Conor Friedersdorf brings an independent-minded perspective to dialogues on politics and culture.
On Friedersdorf, Noah begins by accusing libertarians of turning a blind eye to the Bush-Obama national security state. Conor argues that supporting the Libertarian Party in a two-party system is not quixotic, even though libertarianism has an image problem. Moving to the debate over higher education, Noah suggests that a college degree doesn’t just signal intelligence, but that education actually transforms students. Conor, on the other hand, worries that college might cost society more than it’s worth.
Conor asks whether Bob might abandon the Democratic Party over national security issues. Bob posits that humans aren’t evolutionarily equipped to evaluate the possibility of blowback in foreign affairs. Conor wonders why Americans aren’t more willing to impose checks on the executive branch—what won’t the public will accept in the name of “security”? They next discuss whether Obama’s mild manner causes people to accept policies that they would object to under a more cowboyish president. Bob presses Conor about what he hopes to gain by voting for Libertarian Party candidates. They conclude with Bob making the case that network effects all but guarantee Facebook’s long-term success—an argument Conor isn’t buying.
Conor interviews Phil about his new e-book, Conservative Survival in the Romney Era, which argues that the right must give Mitt Romney the close scrutiny it failed to give George W. Bush. Phil believes Romney only won the GOP primary because of the failure of the conservative base to settle on a credible alternative. Conor wonders why Republican primary voters refused to even consider Jon Huntsman as a candidate, despite his conservative record. The two disagree about whether Tea Partiers confuse being principled with being combative. Phil argues that when it comes to the deficit we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Conor insists that a commitment to limited government ought to include restraining the national security state, and criticizes the GOP for being unconcerned with civil liberties.