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Opening Arguments

It's fusion, baby

Call me a dreamer, but I think this is good news: Rand Paul is pitching libertarian ideas to social conservatives. And they're listening:

For many, the word that comes to mind when they hear the name Rand Paul is likely “libertarian.” While he gladly embraces the label, Paul brands himself as more a pragmatist than purist, and he’s seeking a way to bring libertarians and social conservatives—long warring cousins on the right—together.

If successful, Paul’s effort could be the start of a fresh form of fusionism on the right that could be a significant asset if he seeks the White House in 2016.

Instead of adopting a hard line on issues like drug legalization and non-interventionism like his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the younger Paul speaks about these topics in a way he hopes will spark collaboration instead of squabbling. And it seems to be working.

I'm not sure about "fresh form of fusionism," though. The libertarian-conservative coalition is what Republicans have always had to deal with. What might be new is that the spin on the coalition used to be whether the libertarians could handle the social conservatives' moralizing, and today it's about how the conservatives are adapting to libertarian ideas. As Paul says, people have to get over thinking libertarian means libertine. And I like this:


“To many of us, libertarian means freedom and liberty. But we also see freedom needs tradition.”

Conservatives should like that message very much. It goes all the way back to Edmund Burke's notion of tradition -- you don't hold on to things just because you don't want to change. You hold to the things that have worked so you can use them as the foundation for your new constructions. You might even say that was the original conservative-libertarian fusion.