Rick Perry: Not a Libertarian

By The Intersection | September 1, 2011 4:00 pm

By Jon Winsor

One recent discussion on this blog has been whether the tea party is libertarian or authoritarian. Rick Perry, the tea party’s candidate of choice, has been billing himself as a states rights-inflected libertarian, as his recent book Fed Up! attests. (See the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus for some highlights here.)

But columnists have been pointing out that the ostensibly libertarian Fed Up is of fairly recent vintage. The older Perry had quite a different political brand: that of a crusading culture warrior. Dana Milbank writes,

Yes, Perry is passionately anti-government, or at least anti-this-government. But the man who suddenly tops the Republican presidential polls is no libertarian.

For an eyeful of the full Perry, crack his 2008 book, On My Honor… [One quote:] “The radical homosexual movement seeks societal normalization of their sexual activity. . . . They must respect the right of millions in society to refuse to normalize their behavior…”

In a series of hoary bromides, the supposedly libertarian Perry condemns the “litigious advocates of licentious behavior” (that’s the ACLU) and informs us that “Sometimes the rules must protect society at large at the expense of individual expression when that expression is deemed harmful to others and society at large…”

Among the things Perry “deems” harmful: universities (students “have been taught that corporations are evil, religion is the opiate of the masses, and morality is relative”); human rights commissions (“often nothing more than a front for attacking institutions that teach traditional values”); and evolution (he says “the weight of evidence” supports intelligent design)…

Though he speaks now as a small-government conservative, Perry argues in his book: “We are close to a tipping point in American society. If you believe there is right and wrong, that there are acceptable standards of behavior . . . then you have a stake in this war. If the attackers win many more victories… the culture war may be lost before we know it. If that happens, we will find ourselves living in a world where moral relativism reigns and individualism runs amok. Now is the time to enlist in this effort, to stand up and be counted.” [My emphasis]

This is the rhetoric of a values-imposing crusader, not a libertarian. According to New Republic reporter Eliza Gray, this crusading style is not only rhetorical, but part of his governing style as well. This past May, Perry signed a law requiring women to get sonograms prior to having an abortion. Gray writes:

[The] fervor of the governor’s pro-life stance was expressed most succinctly not in his public remarks after the law’s passage, but in the extraordinary legislative maneuvering he used to enact it: By declaring passage of the law an “emergency”, Perry pushed it ahead of other pieces of legislation scheduled to be discussed by the Texas House of Representatives, and forced debates over real emergencies—like the jobs crisis, the state budget deficit, and out of control wild fires—to wait.

Personally invasive culture war issues are an “emergency,” while the economy, wild fires, and a budget deficit take a back seat? That’s probably not a moral vision shared by most people nationally, and it doesn’t sound like it comes from much of a concern for individual liberty.

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Comments (7)

  1. Terry Bake

    Of course Perry’s no LIBERTARIAN. By which you mean RIGHT LIBERTARIAN. There are LEFT LIBERTARIANS. Obviously Perry is also not one of THEM. If you can’t make this distinction, between Right and Left Libertarians, stop writing about politics. Try and get a political education instead.

    Perry links up with Dominionists, so you might call him one of THOSE. But it’s probably fairer to simply say he means to make use of them politically in a purely cynical way, as the GOP is famed for doing for a long while now with respect to Right Wing Extremist Religionists generally. This in no way excludes their eagerness to use the political support of racists, those vastly ignorant, those incredibly afraid…and of course…stupid people.

    In terms of his willingness to do approximately anything for the sake of his own power and that of his corporate sponsors, we might most usefully categorize Perry as a FASCIST. TEXAS STYLE.

    So, he’s a TEXAS STYLE FASCIST. That the corporate media is willing to even take this guy seriously as a presidential candidate marks a real low point in our national politics…but then, they also like to play up those two mentally ill women, one of them saying she may or may not run, as well. In terms of entertainment value, they seem each to be equal.

    In terms of their ability to prove disastrous to this country if elected president, both are perhaps more or less equivalent to Romney, a cult member billionaire I’m placing very much in the current U.S. fascist camp.

    That’s right. Fascist. Try saying the word over and over until it rolls right off of your tongue…and while you’re at this, try and name ONE other U.S. fascist. You’ve been drilled by Orwellian style propagandists here not to be able to do so! Come on…you can do it! Now expand that list. Once you understand the general ground covered by the term, you will be able to name quite a few. At first it will probably be hard work. But then you will be able to see them and their handiwork everywhere.

    Think of the so-called Neoconservatives for one example. Don’t be fooled by their somewhat lack of consistency! They too are fascists. Fascists don’t suddenly appear when the time (or the times) are right. They are always here. You need only look for ‘em.

    Give it a try, eh?

  2. JMW

    Citing the Texas law on abortions, I heard on the radio today that a judge has struck down parts of that law which require a doctor to
    a) show the pregnant woman a sonogram of her baby, whether she wants to see it or not;
    b) make the pregnant woman listen to the heartbeat of her unborn baby, whether she wants to or not
    c) punish doctors who fail to do so by revoking their license to practice medecine and by fines up to $10,000.

    The court felt that forcing doctors to do this was imposing an ideological agenda on doctors whether they agreed with it or not (to me, a clear violation of their first amendment rights), as it is not medically necessary.

    Of course, the state of Texas appealed this decision within an hour of the judge handing it down.

  3. mildly interested

    This guy is bad for the country, bad for women, bad for immigrants, bad for people who want a good education, and let’s face it, he’s even bad for religion.

    But, he will do anything Big Corporate wants as long as they finance him.

    An unfortunately, that is the only parameter that matters in this burned-out husk of what was once a great nation.

  4. Sure he is bad. But could he REALLY be worse than the last Texan we suffered through.?
    Yes. he will be much worse. That’s why I’m sporting sticker proclaiming “The last thing we need is another Texan in the White House ” like the one at EvolveFISH.com/fish/TLS-stickers.html#5116

  5. Messier Tidy Upper

    Heard a good quote from Rick Perry that actually sums up Global Warming (or shoudlwe call it Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating – HIRGO for short?) really well :

    “You just don’t understand how quickly this can get out out of hand and put people’s lives or their property in jeopardy.”

    Indeed not, Guv’nor!

    Seen on SBS World News (Australian TV) Tuesday 6th Sept. 6.30 pm.

    He was talking about the recent Texas bushfires – or wildfires as they call’em over in the States I gather – but it also applies so well to, well, that whole climatology problem he denies is real.

    The news segued from there into a story about an ominous new hurricane off the US eastern coast – and followed mention of the drought and heatwave that helped the wildfires get so severe. Go figure.

  6. Messier Tidy Upper

    Rick Perry : Not a lbertarian – also, surely NOT electable. Surely .. please?

  7. A. Hick

    The media have jumped on the Perry bandwagon and proclaim him the nominee already. He may get it, but understand that a large chunk of the Republican establishment (including the Bushes and Karl Rove) will be furiously trying to stop him.

    His nomination will most likely spark a stealth civil war among Republicans. similar to 1964, with many in the Bush camp actively seeking to defeat him in the general election, even if this means four more yeat of Obama (which they believe would be good for Jeb’s fortunes.)

    A Perry presidency. whether successful or disatrous (it would be disastrous) would destroy any influence the Bushes have in the party and ruin Jeb on a national level forever (yeah ok they don’t realize W. probably already has, but that is another story.)

    If Perry manages to defeat Obama, the Bushes, and Karl Rove next year, he would be the most sucessful political demagogue in American history. And then, ironically, probably the worst president in American history. Perhaps even the last. LOL

    Got wildfires? Blame the queers!

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