Thursday, October 20, 2011

To Confuse Matters...

Herman Cain versus Social Conservatives on the subject of abortion... Interesting. I'm surprised that more people don't seem to understand that Cain is taking a fairly run-of-the-mill Libertarian stance on the subject (even if he doesn't always articulate it well).

While Cain clearly feels that abortion is reprehensible, he's only slightly less clear about the fact that he would make no attempt to legislate the practice out of existence - he feels that it would be inappropriate to try. Cue the outcry - from the left and the right - basically for an orthodoxy foul.

But this is why it's not quite correct to associate Libertarians with the stereotypical Conservative party line. Social Conservatives tend to be VERY "statist," as the term is used, looking for government intervention in people's lives in the name of preserving public morals (or, depending on your viewpoint, forcing everyone else to pay lip service to their idea of proper religion). Libertarians, with their focus on limiting the role of government as far as possible, generally don't allow room for government enforcement of social issues.

To be sure, the stereotypical Libertarian focus on fiscal matters tends to obscure this, as the prominent Libertarian think tanks and the like tend to downplay support of decriminalizing drugs and other freedoms that the Left tends to hold dear. If you don't become somewhat steeped in the minutia of the whole thing it's really easy to come away with the idea that a Libertarian utopia is a theocratic police state - as long as it isn't funded by tax revenue. But just like the common stereotype of the Left, this is simply another place where Conventional Wisdom proves to be unwise.

Herman Cain's somewhat muddled public statements on this are adding to the confusion about what he really believes, and make it seem as if he's talking out of both sides of his mouth, attempting to be all things to all people. (Or at least those on either side of the abortion debate.) But what's really going on is he's simply not as good an orator as he is a singer, and it's likely that the Republican Party will move on from him, especially if he demonstrates more ways in which he doesn't favor using government as a means of punishing the enemies of Conservative orthodoxy.

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