How libertarianism can gain some steam
Libertarianism is becoming more and more popular. Ron Paul’s relative success compared to four years ago is evidence that folks are starting to get turned onto the idea of liberty not being a dirty word. However, as evidenced by Paul’s inability to win a single state thus far, there’s still a long, long way to go.
A couple of days ago, Jeremy Kolassa wrote a piece about some of the problems found in libertarian circles. Honestly, he’s dead on correct on pretty much everything he said. There’s more coming, and I’m not about to steal his thunder. Frankly, I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.
No, instead I want to talk about something related, but slightly different and that is actually winning elections.
Libertarians don’t really win them. Oh sure, they score victories in local government - which admittedly does have a significant impact on people’s lives - but not at the higher levels. There aren’t really any in Congress besides Paul and his son Rand (who only leans libertarian on some issues…not so much on others). If we are going to have a prayer of accomplishing much of anything, we have got to figure out how to win elections.
First, I suggest we quit demonizing those who we feel are less than “pure”. I’ve written about it before, but the fact is moderate libertarians are far easier to sell to the general public. I’m not talking about “moderate Republicans” or “moderate Democrats” in any way. A moderate of either party might be a libertarian, but also might be just as bad as what we’ve been getting already. No, I’m talking about moderate libertarians. I’m talking about guys who don’t rail about completely severing the welfare umbillical that so many in this nation find themselves attached to, but instead talk about hardcore reforming of the process. Instead of talking about wholesale legalization, they talk about decriminalizing pot.
For some, this sounds like heresy. I want all the same things most of you want. I want a government so small that it’s easy to forget it’s even there. However, we will never get there if we don’t step up and start understanding that ideas we think of as based in liberty are still viewed as radical by mainstream America. They, boys and girls, are the bulk of the voters out there. If we don’t win them over to our side, we will never see a day when this nation lives up to the promise laid down by our founders.
The majority of Americans agree with us on so many issues…but only to an extent. Support for the war on drugs is erroding, but most folks aren’t ready to legalize meth. Most folks support the Second Amendment, but they’re not quite ready to allow wholesale ownership of machine guns.
The thing to keep in mind is that opponents of these measures will continually rail about the ramifications of what will happen if you change the status quo, but by making those incrimental steps you drown those arguments out. Think about gun rights debates for a moment. In Georgia, for years I have heard about how “the streets will run red with blood” with every step we take forward. However, it hasn’t happened. It makes it easier to refute the naysayers when you have history on your side that says your opponents are just plain wrong.
The trick is to actually get to that point. We have to get our kind of guys elected. To do that, we need to build up some steam, and that means, like it or not, that we will need those oh-so-dreaded moderate libertarians. Let’s quit with Republicans that only suck moderately, or Democrats that are only just moderately bad on economics. At this point, we libertarians are like battered spouses, who keep coming back for abuse despite the fact that we know it’s not healthy while muttering “but he’s good to us.”
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, why isn’t it already happening? It could be because libertarians have made a pasttime about of bashing potential candidates because they’re not pure enough. We let the pefect be the enemy of the good enough. Instead of finding candidates that are for more liberty, only incrimentally, we find so many who will slam any variation from our own version of libertarianism.
Let’s be honest folks, for a group of people who take a “to each their own approach” to how our nation should work, we can be awfully judgemental of those who don’t toe our own version of the party line.