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The only reason I can give for favoring Romney over Gingrich is that Romney is a capitalist, and Gingrich has been at the levers of governmental power his whole adult life. I get the sense that at least Romney would know how to put the economy back together, even if his lustful statist urges worry me.
Santorum is qualified to be president, I think, but he worries me as well. He's not just a statist, but a moralistic one. And I share his moral values. The difference between Santorum and I is that my Christian faith rules my life, but when discussing government and law, the US Constitution is my guide. Nowhere does the constitution give government the right to dictate morals.
Libertarian-Conservative: an Unstable Amalgam
Libertarianism and strict conservatism are not really compatible, and that explains much of the current GOP muddle. Lured by the libertarian siren song, we've finally spat out the GOP's neither-hot-nor-cold conservative big government statism.
Modern-Day Republicanism is just progressivism with flags; moralistic we-say-so-ism dressed up in war and patriotism and religion. In fact, it is damned near indistinguishable from Woodrow Wilson's Progressive conception of almost a century ago.
So now we find ourselves in a political cul-de-sac, heaping scorn on everyone who isn't Ron Paul, and yet unable to embrace the cranky small-government John the Baptist who has been crying out in the wilderness all these years. Libertarianism lured us out of our ideological trenches, but now we are caught half-way, unable to embrace Paulism, which looks to conservatives almost indistinguishable from OWS.
There is a way out. Conservatives are on solid footing so long as we allow ourselves to be just as libertarian as the founding fathers. Any more than that, and we fall off of a cliff into a pit of incoherence and clashing incompatibilities.
Constitutionalism: The Founders v. Ron Paul
Dr. Paul's constitutionalist claims strike me as trying to be more Catholic than the Pope.
George Washington invaded Canada, and as president he donned his military uniform to lead a militia army in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion. His protégé, Alexander Hamilton (one of the Federalist Papers authors) set up our nation's first central bank, and when a later congress voted against renewing it's charter, President Madison (another Federalist Papers author, and Father of the Constitution) established the Second Bank of America, another central bank. President Thomas Jefferson sent US Marines to the shores of Tripoli, and "The Last Founding Father" James Monroe's famous doctrine declared that any act by any European power to colonize any part of North or South America would be considered by the US government as an act of aggression to be met with military force.
Ron Paul is on the far side of the men who wrote the constitution and founded this nation. Conservatives, like the founders, believe in an enduring moral order, and they are guided by custom and convention. Libertarians clamor to tear down the wall; conservatives seek to know why it was put there in the first place before deciding to demolish it.
So its a tricky balancing act with a new equilibrium. Some small government libertarianism of the founding father variety mixed in with a rediscovery of Russell Kirk Conservatism will put us back on solid footing. Too bad no candidate fits the bill...