Sunday, July 28, 2013

How libertarian will Republicans be in 2016?

Two things happened last week that revealed the basic dynamic of the fight for control of the Republican Party in 2016.

The first was a vote on the House floor that would have significantly curtailed the NSA’s phone-surveillance program as outlined in the Patriot Act. A vote that was widely regarded by congressional sharps as an opportunity for civil libertarians to “blow off steam” nearly passed the House. In total, 94 House Republicans (41 percent of the GOP conference) voted for it.

The second were comments made by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a panel at the Aspen Institute on Thursday. “As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said.

Taken together, it’s quite clear that the choice in 2016 will be heavily defined by just how much libertarianism Republicans want in their party. The answer isn’t clear yet. But it is telling that more than 40 percent of the Republican conference voted for legislation that would significantly curtail the reach of a government agency designed, at least in part, to prevent future terrorist attacks. So, too, is the fact that Christie, widely expected to run in 2016, picked a fight with libertarians — and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, in particular — in the summer of 2013.
Read the rest here.

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