Confession of a Catholic Libertarian
I need to make a confession.
You would think that this should come naturally to me as a practicing Catholic who loves the Sacrament of Reconciliation and frequents the confessional at least once a month, but this one is going to be tough… for both of us… tough for me to admit and tough for you to stomach, but here it goes…
Bless me, liberty friends, for I have sinned. It’s been over a year since my last article.
For well over a decade, I was an unapologetic GOP neocon statist and put politics over principle. Yes, it’s true. And I don’t just mean your run-of-the-mill registered Republican, oh no, no. On more than one occasion, I proudly proclaimed to be so far to the “right” that I made Rush Limbaugh look like Hilary Clinton. Of course, now I see little difference between the two, but I digress.
Has anyone ever seen Rush and
Hillary in the same room?
I strategically timed the submission of my voter registration form such that I would be an official Republican the day I turned eighteen.
My first semester of college, I was so dismayed that there was not already a College Republicans group that I founded and presided over one on campus, campaigning, polling and phone-banking for George Dubya’s second term and for other local corporatists. As the Chairman, I was even quoted in the newspaper anticipating Bush’s re-election saying, “Whether you’re Republican or not, you can clearly see that Bush is a leader, whereas Kerry is a politician.”
The bumper of my car had more elephants on it than were contained in that first free issue of Zoobooks that we all had as a kid.
Admit it, you read this so
much the cover fell off.
I was that annoying statist friend calling and carting everyone to the polling station on election day shouting, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain! It’s your patriotic duty!”
I even considered a portion of my 10% charitable giving to include monthly donations to neocon political groups.
I haven’t been a libertarian for all that long, really, although with all of the young recruits and fed-up citizens joining the liberty movement every day, some might consider me a veteran by now. However, while most of you credit your journeys toward liberty to Murray Rothbard, Ron Paul, or perhaps Ayn Rand, I have to give all credit to Mitt Romney.
The ‘Huh?’ Nun” from my last article,
back by specific request.
Yes, that’s correct. Mitt-the-Flip Obamney forced me into libertarianism… like the statist he is.
Entering the 2012 Presidential Election I was already beginning to sense a great disturbance in the force. Certain things about my platform were starting to not sit quite right with me, namely state capital punishment, military occupation overseas, the often dehumanizing reaction to illegal immigration, and the uncompromising requirement to applaud war. But I was so entrenched in party ideology that I shrugged these off. I was still in denial. I still wanted to believe that all our problems could be fixed if only we could could get enough voters to petition the government the right way at the right time with the right people. Government would work perfectly if only people would just do it right. The Constitution was still our best hope if only it actually worked like I thought it should. Et cetera.
After first putting all hope in Herman Cain and his 9-9-9 plan (Yes, I know he was a Federal Reserve Board Chairman. I was a different person then. They were dark times.), I then became a shill for none other than Rick Santorum, naturally gravitating toward his professed Catholicism. I even met him at a Glenn Beck event and got him to sign my copy of his book. I really got into his campaign. To this day, the only thing I’ve ever purchased on iTunes was his campaign’s song Game On. (I told you that this was going to be hard to stomach.) Now don’t forget that this is a confession, because here comes a big one… I even have an official embroidered Rick Santorum sweater vest for donating to his campaign.
It’s now hiding in the darkest corner of my closet.
I have no idea what to do with it.
When Santorum dropped out, I began to despair. Now the only candidates left were Mitt Romney and that crazy Ron Paul guy. I had long known about Romney’s true colors and had been desperately trying to warn my fellow conservatives that he was quite possibly the only politician in the United States whose record was actually more radically liberal/progressive than even Obama’s. I couldn’t support him, even if it meant Obama being re-elected. And this was coming from me, a guy who for awhile ran a site called AntiObamaBlog.com.
Catholic Constitutionalist Alan Keyes seem to be the only other person who seemed to understand this, who summarized the 2012 election cycle better than anyone else to date with this statement in his article, A choice between Satan and Beelzebub:
On every issue of fundamental importance to the future of the republic, Mitt Romney did, as governor in Massachusetts, what, against strong and intensifying opposition, Obama is still only struggling to do. Logically, the only people who should support Romney are those who embrace Obama’s goals, but resent Obama’s failure to achieve them. They want to replace his clumsy, bluntly socialist incompetence with Romney’s more engaging and sweetly deceptive method of attaining the same end. Moreover, they know from past experience that they can count on his GOP label to compel efforts from party-first GOP partisans to defend and explain away President Romney’s pursuit of the elitist socialist agenda. Thus his election will help to thwart and defuse the strong opposition it would otherwise continue to arouse.
I would inform all of my fellow conservative and Catholic friends and family that Romney was even worse than Obama on literally every single issue that they claimed was important to them as Republicans. (Links included for any Republicans who might read this.) Health care? Romney signed the forerunner to Obamneycare into law and championed it as a model for the nation. Abortion? Romney enacted $50 tax-subsidized elective surgical abortions (which are now free) including late-term abortions up to the day of birth (all this 3 years after his politically-convenient “pro-life conversion”), he forced Catholic Hospitals to issue abortifacients even though they were legally exempt, and gave money and political power to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation. Religious freedom? Romney was “single-handedly responsible” for Massachusetts being the first state to use executive enforcement of state marriage certificates for gay unions to be legally accepted by everyone, allowed Catholic Charities USA—the nation’s #1 adoption and foster care service—to be forced into ending adoption services in Massachusetts rather than violate their religious beliefs, and pushed for sexually-radical government programs in Massachusetts public elementary schools. Gun rights? Romney signed a permanent gun ban and became a prominent voice for gun control. Judicial appointments? He appointed radical progressives at every opportunity. Everything else? He supported TARP, bailouts, “stimulus” packages, big spending, the Federal Reserve, increased taxation, the TSA, the NDAA, the Patriot Act, indefinite detention, execution without trial, Guantanamo, cap and trade, foreign intervention, you name it; if he wasn’t just as bad as Obama on any given issue, he was worse.
And yet nobody seemed to care. Apparently the slogan, “Anyone but Obama,” didn’t exclude his identical twin either.
I would ask them why they were supporting Romney, and their answers varied between, “Well, he’s a businessman,” and, “We just have to get Obama out.” They knew absolutely nothing about him, and didn’t care to learn about his history. I was suddenly struck with the sobering fact that Romney voters in 2012 were absolutely no different than the Obama voters in 2008, whom I had long criticized for supporting Obama without knowing why.
I had held my nose and voted for McCain in 2008 (I’m still confessing), but I couldn’t do it this time. I remember when I finally threw up my hands and said, “Well, I guess I’m stuck with crazy ol’ Ron Paul now.” The illusion had shattered, however, I still was not yet a libertarian, I was just exasperated and desperate.
Which brings me to my next confession. There was a time when I could not even stand the sight of Ron Paul. I remember cringing when he spoke during the 2008 election debates and wishing they’d just kick him off the stage. I thought he was a lunatic.
The only thing crazier than Ron Paul was a Ron Paul supporter. Ha.
However, I figured since I was stranded with Ron Paul and would be giving him my vote, then I might at least listen to what the man had to say beyond his 30-second debate clips. I already knew plenty well what I was voting against, but I figured I should also know what I was voting for, or else I wouldn’t be any better than the Obamney voters with whom I was so disgusted…
Do I need to finish the rest of the story? Let’s just say I still have a Ron Paul bumper sticker on my car to this day.
The first issue on which I heard Ron Paul speak at length was marriage, which, as a traditional Catholic, is a big one for me. I’ve never been able to find the exact same clip again, but I heard him respond to a conservative critic proposing a constitutional amendment to define marriage by asking something along these lines: “Since when is it conservative to want the secular government defining your personal relationships and licensing your religious ceremonies? Marriage should be left to people and their churches. The government is not a part of the marriage equation.”
Wait a minute. I was the “small-government conservative” who wanted to keep government out of my life and my church—or at least that’s what I thought—yet why had I been wanting to give the secular federal government more control over my Sacrament of Holy Matrimony?? And to what end? Just to ineffectively try to prevent two fellow sinners from using the same word in the wrong context? That suddenly didn’t sound like such a swell trade off. This Ron Paul guy was actually making a lot of sense, and I was starting to get excited. His positions perfectly matched all the values and morals I already held as a conservative and a Catholic, he simply drew them out further to their logical conclusions and removed the presumption that we should petition bureaucrats to live our faith for us.
Compared to Ron Paul, I realized that I had been a lot closer to the “big-government socialist liberals” than I had previously thought. Republicans had a mantra of freedom, but I certainly wasn’t seeing it. I had been led to believe that if I held an opinion regarding one’s personal behavior, such as with marriage or drugs, then I must naturally support any intervention proposed by the secular state which claimed it would enforce that opinion (the GOP is especially notorious for playing on people’s strong values and religious beliefs like this for power). Because libertarians would oppose such measures saying that these issues should not be handled by the state, I had always assumed that to be an automatic endorsement of the opposing opinion, which is not the case.
Of course, now, not only do I understand that moral issues can be effectively addressed without the state, but that doing so is actually more efficient and—more importantly—much more ethical as well, approaching these issues with love and persuasion instead of discrimination and coercion. After all: “I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced.” ~ Philemon 1:14
A light switch was flipped, and down the rabbit-hole of liberty I fell.
These are my sins. I am heartily sorry for having offended thee…
"If we rendered unto God all the things that belong to God, there would be nothing left for Caesar." ~ Servant of God Dorothy Day