Monday, June 29, 2009

Rothbard nailed the GOP drift

Please note the date of the article is 2005, in the midst of a time when the GOP controlled all 3 branches of government. The GOP during the 2000-2008 time period was growing government in peak years at 8%, the same rate at which the most recent budget proposal rises. For anyone who thinks the GOP "drift" is over or just started when George W. Bush was elected...

By Bill Steigerwald, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Republican Party is in charge of virtually the entire federal government. Its political, cultural and social clout is greater than it's been in a century. It even has a powerful, fair-and-balanced TV channel in its ideological corner.
So why has the Party of Lincoln -- which once stood for a small, constitutional government that kept its hands off most things at home and minded its own business abroad -- become the Party of Roosevelt and Wilson?

What has happened to those core conservative principles that -- in theory and in party platforms, at least -- once distinguished the GOP from government-loving Democrats?

Some say Republicans have merely fallen in love with power. Or that their party has been hijacked by the neoconservatives, those brainy ex-liberal Democrats who took us crusading in the Middle East and never stopped adoring Big Momma Government.

Whatever it was that turned Republicans bad, it didn't begin after 9/11.

In 1968, Murray Rothbard, the late, great economist/historian, was bashing the unhealthy leftward drift of the American Right, which he argued had already abandoned its "determined opposition to Big Government" and "become the conservative wing of the American corporate state and its foreign policy of expansionist imperialism."

"Something has gone wrong," he wrote in a Ramparts magazine article still as fresh as yesterday. "The right wing has been captured and transformed by elitists and devotees of the European conservative ideals of order and militarism, by witch-hunters and global crusaders, by statists who wish to coerce 'morality' and suppress 'sedition.' "

Rothbard was a staunch libertarian but a soulmate of the "Old Right," the individualistic Midwestern Republican congressmen and print pundits like Garet Garrett who tried to stop the New Deal and keep America neutral before and after World War II.

He believed millions of Americans in '68 were "still devoted to individual liberty and opposition to the leviathan state at home and abroad, Americans who call themselves 'conservatives' but feel that something has gone very wrong with the old anti-New Deal and anti-Fair Deal cause."

An enemy of every inch of the welfare-warfare state, Rothbard especially was displeased with the aggressive anti-communism of William F. Buckley Jr., whose National Review magazine in 1955 became the official clubhouse of the post-WWII "New Right" and ideological incubator of the Reagan Revolution.

Rothbard's excellent essay, posted at, includes a quote from a 1952 Commonweal magazine article by Buckley that spelled out what winning the Cold War was going to cost Americans.

While calling himself a libertarian, Buckley posited that the Soviet Union posed such an imminent threat to our security that we had "to accept Big Government for the duration ... for neither an offensive nor a defensive war can be waged ... except through the instrument of a totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores."

We must therefore all support "large armies and air forces, atomic energy, central intelligence, war production boards and the attendant centralization of power in Washington," wrote Buckley.

You don't have to be as smart as Rothbard to see how this relates to the war on terrorism, the latest growth-spurt of our military-security state and the dangerous neoconservatism gripping the Republican Party.

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