Grassroots Commentary

When CPAC Libertarians Quote Reagan, I'm 80 Percent Suspicious

By B.P. Terpstra · Feb. 21, 2011
“The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally – not a 20 percent traitor.”

The popular quote above is attributed to Ronald Reagan, along with the variant, “That person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally; not a 20 percent traitor.”

It would be nice if some writers verified the above and the context it was made in, but for argument’s sake let’s accept it as fact and consider critical-thinking questions. After all, we’re thinkers.

Agreeable:

For starters, the world’s full of agreeable traitors, so are some opportunists using one quote to jump on conservative bandwagons, and pretending to agree with conversations 80 percent of the time?

As well, if someone agrees with you 99% of the time but embraces, say, man-girl marriages, is he an ally? So perhaps Reagan was (a) misquoted or (b) having a bad day.

Nevertheless, 80/20 hysterics fail to realize that the 20% area of disagreement can undermine the other areas of “agreement” as the abortion issue demonstrates. For example, what’s the point of a national security “conservative” against life?

Committed:

Even if one is naïve enough to buy the 80% agreeable line, problems still persist.

For example, if a cross-dressing libertarian activist pretends to agree with conservatives 80% of the time, and is an “ally,” what does that make the genuine Baptist who agrees with conservatives 90% of the time?

I’d submit that the said Protestant is a greater ally, and looks more like a committed lover, or life partner, and therefore should be treated with more respect.

Moreover, treating all conservatives as intellectual equals appears a little too socialist, and a drug pusher waltzing into CPAC looks feral.

Divisive:

Fair people don’t have a problem with healthy disagreements, but undermining committed conservatives is also suspicious.

I know Reagan wouldn’t tolerate this. Nor is Erick Erickson of Red State. Or as he puts it: “Are you a loser? If you are the Heritage Foundation, Media Research Center, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, the American Principles Project, Jim DeMint, Jim Jordan, Rush Limbaugh (given his comments yesterday on CPAC), and others – you are losers. [ACU’s] Grover Norquist says so. Norquist, last week, called those who chose not to participate in CPAC and those who share those views ‘losers.’”

Exploitation:

Unlike Norquist, Kevin McCullough has advanced the position that, “Libertarians and Conservatives are as different as Libertarians and Liberals. The truth is libertarians are the worst form of political affiliation in the nation. Combining the desire of economic greed, with the amoral desire to promote any behavior regardless of its cost to our culture is a stark departure from the intent of the Founding Fathers.”

And you don’t need a history major to figure this out either: “Libertarian elements, because of their strange combination of policies that add up to anarchy without moral limits, don’t mix with conservative ideals.”

Respectable:

What I do know is that 80 percent of the 80/20 hysterics make me itch, and need to demonstrate manners. Or to quote the quotable Michelle Malkin on Twitter (10 Feb), “If Libertarians want respect in the Conservative tent, they need to show respect.” Period.

You see, patriots recognize that there are negotiable and nonnegotiable issues, that there’s a C in CPAC for a reason, and that if you don’t open doors for ladies then you’re no conservative. But moreover, if you’re pacifist who sits on his biscuit (never having to risk it) you’re 80 percent suspicious, without question.

B.P. Terpstra is an Australian writer and blogger. His works can be found on The Daily Caller (Washington D.C.), NewsReal Blog (Los Angeles), Quadrant (Sydney), and On Line Opinion (Brisbane).