The actual language of the Schumer/Rubio amnesty bill is supposed to be released this evening (we’ll see), but there’s a 17-page summary that’s been widely released. I’m still chewing over the summary, but someone sent me a link to a story that highlights part of the political complexity of the issue. Alex Nowrasteh, the immigration guy at the open-borders Cato Institute, had this to say about immigration rights for same-sex partners of U.S. citizens: “I totally support . . . gay spouse unification and same-sex marriage across the board, but at this point, given the fragile nature of these coalitions, it’s potentially divisive enough to break the effort.”
His political calculation that inclusion of the homosexual-couples issue would kill the amnesty is correct. But the broader point is that libertarians and conservatives have fundamentally different world views. I know that’s obvious for people who follow politics closely, but many people, including even reporters, are clueless, often referring to the Cato Institute or Dick Armey or Grover Norquist as “conservatives,” when they are, in fact, libertarians. The reason even relatively sophisticated observers miss this fact is that at the national level conservatives and libertarians are usually allies, on issues such as opposition to excessive taxes, spending, and regulation, which are the most immediate threats to our liberty. On the other hand, many of the areas of disagreement are more the purvey of states or localities, such as the libertarian opposition to limits on prostitution, pornography, and drugs.
But the libertarian support for open immigration and same-sex marriage (and open immigration for same-sex couples!) brings into national focus the basic political differences between the two camps. Modern American conservatism is based on the notion that individual liberty, moral tradition, and national sovereignty are mutually reinforcing, each one incomplete and ultimately unsustainable without the others. Libertarianism rejects that fusionist principle, which is why people we hold in high regard as opponents of the leviathan state can, at the same time and without inconsistency, work intimately with leftist opponents of American sovereignty.