Fred Barnes has a column up at the Weekly Standard exploring the question: are the Democrats the party of the future?
He answers the question in the negative and makes a very good case in the process, but the alternative to Democratic rule is left unexplored. If Democrats aren’t the party of the future, what is?
Mr. Barnes’ unstated answer is, of course, the Republican Party. In our two party system – at the national level and in the short term – there is no other option.
But is this the only option? I grew up knowing I was firmly rooted near the right end of the political spectrum and my voting tendencies have always followed the Buckley Rule. But for many years I sensed that something was missing, that I was searching for something else.
In 2005 I interned at the Heritage Foundation while attending grad school. It’s a great place filled with wonderful people. But I had a minor epiphany one day after Ed Feulner sat all the interns down for a chat and we got to ask him questions. This was shortly after George W. Bush’s first term made Bill Clinton look like a fiscal conservative. I asked Mr. Feulner if, after the last four years, Republicans had lost the moral high ground on fiscal responsibility.
His answer was a textbook example of a non-answer. He couldn’t have had a more friendly crowd – we all worked for him. He defended Bush’s first term record without saying much about limiting or rolling back government. In this moment I realized that perhaps there was less space between Republicans and Democrats in Washington than I had hoped.
Gradually over the course of the next few years I came to find Libertarianism more and more attractive (anything that can put Penn Jillette and George Will on roughly the same sheet of music has to be compelling). To that end I recently came across aninterviewReason‘s Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch did withGeorge Will in which he describes his drift toward Libertarianism, saying "I’ve lived in Washington now for 44 years, and that’s a lot of folly to witness up close."
We’ve witnessed a lot of folly in just the last five years, and while I can’t imagine the Democratic Party as the party of the future, it’s not clear to me the Republican Party is, either. Our founding father’s ideas about liberty transformed an English colony into the greatest nation in history. One political party openly mocks these ideas. The other doesn’t seem too worried about defending or perpetuating them. And my patience with the Buckley Rule is wearing thin.
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