Alex Massie

The Party of Trammeled Freedom

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Like James, I thought there's some interesting stuff in David Brooks' column today. On the other hand there's also a fair quantity of stuff with which one might take some issue. To wit:

Today, if Republicans had learned the right lessons from the Westerns, or at least John Ford Westerns, they would not be the party of untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice. They would once again be the party of community and civic order.

What? When did the GOP become the party of "untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice"? Remind me please, because I seem to have missed it. This is a very strange statement since no-one would suggest that social conservatives, say, are big on freedom*, trammeled or not, and last time I checked it was they, not the wacky libertarians, who had the loudest voices in the Republican caucus.

Furthermore, Brooks' analysis of westerns also seems slightly dubious. That is in as much as it features pioneers who organise their communities - and their customs - with the minimum interference from the state the western seems a particularly libertarian genre. Talk about spontaneous order!

*OK, among many other things: War on Drugs, War on Gay Marriage, War on Abortion, Terry Schiavo, War Against Immigration, War on Castro etc etc. Whatever one might think of any of these issues, the prevailing GOP position on each of them does little to advance freedom or individual choice. 

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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