Traditionally in American politics very little separated conservatives from libertarians. Both stood for small government and low taxes. Both stood for creating a strong environment for business. Both believed that government should get out of the lives and business activities of citizens so that creativity and productivity could flourish.
The only difference between the two was in the area of foreign policy, and even then the differences were minimal as conservatives made it clear that war should be rare and if the nation goes to war it should be done by an official declaration from Congress, and, it should be fought to win outright, no holds barred.
The Bush era tended to widen the gap between conservatives and libertarians, however. With the advent of the Bush clan the term "big government conservative" was added to the vernacular as so-called conservatives claimed that runaway federal spending is entirely acceptable as long as it pertains to national defense. But social issues also were involved, such as the Bush plan to cover prescriptions under Medicare.
True conservatives, however, always knew from the start that the term "big government conservative" is an oxymoron. The term is contradictory. If one stands for big government, then they cannot be a conservative. And conversely, if one is a conservative then they cannot support big government.
The Bush era further placed a major wedge between conservatives and libertarians with the notion that "preemptive strikes" against enemies are entirely acceptable, whether the United States is attacked or not. Libertarians saw this doctrine as contrary to Constitutional principles and an excuse to wage endless foreign campaigns that would keep American troops in harm's way indefinitely.
Although there may yet be some nuanced disagreement between the two camps on preemptive strikes in a world in which a terrorist attack on the United States may mean three or four major American cities are wiped off the map, other important matters have taken center stage that highlight the fact that there is much more that conservatives and libertarians have in common than the things that divide them.
Rand Paul made this fact abundantly clear in his historic senate filibuster concerning a basic fundamental Constitutional principle -- presidents do not have the authority to kill American citizens on our own soil even if they are involved with terrorist groups, unless they are tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death. This does not mean that the nation cannot send a drone to kill a terrorist overseas, even if that terrorist happens to be an American. In that case, he is an enemy combatant and subject to the rules of warfare.
The difference between the two is enormous. These issues are spelled out in the Constitution, and there should be no argument as to their validity and efficacy. American citizens on U.S. soil are to be treated as persons with unalienable rights, one of those being the right to a jury trial before his peers. But once that citizen goes overseas and joins up with America's enemies, his rights are no longer guaranteed. He does not get his Miranda rights read to him. He is not entitled to an attorney. He is an enemy combatant who can be killed in our current battle with terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and the Taliban.
This is the distinction made by our Founders between a citizen on U.S. soil accused of a crime and an American overseas who joins up with the enemy during a war.
Sen. Paul made these issues abundantly clear and gained the ear of the American people, whether the mainstream media reported it or not, and in spite of the fact that only eleven senators supported him. Most Republicans would not even support him, including McCain, Graham, Ayotte, Toomey, Coburn, and others who should have known better.
The result? More and more Americans have caught on to the fact that the old guard Republicans are essentially worthless to protecting our Constitution. And more and more Americans are waking up to the fact that our Constitution is, in fact, under attack, and that the ones who can make a difference in stopping the onslaught are the new guard Republicans who are more libertarian in orientation -- Paul, Cruz, Lee, Rubio, and others.
And it did not escape the attention of most Americans that only one Democratic senator joined the group of eleven in the filibuster. The Democratic Party, for all intents and purposes, is an enemy to the Constitution and should be summarily placed in the grave.
A movement, thus, has sprung to life in the heartland that seems to be resulting in conservatives and libertarians joining hand in hand to oust the current tyranny regardless of Party and restore the nation to its Constitutional foundation and the rule of law.
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