism in an attempt to lead America back to the European model results in such garbage as (enlightened Europeans have embraced nationalized healthcare, so Americans should too) would send us backwards from our culture and heritage of individual liberty.    


While most libertarians agree with that last statement, they may not be willing to take it to the bank by defending it with God-given good sense over anything else.


So we must ask ourselves, what would happen if one day we elected a Ron Paul to the presidency?  While I think he would make great inroads back through a swamp of bloated government rule over individual liberties, and perhaps point us once again toward financial prosperity, he might truly falter in any attempt to conserve our heritage and culture through victory of right over wrong, law over lawlessness, and good over evil.  I’m not at all sure that power would not corrupt such an individual.


The thing that most concerns me about the Ron Pauls of America is that they feel the need to latch on to whatever vehicle they consider affords them the most power.  Right now, for Ron Paul, that is the Republican Party, but in the past he has tried to promote himself via the Libertarian and Independent routes.  Part of the platform of the Republican Party is a strong national defense, but he bemoans some of the very things that define that.  He considered Reagan a sellout to big government, which is hard to get your hands on for a true conservative.        


The bottom line is that conservatism is rooted in American heritage and culture while libertarianism seeks the benefits without the judgment of right over wrong.  Fearing the Christian “taint” of conservatism will never serve this nation or any other liberty loving people with lasting justice against the progressive march toward totalitarianism.  Accepting Christian sacrifice to preserve good over evil, and not being afraid to define either, is absolutely necessary to preserve the successful American model. 



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