The Economist on Libertarians and Conservatives for Obama

I’ve reported on many libertarians and conservatives who are backing Barack Obama. The Economist has also noticed this trend. Here is a portion of a recent article on The Rise of the Obamacons:

The biggest brigade in the Obamacon army consists of libertarians, furious with Mr Bush’s big-government conservatism, worried about his commitment to an open-ended “war on terror”, and disgusted by his cavalier way with civil rights. There are two competing “libertarians for Obama” web sites. CaféPress is even offering a “libertarian for Obama” lawn sign for $19.95. Larry Hunter, who helped to devise Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America in 1994, thinks that Mr Obama can free America from the grip of the “zombies” who now run the Republican Party.

But the army has many other brigades, too: repentant neocons such as Francis Fukuyama, legal scholars such as Douglas Kmiec, and conservative talk-show hosts such as Michael Smerconish. And it is picking up unexpected new recruits as the campaign approaches its denouement. Many disillusioned Republicans hoped that Mr McCain would provide a compass for a party that has lost its way, but now feel that the compass has gone haywire. Kenneth Adelman, who once described the invasion of Iraq as a “cakewalk”, decided this week to vote for Mr Obama mainly because he regards Sarah Palin as “not close to being acceptable in high office”.

The rise of the Obamacons is more than a reaction against Mr Bush’s remodelling of the Republican Party and Mr McCain’s desperation: there were plenty of disillusioned Republicans in 2004 who did not warm to John Kerry. It is also a positive verdict on Mr Obama. For many conservatives, Mr Obama embodies qualities that their party has abandoned: pragmatism, competence and respect for the head rather than the heart. Mr Obama’s calm and collected response to the turmoil on Wall Street contrasted sharply with Mr McCain’s grandstanding.

Much of Mr Obama’s rhetoric is strikingly conservative, even Reaganesque. He preaches the virtues of personal responsibility and family values, and practises them too. He talks in uplifting terms about the promise of American life. His story also appeals to conservatives: it holds the possibility of freeing America from its racial demons, proving that the country is a race-blind meritocracy and, in the process, bankrupting a race-grievance industry that has produced the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

How much do these Obamacons matter? More than Mr McCain would like to think. The Obamacons are manifestations of a deeper turmoil in the Republican rank-and-file, as the old coalition of small-government activists, social conservatives and business Republicans falls apart. They also influence opinion. This is obvious in the case of Mr Powell: Mr Obama is making liberal use of his endorsement to refute the latest Republican criticism that he is a “socialist”. But it is also true of lesser-known scribblers. At least 27 newspapers that backed Mr Bush in 2004 have endorsed Mr Obama.

Moreover, the revolt of the intellectuals is coinciding with a migration of culturally conservative voters—particularly white working-class voters—into Obamaland. Mr Obama is now level-pegging or leading among swing-groups such as Catholics and working-class whites. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll shows him winning 22% of self-described conservatives, a higher proportion than any Democratic nominee since 1980.

It is not necessary to have such endorsements to refute the ridiculous claims that Obama is a socialist, but they do help discredit the attacks. The Republican claims that Obama is a socialist are based upon distorting both Obama’s tax plans and a statement by Obama. When Obama spoke of putting more money in the hands of more people he wasn’t referring to any Marxist schemes. He was talking about allowing the free market to work so that more people can earn money, rather than using the government as Republicans do to enrich a small number. If we accept the Republican logic that Obama’s tax plans are socialist for providing assistance to those the bottom, then we’d also have to consider Milton Friedman a socialist for advocating the negative income tax.


  1. 1
    Libertarians For Obama says:

    When intelligent Libertarians examine Barack Obama, they see his high intelligence and intellect as an asset, conducive to rational [libertarian-style] thinking.

    Combined with his background as a civil rights lawyer and constitutional law professor who is favorable to voluntary, free community organization, and who as a Senator, took a daring stand against the Iraq War — it becomes easy to see that Barack Obama is more “libertarian” than not.

    McCain is highly “pro-war” which would mean at least another four “Bush Years” of endless billion dollar [war] occupations, plus more BIG GOVERNMENT SPENDING, “taxes-from-the-middle-class-to-finance-wealthy-tax-cuts” and “socialized” corporate profits/bailouts with little, if any “trickle down” effect of job growth which, by the way, has NOT happened in spite of Bush’s tax cuts provided to big corporations and the Warren Buffet wealthy.

    By voting for Bob Barr, it would be a truly dangerous wasted voted this year, after all he’s NOT going to win. “Wasted Votes” and [conservative] Libertarians who voted for Bush, helped Bush win two terms.

    Obama is the best [major] candidate to work on four top libertarian reforms:

    1) Iraq withdrawal
    2) restoring the separation of church and state
    3) easing off victimless crimes such as drug use
    4) curtailing the Patriot Act.

    Libertarians living in the real world know that only Obama or McCain can actually win. And in that real world, Bob Barr is an ex-CIA Republican and on that basis he is questionable as being truly “Libertarian”.

    Because Bob Barr spend most of his political career as a rather right-wing conservative Republican, many long-time Libertarians don’t see him as a “true” Libertarian but some sort of right-wing conservative Republican infiltrator.

    With a history of hostile right-wing conservative Republicans infiltrating the Libertarian Party over the years, they have pushed out long-time, true Libertarians and founders.

    This hostile LP take-over by conservative Republicans is not easily forgotten — and well, as a backlash — I can see a lot of Libertarians wanting to get Republicans out of power.

    And the best way to do this is by voting for Obama and a straight Democratic ticket.

  2. 2
    janet says:

    Have doubts?

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