This evening The Right Way was put on by some conservative and libertarian groups at UVA. It was an information session for people interested in these groups. I made some comments on behalf of the libertarian student group. Here's the text of my speech.
So why are we here? We don't really consider ourselves part of the political Right, but our relationship with the Right has been complex. Maybe we're more accurately described as "liberals" because we appreciate and welcome the change and progress that free markets bring from their dynamic processes.
Libertarians in America have had a shaky alliance with the Right and the Republican Party for the last few decades. The conservative movement is not often described as heterogenous, but it is. It's full of social conservatives, national security hawks, and economic libertarians. These interests are at odds.
We fear that the conservative movement has strayed. Ronald Reagan told Reason Magazine in an interview in 1975, "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism." We are concerned that conservatives have by and large abandoned a rich intellectual tradition of defending the empowerment of individuals, and lost their focus on individual rights and individual responsibility. The way we see it, conservatives have neglected the positive moral and practical cases for free markets, and unfortunately have let the Left frame economic issues. Resources aren't granted to people from governments. The government can't create wealth, but it can easily confiscate it. So, it's troubling to us that conservative responses have been reactionary. For instance, there's no real market-oriented health care reform on the table today.
Libertarians strive for consistency in the way we think about freedom. It doesn't make any sense to us to trust people with firearms but not marijuana. William F. Buckley understood this. We don't care for authoritarian obsessions with individual moral choices. If we're truly advocating individual responsibility, the government has no role to play in legislating personal morality.
We understand that free markets lift the poorest in society up more than central planners ever could. Winston Churchill famously said, "for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."
Having a free market means that it's silly to waste money by "buying American" when we make more wealth available by purchasing goods and services from abroad for less money. We also understand that free markets include free labor markets, which means that people should be free to move across borders.
A free market means that we don't funnel money from taxpayers to reward mismanagement in the private sector. We believe that it is immoral and impractical to use military force to impose our will on the world. Striving to accomplish such an enormous task through government sounds like something the Democrats would attempt, but it too will fail as with all their quixotic attempts to engineer a utopia. We believe that international free markets intertwine the interests of all parties, so these arrangements lead to freedom, prosperity, and peace. We don't pretend that we can offer a utopia like those on the Left, but we can do better with free markets.
If you're interested in these ideas, I hope to see you at our events this year. We're excited to have the opportunity to participate in events and activities with the other groups present tonight. Thanks.