You may have wondered if Glenn Reynolds is a conservative. Today he writes:
“Not being a conservative myself …”
I have read his Instapundit blog nearly every day for a year. Being a non-liberal, I have found that I agree with him much more than not. This says that he is likely a non-liberal too. So if he is a non-liberal, what is he? In the same post he writes:
“As a libertarian myself …”
Many non-liberals, myself included, don’t like to wear labels. In particular, we don’t really like the label “conservative”. The conservative tent is so big; there are some in the tent that we would rather not be associated with. For example, Charles Krauthammer and Pat Robertson share this same tent. As do George Will and Jerry Falwell, John McCain and Ann Coulter. Myself, I really don’t want to imply that my political views are aligned with Pat Robertson or Ann Coulter. Robertson is kind of kooky, and Coulter is too caustic and intolerant.
“Libertarian” is a nice alternative label. But unfortunately this is a bit of a cop-out. Myself, if forced to choose a label, I will sometimes say libertarian instead of conservative too. Libertarians are for more freedom. Conservatives are kind of like libertarians - but wanting a lot more rules somewhere in the mix.
There is no avoiding labeling to some degree. For the biggest labels, there are only two: Left or Right. At some level, we must all choose one of these two. This is not an artificial divide. There is genuinely a rift in the country that roughly fits this paradigm. And in the America since the 1960s, Left or Right is referred to as liberal or conservative.
While many of us don’t like sharing the tent with many wearing the same label, none the less, we all must choose. It is a matter of intellectual honesty. Overall, are you left-of-center or right-of-center? Few are so moderate that they are neither. And few are so purely of some other political philosophy, such as libertarian, that they can claim that the Left/Right classification does not fit them.
Think about various political figures, including bloggers. It is typically easy to conclude if they are left-of-center or right-of-center. We all use this broad template as a starting point for pegging others. If we are being more sophisticated, we don’t use too broad of a brush. Indeed, if we over-generalize we miss much of the diversity of thought on either side of the political spectrum. And this diversity is often what drives us toward new thoughts, sparks creativity, and keeps things interesting.
Okay, back to Glenn Reynolds. If forced to choose, is Glenn on the Left or on the Right? I think that most reasonable observers would say that he is clearly right-of-center. Perhaps the term libertarian-conservative is a better term (one that I have also applied to myself). But again, if forced to a single label of liberal or conservative, Reynolds is a conservative. The term libertarian-conservative is not in mainstream usage (although I wish it was).
People often feel that they can duck the conservative label because they are liberal (or libertarian) on certain issues. The most common way out is by taking certain positions on social issues. Two key issues here lately are to allow abortions and gay marriage. Reynolds supports allowing both of these. So then isn’t he really a libertarian?
No. The big tent conservative movement is basically built around the principles that Ronald Reagan put in place. The order of priority, to the great bulk of conservatives, is roughly:
1) Assertive use of U.S. influence, including military force when justifiable, to further U.S. vital interests
2) Reducing the size and power of government
3) Reducing taxes and regulations
4) Expanding many freedoms such as free speech, freedom of association, free markets, and gun freedoms
5) Outlawing abortion, allowing school prayer, and supporting other conservative Christian causes
Some jump to the conclusion that #5 is really priority #1. Really? Go reading around the more popular conservative blogs. How much priority is given to #5? For abortion being so controversial, it is surprising how little attention that it gets. #1-#4 get the great bulk of attention and the passion.
Looking at these five categories, clearly Glenn Reynolds is a strong supporter of #1 through #4. Being libertarian or liberal on social issues, meaning #5, does not mean that the label conservative does not fit.
If the conservative label does not fit Glenn Reynolds, then why would the lefty bloggers often get so worked up about things that Reynolds writes? Do you think that the people writing or visiting at DailyKos feel any sense of common cause with Reynolds? I think not.
So Glenn, sorry to break the news to you - but you are a Conservative.