Ross Douthat on Liberaltarianism
By Arnold Kling
…a bigger-tent liberalism – somewhat chastened, perhaps, by some big-government failures in the Obama era – that makes libertarian intellectuals feel welcome, engages them in conversations about smarter regulations and more efficient tax policy, and generally woos them away from their culturally-dissonant alliance with people who attend megachurches and Sarah Palin rallies. This would make for a smarter left-of-center in the short run, but I think in the long run it would be pernicious. It would further the Democratic Party’s transformation into a closed circle of brainy meritocrats, and push the Republican Party in a yet more anti-intellectual direction.
Read the whole thing. A lot of it resonates with me. I confess to being an intellectual snob, but by the same token I claim to be able to differentiate between knowledge and educational pedigree. I respect a well-read self-taught individual more than a Harvard-educated narrow-minded one.
To put it another way, I see a difference between Ronald Reagan and Sarah Palin. To the average lefty, both of them are morons. I think Reagan was genuinely engaged with profound ideas. Palin may have talent and charisma, but I do not think she could explain Hayek.
I see elite Democrats as exploiting “the poor” in order to pursue their own drive for power. People who genuinely care about the poor work with the poor and give their own money to the poor. Liberals mostly just pose about caring for the poor and take money from others (including many who are not well off) to burnish that pose.
On the other hand, I see elite Republicans as exploiting the fervently religious. My guess is that the top layer of Republican policymakers is a lot less hard-core about faith and religious issues than they care to let on in public.
Suppose that we could “out” the top policy wonks and leaders of both parties. My guess is that we would see a Democratic elite that views poor people with more disgust than sympathy. And I suspect that we would see a Republican elite that finds religious fervor more disturbing than congenial.
The way I see it, the libertarian’s task is to try to restrain the power-hungry elites in both parties. That is quite a challenge.