January 16, 2008 8:00AM

Conservatism Revealed

What does it say about the Republican Party when the leading fusionist conservative in the field — Mitt Romney, darling of National Review and erstwhile heir to Ronald Reagan - runs and wins a campaign arguing that the federal government is responsible for all of the ills facing the U.S. auto industry, that the taxpayer should pony up the corporate welfare checks going to Detroit and increase them by a factor of five, that the federal government can and should move heaven and earth to save “every job” at risk in this economy, and that economic recovery is best achieved by a sit‐​down involving auto industry CEOs, labor bosses, and government agents armed with Harvard MBAs to produce a well‐​coordinated strategic economic plan? That is, what explains the emergence of economic fascism (in a non‐​pejorative sense) in the Grand Old Party at the expense of free market capitalism?

I have no answer. But it certainly explains the increasing migration of libertarians voters to the Democratic Party. They may be no better, but at least the Dems offer libertarians something in social and foreign policy circles that the Republicans don’t.