The standoff in Nevada shows that many freedom-minded Americans are drawing a line in the sand. They're standing up literally--as well as figuratively--to an increasingly overbearing federal government. That's good news. It's also good news that the government backed down. That demonstrates that freedom-minded Americans need not depend on elected representatives to make changes in policy. They're able to spark change through their own actions.
There's more good news: although Republicans lag the nation in its change of heart on social issues and foreign policy, more people on the Right are coming to realize that the federal government's marijuana prohibition and interventionist foreign policy are costly like its economic and environmental policies.
The editors of National Review, arguably the most influential conservative publication in the nation, recently published an editorial arguing for the legalization of cannabis. The conservative publication of record has come to realize the high cost of marijuana prohibition, both in terms of currency and human life:
Regardless of whether one accepts the individual-liberty case for legalizing marijuana, the consequentialist case is convincing. That is because the history of marijuana prohibition is a catalogue of unprofitable tradeoffs: billions in enforcement costs, and hundreds of thousands of arrests each year, in a fruitless attempt to control a mostly benign drug the use of which remains widespread despite our energetic attempts at prohibition. We make a lot of criminals while preventing very little crime, and do a great deal of harm in the course of trying to prevent an activity that presents little if any harm in and of itself.Quite a departure from the Right's "Just Say No" rhetoric of the Reagan era.
More people on the Right are also coming around on military interventionism. Rand Paul, whose non-interventionist view of foreign policy is a 180-degree-turn from a decade of George W. Bush-brand military adventurism, is a serious contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. In fact, according to some polls, he's the leading candidate. In modern history, no Republican nominee for president has had a view of foreign policy anywhere close to Rand's. Even Barry Goldwater was an interventionist.
That's impressive. Even though Rand isn't the libertarian his father is.
These are times of uncertainty and anxiety. But these are also times of an encouraging paradigm shift on the Right. These are times to be hopeful about the liberty movement: it's growing in size and influence, and it's heading in the right direction.