I had a dear friend named Millicent while living on the west side of Cleveland. She was my first experience with a libertarian. She had some ideas that seemed a little wacky to me, but I adored her company. We were the same kind of quirky. Not quite fitting into the stereotypical conservative evangelical Protestant box of the meek and mild Midwest Christian woman.

Millicent hailed from Connecticut. She grew up with a silver spoon having been named after a crazy eccentric rich aunt who lived the "Grey Gardens" scenario in its heyday. Her dad was on the board for Fortune 500 companies and she went to the best private schools, prep school, and an ivy league university. She was later a stock broker on Wall Street, living the gilded life in NYC, comforts supplemented with family money.
Then Millicent met her husband, an engineer, self made guy, and former Navy submariner. She fell hard and left her charmed life in NYC for Ohio to be his wife and later a full-time mom to two beautiful adopted bi-racial baby boys. I mention race because Millicent caught some slack from family and old acquaintances at the prep school reunion for adopting whole grain vice plain old white bread. That was her last reunion. She had left behind a life of expectations for true freedom, normality, and had never been happier to be a commoner.
Millicent would come over for coffee (mommy sippy cups). She and I bonded over art (specifically Calder) and our faith, never once sharing time without touching on politics.
Her own theoretical construct was a stark contrast to her blue blooded New England kinsfolk. "You can’t legislate morality" she’d say when I’d argue that drugs should remain illegal and "The government shouldn’t decide what a woman does with her body" when suggesting abortion should be decided by individual states. I’ll never agree with her on that one, but it did make me realize what a problem it is to rely on the government to make some social-moral decisions for the populace, but complain when they intrude in areas we’d prefer them to butt out of.
I haven’t connected with Millicent in five or so years. Her husband was transferred to New Jersey and mine to Maryland. But a recent conversation had me missing her company.
We had a guest, a younger friend of my husband’s from Palm Springs. He was staying with us while scoping out new digs in Annapolis. He’s 36, single, intelligent, very fit, and a traditional conservative Roman Catholic.
He was under the impression that he’d be escaping California for prudent governance out east and a more agreeable dating scene. "The only young, single girls in Palm Springs are at the Betty Ford clinic", he said, only half-joking. He went on to explain that discussing hunting and guns with a datable girl was impossible because lefty Californians don’t understand the need for reasonable environmental dialogue.
The left routinely ignores the fact that although John Muir started the "preservation" movement and founded the Sierra Club, it was Gifford Pinchot who inspired Teddy Roosevelt to establish the U.S. Forest Service under the premise of conservation, not environmental fanaticism. That humans are the caretakers of the earth and have been commissioned to care for it responsibly. Simply put– Humans over nature not nature over humans.
I was sorry to put a damper on our guest’s high hopes for Maryland, "the free state", but Maryland isn’t a far cry from the golden state in its acute liberalism. Some Maryland O’Malley laws could have come straight out of California. Legislators there may have attempted to ban Oreos but only in Maryland can you be taxed on your toilet flushing habits, the amount of rain that runs off your roof, a 10% tax on alcohol, or be disallowed to smoke in your own backyard.
He thought the flush tax and rain tax were ridiculous, but supported the smoking ban because he personally hates the smell and smoking is unhealthy. I agreed that smoking is a bad habit but that local legislators shouldn’t be telling someone what to do on their private property. He thoroughly disagreed arguing that if taxpayers are underwriting unhealthy habits through Obamacare then smoking should be illegal because it causes cancer and treatments are expensive.
"Then will we have weekly weigh-ins for overweight citizens as well? Because overeating is also unhealthy and costly" I queried.
"Yeah, we should. I shouldn’t be penalized for being healthy"
"Then what about drinking alcohol? Some folks don’t control their alcohol intake…Should we make that illegal again because rehab is expensive and so is liver disease…"
"No. That’s different…"
"How so?" I asked. "If it’s ok for the government to tell you not to smoke in your own yard, then what’s keeping them from telling you what to do in your own house, or with your own body?" As I rebutted his defense of the smoking ban I had flashbacks of friendly disagreements with Millicent. Perhaps her "wacky" ideas regarding limited government in private affairs weren’t really so wacky after all.
If conservatives ok some government nanny legislation but oppose others then we are at once subscribing to and resisting government tyranny. Too busy swatting at flies to notice the open window.
I’ve come to the conclusion that one can only truly be for a big government or for a very limited one because the happy medium simply gifted more big government. And if the TSA and Department of Homeland Security are a product of the happy medium club then I don’t want to be a member.
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