Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch have a great article on Ron Paul and the New Realignment in today’s Washington Post.
Paul’s “freedom message” is the direct descendant of Barry Goldwater‘s once-dominant GOP philosophy of libertarianism (which Ronald Reagan described in a 1975 Reason magazine interview as “the very heart and soul of conservatism”). But that tradition has been under a decade-long assault by religious-right moralists, neoconservative interventionists and a governing coalition that has learned to love Medicare expansion and appropriations pork.
So Paul’s challenge represents a not-so-lonely GOP revival of unabashed libertarianism. All his major Republican competitors want to double down on Bush’s wars; none is stressing any limited-government themes, apart from half-hearted promises to prune pork and tinker on the margins of Social Security.
More than at any other time over the past two decades, Americans are hungering for the politics and freewheeling fun of libertarianism. And with the dreary prospect of a Giuliani vs. Clinton death match in 2008, that hunger is likely to grow even faster than the size of the federal government or the casualty toll in Iraq. Ron Paul may lose next year’s battle — though not without a memorable fight — but the laissez-faire agitators he has helped energize will find themselves at the leading edge of American politics and culture for years to come.
I am very happy to see such a great article in the Post. Thanks to the Reason guys for doing it. I think I just got a little bit freer.