Edwin Rutsch: Have Conservative Values Failed?
Bob Barr: I'm not sure. The term "conservative values" means so many different things to so many different people. To me, what has utterly failed in the traditional conservative movement is any understanding of or respect for true individual liberty and our constitutional system of government, which was designed expressly to provide protection for individual liberty.
We now have a government which calls itself conservative, yet believes it's okay to spy on American citizens within their own country without a court order. We now have an administration which calls itself conservative and supports conservative values that believes it's okay to detain a citizen or non-citizen in this country and never give them access to courts to determine under habeas corpus if they are being held properly.
So if in fact respect for individual liberty, respect for the Constitution are conservative values, we certainly don't have that in Washington nowadays.
Edwin Rutsch: How about the Family Values?
Family values are part and parcel of the same notion of individual liberty. Where you have a Federal government, or in the cases of many of our state governments, state governments that want to tell individual citizens or the Federal government to override the decisions of the citizens.
For example, if the citizens of a particular state wish to legalize medicinal marijuana, or to change the definition of marriage in their state, why should the Federal government have any right, if in fact if it respects individual liberty and individual conservative values, have any power have any power to come in and override the position of the people of the state. Yet that's what we have in Washington. That's not conservatism. That's big government.
The value that is most important to me, is that which is most important, for example, to the great 20th Century philosopher Ayn Rand, and that is the value of individual privacy. As Ayn Rand said, the value of privacy, the notion of a person being freed from the interference of other people, is the essence of civilization.
And where you have a government that can come in and can invade your privacy, as Ayn Rand also said, you take away a person's freedom when you do that. That's the most important and fundamental of all values.
It's simply an understanding and a recognition that the notion of privacy in virtually everything you see and do government-involved-in nowadays -- whether it's surveillance cameras, whether it is wiretapping, whether it is trying to dictate to individuals or the states how one must behave, whether it's the government believing it can have access to our most personal financial and medical records without ever telling about it, or without showing a probable cause, it is under assault everywhere, and if we don't get a handle on it pretty soon, we'll lose the opportunity forever to do so.