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Perverse Inconsistency

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

Michael Gerson argues that the G.O.P., to remain relevant, must “become more socially inclusive without becoming socially liberal” (“The GOP’s leadership reform challenge,” June 18).  The details of his formula are sketchy, but we can infer from his many attacks on libertarianism that Mr. Gerson is warning Republicans against supporting same-sex marriage, drug legalization, and other pro-freedom policy reforms that are conventionally (if not always accurately) thought to be favored by the political left.

Yet in today’s New York Post, Michael Barone cites data that show “Americans becoming more libertarian on cultural issues” (“More freedom & fewer guardrails“).  If true, Republicans should reject Mr. Gerson’s advice to continue to be the party of perverse limited-menu freedom – a party that properly waxes eloquently about the freedom to earn profits through consensual capitalist acts but, strangely, balks at the freedom to express love through consensual homosexual acts; a party that appropriately defends the right to peacefully carry guns but, oddly, opposes the right to peacefully get high on marijuana and other illegal drugs; a party reasonably and deeply suspicious of politicians’ motives and abilities to tax, spend, and regulate sensibly in matters economic but – most bizarrely of all – unreasonably confident about those same politicians’ presumed selflessness and skills at conducting shooting wars abroad and wars on terror at home.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030