Can this Marriage be Saved: Libertarians and the GOP


Conventions aren’t just about the present, conventions are also about the future. As the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa draws to a close, one of the most important questions for the party going forward is what role – if any – will libertarians play in the direction of the GOP in the years ahead.

Congressman Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign for the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination helped to launch the modern day liberty movement and gave voice to libertarians within the Republican Party.

The rise of the Tea Party and a second Paul Republican Presidential run gave the libertarian wing of the party hope for the future and increased visibility.

As Paul’s popularity grew in the party, so did the tension between the libertarian wing of the GOP and the party’s establishment. Many in the establishment would have you believe that the tension was more about the behavior of Ron Paul’s supporters than about policy. While there is no doubt that Ron Paul has an intensely loyal and fervent following, the truth is the tension wasn’t about behavior – it was about policy.

Libertarians want an end to foreign adventurism, they want deep cuts in spending across the board (including the military), they want government out of the boardrooms and the bedrooms, they want dramatic tax reform (starting with throwing out the current tax code), they want to privatize social security and Medicare, and they want a return to sound money.

The policy differences between libertarians and the current GOP are real and they are significant. The question going forward is whether this marriage can be saved?

There are two paths forward for libertarians: one is to stay within the Republican Party and push for change (the Rand Paul path) and one is to leave the party and work to make the Libertarian Party relevant (the Gary Johnson path).

I have endorsed Gary Johnson’s campaign for President – first as a Republican and then his Libertarian bid. I am actively working to build a Libertarian Party in DC, but still haven’t given up hope that the GOP can be saved. Like a lot of libertarians, I find myself questioning which path is best for the liberty movement and for our country.

I see the advantages in both, and as much as I would like to pretend I have the answer, I don’t. One thing is clear – the next few years will be watershed years for the liberty movement. The liberty movement will not die, but it will face serious challenges over the next 2 to 4 years.

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