"Ron, I'm a conservative. I'm not a libertarian. I believe in some government."
- Rick Santorum, from the GOP debate 1.7.2012
As though the direction of such a quote isn't obvious enough to anyone with even the vaguest knowledge of current American politics, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum shot that barb towards the decidedly libertarian Ron Paul. It perhaps best explains, concisely, anyway, the difference between right wingers and libertarians. Conservatives believe in some government.
It reminds us of James Madison's famous, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary." It is precisely the sort of ideal which libertarians often forget. Of course, as so many of them don't believe in God or religion, the comment likely falls on deaf ears.
The fact is that we need some government, to borrow from Mr. Santorun again, or even the rights defended by libertarians would not be rightly defended or protected. To be sure, with the exception of the ultra libertarians who don't believe in basics such as driver's licenses, the charge isn't entirely fair. We know of few libertarians against any and all types of government.
But we do know that the type of government they want is simply not wise in the modern world. The libertarian minded like to point out that George Washington warned us against entangling foreign alliances, yet do not want to concede that Washington would have never imagined rogue nations such as North Korea or Iran having the potential nuclear power which they claim to have. Indeed, and with all due respect to the great General, even at the time he gave such advice, now taken as pearls of wisdom by certain members of the libertarian and liberal intelligensia, one has to appreciate his words held irony even then: would American independence have been gained without the aid of the French, Dutch, and Spanish?
Yes, Washington has grown too large and must be reduced. It has grown far beyond the scope which the framers intended for it. But to pare it down to the level Representative Paul and his ilk would like to see is simply dangerous. The foreign affairs sphere is precisely the area where the federal government should be the largest. Conservatives understand that; libertarians do not. Yet our nation and their creed would not survive without the knowledge and rational application of so very basic a principle.