Last night I attended a rally for J.D. Hayworth, the right-wing Republican challenger to John McCain. I did so only because I was invited by his Southern Arizona Coordinator, and I wanted to see what kind of support he’s drawing, what their issues are, and so forth.
I said nothing during the meeting, and almost nobody there knew that I am the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate.
It was an interesting experience. There were about 120-150 people at last night’s event: overwhelmingly white, average age 60+, and (judging from their attire) mostly middle class.
Hayworth is a dynamic speaker, who clearly loves talking to a crowd. He spoke for about an hour, and covered the topics you’d expect: taxes, employment, etc. He devoted the bulk of his remarks to explaining how he’s much tougher on “closing the border” than John McCain. He mentioned the Constitution frequently.
This was followed by a Q&A period. The first question was about repealing Obamacare. There were several about border-related issues, taxes, and out-of-control government. Nobody brought up Iraq/Afghanistan. Near the end, someone asked about “the mosque.” Hayworth was agin’ it, and the crowd was with him. Much hooting and cries of “Amen.” But interestingly, Hayworth did not address the subject in his initial talk, and it was almost the last question asked. At least in Southern Arizona, although most conservative voters feel strongly about “the mosque,” it’s nowhere near the top of their list of concerns. Nor should it be; we’re 2,200 miles away and people are more concerned with economic issues: jobs, taxes, and overbearing government. Plus, of course, issues related to the border with Mexico.
Southern Arizona is not typical of the whole USA. We’re on the border with Mexico, and there are a lot of retirees here, most of whom tend to be socially conservative. The group at Hayworth’s meeting was almost entirely conservative, so their concerns and feelings are not representative of the whole state, or even of relatively liberal Tucson. They’re CONSERVATIVES, dad-gummit, and proud of it!
I’m glad I went to the meeting. Although several of the Hayworth campaign’s top people like me personally, and have told me they’ll support me if Hayworth loses in Tuesday’s primary, I don’t think most of the folks at last night’s rally would do so once they learned where I stand on social issues. That’s OK; I’m not going to take un-libertarian positions just because they’re popular. Public opinion changes all the time; new issues arise and old ones fade. Our candidates should of course emphasize issues where the libertarian position is popular, but we mustn’t take anti-liberty positions just because public opinion of the moment is against liberty in some area.
If we maintain a consistent pro-liberty stance, we’ll change minds in a pro-liberty direction. If we compromise and conceal our positions, we will eventually destroy our brand. (Imagine what would happen to Johnnie Walker if they progressively diluted their black label whisky by 5% every year by substituting Coca-Cola!)