So, a Hannity supporter, a National Review guy, and a Ron Paul supporter walk into a bar….


Daniel McCarthy: “There was a time, before the College Republicans became the biggest and often the only conservative group on campus, when students on the Right could be expected to know who Kirk and Weaver were. Young Americans for Freedom, the pre-eminent conservative youth adjunct of the Goldwater and Vietnam eras, was activist in orientation. But it included an intellectual component strong enough that members could identify the brands of conservatism to which they subscribed with such figures as Kirk, Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, and Frank Meyer. And even earlier, the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, the first national conservative student organization, unabashedly emphasized ideas over politics.

In a sense the modern Right began as a youth movement in the person of William F. Buckley Jr. When the 26-year-old Buckley published God and Man at Yale in 1951, the pre-war Old Right was very old indeed. Its spiritual exemplar, Albert Jay Nock, had died six years before. Frank Chodorov, evangelist of Nock’s gospel, was 64 and within a decade would suffer a career-ending stroke, a fate that had already befallen H.L. Mencken. These cantankerous individualists were neither a movement nor, arguably, conservative. But they were the vanguard of opposition to the welfare state—and the warfare state, too. By the ‘50s, their tradition was in need of a new voice. With Buckley, whose book called for Yale to purge its Keynesians and fellow travelers and whose father had been an ardent America Firster, it seemed to have found one.”

“Yet for all of ISI’s success, another group would become the face of the campus Right in the 1960s. Once again, Buckley was present at the creation: the organizational meeting for Young Americans for Freedom was held at his family home in Sharon, Connecticut over Sept. 10-11, 1960. “

“Early YAFers took their ideas and principles seriously. So much so that from the beginning there was tension between YAF’s anticommunist and traditionalist side and its libertarians. The word “God” only made it into the Sharon Statement by a narrow vote of 40-44. Before long, the New Individualist Review, a libertarian student journal at the University of Chicago, was questioning the military measures implied in the Sharon Statement’s anticommunism. From the other direction, traditionalist Notre Dame Professor Gerhart Niemeyer objected to the document’s classical liberalism, which he believed, “divorced the public order form the historical world of Western culture, positive law from natural law, political theory from religion.” But for almost a decade, the center held: membership soared, chapters proliferated, and YAF played a crucial role in securing the 1964 Republican presidential nomination for Barry Goldwater.”

War in Vietnam and the campus unrest accompanying it finally drove a wedge between YAF’s conservatives and radical libertarians. The battle of ideas that simmered in YAF’s early years became a battle of fists at the organization’s 1969 convention in St. Louis, where bedlam erupted when a libertarian student burned his draft card—or rather, a convincing facsimile—on the convention floor. Fusionism became fission as the radical libertarians split from YAF. Some YAF chapters switched affiliation to the newly formed Students for Individual Liberty or the California Libertarian Alliance.

Much the same holds true today for the war in Iraq, according to Daniel Flynn, author of Why the Left Hates America and a man of wide acquaintance with the student Right as a campus lecturer and former organizer with Accuracy in Academia and the Leadership Institute. Flynn himself is a critic of President Bush’s foreign policy: “I gave a speech the night the war broke out, at St. John’s College in Minnesota. In pretty much every speech I’ve given since then I’d mention my opposition to the war in Iraq.” In his experience, the campus Right is overwhelmingly pro-war because “it’s anti-Left.” Moreover, “students are coming into the conservative movement without the intellectual grounding, with no real basis for disagreeing with popular politicians” like President Bush.

[Read Daniel McCarthy’s “GOP and Man at Yale“]

So…when Rick Perry said the following yesterday at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention:

“I do not believe America should fall subject to a foreign policy of military adventurism.”

“We should always look to build coalitions among the nations to protect the mutual interests of freedom loving people.”

“It’s not our interest to go it alone.”

“We cannot concede the moral authority of our nation to multi-lateral debating societies.”

“When our interests are threatened, American soldiers should be led by American commanders.”

….what exactly is he saying?

As Ilana Mercer says in her article “Your Government’s Jihadi Protection Program“:  “When Republicans and conservatives cavil about the gargantuan growth of government, they target the state’s welfare apparatus and spare its war machine. Unbeknown to these factions, the military is government. The military works like government; is financed like government, and sports many of the same inherent malignancies of government. Like government, it must be kept small.

Conservative can’t coherently preach against the evils of big government, while excluding the military mammoth.”


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