Moe Lane comments on a debate at Reason about whether libertarians should ally with conservatives or liberals (or no one) in our continuing political free-for-all. While I’m uncomfortable with labels because people rarely agree on definitions, Moe provides a good example of why I consider myself a “conservative with libertarian leanings,” rather than a “Big L” doctrinaire libertarian:
When asked whether the government should be involved in something, the libertarian will default to “No;” the liberal, to “Yes;” and the conservative to “I don’t think so.” What a lot of conservatives forget is that their answer and the libertarian answer is not quite the same; once a conservative is convinced that government intervention is acceptable or even laudable he will enthusiastically support it*. And what a lot of libertarians forget is that while “No” and “Probably not” are not quite the same, “No” and “Yes” will never be the same; even in places where the results would be the same the process is significantly different**. In other words: to a libertarian, a conservative is an ultimately unreliable ally (and vice versa). But a liberal’s just going to be somebody who’s only right by accident.
Click through to see the reasons for the asterisks.
I don’t reject all government actions, programs, or regulations by any means, but I do have a healthy suspicion of them and a bias toward a) thinking the free market will often but not always do the job better and b) do so without running the risk of unduly restricting an individual’s freedom. To my mind, any action by government should be forced to answer the old question from WWII gas-rationing days, “Is this trip really necessary?”