libertarian movement

Attracting women into the libertarian movement

There have been lots of blogs and articles about how to bring women into the libertarian movement. Rachel Burger took her stab at it this past Friday. Most of her piece is about social oppression and a response to another piece, but she concluded with this:

It’s very easy to point to state authoritarianism and say “no,” but we cannot ignore for societal oppression either. As a predominantly white male political group, the crushing effects of social oppression often go unrecognized within our circle, simply because it doesn’t affect the majority of libertarians. This cannot continue. If we want to see change in this country, we have to actively be aware of the states of different members of the population and work on more inclusive messaging. This includes women and minorities; once we start doing that, we might see more of them within our movement.

I’m not going to address minorities because Rachel’s piece wasn’t about that. The biggest problem with Rachel’s piece is it focuses way too much on the philosophical and not enough on practical things like messaging.

Most people don’t live their lives through an ideological prism. They care about just living their lives and taking care of their families. Libertarians have a tendency to try and reach people on a largely philosophical and theoretical plain and Rachel’s piece is no different in that regard. The problem is when you talk about feminist ideas on societal oppression or even abstract ideas on liberty; they don’t register with someone whose only concerns are about how they will provide for their families. As a movement, we need to be become more relevant to everyone’s lives. As we become a more practical movement, we can speak to everyone, regardless of gender.

Koch brothers file second suit against Cato

Last month, Charles and David Koch filed a lawsuit against the Cato Institute over the shares owned by the late William Niskanen. They insist that the shares were not transferrable to Niskanen’s widow and should have been made available for purchase.

In the days since the lawsuit was filed, scholars employed by and supporters of the Cato Institute have taken to the Internet, explaining that the lawsuit is nothing more than a hostile takeover of one of Washington’s premier, independent think tanks.

Unfortunately, the battle for the heart and soul of the libertarian movement was escalated yesterday when the Koch brothers filed a second lawsuit against Cato. They’re claiming that a recent election to expand the Institute’s governing board should be invalidated:

According to court documents filed Monday and obtained by The Washington Post, the Kochs are asking the court to invalidate the results of an “improper election” held recently by Cato’s board—an action the Kochs refer to as a “Board-packing scheme.”

On March 22 Cato’s board voted, by a narrow margin of 9-7, to increase the number of seats on the board and to fill those seats with four previous members whom the Kochs had removed earlier in March by exercising their shareholder rights in the organization.

According to the documents, the Kochs argue that, in accordance with Cato’s by-laws, the board has neither the power to expand its size, nor the power to fill the seats.

Koch brothers v. Cato Institute news roundup

Save CatoDoug Mataconis has already written a very good post weighing in on the legal battle between Charles and David Koch and the Cato Institute, so I’m not going to get into the meat of the issue again. But this recent bomb on the libertarian movement does have me concerned about its future, and with that, it’s something that you can expect us to cover as the case develops.

When it comes to the Koch brothers, I’m typically defensive. I think they’ve become a boogeyman for the Left. With that said, however, the Cato Institute is well-respected for their work promoting free markets, school choice, civil liberties, and an non-interventionist foreign policy. The folks at Cato are willing to call out all sides, including conservatives and Republicans, for trying to increase the size and scope of government. Making the Cato Institute a partisan would be a disaster, ruining the credibility of this respected think tank.

Below is a roundup of the various news and blog coverage of the fight for, what I consider to be, the very heart and soul of the libertarian movement (in no particular order). Not all of it is unbiased, meaning that it does include links to people with close ties to Cato, but it all makes for good reading if you want to follow the story:

Some (Very Belated) Resolutions for the Libertarian Movement

With the Iowa Caucuses recently completed (and Paul in a close third), the New Hampshire primaries upon us, 2011 receding into the past and 2012 coming upon us full-bore, the heavy boot of government dropping from the sky, the usual insanity and corruption coming out of Washington, and me trying to figure out how to write an intro for a belated post, I was thinking about what the libertarian movement should try to focus on in 2012. It took me awhile to figure out what to say, but I think I finally have it. Maybe. In a quick summary, the three things I believe the libertarian movement should try and do are:

  1. Set itself apart from conservatism and create its own “brand”
  2. Refuse to let the perfect be the enemy of the good
  3. Continue to educate the public on “crony capitalism” and “corporatism” and not engage in “vulgar libertarianism”

Rest assured I will do my utmost to explain what all of this means.

For me, one of my biggest problems with the way we’re spreading the libertarian message was crystallized with the resurgence of the Ron Paul newsletters last month. Jason cited professor Steve Horwitz’s Bleeding Heart Libertarians post on the subject, which plainly explained what was going on and the problems that libertarianism has to contend with. Namely, we must examine our past, see where we went wrong, and reject that, and boy, is there a lot of rejectin` to do.

GOProud, libertarians and CPAC

I read Melissa Clouthier’s post over at RedState on libertarians with interest. The title, “Should Libertarians Be Banned From CPAC” is obviously one that will attract very strong opinions, though she isn’t suggesting that we actually be banned.

Clouthier rightly notes that conservatism is made up of three legs -  fiscal conservatives, social conservatives and “defense hawks”; adding that “Republicans are NOT necessarily Conservatives, although many Republicans are conservative”:

Some politicians hold socially conservative beliefs but don’t like talking about them because it’s icky. More of them, especially in the Senate, are socially liberal.

Republicans killed their brand by nearly abandoning any form of fiscal conservatism. They believed in keeping taxes, but not spending, low. This caused the government to grow and the future debt obligations foisted on future generations to grow with it. The Democrats have since made the Republicans look like pikers in comparison, but the Republicans still have a ways to go to undo their image and action problem.

Clouthier then brings up GOProud, an organization comprised of gay conservatives that has been involved in a high-profile controversy due to their sponsorship of CPAC, noting their support of gay marriage. However, she also notes that GOProud has at least two of the three legs of conservatism by supporting a strong national defense and free markets.

She then brings up the libertarian position on gay marriage by referencing the platform of the Libertarian Party:

Where Do Libertarians Belong?

Cato Institute Vice President Brink Lindsey, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe, and Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online and the American Enterprise Institute discuss the issue of where the libertarian movement best fits in politically:


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