Lessons for an Anti-Establishment Movement

Daniel McCarthy at The American Conservative‘s blog has an interesting post on the pro-life movement 37 years after Roe v. Wade. Despite some obvious discrepancies between mainstream pro-lifers and libertarians, I have never believed that the two must be as antagonistic as many “economically conservative, socially liberal” Libertarian Party members would indicate. And the problems that McCarthy points out are important ones for any anti-establishment, minority movement (including our own) to consider:

The right-to-life movement has been impaled on the horns of a dilemma for 37 years. Republican politicians and conservative movement hacks have long wanted pro-lifers to keep their mouths shut and loyally vote for the party that throws them table scraps. Pro-lifers who want to be realistic think they have to settle for this, even to the point, apparently, of valorizing the pro-Roe Scott Brown. The pro-lifers who commit themselves to principle over partisanship, on the other hand, all too often run down the blind alleys of third-party politics (which isn’t politics at all, but is to politics what “Dungeons and Dragons” is to medieval history) and New Left-style protest theater. (The March for Life itself, of course, is modeled on the civil-rights and antiwar marches of the 1960s, whose successes are vastly exaggerated – if marches could end wars, we wouldn’t be in Iraq today.) Each side is feckless enough to serve as the other’s justification: the quietists, third partiers, and protesters can say, quite rightly, that the incrementalists will never overturn Roe. The incrementalists, on the other hand, can say just as correctly that their critics’ methods can’t even achieve the smallest victories, like enacting parental-consent laws.

If you want to be politically effective, you will probably have to use a major party — but you have to use it, not let it use you. Unfortunately, the people who have the purest motives, who are most habitually inclined to trust the honorable intentions of others, wind up as fodder for the likes of Scott Brown once they get involved in the bloodletting that is politics. [Emphases mine]

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