Clowns To The Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right

Anastasia, in the inaugural post over at our sister blog Liberty Belles, asks (and attempts to answer) the old question why libertarians tend to side politically with the right:

Why is it that libertarians seem to so strongly identify with the Republican Party over the Democratic Party?... Why do libertarians’ fiscal similarities with Republicans trump the social stance we share with Democrats? The way I see it is that economic restrictions are much more societally detrimental and inimical to freedom than social restrictions for several reasons. First of all, it is much easier to to break a sodomy law and get away with it than to escape an FDA regulation on the development of a new drug, for example. Second, many of the most recent encroachments on civil liberties concern terrorists and other bad boys, so as much as you may not like the government sifting through your library records, it really won’t affect your investments or marriage prospects... Third, many of our own development recommendations see libertarians placing greater emphasis on economic freedom, assuming, hoping, or expecting that social freedoms will follow as a natural outcome. Thus, you have people like Margaret Thatcher making excuses for Pinochet’s regime in Statecraft. But that just brings us back to square one: exactly why do libertarians prioritize liberties the way that we do?

I'm actually going to leave aside this question for today (except for only to say that one could make good arguments that we' be better off aligning with the political left). While certainly grossly true that libertarians as a whole favor the right (at least from the behavior of registered and polled voters), it may be more useful to break the monolith down slightly. Mainly, the broad distinction of natural rights libertarians and consequentialist libertarians. I would be willing to bet that the natural rights crowd is more right libertarian, while the consequentialist crowd is more leftward.

Would people agree with the characterization? Is the libertarian subcategorization valid? Does it matter? And does it say anything about the philosophies of the left, right, and both groups of libertarians?

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Brandon, If you're going to

Brandon,

If you're going to justify libertarianism based on a commitment to protecting all negative rights, then I don't think that you can consistently ignore some rights violations simply because doing so prevents other kinds of rights violations that bother you more. You can, of course, adopt that strategy, but at that point, you're not a rights-based theorist any more.

Once you get in the business of harming X in order to prevent more serious harm to Y and Z, you're a consequentialist. You're now acting in such a way as to bring about the best set of consequences, with 'the best set of consequences' defined in terms of rights. That's a fine strategy, but it's not really a rights-based one.

Rights theorists regard rights as trumps. They can't be overridden regardless of the rosy consequences that one might get as a result. Your account, I worry, tries to have it both ways. You want economic rights to be trumps, but you're willing to sacrific social rights of a few in order to make that fewer economic rights get violated.

Once we start to play that game, though, we're heading left. After all, if rights can be ordered, well then, surely it's less of a violation to take a dollar from you than it is to, say, make it illegal for me to fuck whomever I want or to smoke plants that I grow in my own yard. So if I need to use your dollar in order to prevent someone else from violating those rights, surely that'd be okay, right? I don't see how such a claim is any different in kind from saying something like, I'll go along with making your relationship illegal because I think that's less of a violation than taking 25% of everyone's paycheck.

Your last sentence is, I think, a good description of libertarianism, but I think that it's an incomplete description. Not only must a rights-based libertarian refuse to allow violations of rights to maximize welfare, he also must, I would think, refuse to allow violations of rights to maximize some other set of rights.

I think you're right that a rights-based libertarian can't be a consistent leftist any more than she can be a consistent rightist. Rather, a rights-based libertarian ought probably to look for free-marketers who are socially liberal, whatever party they come from. What I often see among right-leaning libertarians, though, is complete antipathy for the entire left. That puzzles me, since after all, on at least some issues, libertarians and the left are natural allies.

It seems to me the problem

It seems to me the problem is that the types on the Left that genuinely care about civil liberties have ZERO "pull" in the political sphere now. Moving towards a government-planned economy seems to be more popular w/ the ones that actually vote than ending the War on Drugs & repealing the Patriot Act.

Of course, the same can be said for supposed "conservatives". One would gauge from their current behavior that they'd literally burn the constitution if you claimed to them it was written by a cabal of homosexuals.

edit: In voting for

edit: In voting for Republicans, I would argue that libertarians do just that; they sacrifice the rights of gays and atheists in exchange for higher taxes and bigger government.

Some of it is historical - the LP began as a dissident faction of YAF, which was goldwaterist. Some of it is class-based. Many libertarians like me are white men, native-born, bookish, suburbal. Shared class privilege promotes identification with the gop county-club set, which at least speaks our dialect.
Some of it is that left has moved away from much interest in civil liberties. Big corporation using corrupt officials to kick an old lady out of her home? There was a time when the left cared about stuff like that, or claimed to.
Sodomy laws affect most of us, given that they included heterosexual oral sex. Most of us have had a beer while underage, and are thus drug law violators.
We aren't very good at speaking to our core constituency - illegal aliens, black guys who've been subjected to unconstitutional conditions in jail, the lady who had her kids taken away by social services... people who are relatively powerless against state abuses.
we most just speak to each other, the ones who have read hayek and nozick and david freidman and so forth.

The usual worry is that once

The usual worry is that once you start rank-ordering rights in the way that you suggest, it’s a pretty small step to, say, trade some small rights violations for the protection of some bigger rights. In voting for Republicans, I would argue that libertarians do just that; they sacrifice the rights of gays and atheists in exchange for lower taxes and smaller government.

But why don't you think this applies equally to a libertarian voting for Democrats? The right prefers to violate some rights, and the left prefers to violate others. Whichever side you pick, you're going to be abandoning some rights in order to save others, so you can't pick a side without some rank-ordering of rights.

Also, I don't think we agree on what a natural-rights libertarian is. As I see it, a pure natural-rights libertarian is one who believes that public policy should be designed to respect individual rights regardless of consequences. That doesn't mean that he can't consider some violations of rights to be worse than others, and it doesn't mean that his head will explode if he's confronted with a metaphysical necessity to choose to allow one of two types of rights violations. It just means that he won't entertain the idea that government should be allowed to violate those rights for the purposes of welfare maximization.

Brandon's definition seems

Brandon's definition seems more in line with what I'm used to.

OK, Scott, then what do you

OK, Scott, then what do you think of my theory about the philosophical mechanisms?

Ha, Trent. I'll agree with

Ha, Trent. I'll agree with you and Patri.

There is a reason why

There is a reason why rights-based theories are also called absolutist theories; they don’t allow for us to ignore some violations in order to focus on other more important violations.

If by absolutist you mean natural rights libertarian, I have to disagree again. Prioritizing A and B doesn't mean *ignoring* C and D; it's simply a recognition of the fact that is not practically feasible to stop the causes of all rights violations by government at once (short of over throwing the government). Is it your claim that it is impossible for a natural rights libertarian to actively try and stop government rights violations because they are hopelessly confounded by where to begin?

Trent, I just don't have any

Trent,

I just don't have any empirical data to go on, save for some personal anecdotal picks which I don't have much confidence in. Which is why I thought my reversed method would be the better illuminator.

Joe,

Thanks.

Seeing as I don't vote, could I get away with being a rights-based libertarian?

Also, as to:

You’re right that it’s not relevant to this discussion. Interesting, though. I would wonder, if you agree with the right on all these issues as well as on economic issues, why you’re a libertarian. Don’t Republicans pretty much already cover the ground that you’re interested in? But that’s probably a discussion for another time and place.

It deals with subtle distinctions. Do I think homosexuals should be allowed to get married? Yes. Am I homophobic? Not in the least -- a gay friend and I are currently IMing each other, discussing the Kelo opinion. But I side with Republicans -- of the Scalia mold -- that would reserve questions of sodomy, gay marrieage, etc. to state legislatures, because being a libertarian also involves favoring decentralized government.

As to abortion -- there is nothing inherently contradictory between being a libertarian and being pro-life.

My two cents: Although my

My two cents:

Although my ideology has changed just about monthly for the last several years (I'm still learning), I think I'm settling comfortably amongst the consequentalist libertarians.

Because market anarchy is so appealing to me right now, I can relate in a roundabout way to the left in as much as we agree the best answers to everything have not already been written. The Founding Fathers did not design the best system and improvement upon it could and should be considered. Of course, that's where the agreement ends, as our visions of what is "progressive" are quite different.

Or, as Patri says in another

Or, as Patri says in another post: I’m a consequentalist only when cool-headed - my anger is all about natural-rights.

I would say I agree with that.

RKN, Certainly you are right

RKN,

Certainly you are right that one cannot try to resolve everything at once. On the other hand, a real rights-based theorist will not simply ignore a whole set of rights violations in order to work on "more serious" rights violations. Once we get into the game of maximizing rights (or minimizing rights violations), we are engaging in what Nozick (I think?) calls a utilitarianism of rights. A rights-based account, one grounded in some kind of notion of liberty or autonomy, doesn't have the resources to say that _this_ is the kind of right I'm really worried about and those other kinds are less important. An action either violates autonomy or it doesn't.

There is a reason why rights-based theories are also called absolutist theories; they don't allow for us to ignore some violations in order to focus on other more important violations. Personally, I think that's a reason to prefer consequentialist accounts. Others, however, take the same point as a reason for preferring rights-based accounts.

It would be interesting,

It would be interesting, Trent, to propose a reason for why libertarians might divide as you suggest – consequentialists to the left, natural rights to the right. Then we could debabte how persuasive your claim was.

Either that's backwards, Scott, or one of us misundersting the other. My goal to was to A) make the emperical claim that such tendency exists, and if so move on to B) determine why that is so. This seems to be the proper order to ask these questions, and the opposite of what you propose.

Assuming that the empirical claim is true (Scott, you would be an exception), I think it revolves around the fundamental philosophies. While conseq. and NR libs arrive at the same answers, they get there by asking different questions (assuming away the fact that many hold a mixture of the two). The endpoints are really coincidental. C libs ask similar ?'s as the left and thus can be persuaded by argument by some leftist arguments, thus they tend to be more politically friendly (and vice versa). Likewise, NR libs ask the same ?'s as the right, and even though they get different answers, they are more likely to find friendly political territory there (and vice versa).

Scott, _As it stands, I

Scott,

_As it stands, I think the right usually gets the right answer on those questions, with a few caveats, but I don’t think that’s relevant._

You're right that it's not relevant to this discussion. Interesting, though. I would wonder, if you agree with the right on all these issues as well as on economic issues, why you're a libertarian. Don't Republicans pretty much already cover the ground that you're interested in? But that's probably a discussion for another time and place.

_Regardless, I was only questioning your claim that the left was more protective of issues that only affect a small amount of people than the right is._

That wasn't my intention. I was arguing that the left sides with traditional libertarian positions on these issues, but that the issues are such that they affect a smallish number of people. Those are meant to be two distinct claims. That the issues affect fewer people is the reason (or at least a reason) why libertarians side with the right rather than the left. I didn't mean to imply that leftists are more concerned with the rights of minorities. (Though I would argue that, in the areas we're discussing, it's the left that is protecting the rights of minorities against the wishes of the majority. But that, too, is a different point, I think.)

_But some ranking of rights violations is necessary, no? Since abolition of all violations is not an option, we must choose which violations we are going to try and prevent. I’m not sure how a “utilitarianism of rights” can be avoided in a world of scarce resources._

The usual worry is that once you start rank-ordering rights in the way that you suggest, it's a pretty small step to, say, trade some small rights violations for the protection of some bigger rights. In voting for Republicans, I would argue that libertarians do just that; they sacrifice the rights of gays and atheists in exchange for lower taxes and smaller government. That's a perfectly legitimate move to make, but it is, fundamentally, a consequentialist approach to libertarianism.

Nozick's rights-based account views rights as side-constraints. They set absolute boundaries on what we can and cannot do. So for Nozick, it would be unaccptable (I think) to vote for someone who will ban sodomy while at the same time lowering taxes. To knowingly go along with a rights violation (even indirectly) in order to achieve a good result is not deontological thinking; it's consequentialist. Nozick, of course, holds that all rights are negative rights (or non-interference rights), so it's not really all that hard to respect all of them at once. Just don't override someone's choices and you're fine. Nothing really needs to be sacrificed here. I don't see why you should _have_ to choose between economic liberties and social liberties. A consequentialist can, but one can be a libertarian without doing so.

I consider my self a

I consider my self a consequentialist libertarian, and I definatly lean to the right. I suspect that most people are more concerned with economic issues vs the social ones because most of us are not affected by the social restrictions. I don't do drugs, don't engage in sodomy, rarely bother with porn. I don't check out books on how to make bombs from the library.

I am burdened with taxes and find job prospects affected by over-regulation. I'm more worried about the national debt than by prayer in schools.

Joe, As it stands, I think

Joe,

As it stands, I think the right usually gets the right answer on those questions, with a few caveats, but I don't think that's relevant.

Regardless, I was only questioning your claim that the left was more protective of issues that only affect a small amount of people than the right is.

I agree with Chris' argument.

I, however, don't understand your summation:

"There is a reason why rights-based theories are also called absolutist theories; they don’t allow for us to ignore some violations in order to focus on other more important violations."

But some ranking of rights violations is necessary, no? Since abolition of all violations is not an option, we must choose which violations we are going to try and prevent. I'm not sure how a "utilitarianism of rights" can be avoided in a world of scarce resources.

Am I misunderstanding you?

Perhaps one could choose which rights to protect at random -- that would prevent ranking. I'd be interested in how Nozick handled the issue.

Scott: "But the right also

Scott: "But the right also worries about abortion, gay marriage, and similar topics - albeit from a different angle - even though many people are not affected by them."

Yeah, certainly. Of course, the right gets the wrong answer to all these questions, at least from a libertarian perspective. It's on these sorts of issues that libertarians and the left agree, no? So if we're trying to figure out why libertarians prefer the right (with which they agree about some things) over the left (with which they agree about other things), then one possible answer would be the one that Chris offers above: the things that the left and libertarians agree on don't affect all that many libertarians while the things that the right and libertarians agree on affect lots more (all?) libertarians.

Certainly both left and right talk about social issues. Left and right both talk about economic issues, too. My point wasn't that only the left talks about such things; it was that these are the things the left talks about with which you, as a libertarian, presumably mostly agree.

I'm largely a

I'm largely a consequentialist -- and I lean rightward.

Republican parents will do that.

It would be interesting, Trent, to propose a reason for why libertarians might divide as you suggest -- consequentialists to the left, natural rights to the right. Then we could debabte how persuasive your claim was.

I don't think it has as much

I don't think it has as much to do with policy choices as it does underlying philosophy. The right, at least nominally, distrusts the effecicacy of government solutions while the left worships them.

Noah: "The right, at least

Noah: "The right, at least nominally, distrusts the effecicacy of government solutions while the left worships them."

That claim might have been true of the Goldwater-era right. It was still true during the first part of the Reagan era. But by the end of Reagan's second term and certainly by Bush 41, it just was no longer true of the right. The rhetoric is still there, but the actions aren't. Bush 43 has pushed spending levels higher faster than Clinton while at the same time using government to restrict all sorts of personal freedoms. Libertarians who think that today's right is more congenial are looking for a right that no longer exists.

Yes, and also, as to

Yes, and also, as to Joe's:

"... many people are not affected by what the left considers to be pressing social issues: abortion, sodomy, gay marriage, censorship, institutionalizing religion, etc."

But the right also worries about abortion, gay marriage, and similar topics - albeit from a different angle - even though many people are not affected by them.

After all, once one starts

After all, once one starts ranking the relative importance of rights violations, going after the worst ones first, then one is pretty much starting to play the consequentialist game.

I don't think so. Even a natural rights libertarian activist has to prioritize. Short of calling for the immediate and complete overthrow of government that is. And even that wouldn't eliminate rights violations, only rights violations by government men.

Certainly at the national

Certainly at the national political level, the right has lost its ideals. But I'm not sure that characterization covers the right as a whole. My Republican friends generally distrust government, even at present.

I would think that there

I would think that there might be some reason for thinking that the divide ought to run the other way. Natural rights libertarians, after all, are going to be worried about the rights of every single individual in society. As Chris points out, many people are not affected by what the left considers to be pressing social issues: abortion, sodomy, gay marriage, censorship, institutionalizing religion, etc. To the extent that one is a consequentialist, it might be relatively easy to dismiss these issues as less important because they have less immediate impact and the impact that they do have falls on only a small percentage of people.

A natural rights libertarian, on the other hand, ought really to be concerned with all violations of rights, no matter how few are being affected. After all, once one starts ranking the relative importance of rights violations, going after the worst ones first, then one is pretty much starting to play the consequentialist game.

If you’re going to justify

If you’re going to justify libertarianism based on a commitment to protecting all negative rights, then I don’t think that you can consistently ignore some rights violations simply because doing so prevents other kinds of rights violations that bother you more. You can, of course, adopt that strategy, but at that point, you’re not a rights-based theorist any more.

But what's the alternative? You seem to be implying that a natural-rights libertarian, confronted with two choices, each of which will favor more of one type of rights violation and less of the other, cannot make a decision. But to abstain from deciding is itself a decision. So it would seem, by your logic, that there can never be such thing as a natural-rights libertarian in a non-libertarian world.

It's very simple,

It's very simple, really.

Todays Democrats, and the Left in general, are Statists in word and deed.

Republicans at least pay lip service to a *few* Individualist ideals.

Todays Democrats, and the

Todays Democrats, and the Left in general, are Statists in word and deed.

Republicans at least pay lip service to a few Individualist ideals.

But then you gotta wonder - who hurts the cause of liberty more? Honest statists? Or lying sacks of shit who give liberty a bad name by their hypocritical actions and duplicitous rhetoric?

Sorry; I totally missed this

Sorry; I totally missed this paragraph.

Once we start to play that game, though, we’re heading left. After all, if rights can be ordered, well then, surely it’s less of a violation to take a dollar from you than it is to, say, make it illegal for me to fuck whomever I want or to smoke plants that I grow in my own yard.

Sure, but it's not a question of a dollar. It's a question of thousands of dollars. And that's a valid distinction even on natural rights grounds. Taking 50% of your income is a much greater violation than taking 1%.

So if I need to use your dollar in order to prevent someone else from violating those rights, surely that’d be okay, right? I don’t see how such a claim is any different in kind from saying something like, I’ll go along with making your relationship illegal because I think that’s less of a violation than taking 25% of everyone’s paycheck.

It's not different, and that's my point. Either side involves selling out some rights to protect others. No matter which camp you're in, personal values and preferences come into play in picking a side. For the NR types, it's a question of which rights they value more. For consequentalists, it's a question of the ends at which they aim.

Brandon: "You seem to be

Brandon: "You seem to be implying that a natural-rights libertarian, confronted with two choices, each of which will favor more of one type of rights violation and less of the other, cannot make a decision."

I'm not sure that I see why it is that libertarians should think that these are the sorts of choices available. If all rights are negative rights (that is, if all the rights you recognize are non-interference rights) then why should a choice ever require that you violate some rights to protect more rights?

If you hold that rights can conflict with one another, such that I can respect your rights _only_ at the expense of someone else's rights, then you might get dilemmas which involve violating some right. But I'm not sure I see how a list that consists entirely of negative rights can have this kind of conflict.

But the issue here really isn't whether a natural-rights libertarian could choose between two options that both involve some rights violations. The issue is whether a natural-rights libertarian can choose an act that involves some rights violations over an act that does not. My argument is that the strong sorts of support that libertarians often give to the right is inconsistent with natural-rights arguments; after all, there is an alternative available that doesn't violate any rights at all. Actually, there are several. One can refuse to vote. One can vote for LP candidates. One can vote only for candidates (of whichever party) support the market and social rights. It's not like anyone is forcing you to vote for either the right or the left. If that were the case, if there really were _only_ two options, then yeah, a natural-rights libertarian could choose one of them. But that's not the set of alternatives available. So to the extent that a libertarian decides to choose an option that violates some rights, knowing that there are options that don't violate any rights at all, then such a libertarian is a consequentialist, not a natural-rights libertarian.

At the risk of being an

At the risk of being an asshole, I question Trent's original premise. In answer to his questions: I doubt that subcategorizing libertarians as natural-right-ists and consequentialists is valid, and I'm certain that it doesn't matter. The difference between the two is a minor bit of philosophy, dwarfed by the yawning chasm of practical policy differences between libertarians and both the political left and right.

I'm a consequentialist and a believer in natural rights. I'm a minarchist and an anarchist. I'm a pragmatic and a utopian. I support Cato and I support the Libertarian Party. I am large; I contain multitudes.

I can make an iron-clad case for libertarian policies to either a leftist or a rightist, and I won't depend on any single approach to do it. I'll engage them on all fronts. I'll employ my best powers of reason, rhetoric, philosophy, and emotion to persuade them, and I'll do so with confidence that I am being neither manipulative nor dishonest.

Alas, I'll probably also fail. Let's face it, we're in the minority here, and the majorities on both sides are stubborn and persistent and ubiquitous. Still, deciding whether my libertarianism is founded in rights or consequences ranks right down there with counting angels on pinheads when it comes to convincing others of the merits of my positions, particularly when their general approach to political issues can be summarized as "Capitalism is unfair" or "Things I don't like are morally wrong". (Or even worse: "Republicans are evil" and "Democrats are immoral".)

Picking up up the question Trent left aside: why do libertarians side politically with the right? I assert that they don't. Some may *vote* for Republicans and others may *vote* for Democrats, but I've never encountered a self-described libertarian that sided with either party nor supported conservative or liberal viewpoints when they conflicted with their own. Libertarians don't engage in politics; politics is about horse-trading and compromising some of one's views to get the support of the majority. Libertarians are lousy at that, and we know it, and we prefer it that way. We want to bring others to our cause, not yield the ground.

We perform our biennial ritual of maximizing the utility of our ballot: do we try to push up our numbers, do we abstain from the entire exercise, or do we choose the lesser of two evils... and which evil is the lesser this time, anyway? It's a defensive strategy, not an endorsement. Usually we split down the middle between those more afraid of communism and those more afraid of theocracy. This time around we split down the middle on the war.

But I don't believe for a second that any of us are siding with, identifying with, aligning with, or even sympathizing with the left or the right. The best of us are engaging them, persuading them, challenging them, defying them, and to the degree such is possible, converting them.

eddie - I salute you.

eddie - I salute you.

I cited a study (from

I cited a study (from Fortune I think) which completely obliterated the "big government liberal" stereotype. Republicans over the last 60 years have spent 15% more on average than their democratci counterparts. The old "I'm against war but I don't want Gov't spending to go up" argument is hooey. I'll dig the study up again if someone doesn't believe me.

Eddie, Your argument is very

Eddie,

Your argument is very well put, passionate and clearly heartfelt. It's also fundamentally question begging.

The underlying premise of your entire argument is that the only thing that really matters is converting others to your position, and that it doesn't matter how you go about doing that converting. That, of course, is exactly the sort of thing that one would expect a consequentialist to say. So to the extent that folks are persuaded by your argument, they probably are also consequentialist libertarians. Those who argue that principles really do matter more than conversions are probably natural rights libertarians.

I think that the trouble with your response is that it completely ignores the most important question: why bother to convert anyone to libertarianism in the first place? Without an answer to that question, you're just engaging in sophistry. But once you start answering the question "Why convert?" then you're going to have to provide some sort of justification, and I suspect that, in your case, the justification is going to be spelled out in terms of consequences. Holding a position that you're unwilling ultimately to defend as true but prefer instead simply to defend on whatever grounds I'm willing to accept, well, that's just intellectually dishonest. You must have reasons for being persuaded of the rightness of your position and those reasons are, likely, going to be either consequentialist or rights-based. Those two different types of reasons are going to have implications, and it's those implications, as well as their underlying philosophical differences, that Trent's post is aimed at capturing.

Joe, thanks for your reply.

Joe, thanks for your reply. I take your point completely, but I think you (and Trent) are pursuing a dichotomy where none exists, or at least does not necessarily exist. As I understand the terms, the rights-based view favors libertarian policies because violating rights is wrong, while consequentialism favors them because they produce the best outcomes.

Guess what? I favor libertarian policies becase violating rights is wrong and because they produce the best outcomes. I see no conflict between the two views.

Other political viewpoints besides libertarianism can be and often are justified based on either principles or outcomes. I doubt that many of their adherents give much thought to whether they are principlists or consequentialists; I expect if you asked them which rationale drives them towards their goals, they would answer "Both!" and wonder why you asked the question.

Recognizing that people can and do value both principles and outcomes doesn't make me a consequentialist; I don't use that fact to justify policy. I use that fact to shape discussions about policy; I use both NR-type and C-type arguments and use them honestly and passionately. That makes me a pragmatist.

But in my spare time, I'm also an idealist. :)

Eddie comes very close to my

Eddie comes very close to my view. Here are my thoughts on the underlying philosopy.

Consequentialism and Natural Rights each contain logical flaws which prevent you from building a grand ediface on them. As Jonathan made me aware some time ago, if I find C-type and NR-type arguments flawed, do I continue to base my moral choices on them?

The flaws are these:

Consequentialism (C-type arguments) - If you argue, "We would all be better off with policy X because it has better consequences", you end up equating values internal to different individuals. You say things like, "large farmers will lose agricultural subsidies, but consumers will benefit from a more efficient market for food" in spite of the good Austrian arguments that a farmer may value $1 of income differently than a consumer values $1 of savings.

Natural Rights (NR-type arguments) - I don't think there is a way around that pesky moral imperitave problem to bridge the gap from how the world is to how we should act in it.

That leaves me with the most solid footing for my ideology as the following:

People choose their actions. Most people would choose to respect the lives of others if they were shown reciprocal respect. I prefer to associate with these people. I am prepared to defend myself, my family and friends and perhaps even strangers against those people who would not respect our lives.

This view leads to C-type arguments when I assume that the person I am talking with makes the ethical choice in the second sentence (or would make it if he or she understood it clearly). When I refer to people who choose against mutual respect, I tend towards NR-type arguments. I do not recognize that anyone has a greater moral power to decide my life than I do, and will ignore, evade, or resist such people, as is within my capabilities.

Returning to the topic at hand, I think that most people who align themselves with the left or right do so more as a lifestyle or fashion choice than by making arguments from first principles. I don't see advocates of the political parties dissecting arguments and considering their basic assumptions as often as I see them criticizing each other's lifestyle choices.