10.05.2012 0

The Conservative Movement: Every Man for Himself?

“You look out for yourselves.  I release you of your duties.”—Captain Edward Smith of the Titanic, to his crew, April 15, 1912

By David Bozeman — What will conservatives and libertarians do once persuasion has proven futile and the electoral process has been exhausted?  What if President Obama wins re-election?

Of course, nothing here should imply that a Romney win will assure freedom’s resurgence.  Debt, dependency and decline represent not a disease but symptoms of a cancerous malaise that has seen global power and relevance shift from the West to Asia.

But an Obama win would surely seal the perception, by way of tacit voter approval, that America no longer aspires to be Reagan’s city on a hill.  We want to be France, with their free health care and guaranteed vacations.  A second term could allow Obama to reshape, with but one appointment, the ideological balance of the Supreme Court.  And, depending on congressional control, he could further immobilize the coal industry and push again for cap-and-trade.

But the question at hand is what are conservatives and libertarians going to do?  Is it time to throw in the towel?  Social conservative Paul Weyrich opined in 1999 that the culture was lost.  Losing the culture, of course, is but a precursor.

Does the age of Obama permanently relegate conservatives and libertarians to outcast status in their own country?

Possibly.  No one can foretell the future, and noted strategist and Fox News contributor Dick Morris recently remarked that, after a second Obama term, no Democrat will win the presidency for a long time.  But until then, most conservatives are too staid for outright rebellion.

Libertarians seem a little more open to tweaking the establishment, infamous for protesting income taxes and, while not advocating law-breaking, advising citizens on how to drop out of the system.  But both prefer example and persuasion to upheaval, indoctrination and smashing Starbuck’s windows, and few see politics as a primary vehicle for social betterment, opting for faith and family — in short, they’re too busy living life to riot in the streets.

So, barring martial law, few on the right will ever condone outright rebellion.  But do their better natures rule out an underground economy, particularly to avoid the dictates of Obama-care?

Expect even larger sums of capital to leave the U.S. for overseas tax havens and freer economies.  According to the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. ranks 10th in economic freedom, with Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia heading the list.  FreeEnterprise.com actually ranks the U.S. at 18.  Even Ireland and Switzerland rank higher than America, and capital will inevitably flow to where it is rewarded.  For those of us not likely to make millions overseas, there remain pockets of freedom in the West, such as Costa Rica and some Caribbean islands, for example.

But to the average freedom-loving American, this is our home and we will fight to the death to preserve its defining virtues.  Heated rebellion, let alone secession or civil unrest, is highly unlikely.  Some will give up on America, looking out just for themselves, intent only on leaving an untaxed legacy for their children.  Yet, giving up is not part of the American character.  It is certainly not a tenet of conservative or libertarian thought.

Back to the Titanic, to which America’s foundering economy is frequently compared.  Captain Smith did (reportedly) free the crewmen from their duties, but added, “Do your best for the women and children.”  Indeed, acts of selflessness and service played out even after the Titanic had sunk beneath the waves.

This is perhaps a dire illustration to heal wounds after a mere election loss.  But conservatives and libertarians will not idly watch their fellow citizens drown under debt and statism.  Our better natures will not allow it, however tempting the call of self-preservation or public anger.

David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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