There were two lively panels at CPAC yesterday, meaning two panels that actually featured people with opposing views who aired their differences (in a civil manner, I might add). One involved the tension between national security and privacy. The other, much more relevant to the life issues, was about whether social conservatives and libertarians can ever get along. The discussion among the four men on that panel included reaction to the suggestion that lightening up on the social issues is the only way to make the GOP appeal to the rising generation. (The young people in the audience were by no means united in their responses to that.)

This topic interests me, because some of my closest political allies on the state level as far as life and marriage issues are concerned identify themselves as libertarians or “liberty Republicans.” We get along fine. Then again, a few fierce opponents of policies I favor are libertarian. Experience tells me that the answer to the can-we-get-along question is “sometimes.”

Michael Medved, author and political commentator, was the panelist whose ideas leaned most toward a natural synthesis of SoCon/libertarian. “Easing up on social issues is not an issue, because we both have a bigger problem: Big Government. What works, what we’ve seen work, is libertarian means and conservative goals.”

The example Medved cited was the right to life. In the past few years, many state-level laws regulating abortion have passed, and there has been a corresponding drop in the abortion rate, which is something prolife Americans have been working towards. The changes came at the state level, not federal. They came by legislative action – the branch closest to the people – not by judicial fiat, which has been seen far too often in state decisions on marriage. The changes in laws, Medved believes, reflect the gradual shift in public opinion that has come from local-level example and persuasion over the long term. Libertarian means, conservative goals.

I think he’s on to something. It’s not a complete treatment of the SoCon/libertarian tension, and it doesn’t address the fact that viewing the right to life as a local option makes it not a “right” at all. There’s no denying, though, that persuasion and state-level action have brought progress towards recognition of the right to life, while undermining the ’70s-era philosophy that pitted mothers against their preborn children.

And since neither SoCons nor libertarians are going away, insights like Medved’s are valuable.

Originally posted from Leaven for the Loaf.

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  1. Abortion is down due to better contraception, especially the morning after pill.

      1. You do realize the Guttenmacher Institute is the research arm of Planned Parenthood right? I’d be a little more convinced if it were an independent study.

      2. responds: The Guttmacher Institute isn’t affiliated with a political party, and so it is nonpartisan in the strict sense of the word. It is true that the group does work to “ensure that all women are able to exercise their reproductive rights and responsibilities,” which puts them among advocates of abortion rights. However, as we have long said in our guide to sources of information, Guttmacher “provides the most highly respected statistics on the sexual health of women and men. Its figures on abortion are widely cited by the media as well as by groups on both sides of the political aisle.” So far as we know, they are most accurate figures available.

    1. I think abortion is down (somewhat) because of medical technology. People know it is not a little blob in the tummy, it is a human being! And there are pictures and VIDEO to prove it!!!

  2. It’s a necessary marriage. Libertarians like myself have to understand that the world is certainly not a rosy place and we need safeguards in effect. Our friends need to understand that in the fervor to protect the country with military might, we cannot do so by continuing to erode our values that were enshrined in an agreed upon document that all in office swear an oath to. These “checks and balances” we place on each other are necessary, because in many opinions from libertarians (including my own), it feels like the Republicans have become nothing more than a bunch of Democrats.

    1. Good point, about the “necessary marriage.” Medved wanted urgently at the CPAC panel to move his fellow panelists away from a SoCon-vs.-libertarian discussion, towards a discussion of the type of government that threatens both.

  3. I have to assume this is the same Michael Medved who was quoted as saying, “There’s never been a state in this country that has ever banned gay marriage. That’s a liberal lie.”

    1. I would suspect he said that before there were state legislatures that voted to approve gay marriage. When a court makes a decision to strike down a law it is not “the state” deciding it. Courts can’t make law remember? Constitution 101.

      1. I needed to reread your comment more closely before replying. For some reason I read that to say no state “approved gay marriage.”

        I will have to go back and watch the video (not just 14 seconds) for the context, because now I remember that particular comment from the CPAC.

      2. Courts don’t make law. They define it. If a law that prohibits people from wearing plaid suits on Fridays is found to be unconstitutional, then you can wear plaid suits on Friday. All the court did was to declare a law that banned same-ex marriage to be unconstitutional.

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