Debate has long raged over whether former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a feminist. She didn’t consider herself one, and refused to use the word to describe herself. Leftists, who claim sole copyright on the term feminism, insisted she couldn’t be one – not only because she didn’t claim the label but because she was a conservative.
Every cause the Left holds dear, however, it holds hostage to its real goal, which is statist collectivism. If you are not devoted to that agenda, then you are – in its estimation – sexist, racist, homophobic and just generally evil.
I have always been, as Mrs. Thatcher would say, “wobbly” on statist collectivism, even when I considered myself a progressive. I was something of a closet libertarian all along. I thought bullying everyone into complicity on big-government intervention in nearly all areas of human life was not only unnecessary but counterproductive. All it did, as far as I could see, was make enemies bitterly determined to defeat it.
I’m convinced that the statist Left’s main contribution has been to keep the equally-statist, theocratic, social Right alive and kicking. This is why I was nearly seduced into voting for Libertarian Party candidate John Anderson in 1980, the first year I was old enough to cast a ballot. It’s why I voted for Ronald Reagan that year and in 1984.
A lot of libertarians don’t like Mrs. Thatcher because she wasn’t libertarian enough. They scoff at Reagan for the same reason. But though neither leader governed consistently according to our principles, they believed in them – and articulated them fiercely. They did this, moreover, at a time when virtually nobody else taken seriously by the political establishment did so. That has to count for something.
Both Thatcher and Reagan went “wobbly” on the social Right. Even though both worried about its influence. My own thinking has always been more in line with that of my hero, the late Senator Barry Goldwater, who famously said that “Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell’s ass.” As a good Christian, I’d prefer to reason with the theocrats. Though I suspect that will do only slightly more good, with a lot of them, than reasoning with the Taliban.
We libertarians are feistier and more determined now. Thanks to the social Right, the GOP again nominated a gutless corporate blow-up doll – thereby ensuring the reelection of Barack Obama. We’re not going to sit in the back seat and take the theocrats’ crap anymore.
But we can thank Margaret Thatcher – and Ronald Reagan – for helping to keep libertarian ideals alive through the long, dark night when statism threatened to sink this country. They didn’t do as much on that score as we would have liked, but they probably did all they could.