Is Obama a Conservative?

By Anthony Gregory

Not in the constitutionalist sense, obviously, but few people are. Indeed, the respect for America First, limited government, the rule of law and free enterprise that people sometimes use to define conservatism has been out of favor for a long time. Ron Paul is rarely described as one himself anymore.

As Lew Rockwell pointed out at the wonderful Campaign for Liberty rally in Minneapolis:

I for one no longer believe that Bush has betrayed conservatives. In fact, he has fulfilled conservatism, by completing the redefinition of the term that began many decades ago with Bill Buckley and National Review. Think of it realistically. What does conservatism today stand for? It stands for war. It stands for power. It stands for spying, jailing without trial, torture, counterfeiting without limit, and lying from morning to night.

There comes a time in the life of every believer in freedom when he must declare, without any hesitation, to have no attachment to the idea of conservatism.

This might seem over the top to some folks. There are good people who call themselves conservatives, including some great friends of C4L. But consider: Conservatism for hundreds of years referred to supporters of the Old Order—militarism, royalty, statism, and so forth. It is tyranny and despotism that are old, classic, ancient and traditional. Liberty is a relatively new development. Even in America, going back to the founding we see many liberties better respected, yet the existence of slavery, theocratic law and other unspeakably gross assaults on individual freedom rendered that era so far from perfect that it is worth looking forward, rather than backward, in considering our political philosophy and agenda.

There is a sense in which modern conservatism—or, as some call it in general terms, neoconservatism—has simply reverted back to what it was before World War II: an embrace of the state, especially the warfare state, and collectivism on issues of personal conscience, with an emphasis on corporatism rather than the radical program of liberated markets.

The Progressive Movement of the early 20th century was also, in a significant sense, a strain of conservatism. They sought to use the power of the state to conserve market share for big businesses, conserve respect in the Lincolnian nation-state, and the like. Lincoln too was a form of conservative.

And so is Obama. Consider what he’s done. He has entrenched the Bush foreign policy and detention policy into the bipartisan fabric of American political life. He has served to prop up Wall Street, keep housing prices high, maintain the bureuacracy, and shore up every dead political institution created in 20th century  America. He has offered a much-delayed “freeze” on spending—except for on the military, which is akin to the campaign promises we often hear from self-proclaimed conservatives. He is trying his best to keep the discredited modern American system of statism, corporate welfarism and empire from collapsing under its own weight.

Again, there is another definition of conservative that means, rather, support for liberty, small government and constitutional law. There is also a meaning of liberal that goes back centuries, and has a venerable tradition from the Levellers and Founding Fathers to the Austrian economists and today’s libertarians that is also perhaps worth salvaging. But if liberalism has been coopted in the last century, conservatism was always a flawed and situational political program at best. So I say, insofar as we can credibly call Obama a liberal, we can just as easily, maybe more easily, call him a conservative. And what better way to rile his constituents than to point out the bitter truth?

View the original article at Campaign for Liberty


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