Libertarianism vs. paleoconservatism… It’s on ongoing dialect I struggle with all the times.
From an article in the American Conservative on Sen. Mike Lee’s Utah-inspired conservatism:
At the Heritage Foundation in April, Lee delivered a communitarian manifesto of sorts entitled “What Conservatives Are For.” He emphasized “that the true and proper end of political subsidiarity is social solidarity” and explained that his “vision of American freedom is of two separate but mutually reinforcing institutions: a free enterprise economy and a voluntary civil society.”
At AEI, Lee opened his proposal by speaking of “a new and unnatural stagnancy” that has trapped the poor and worn down the middle class. There are the beginnings here of a different way of talking about the economy, in contrast to the GOP’s old prosperity gospel for the upwardly mobile. Republicans a year ago proved all too ready to fan the flames of upper-class resentment with talk of the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income tax. Lee rebukes that mentality, pointing out at AEI that “people who pay no income tax do pay federal taxes—payroll taxes, gas taxes, and various others,” and squarely declaring, “Working families are not free riders.”
Lee rails upward instead, against the cronyism that big government and big business together have cultivated at the taxpayer’s expense. “At the top of our society, we find a political and economic elite that—having reached the highest rungs—has pulled up the ladder behind itself, denying others the chance even to climb,” he warned at AEI. At Heritage, he went so far as to say, “The first step in a true conservative reform agenda must be to end this kind of preferential policymaking. Beyond simply being the right thing to do, it is a prerequisite for earning the moral authority and political credibility to do anything else.” How, he asked, could working families take seriously a conservatism that props up and subsidizes big banks and corporate agricultural interests?
For a GOP long seen as the party of entrenched financial interests, populist credibility must be won back, and a deregulation agenda alone won’t cut it. This is where Lee’s rugged communitarianism is especially vital to his cause. In his Heritage speech, he described the conservative vision as “not an Ayn Rand novel. It’s a Norman Rockwell painting, or a Frank Capra movie: a society of ‘plain, ordinary kindness, and a little looking out for the other fellow, too’. ”