Can the Libertarian Republican and the Non-Libertarian Republican Be Friends?

Identity is not destiny
Ross Tilchin at The
Brookings Institution has collated poll data about the leanings of
the various factions with the Republican Party. As libertarian
philosophy becomes a growing influence within the party, Tilchin
wonders how well libertarian Republicans might work with
conservative Christians and Tea Party Republicans. Tilchin thinks
libertarians may see limits to their influence
within the party
because religion tends to play much less of a role in their lives
than in the lives of the other two factions:

While these groups are similarly conservative on economic
matters (indeed, libertarians are further to the right than white
evangelicals or Tea Partiers on some economic issues, such as
raising the minimum wage), they are extremely divided by their
views on religion. Only 53% of libertarians describe religion as
the most important thing or one among many important things in
their lives. By comparison, 77% of Tea Party members say that
religion is either the most important thing or one among many
important things in their lives, and – not surprisingly – 94% of
white evangelicals say that religion is either the most important
thing or one among many important things in their lives. A full 44%
of libertarians say that religion is not important in their lives
or that religion is not as important as other things in their
lives. Only 11% of Tea Party members and 1% of white evangelicals
say that religion is not important in their lives.

Additionally, libertarians are among the most likely to agree
that religion causes more problems in society than it solves (37%
total: 17% completely agreeing, 20% mostly agreeing); the least
likely to agree that it is important for children to be brought up
in a religion so they can learn good values (35% total: 13%
completely disagree, 22% disagree); and the least likely to think
it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have
good values (63% total: 30% completely disagree, 33% mostly

These stark differences in attitudes toward religion help
explain the large difference in view between libertarians and other
conservatives on social issues such as abortion, physician-assisted
suicide, and marijuana legalization. Given their positions on these
contentious social matters, it is very difficult to envision
Libertarians gaining the support of socially conservative voters in
the Republican Party.

Read the whole piece
. It also explores the simple mathematical problem of
libertarians being outnumbered by the other two factions of the
Republican Party in all regions of the country.

I take slight issue with the analysis, though perhaps not the
conclusion. What’s left out is the very libertarian idea that just
because libertarians don’t see religion as an important component
to their own lives, that doesn’t mean we would object to others who
decide otherwise. And believing that “religion causes more problems
in society than it solves” should not be taken to mean that a
libertarian believes the government should implement policies in a
pursuit to “fix” these problems.

Obviously there is disagreement, but it’s not actually,
literally about faith. The disagreement is about the extent of and
justifications for the use of government force. To say that
religious beliefs should not be used to determine whether it should
be legal to get an abortion or get married is not to say
that people shouldn’t use religion to make these decisions for
themselves in their own lives.

Given the libertarian rejection of government coercion, who else
is better suited to even approach these issues with social
conservatives? Who outside of libertarians is arguing in favor of
same-sex marriages getting the same legal recognition as
heterosexual marriages, while at the same time arguing that no
church should be obligated to recognize them, nor should any
business be
into providing goods and services for them?

Make room! Coming through!Rather than seeing libertarians in opposition to
social conservatives, it’s more helpful to see libertarians as
allies in protecting the civil liberties of the religious even as
they lose cultural influence. Libertarians may not be able to “take
over” the Republican Party (not that they should stop trying), but
the party itself may be in deep trouble if these factions cannot
find points of agreement.

Over at The American Conservative, W. James Antle III
today takes note
at how Sen. Rand Paul is attempting to promote
noninterventionist messages and drug policy reform ideas to
Christian conservatives.

Reason has frequently debated where libertarians fit in the
political world of the reds vs. the blues.
Here’s a discussion from 2010

from Hit & Run

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