(6 of 8)
"Libertarian" is political shorthand for leave me alone. Democrats have not been very good traditionally at leave-me-alone politics. Malcolm Wallop, the Republican former Senator of Wyoming, got elected in 1976 partly because of a memorable political ad he ran of a cowboy packing a portable toilet strapped to the rear of his horse, allegedly the result of a federal regulation. And while the Democrats will never be natural Barry Goldwater libertarians, a young Republican named Ryan Sager uses regional polling in a new book, The Elephant in the Room, to demonstrate that people in the inner Mountain states are more secular than the G.O.P.'s Southern base, and increasingly impatient with Bible-touting moralizing.
Liberal Democrats and conservative Westerners have also made common cause over civil-liberties issues. In Montana last year, for example, the incumbent G.O.P. Senator Conrad Burns tried to attack Jon Tester for his opposition to the Patriot Act. Tester shot back with this ad: "Nearly all of Montana's legislators--including 51 Republicans--want to replace the Patriot Act, because it lets Federal Government agents search our bank accounts, medical records, even our gun sales--for whatever reason. So when you see Senator Burns attack Jon Tester, ask him, Why do you think we're the enemy? Where's Osama bin Laden? And when did you get so out of touch with Montana?"
In fact, after the Montana state legislature passed the resolution opposing the Patriot Act, Governor Schweitzer decided to put some icing on the cake by pardoning 78 Montanans who had been convicted of sedition during World War I--a far more egregious case of the government trampling civil liberties than the Patriot Act is. "Most of them were German immigrants," Schweitzer told me. "Some of them were arrested for speaking German in public, others for refusing to buy war bonds. We had a big ceremony, and family members from 31 states came to honor their ancestors. It got pretty emotional."