In my last post, I opined about why the Republican Party platform is better—or perhaps less bad—than the Democrat Party platform, and why focussing on the respective platforms is the way that liberty lovers can approach this year’s elections.
Today I want to build on that theme.
I don’t find much to cheer about in Donald Trump. But one positive aspect of Trump is that he is not a social/religious conservative. He’ll pay lip service to the GOP’s social conservatism when need be. But he has no burning desire to push the conservative social agenda. I didn’t listen to Trump’s acceptance speech. But my understanding is that he didn’t once mention God or abortion. That’s very telling for a Republican nominee—and for me, a positive sign. As New Jersey Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine reports, social conservatives have trapped the Republican Party into a box that severely limits its electoral chances. But,
Thanks to the Donald, the party has a chance to escape that box. Trump is not a social or religious conservative. He's a sophisticated New Yorker who gets along fine with "the LGBTQ community," a point he pounded home in his acceptance speech Thursday night.
[Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute Pat] Murray noted that . . . Trump accomplished something . . . that didn't get much notice in the media.
The Donald managed to draw attention away from the party platform, which is packed with positions that please the social conservatives of the South and alienate the rest of the country.
A few years ago, I reviewed a book for The Objective Standard titled American Individualism—How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party, by Margaret Hoover. Hoover argued that, to save the GOP from irrelevance and set it “on its way to majority status,” the Party much extract itself from the clutches of the social conservatives and adopt a more consistently pro-liberty platform molded under the banner of individualism.
Can Trump break the social conservatives’ hold on the GOP? Admittedly, it’s a tall task. As Mulshine observes, the 2016 Republican platform is heavy on social authoritarianism. But, America desperately needs a consistently pro-liberty major party. As it stands now, one party is economically authoritarian, and the other socially authoritarian. We need a major party that supports individual liberty in both the economic and social realms.
In my view, Hoover’s book was prescient then and more so now. Donald Trump has many flaws from a pro-liberty perspective, and he may well lead the GOP down to defeat this year. But if he does nothing else but initiate a transformation of the Republican Party along the lines envisioned by Margaret Hoover, he will have been a worthwhile candidate, longer term—for both the Republican Party and America generally.
My Challenge To the GOP: A Philosophical Contract With America