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Respect Is a Two Way Street


In a generally thoughtful and constructive essay on NRO today, Randy Barnett offers some advice to conservatives on how to keep libertarians inside the Republican tent. I agree with many of his prescriptions (particularly on federalism), but I couldn’t help but notice the second to last item on his 7 point plan. He writes that conservatives should:

Stop making snide gratuitous remarks about libertarians. Nothing turns off libertarians more than the sort of wholly gratuitous snide remarks about libertarians in conservative publications. By gratuitous I mean they show up even in articles about policies with which libertarians and conservatives agree. The more libertarians feel unwelcome in the coalition that is the Republican party, the more they will vote Libertarian.

Now, I don’t know if he had me in mind when he wrote this, but he might as well have since it’s no secret that I indulge in Cato and libertarian jokes from time to time. Some quick responses: first, respect is a two way street. Libertarians at Cato and Reason, to name two leading libertarian institutions, regularly take pot-shots at conservatives as quasi-bigoted, prudish and/or religious zealots. Libertarians also have an infuriating habit (I’m not referring to Randy here) of implying that conservatives are morons for not agreeing with them. And last, if we are going to talk about electoral politics here – which is a bit different than the rarefied world of think tanks and magazines – libertarians might work a little harder at policing their own movement a bit more. I for one will stop making fun of the Libertarian Party when it stops fielding Druids and blue-skinned candidates and its rank and file looks less like this.