Eric Kohn writes:
Right now, if the Democrats proposed a bill to burn down the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, the Republicans would compromise and agree to phase it in over 5 years. Is there any doubt this would have been the paradigm under John McCain?
If Republicans ever hope to win back the libertarian bloc and reengage activism among fiscal conservatives, they need to take a look at some some potential leaders and possible presidential candidates they've been ignoring for the most part.
At this moment, Mike Huckabee is suggesting the purging of believers in small government from the party, calling libertarianism "a heartless, callous, soulless type of economic conservatism."
If some in the party get their way, Huckabee won't have to worry about internal competition from what he calls the “real threat” to the Republican Party: “libertarianism masked as conservatism.”
Then there is Georgia's Saxby Chambliss, who is in the midst of a major fight to retain his Senate seat. Things might have gone fairly well for Saxby if he hadn't voted for the bailout, opening the door for his opponent to be able to make this statement:
It's classic Saxby Economics - $700 billion for Wall Street, while Georgia families get stuck with the bill. That's just wrong.
While Saxby was busy justifying his bailout vote to unsympathetic Georgia voters, Libertarian Allen Buckley was placing signs around the state billing himself as the only fiscal conservative in the race. If the DSCC hadn't made the mistake of going after Saxby on the Fair Tax in the heart of Neal Boortz territory, it's possible that Martin (who distanced himself from the ads) might have won. As it turned out, the Libertarian forced a runoff which now has significant national implications.
Now comes the really laughable part. Up until Election Day, media and local conversation (I was working in Atlanta until a week after the general election) about the race was centered around fiscal issues -- and primarily about the bailout. So who does Saxby bring into the state to help him campaign? "Tax Hike Mike" Huckabee and bailout enthusiast John McCain.
It's not just the people, either. One also needs to look at the organizations closely affiliated with the GOP. As one example, the NRA just joined in the flap over the Obama transition team asking potential appointees about their gun ownership and registration habits. This is the same NRA who turned their back on one of their own board members to endorse someone with an abysmal Second Amendment record and an adversarial relationship to the NRA. How are people to trust an organization like this when they just chose politics over principle with respect to McCain?
If the GOP ever hopes to regain the trust of conservatives and the votes of libertarians, they need to be looking at people like Mark Sanford, Jeff Flake or even Gary Johnson -- as opposed to Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Saxby Chambliss.