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October 2003   Murray Sabrin
California's Big-Tent GOP: A Model For The U.S.? By Murray Sabrin


By: Murray Sabrin

Sunday's New York Times published an article claiming that Arnold Schwarzenegger's candidacy could transform the Republican Party into a broad-based coalition of western moderate libertarians and moralistic southerners. In other words, according the essay, "a Schwarzenegger victory would send a strong message that the Republican Party is a tent big enough to include a pro-abortion, pro-gay rights Hollywood superstar who has acknowledged manhandling women and smoking marijuana". The implication that libertarianism is pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, smoking pot and condoning "manhandling of women" is an unfortunate caricature. Mainstream journalists and talking heads on television typically pigeonhole a political ideology, especially one that threatens both the conventional right and left in American politics.

Let's take each of these issues in turn. The basic principle of libertarian political philosophy is nonaggression against nonaggressors. Thus, libertarian Republican congressman and obstetrician Dr. Ron Paul and others who identify themselves as libertarians and pro-life, do so because they believe abortion is the killing of an innocent human life. So, being pro-life and being a libertarian is compatible.

As far as gay rights are concerned, there are only individual rights. There are no collective rights. In a free society, there would be no "minority" rights, there would be no "women" rights, there would be no "gay" rights, there would be no "immigrant" rights, and there would be no "illegal" immigrant rights. In short, in a free society there would be only rights that every individual would enjoy. In a free society, everyone would have their "natural rights"--to life, liberty and property--protected by all levels of government.

The fact that so-called group rights are constantly discussed in our political dialogue--and enacted in our laws-- shows how far we as a people have drifted into collectivism. Instead of our laws protecting individual rights, we seem to be creating more "rights" for specific ethnic, religious, racial and other groups. In short, the balkanization of America continues.

Smoking marijuana is about as newsworthy as the sun rising in the east. Some people's obsession with what people smoke would not be comical if the so-called professed keepers of the public's morals would feel the same way about cigarette smoking as they do about smoking pot. In fact, there is some evidence that smoking marijuana is less harmful than smoking cigarettes. So what is all the hullabaloo?

The more serious allegations against Arnold are his "manhandling" of women. Given our political culture, it is not surprising these allegations against Arnold occurred a few days before the end of the campaign. For conservatives who jumped on the Arnold bandwagon, these allegations have to give them pause. If Bill Clinton's boorish behavior was unacceptable, how can they go out and downplay these allegations about Arnold? If Arnold has used force against a woman or a man is a matter of concern. It goes right to the heart of the character issue that conservatives claim they are concerned about in our public officials.

Arnold admitted his "bad behavior". And that is supposed to be the end of the matter, according to the Schwarzenegger campaign and his supporters.

A nightmare scenario for California would be a Schwarzenegger victory followed by criminal investigation and impeachment proceedings against Governor Schwarzenegger. This would be the real circus that pundits are attributing to the recall campaign. Imagine Governor Schwarzenegger having to be disposed by district attorney investigators about his "bad behavior". And what if a criminal indictment is then issued against Governor Schwarzenegger. Then what?

In short, get ready for a California version of it was only "bad behavior" and "on set playfulness".

The California GOP political establishment has sold out its principles--if they had any to begin with-- for short-term political gain. By doing so, they may pay a huge price, if there is more fire from the smoke that already has been uncovered.

Instead of trying to create a "big tent", Republicans need to come grips why they have a political party. Creating a "big tent" can only mean one thing, bribe more interest groups with taxpayers' money. If GOP establishment types and their political consultants keep on singing this song, the GOP will have no reason to exist. Americans who believe in the principles of limited government and free enterprise will either stay home every November or create a powerful third force in American politics.

The eyes of the nation are indeed on California today, and what the voters do today may affect the future of our political system.

"Published originally at : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact

Murray Sabrin is a professor of finance at Ramapo College of New Jersey, where he is executive director of the Center for Business and Public Policy, and the author of Tax Free 2000: The Rebirth of American Liberty. He was the New Jersey Libertarian Party candidate for governor in 1997 and after rejoining the GOP after 25 years, sought the party's nomination for the United States Senate in 2000. He is vice-chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.

He can be reached at:

Published in the October 7, 2003 issue of Ether Zone. Copyright 1997 - 2003 Ether Zone.