As someone who routinely called myself a libertarian prior to 9/11, here’s how I would square the circle: Absolute freedom within our borders, for our own citizens; eternal vigilance and (when necessary) ruthlessness abroad. For libertarian ideals to survive, they must be relentlessly defended against the likes of Islamic extremists. Take a look at Andrew Sullivan’s writing right after 9/11 to see this ideal in its purest form; far from a religious crusade, ours was a war for secularism, tolerance, and free societies where gays don’t get stoned to death.
The key principle is one of reciprocity. If you behave peacefully and embrace the norms of a libertarian society, we leave you alone. If you seek to destroy a free society, we will destroy you.
If they’re serious about defending their ideals and seeing to it that libertarianism survives more than a generation in actual practice, I don’t see any reason why libertarians couldn’t embrace a more conservative positioning on national security.
- Patrick Ruffini, Hugh Hewitt's blog, 26 NOV 2007, speaking of Ron Paul's influence on Republican politics.
And just who are these folks? Very much for personal liberty but pro-defense, and an active stance that America actually represents something good for the world? Actually, if Mr. Ruffini had read some of the works by one of Hugh's recent guests, he would *know* their name.
His political movement—or, more accurately, the community of political feeling that he wielded into an instrument of power—remains in many ways the most important in American politics. Solidly Democratic through the Truman administration (a tradition commemorated in the annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners that are still the high points on Democratic Party calendars in many cities and states), Jacksonian America shifted toward the Republican Party under Richard Nixon—the most important political change in American life since the Second World War. The future of Jacksonian political allegiance will be one of the keys to the politics of the twenty-first century.Dear me!
Suspicious of untrammeled federal power (Waco), skeptical about the prospects for domestic and foreign do-gooding (welfare at home, foreign aid abroad), opposed to federal taxes but obstinately fond of federal programs seen as primarily helping the middle class (Social Security and Medicare, mortgage interest subsidies), Jacksonians constitute a large political interest.
In some ways Jacksonians resemble the Jeffersonians, with whom their political fortunes were linked for so many decades. Like Jeffersonians, Jacksonians are profoundly suspicious of elites. They generally prefer a loose federal structure with as much power as possible retained by states and local governments. But the differences between the two movements run very deep—so deep that during the Cold War they were on dead opposite sides of most important foreign policy questions. To use the language of the Vietnam era, a time when Jeffersonians and Jacksonians were fighting in the streets over foreign policy, the former were the most dovish current in mainstream political thought during the Cold War, while the latter were the most consistently hawkish.
One way to grasp the difference between the two schools is to see that both Jeffersonians and Jacksonians are civil libertarians, passionately attached to the Constitution and especially to the Bill of Rights, and deeply concerned to preserve the liberties of ordinary Americans. But while the Jeffersonians are most profoundly devoted to the First Amendment, protecting the freedom of speech and prohibiting a federal establishment of religion, Jacksonians see the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, as the citadel of liberty. Jeffersonians join the American Civil Liberties Union; Jacksonians join the National Rifle Association. In so doing, both are convinced that they are standing at the barricades of freedom.
- From Walter Russell Mead, The Jacksonian Tradition, The National Interest, Winter, 1999, (via FindArticles).
And then from one of the Four Horsemen of the Blogaclypse:
Jacksonians don't have any interest in spreading their philosophy around the world. It isn't evangelistic; indeed, the entire concept of trying to actively spread that or any other philosophy around the world is deeply repugnant to pure Jacksonians. Jacksonians are anti-imperialistic.There you go, the type of reciprocity that Jacksonians like and where the 'libertarian' view comes in. You will get the idea that Jacksonians let families tend to church and religion, while supporting the right of each individual to have whatever religious belief that suits them.
The whole point of Jacksonianism is "You leave me alone and I'll leave you alone. You play fair with me and I'll play fair with you. But if you fuck with me, I'll kill you."
To Jacksonians, it is entirely possible to create an adequate world framework of consistent and fair behavior, sufficient to support trade, through vigilance and the threat of reprisal (military or otherwise). Going beyond that to a world government as such is neither necessary, desirable nor even possible, and the best case is where there is as little international framework and governance as can be: only the bare minimum required but no more. Anything beyond that will eventually be abused by someone, so it's better to do without it.
Wilsonians want a world government. Jacksonians think that's a fool's quest. And contrary to your supposition that world government is required for successful international trade, the reality is that the last fifty years of international trade were managed under Jacksonian principles, and quite successfully too.
Free trade inside the US works because of the threat of force implicit in the police and the courts. Free trade works internationally because we are strong, alert and willing to retaliate against those who cross us. To Jacksonians, that is sufficient. Nothing else is needed, and nothing else can work.
- Steven den Beste, USS Clueless, 11 AUG 2002.
You would be correct in that.
Social conservatism has been seen as an attempt to legislate morality and that has, plainly, not worked without some overarching National religion that agrees on all the main points of what morality actually *is*. Common laws of agreed-upon restrictions and the punishments to fit the crime are cross-religion: they are good things for individuals of all religions in a common culture where it is that culture that is put in the role of upholding the Nation. While Andrew Jackson would indeed state:
The Bible is the rock on which this Republic rests.notice that he is not talking about law, here. Where does he go to look for law and government? That is something missed by most, and is more than telling:
- Andrew Jackson
Our government is founded upon the intelligence of the people. I for one do not despair of the republic. I have great confidence in the virtue of the great majority of the people, and I cannot fear the result.That is in keeping with the founding of the Nation. Our ability to craft intelligent decisions based on firm backing also means that interpretation of the Word of God is left up to each and every one of us. Personally, being of no known religious type, use the Bible as a founding concept, but find much in it that has been passed over by time regarding slavery, the rights of women, and such simple things as usuary and consumption of alcohol... wait a second, Jesus turned water into wine! Scratch that last, he was the perfect party guest, able to keep a party going at a wave of a hand towards some jars of water. I do wish the religious folks of the late 19th and early 20th century would have remembered that, which points out to the strange idea that religion remains static in its interpretation over time. It does not, but acts, instead, as guideposts to us and when differing views happen we are to solve them in the neutral ground of the common society based on reason.
- Andrew Jackson
This view would be given by Nicholas Collin in A Foreign Spectator I, 06 AUG 1787, (and even moreso in XXVIII on 28 SEP 1787) also in Atticus I, 09 AUG 1787, in shearing the law from royalty so as to bring in to the common fold, by Noah Webster in A Citizen of America, 17 OCT 1787, amongst many, many others. While christians were founders in America, there was an overarching view to keep the Peace of Westphalia and found a Nation that would adhere to the Law of Nations as grown up from the thoughts of Grotius and Vattel amongst many, and that view was also supported in the English common law. Unless folks missed some reading of their history books, the concept of religious outcasts finding a new life in peace amongst each other because they WERE different and differed on their views of christ, divinity and morality. What would happen is the boiling away of differences to get to things held in common, and there were some handfuls of those.
When one considers bedrock for supporting a structure, be it a house of the tallest of skyscrapers, the #1 thing you do not want to do with it is start to *mine* it for a nice facade to the building. In no time at all the footing of the building is gone and you have a pile of rubble. Bedrock is supportive and foundational and allows things to be built *on it*. The Bible was a book amongst the sects of christianity but it was and *is* not the only book OF christianity. The respect that christians gave to other sects as the Peace of Westphalia spread was still not well enforced by the time of the Puritans, Quakers and other sects that were excluded socially and, often, economically, from public life in European nations. They came here to END that by creating their own communities and those would grow together. It is telling that those ethnically based religious factions would grow together even *before* the Revolution, which is what Tomas Paine would see in writing Common Sense (via The Gutenberg Project):
Not one third of the inhabitants, even of this province, are of English descent.Americans were already become tolerant, and highly so, of other religious views and traditions because there were quite a few of them. Within a few decades after the Constitution in the Antebellum era, we would get the first great explosion of new christian religions that would found America as a leading place to come and found religions. The Bible is still there as bedrock, joined with such fine things as The Black Book of the Admiralty, Law of Nations, views on the English Common Law given by Blackstone (amongst others), and such trivial things as the Peace of Westphalia. While the Bible does intertwine with these views, especially Westphalia and the *limits* of religion inside Nations, there were other traditions represented by these works. The Black Book grew out of Roman Imperial trade law and was modified by European nations but would represent an understanding of trade that not only pre-existed christianity but remained unchanged by it. The Law of Nations would grow out of the views after Westphalia on how Nations operated internally and externally, and Vattel would point out that the operational parameters are called into being by the Nation State as a concept and that the work of Nations grows out of that framework. He would point out that the Ancients had not well defined Nation States, but that they still operated in the framework of them even without knowing it as the rules become ones that develop from that type of relationship. That reference to the Ancients means it pre-dates Judaism, also, and goes far back to the first City States to show how these parameters would come into being and work. The English common law would grow out of not only indigenous tribal views, but Nordic ones in which the King is accountable to the People, and that common men deserved local justice administered by those they knew. No one was above the law, not even royalty.
Wherefore I reprobate the phrase of parent or mother country applied
to England only, as being false, selfish, narrow and ungenerous.
These are not 'optional' parts of looking at America: they are a whole. The Bible gives moral and ethical preceptual ideas, but those can only be instantiated via the understanding of the Peace of Westphalia so as to not infringe on other practices and it existed after the concept of Nations and trade law, while growing up simultaneously, but geographically far from, the common law. The strength of these things coming together is something that Jacksonians identify with and dearly: they set a way to operate amongst ourselves that is honorable and scalable from the individual to the Nation State. While the 'Golden Rule' is not only a good idea, it is represented in how Jacksonians see Nations operate as well as interpersonal relationships. Beyond that, coming from the Scots-Irish traditions of supporting society via martial means, Jacksonians fully realize that the objects of government need to be defended and that government, itself, is accountable to society. Individuals get the greatest leeway in operating so long as they do not degrade the common society nor government to their own ends.
This makes them different from the Republican Party on some few areas, that Ron Paul only touches on here and there. Jacksonians are tradesmen, tinkerers, creators of things that support life and family, and give support to local charities that do good so that society can do well. Jacksonians recognize the military tradecraft *as* a tradecraft, and give it special honor in upholding the Nation and protecting her people. You do not go to war lightly and when you do go to war, you go to *win it*. Whatever great thinkers purport, Jacksonians try out and if it is found wanting they say so... which is why the bending of the political parties to pure ideology turns off Jacksonians in droves: the theories of both parties have proven to be unworkable in many instances and it is those instances they keep on pushing while ignoring the facts before their eyes.
Being nice to terrorists has just gotten Americans killed and we should stop being nice to them. They have come to America and killed us and declared personal and private war upon us, and so we should reciprocate with open and public announcement of who they are, civil justice for those that will repudiate past works and hold themselves accountable and a 'no holds barred' fight to remove the rest of these barbarians from the planet until they are convinced that society is a good thing to uphold OPENLY and that when it disagrees with you, you are not to make private war upon ANYONE. Steven den Beste put it best with this:
Will we forgive the Islamic nations, and work to remove the source of their anger? Will the United States begin to address "root causes" and work to remove them? You betcha, but only after the war has been won. Jacksonians remove the danger first, and only then work to make sure the danger never arises again. But a Jacksonian never rewards an enemy, never ever appeases one. Until the war has been won, "root causes" are a distraction. This is the reason why "if you kill Americans, you're dead meat."Jacksonians understand that view because 'root causes' as purported by the Left are not the source of the problem: those seeking to destroy civil society ARE the problem, and that attack isn't just upon the US but upon civilization in the form it has taken. Even as the Cold War was dragging on, we saw not only Americans but our Friends and Allies being blown up, shot, assassinated, kidnapped and 'disappeared' by terror groups and for over 30 years and well going on 40 years the government would say NOTHING about that. Police work obviously didn't work as 9/11 would tell us explicitly and in large, black letters written in the dust of our fellow Americans in the NYC air and the fire and smoke of our soldiers attacked by these barbarians.
Also note that the 'root cause' of lacking free trade or, indeed, hearty trade with America, was not a factor here: America since the time of Woodrow Wilson implemented a 'trade to change society' concept in the Middle East. Looking at that 90 years later, it doesn't appear to have worked out too well. This upsets the digestion of Republicans and many, many libertarians, that 'free trade' is predicated on the strength to back it up, and when that strength and will is lacking it tends to empower our enemies and give them cheaper weapons to kill us. Mind you the Leftist version of trade is worse, but that does not mean that 'free trade' is a great and winning concept without societal control. It is that which Jacksonians look at, and trade is a part of helping the Nation to defend itself and is fully accountable to society not only by tariffs and taxation, but to actually interdicting trade with uncivilized, non-Nation State killers who are outlaw.
While this has, in the past, led to military views, which are supported by Jacksonians, it also means the entire and full panoply of National power can be deployed against it. Ron Paul actually is quite attractive on that front while being not so attractive on his isolationist conception of the world. Because Jacksonians see tradecraft as a good thing, and selling things as a good thing, the view of a global market is something that is understood, meaning that the full concept of how a Nation operates amongst Nations comes into play. For us to understand what is allowable and what is not, we look to the Constitution and the bedrock documents under it, and understand that the Nation can and *should* empower citizens with the right to operate in that terrorism venue but fully accountable to the rules of war by having requirements for uniform and accountability to military justice. That is easy to understand as societal backing is paramount to keeping the Nation whole and its governing institutions are reflective of that greater will. That does not obviate the need for the regular armed forces, but is an asymmetrical tool that is deployed as an adjunct to the regular armed forces. The over-reliance upon National military as the *only* way to go after foes is misguided and there are many that are not fit enough for the military but well nigh fit enough for private military ventures with Congressional imprimatur.
These areas of social conservatism, free trade, foreign policy and military policy, that the Republican Party holds that are at variance with Jacksonians means that Jacksonians do not see a home there for them. By seeing government as a restriction on our wickedness, to give it Tom Paine's view, it must be *limited* as it is not a promoter of the good which is the function of society. Jacksonians see no *good* in pushing morals, unaccountable trade, foreign policy that supports tyrants and dictators, and a military policy only to support trade and not invest in liberty and freedom for those who were under dictators and despots of all stripes. National Security is an area of common agreement and lower taxes are good only if it comes with much, much smaller government. There is commonality amongst many Republicans and Libertarians with Jacksonians on that.
By not following through on the promises of President Reagan, the Republican Party is seen as 'not serious' on those issues and, in fact, counter-productive to them as 'compassionate conservatism' has meant bigger government that is more intrusive in private affairs. In featuring abortion as a semi-'litmus test', and locking that 'debate' into glacial stillness for decades, the view that the common society is to make its best adjustment and then seek better ways forward is NOT being achieved. That is not an either/or decision process, but one that is open to other views of the public and society upon it, but that has been locked out by the loud and well funded 'sides' that have removed all middle ground on that issue. The concept of 'States Rights' plays its role there, as well as defining who, when born in a State, is a 'citizen'. Notice that you get your birth certificate from the State not the federal government, which indicates the role the States play. Getting the federal government *out* of the 'debate' is paramount to unlocking the glaciers, and stepping back we can ask: just what can we do on the State level?
Libertarians and their semi-cohort of Liberaltarians and Libertines have hard and fast problems with putting society in the driver's seat. And yet that is exactly what the founding of the Nation points to, requiring each member of society to come together to 'form a more perfect Union' and settle differences amongst ourselves in civil fasion. That means there are needs for safeguards not only against government, but against private individuals who do such things as take up weapons of war without accountability. Liberty must actually be DEFENDED and not just verbally or in the courts, but on the bloody battlefields of mankind so that those wishing to bring it to an end are brought to heel and made to understand that attack free people comes with a nasty price tag to it.
As one cartoon had it, with survivors of a shipwreck floating in the open ocean: "Watch out for hungry sharks!" And then: "Watch out for sharks." That is a lesson of history not lost on Jacksonians and we take it to heart, so that when we make agreements they are backed to the hilt and when they are transgressed we say so and end them. Cease-fires are a case in point and when Saddam would not adhere to his, and two Presidents did NOTHING, it was wondered when the man would be held accountable to his word for his Nation. This also goes for treaties, in general, so that with something like NAFTA, where Mexico agreed not to export its unemployed northwards, and they have DONE SO, they must be seen as not upholding their part of the treaty. That will, indeed, make Republican hearts flutter, as well as pointing out all this lovely trade with China has gotten us toxic goods in return and exploitation of our political system so that they can become more of a military threat.
Perhaps free trade should be withheld to Friends and Allies?
Just a thought.
Basically, when something doesn't work a Jacksonian wants to know *why* and then see if it can be fixed. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
When it does need to be fixed, especially in the areas of Nations, stepping back and looking to some of the fundamental things Nations do is required, and then casting our own aspirations against that and seeing what is left that can be done. This requires holding other Nations accountable, and that is how treaties work. And keep the damned things to a minimum so that we are not tripping over them every which way, to the point where more bureaucrats are needed. If it needs more bureaucrats, it will have a hard time working. Some things are necessary, but others are not and Washington's view on entangling alliances is well heeded to this day. Note that the UN is put together by treaty and has a huge staff with little to show for it, and epitomizes what *not* to do.
Walter Russell Mead would describe Jacksonianism as the 'crab grass' of American Politics, and it is: the hardy weed that keeps on breaking up the concrete of set ideologies because those ideologies do not shift with society over time. You can't get rid of it, can't fix it, can't eliminate it forever, save by paving over everything. It is sad that the latter course has been taken, which means Jacksonians see no reason to vote for parties looking to invest more in government and remove liberty and freedom from the People. The terrorists hit hard on that concrete and, suddenly, the crab grass re-appears as Jacksonians volunteer for the armed forces so that it has met every quota since 9/11. And we push hard to victory and justice afterwards so that we are never attacked again.
That will take some doing.
It would be handy if there was a political will to do it in either of the two parties. Since there isn't, I expect the crab grass to keep on growing and shifting the internal structures of both further apart. Something will give, but Jacksonians love their Nation and we will not see it fall due to a mere break-up of ideologies... because it is in the holding of liberty and freedom and using them that one helps their neighbors and society to be free. Not just individuals, but everyone. And that really isn't pushed hard by anyone, these days, those concepts of the Revolution.
I guess they are still Revolutionary, then.