Why the Right must reject Libertarian passivity

Why the Right must reject Libertarian passivity

Why the Right must reject Libertarian passivity

The government's job is to get out of the way and let people figure it out. The ascendant Left, however, wants to seize and hold power by any means necessary. One of the Right's biggest priorities is to see that that doesn't happen.

Victor Joecks
Victor Joecks

Victor Joecks, a graduate of Hillsdale College, is an award-winning columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He previously served as a staff sergeant in the Nevada National Guard and deployed to Kuwait in 2016. An 11-year veteran, he received a Meritorious Service Medal for his work as a public affairs operations NCO.

The marketplace of ideas is on life support. Reviving it will require leaders on the Right to govern more aggressively.

Let me be a bit more personal than I usually am. Regular readers will know that I like to dissect arguments and dig into worldviews. As my alma mater Hillsdale College made sure I knew, "Ideas have consequences." I've long thought that the marketplace of ideas is the best way to sort out political disagreements.

It's why for much of my adult life, I'd have been comfortable calling myself a fiscal libertarian. The government's job is to get out of the way and let people figure it out. Bad ideas will flame out while people will flock to replicate successful ones.

Spot the connection between that and a number of recent events:

Anti-Semitic protesters recently took over the campus of Columbia University. Jewish students faced violence and calls for their deaths. A local rabbi urged students to stay away from campus. University leaders responded by moving classes online. This isn't a one-off. Open anti-Semitism has been happening at campuses around the country.

Former President Donald Trump's show trial continues in New York City. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg used a novel – read: absurd – legal theory to charge Trump with dozens of felonies over supposedly inaccurate business records. Trump will likely be convicted, because New York is filled with Democrats who hate him.

The Biden administration rewrote Title IX to require that men and boys be allowed to in women and girls' sports, locker rooms and bathrooms. It applies to all schools K-12 and colleges that receive federal funds. Using accurate pronouns could be considered "sex-based harassment."

Katherine Maher, the head of publicly funded NPR, once said the First Amendment was her "number one challenge" in fighting disinformation. That comes after the federal government colluded with social media platforms to remove speech it didn't like during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here's the common theme: They're all examples of leftists wielding power in ways that fundamentally undermine the marketplace of ideas. Khymani James is one of the leaders of the Columbia University takeover. In January, he said on a livestream, "Zionists don't deserve to live." He wants the power to silence and destroy his opponents, not a neutral platform to discuss U.S./Israeli policy.

To boost President Joe Biden's chances, Democrats want Trump in jail before Election Day, and they're stretching the law to do it. The fiction of gender identity is imposed by government fiat, not logic and persuasion. Oppose it and you could lose your job.

An analogy: Say the Donkeys and Elephants are playing football. When the Elephants have the ball, the Donkeys move the goal posts, redraw the sidelines, replace the refs, tilt the field, and arrest the Elephants' quarterback. The libertarian would say the Elephants should try to score when they get the ball. The conservative would first work on reestablishing the conditions that make a real game possible.

That doesn't mean conservatives should seek larger government. One of the Right's biggest priorities should be reducing its size and scope, especially at the federal level. Republicans shouldn't pick winners and losers in the economy either.

But there is a need to govern – using the power voters entrusted you with to restore and preserve the country's founding principles. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has done this better than anyone.

For instance, "diversity, equity and inclusion" has become code for promoting racial discrimination. DeSantis banned it in higher education. He revamped the board of New College of Florida to transform the school into a classical liberal arts college. He fired prosecutors who refused to prosecute, which the Florida law allows.

The ascendant Left doesn't want to debate ideas and examine consequences. They want to seize and hold power by any means necessary. The Right needs leaders who will fight back while working to restore the common values that make the marketplace of ideas possible.


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