The answer to the question, of course, is no but you certainly have to look beyond some right wing writings to appreciate this. Yesterday I quoted Will Wilkinson’s views on libertarians and liberals. Wilkinson belongs to the growing number of people who have liberal views on social and civil liberties issues along with free market views on the economy. This group ranges from fiscally conservative liberals to libertarians such as Wilkinson who reject the conservatism of many libertarians who have seen Republicans as their natural allies.
The current left/right divide is now primarily over social issues, civil liberties, and one’s position on the Iraq war, with economic issues no longer providing a clear delineation between left and right. The left/right continuum has increasingly become based upon two parameters: support for liberty on the left in contrast to the authoritarianism of the right and support for science, reason, and a reality-based view of the world on the left versus the reactionary opposition to modernity, science, and reason from the right. This division can be seen in Robert Stacy McCain’sresponse to Wilkinson’s views on liberal/libertarian fusionism:
Most of the Will Wilkinson types are intellectuals who are embarrassed by what Hunter S. Thompson called the “Rotarian” instincts of the Republican Party. That flag-waving God-mom-and-apple-pie stuff just doesn’t light a fire under the American intellectual class, which is not now, nor has it ever been, enamored of religion, patriotism and “family values.”
As a political impulse, the sort of libertarianism that scoffs at creationism and traditional marriage wields limited influence, because it appeals chiefly to a dissenting sect of the intelligentsia. It’s a sort of free-market heresy of progressivism, with no significant popular following nor any real prospect of gaining one, because most Ordinary Americans who strongly believe in economic freedom are deeply traditionalist. And most anti-traditionalists — the feminists, the gay militants, the “world peace” utopians — are deeply committed to the statist economic vision of the Democratic Party.
In expressing this belief in creationism, McCain already demonstrates a limited ability to either think rationally or to coherently comment on the issues of a twenty-first century world. The degree to which he is out of touch with reality also comes from the manner in which his views of liberals comes from a Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity promoted stereotype as opposed to anything which exists in the real world.
The typical liberal is just as likely as most conservatives (and more likely than Rush Limbaugh) to be in a traditional marriage, go to work every day, and abstain from drug use. The difference between liberals and social conservatives is not as much life style as the toleration of other life styles. Many of us live a basically conservative life style but do not feel the drive seen among conservatives to use the power of the state to impose their life style and personal choices upon others.
Fortunately it is not necessary to hold these irrational views to be a supporter of the free market. Of course McCain might view this differently as, despite their rhetoric, the economic policies backed by the right often have little to do free market principles. Republicans have given us wage and price controls under Richard Nixon, Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force, The K-Street Project, and the Bush deficit. As Wilkinson noted, “the great success of the GOP over the last eight years has been to destroy the reputation of free markets and limited government by deploying its rhetoric and then doing the opposite.”
The other difference between free market liberals and the flat-earthers of the right is a willingness to consider facts as opposed to making decisions based upon a perverse combination of extremist ideology and hyper-partisanship. While the extremists might see the free market as something which exists in a pure state of nature with perfect regulation by Adam Smith’s invisible hand, most people realize that markets work because of a certain degree of necessary regulation. While many of us would philosophically prefer to see a minimum amount of government involvement in the economy, we also recognize that there are certain functions which the market does not handle well, and that there are certain times when more drastic action is necessary to avert disaster.
McCain also sees a combination of liberal and libertarian beliefs as having little prospect for electoral success. A discussion of which views are right and which views can win elections are two different things, but McCain is also wrong here. There is a growing number of people under variety of labels who fit this description. In the past they were sometimes called liberal Republicans until the Republicans drove them out of the party. More recently they were called Starbucks Republicans or South Park Republicans until they began to vote Democratic.
Obama’s victory was an example of the emergence of socially liberal and economically conservative or pragmatic voters as we had a significant impact in both the Democratic primaries and the general election. All of us affluentwine and latte drinking liberals who enjoy and understand the virtues of the free market are still around despite all the opposition from both the Clintonistas and Palinistas. Our views may or may not win in future elections, but we have become a force to counter both the views of the big-government elements of the left and the authoritarian right.
In a two party system there is a wide range of voters supporting a major party candidate, but many of us were attracted to Obama based upon the combination of his social views along with the Chicago school influences on his economic beliefs. Of course rabid right wingers who repeat the Limbaugh/Hannity line that Obama is a far leftist or even a socialist are too out of touch with reality to see this.
In their desperate fight against modernity and thier clutching to beliefs such as creationism they are missing how America is changing. The current economic crisis might accelerate such changes as the country increasingly becomes divided between the productive cities dominated by educated liberals and the Republicans become a primarily regional party of the south and Mormon belt dominated by those who are intellectually unprepared to live in the modern world.
Update: McCain responds here. I would normally respond to his post, but a discussion such as this was well beyond anything his world view could handle. He has nothing of substance to say in response to any of the actual points. It is just another example of how many on the far right are not able to handle the issues of the twenty-first century and lack of understanding of respecting the rights of others. This probably explains why the attacks on liberals from this element of the right are nothing but repetitions of Limbaugh/Hannity stereotypes. They have no ability to even understand the beliefs of others. Instead, as seen a previous time when McCain replied to one of my posts, his world view is limited to trying to figure out what God wants and then imposing this view upon others. Such a limited world view hardly leaves one capable of giving a coherent response to this post.