The Problem with Conservatives

Many libertarians applaud conservatives on their economic views, and rightfully so. Conservatives generally want to keep the government off our backs and reduce the regulatory burden so that businesses can operate unmolested and provide jobs to hardworking Americans (this doesn’t include those so-called ‘fake’ conservatives who support corporate welfare, bailouts, protectionism, etc., although historically this was what conservatism did support). Personal freedoms, on the other hand, is where it gets trickier in aligning with the conservative viewpoint. Certain personal freedoms, particularly those reserved specifically in the Constitution like the right to bear arms, are vehemently supported by conservatives which should to be commended accordingly. Even certain freedoms not enumerated in the Constitution, particularly in the sphere of the family, are also guarded jealously. However, conservatives fail to apply their support for personal freedoms across the boards. When conservatives are able to apply their principles consistently, they will be much better off. 

For example, conservatives cannot say something to the effect that “The U.N. should not have authority over the citizens or public policies of the United States” and then think that we are the policeman of the world and can exact our authority on foreign nations and their citizens both militarily and diplomatically. If we think as Americans we have a right to “protect our national interests,” and therefore we may invade and occupy foreign nations, how can we consistently say that the U.N. cannot have any power over us? Maybe the countries composing the U.N. are simply trying to protect their “national interests.” 

When we talk about protecting our national interests, it only begs the question: who decided these “national interests?” A conservative versed in economics should know that value is subjective; one person’s interests are not the same as another’s. And a majority’s interests doth not a national interest make; ask those who’ve had violence perpetrated on them during the Holocaust about the validity of “national interests” or the interests of the majority.

Not only this, but conservatives often rely on the U.N. to enforce sanctions on countries we dislike, patently violating their own view that the U.N. cannot have authority over sovereign nations and individuals. In reality what they mean is, “The U.N. cannot have authority over the citizens or public policies of the United States; however, if it’s in the United States’ interest, let it do our bidding.” They believe the U.S. stands on a moral high ground and is the de facto U.N. Only an intense form of nationalism could possibly answer for this contemptible stance.

It is equally amazing when conservatives make a statement like, “The permanent institutions of family and religion are foundational to American freedom and the common good, and the federal government has no business interfering in these institutions,” evidently concerned with personal and private issues, but then hypocritically want the government to interfere with other personal and private concerns like abortion, drug use, etc. No self-reflecting individual can believe that the government should not interfere with the institution of marriage because of its intense personal nature, yet want to regulate what we put into our bodies by advocating for ever-stricter penalties and enforcement of marijuana laws, even against medical users. 

From a property rights aspect, the same hypocrisy could be said for the right to possess guns vs. the right to possess marijuana (or any other physical good). Just because the right to possess marijuana isn’t enshrined in the Constitution via enumeration doesn’t mean we don’t have that right. As the Tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Further, supporting the right to possess a certain class of property but not another weakens the whole argument for property rights generally.

To have a respectable viewpoint, to be practical is not enough; it must be principled. There must be reason consistently applied throughout the philosophy, or it will be filled with holes. In the end, the conservative philosophy doesn’t stand for anything consistent; it simply means that whatever they profess is supreme and should be enforced at the barrel of a gun. This is why there is a more pronounced convergence between liberals and conservatives in so many issues; they rely on the government to enforce their societal ideals on the rest of us, who may or may not share their particular perspective. Hypocrisy is rampant in politics and our two parties are paragons of this vice.