Thursday night I attended the Baltimore City Republican Central Committee meeting, which was open to the public. In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 10 to 1, there was a delightful frisson of subversiveness, as we plotted how to take over the city administration from the party that is so much responsible for Baltimore’s woes. A particularly exciting event was an address by Alan Walden, the former WBAL news anchor who has just announced his candidacy for mayor of Baltimore. Alan certainly has gravitas and his candidacy promises an exciting race.
I left the meeting and the ensuing pub dinner with feelings of camaraderie and affection, even though I’m sure I don’t see eye to eye with them on every issue. I identify more as a libertarian than a run-of-the-mill conservative, which in the context of Republican politics means I probably am outside the mainstream on foreign policy, drug policy and civil liberties. But I still feel I have way more in common with Republicans than your average Democrat on a number of issues, mostly domestic, e.g. education, healthcare, taxation, public spending and so son.
Libertarians sometimes complain that non-libertarians associate them more with the right than with the left, but the complaint usually comes from those who, for whatever reason, put special emphasis on their social liberalism. I have to say that social issues, along with immigration policy, are probably areas in which I lean more towards the conservative than the doctrinaire libertarian view, though I think arguments can be made that conservatism on those matters can be defended from within libertarian ideas.
In any case, I think that aside from some ideas, like avoiding war or legalizing drugs, which strike the average American as “liberal”, libertarians do share a lot more with the right and the left. The left is for big government in a way in which the right just isn’t, even if the mainstream right makes an exception when it comes to unlimited spending on the military. And at the local level, where issues like defense are irrelevant, it makes that much more sense to identify as a Republican.