Since joining FOX and beyond his departure from the station, Glenn Beck has reexamined his views on a variety of matters. Lately he has taken to referring to himself as a libertarian. This has caused a “more-libertarian-than-thou” backlash, with people stating Beck cannot possibly be a libertarian because of X or Y.
As a long-time Glenn Beck listener, I have witnessed how Beck’s views have shifted over the years. Once a supporter of the PATRIOT Act and foreign aid, he now admonishes the police state and even believes in cutting foreign aid to Israel. Glenn Beck stated that he wants the government out of marriage entirely. He has gone so far as to mention that the government should stop jailing people for marijuana offenses since there are more important issues to worry about. Beck even did a segment recommending the works of Hayek and Rand. This was long before Glenn Beck ever uttered the “l word”.
At the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference, Alexander McCobin mocked the idea of Glenn Beck being a libertarian. In response, Beck used the words “Nazi”, “fascist”, and suggested that McCobin thinks he’s “God”. Beck was probably referring to the Nazi-esque element of libertarians asserting themselves as superior to others, the fascist-esque aspect of libertarians promoting an all-or-nothing ideology, and the “God”-like omniscience many libertarians hold as if they are the sole determiners of who is a libertarian and who is not.
In his rebuttal, McCobin stated that libertarianism is not related to economic conservatism or social conservatism. What is anti-libertarian about allowing for people to conserve their money and conserve their values, free from government interference? There is nothing anti-libertarian about believing the government is the biggest threat to the traditional way of life. Conservatives and libertarians both agree that the government is the enemy.
This back-and-forth has culminated in Glenn Beck inviting Jack Hunter and Zak Slayback to speak on his Blaze show. As a gesture of gratitude, Beck provided access to The Blaze so that Young Americans for Liberty members could listen to his discussion. Hunter and Beck dominated the conversation with an actual dialogue about the proper role of government. Meanwhile, Slayback interjected to say that conservatism and libertarianism are two entirely contrasting philosophies (Slayback even audibly sighed at one point). Though unable to articulate exactly where conservatism and libertarianism diverge other than a few strawmen, Slayback seemed content to state that libertarianism and conservatism are not alike.
Insulting individuals who are interested in becoming more libertarian, saying they need to repent for all of their past sins and worship at the altar of the One True Libertarian, is not a way to grow a movement. Oddly enough, Slayback and the Students for Liberty crowd have spent a lot of time appealing to the leftists, striving for a left-libertarian alliance. Rather than appealing to conservatives—probably because they don’t have the sexy beliefs to attract the “student” movement—Slayback and others have attempted to build an impossible bridge connecting the economic ignorance of liberals with libertarianism. Instead of realizing that conservatives share values with libertarians, and admitting conservatives generally tend to vote in more pro-liberty manners than liberals, the libertarian movement has decided to kick conservatives out of the secret, exclusive club. Some of the zealots in the witch-hunt against conservatives have even gone so far as to disown Rand Paul for endorsing Mitt Romney, attack Ron Paul for being a pro-life Christian, and smear Lew Rockwell for the paleo-conservative strategy. A man who literally came up with a strategy to get libertarians more viability has come under fire for attempting to give the movement prominence. Why? Because he has conservative beliefs and understood libertarians should align with conservatives.
Not only do the people in the libertarian movement need a major attitude readjustment, but they need to realize the survival of libertarianism and conservatism are intrinsically linked. Without a libertarian government, conservatism’s institutions cannot exist. Without conservatives in office, libertarianism does not stand a chance on the national stage. Libertarians and conservatives agree on the general philosophy of reducing the size and scope of the government. Libertarians and conservatives realize the economic problems that America faces are real. Libertarianism and conservatives understand that the government is the biggest threat to their liberty. Libertarians and conservatives both want the government to let them be in their affairs.
The libertarian movement has become an intellectual circle jerk in which people sit around getting off on how pure they are. Things as trivial as a person’s religious views, or being against drug usage, have become enough to disqualify someone from being a True Libertarian. Issues with absolutely no relevance to political philosophy have dominated, and personalities become more important than issues. The condescending, elitist behavior from libertarians surely proves that the students who have appointed themselves as the deciders of all things liberty have a lot of growing up to do. If libertarianism wants to succeed, the libertarian movement should welcome conservatives, especially mainstream conservative figures with large media followings, with open arms. A fighter for liberty is a fighter for liberty. Ultimately, you can’t win a war of ideas with an army of one.