A not insubstantial amount of money, time, and intellectual effort was spent in the 70’s by libertarians hoping to achieve a meaningful libertarian-liberal alliance. It wasn’t exactly what Frank Meyer meant when he talked about fusionism. And it wasn’t as successful either. The most recent wave of this hope – liberaltarianism – has foundered as well. These dashed hopes aren’t all that surprising given that even real honest to goodness conservatives (as well as “American conservatives” who are really old school freedom-loving liberals in many ways) are far more amenable than progressives/modern liberals to the values that animate libertarians. Obama and his supporters have probably helped many libertarians recognize this. Good for libertarianism, bad for the country!
But these systematic failures shouldn’t prevent American conservatives and libertarians from crossing the ideological divide when possible and making tactical alliances on particular issues. Opposition to occupational licensing is one such area; leftists like Matt Yglesias have been willing to challenge such regimes and free market enthusiasts should help him push on this front. Ditto on corporate welfare such as stadium projects. As we saw recently on Lawyers, Guns, and Money, libgressives (who ordinarily might support public works or “stimulus” projects, especially if they benefit big labor) can be found who occasionally recognize rent seeking corporatist moves for what they are: raids on our collective pockets with negative outcomes for the public at large. So kudos to Scott Lemieux over there. Maybe we can find more convergence in the future and let’s keep hammering away together on issues we can agree upon.
For more on how these projects are such a bad deal, see David Boaz here. Unfortunately, the problem is bigger than major league parks and professional stadia in big cities.