A Model for Libertarian Success

With the GOP practically snubbing Ron Paul at the convention, many liberty activists are no doubt wondering what they should do now. Should they focus on working within the GOP, or working outside it?

Is the GOP a vehicle for liberty, or is it something that libertarians should avoid? I’m tending towards the latter; as much as the Ron Paul movement has done something wonderful within the GOP, and has reawakened a liberty movement there, the past few years have shown what the GOP is really turning into. It’s not even really a conservative party any longer; it is transforming into a right-wing populist party. Holding hearings on the disastrous effects of nonexistent sharia law in America and moving to ban pornography in your platform and leading people like Todd Akin to be nominated in your races is not even conservative anymore. It’s just bonkers. The Tea Party has contributed significantly to this; I know how everyone is crowing about the Tea Party being libertarian, but let’s be honest. Maybe half of the Tea Party movement is vaguely “libertarianish.” The rest are a motley collection of right-wing populists and cultural conservatives who do believe in decreased government spending and lower debt but also are gung-ho for war (whether on drugs or terrorists) and have no problem with the government legislating private bedroom activity.

Unfortunately…it may be that libertarians will have to work with it. It pains me to say this, but outside the Gary Johnson campaign, the contemporary Libertarian Party is not doing so well. They have made many mistakes, and are not yet at the point where they can challenge either major party. That’s okay; such battles are not won overnight, but are multigenerational. Still, where to drive your resources.

I take a sandwhich as a model. The first layer, the lower bun, is local and state races. Here, libertarians should focus on supporting whomever genuinely advances the cause of liberty: Republican, Libertarian, or even Democrat. If they aren’t on the ballot, find folks who believe in liberty and help them get on there. There are courses available on how to run for local office, as well as many books. I don’t care if it’s for the waste disposal board or the library committee: the more (small-l) libertarians are active at the local level, the more rapidly the seeds of liberty will spread, because that’s where people see it. Citizens do not go to Congress or the White House. They do, however, go to the DMV or to school.

The second layer is the Congressional races. This is the black angus beef patty right here. It’s in Congress where deals are made and laws are written, where the most crucial part of governing is (supposed) to happen. At this point in time, there don’t seem to be many Libertarians running at this level (though if you find one, let us know, will you?) but there are many libertarian Republicans. Ron Paul, of course, stands out, as does his son Rand in the Senate. But there is also Justin Amash, Jeff Flake, Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, and others. Ted Cruz won the Senate primary in Texas and may join them soon. Here, I think, it would be prudent for libertarians to back libertarian Republican candidates. If you really found a libertarian Democrat, then all right, but consider that at least the Republican party does give some lip service to libertarian ideals, but the Democrats demonize such thought. Here, backing Republican candidates and building up that libertarian caucus will be useful.

The final layer is the top bun, and that’s the presidential race. Let’s not beat around the bush, here: the presidential race is a glorified publicity stunt. It’s to get messages out there, to promote your party and your platform. This is especially true for third parties. Here, libertarians should focus on getting a Libertarian Party candidate into the debates, and getting him or her as much publicity as possible. Then, after a few cycles of this, we might be able to win. Too many liberty activists want some savior to swoop in and win the election outright, going from 1% of the vote (or less) right up to over 50%. That’s not going to happen. We have to work for the long haul, and just focus on cutting government as much as possible.

Anyone for local; libertarian Republicans for Congress; Libertarians for the presidential run. That’s a model for success that we can use.

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