Is Libertarianism Dead?

I hate to admit it, but The Atlantic’s Clive Crook makes a convincing case, responding to Reason Magazine’s symposium on Where Do Libertarians Belong.

Libertarians disagree with progressives about markets and with conservatives about “values”, and that is really that. To the extent that they (we) serve any purpose at all, it is to challenge the two dominant strains of thinking, hoping to nudge each in the right direction. For now at least, I cannot see what purpose is served by worrying about which of these unappeasable opponents would make the better partner.

People with libertarian sympathies, like myself, are nothing short of disenfranchised in the political arena, and sometimes it feels like the best course of action is to try to nudge as many liberals and conservatives more in our general direction, as much and as often as we can.

Still holding out hope, though. Let’s see how things pan out in the next election.

One thought on “Is Libertarianism Dead?

  1. Where they miss it in this debate, is that It is less important where libertarians “aim”, or asking “where they belong” than it is figuring out how they will organize – regardless of where they are standing and aiming. A predictable centrist libertarian swing vote is the key. The rub – for a swing vote to be predictable – it has to be organized. And nobody yet has figured out how to herd these cats. This is sometimes referred to as the “Hot Tub Libertarian” Problem.
    There is an answer. There is a way to herd these cats. Paraphrasing from my post “Curing Libertarian Electile Dysfunction”:

    Libertarian swing vote organization is going to have to look different than traditional political organization. After all, it is something we will have to accomplish while sitting in the hot-tub. What is needed, is an organizing principle. Ideally, a principle that is so obvious, so logical, and so clear-cut, that no leadership is needed, no parties are needed, no candidates are needed, and no infrastructure is needed. Ideally it is this easy: You think about the principle, and you know how to vote.

    That organizing principle exists. It is Divided Government. It is absolutely clear-cut and easy to understand. Divided Government is documented by Niskanen to work in a practical real-world manner to restrain the growth of the state. As a voting strategy it can be implemented immediately. More importantly, it can collectively be implemented individually as we sit in our hot tubs and ponder the sorry state of the world. Whatever the percentage of the electorate that libertarians represent, whether it is 9% or 20%, if they vote as a block for divided government, they immediately become the brokers of an evenly split partisan electorate. They arguably become the single most most potent voting block in the country, specifically because they are willing to vote either Democratic or Republican as a block. Specifically because they are not fused to one party or the other.

    If the libertarian “divided government vote” is shown to swing elections for two or three cycles, then libertarians will no longer be inchoate, their message no longer be diffused, and their political clout no longer flaccid. As long as the bulk of the electorate remain polarized and balanced, even a small percentage libertarian swing vote organized around divided government will be enough for libertarians to display the biggest swinging political “hammer” in town.

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