America Isn't Destined To Be More Liberal

If anything, we're trending toward libertarianism.

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, left-wing activist Steve Rosenthal sounds a lot like other wishful thinkers arriving at a comfortable partisan conclusion. America, he writes, is only a few years from a full-blown progressive electorate. "A close examination of U.S. attitudes in the past decade-plus," Rosenthal contends, "reveals that the United States is steadily becoming more progressive."

It seems to be widely accepted by the media that demographics, GOP ineptitude and internal division, and a generational shift on social issues place the American voter on an enduring leftward course. Is this inevitable? Well, about as inevitable as Karl Rove's durable Republican majority.

You don't have to be a stickler for academic rigor to appreciate that an 825-word column with a few links to some Gallup polls is not really a "close examination" of anything. But you don't have to be a historian to understand that the electorate, though hardly immune to terrible ideas, is, in the end, stubbornly moderate with little use for philosophical consistency. Which is to say, no one knows what the future will look like.

Voters not only have conflicting ideological views but also change their minds on those issues all the time—and oftentimes for no good reason at all. We are irrational. We are mercurial. We're irresponsible. And when we're not, events that "change everything" (9/11 and the Great Recession come to mind) tend to blow up these alleged electoral trajectories we're on anyway. And let's not forget voter backlashes, religious awakenings, economic booms and busts, political scandals, charismatic leaders, and technological advances, all of which can disrupt lines on the graph.

That's just broadly speaking, of course. Even if we accepted Rosenthal's facts in the short term, a person could use his piece to make a rather compelling case that the nation is trending more libertarian than it is progressive.

A cultural shift is not always an ideological one—or at least not always the one you imagine. Our norms are always evolving. Immigration, pot legalization, same-sex marriage and "big business" are the issues that Rosenthal claims portend progressivism's triumph. Yet most of these are only incidentally progressive. Marijuana legalization or support for same-sex marriage is far more likely caused by a growing "live and let live" mindset than it is any burst of leftist idealism. And if the "live and let live" mindset starts bleeding into other areas of American life—say, education, health care, and religious freedom—the left is in trouble.

In the end, the progressive agenda demands that you trust the state to control economic outcomes—an idea that is yet to be proved especially popular among Americans. Will it be? Who knows? But right now, what does seem to be growing is skepticism toward government, especially among the young. When Gallup asks about what people "think the most important problem facing this country today is," it doesn't bode well for the left that a plurality of people—independents, Republicans and Democrats—say it's government. Fifty-three percent of Americans claim to believe government does "too many things." (Forty percent think its powers should be expanded.) Add to this the fact that according to Gallup, a record number of Americans (42 percent) are rejecting partisan labels and identifying as political independents. Sounds as if there's a growing number of voters with a libertarian disposition—though most would never articulate it that way.

And right now, the unpopularity and struggles of Obamacare—the most notable political accomplishment associated with the progressive left—make it tough to imagine any electorate signing off on another national technocratic adventure in the foreseeable future. The Obamacare debate has made it nearly impossible to do anything in Washington (a triumph for libertarian governance). Judging from the polls, the voters Rosenthal claims are turning hard left seem to be more amenable to supporting reforms that loosen, rather than expand, federal control over health care. What makes anyone believe a more progressive alternative would be popular?

But like many folks on the left, Rosenthal is forced to make a big leap. He contends that a shift on social issues and the electoral success of (a now-unpopular) Barack Obama prove that the entire progressive buffet is destined for widespread approval. Guess what. It doesn't work that way. Support for gay marriage does not mean support for unions. (Unions, one of the backbones of political progressivism, have never been less popular in practice.) Pot legalization does not mean we're ready to nationalize energy policy. And support for immigration reform doesn't mean people are prepared to "make everything owned by everybody" as a writer in Rolling Stone suggests. And though I certainly don't believe we're about to privatize Social Security, to believe that the philosophy of the electorate is on a fixed leftward arc—which seems to be conventional wisdom these days—is premature.

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  • oncogenesis||

    This seems like a good place to start a new social media campaign to reclaim the word "liberal" from the raging authoritarians who currently lay claim to it.

    #takingbackliberal

  • Hyperion||

    The classic use of the word liberal could only somewhat apply to libertarians today, at least in the social liberal sense.

    The modern use of the word liberal = progressive = authoritarian statist . The only thing they are liberal with is other peoples money.

  • The Knarf Yenrab||

    The classic use of the word liberal could only somewhat apply to libertarians today, at least in the social liberal sense.

    The Lockean/Hayekian sense of liberal lands right in the middle of American libertarianism, Hayek in particular.

  • John Galt||

    The horrific misuse of the word liberal is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything they say and represent is the complete opposite of the truth. Self proclaimed "liberals" couldn't be more illiberal, "progressives" couldn't be more regressive, "democrats" have zero respect for democracy (even the mere mention curbing vote fraud and they launch into a hysterical rage) and the list goes on and on.

  • ||

    net neutrality means massive government intervention to encourage innovation in a free market that has for the past 15 been unregulated and has only produced miracles.

  • ||

    Oh yeah and don't forget the "market" that Obamacare created.

    Political language today in the real world is indistinguishable from an Orwell novel.

  • The Knarf Yenrab||

    I like to use the verb liberalize as often as possible to soften people up before I try to outright reclaim liberal. The payoff comes when, after softening them up by pointing out commonalities between libertarianism and lefties (end of pot prohibition, legalizing disfavored forms of marriage), you get to tell people that they're not liberals at all, but progressives in the grand tradition of the eugenicists and prohibitionists.

  • John Galt||

    That's about the size of it.

  • DarrenM||

    I mentioned to my sister that my wife's mother tended to be more conservative and she freaked out. I guess it's hard to differentiate small 'C' from capital 'C' verbally. (Either way it was a ridiculous and ignorant reaction.)

  • ||

    If we have to use twitter we are doomed.

  • JWatts||

    "Add to this the fact that according to Gallup, a record number of Americans (42 percent) are rejecting partisan labels and identifying as political independents. Sounds as if there's a growing number of voters with a libertarian disposition—though most would never articulate it that way."

    I agree with your article, but this point is a stretch. Or to phrase it another way "sounds a lot like other wishful thinkers arriving at a comfortable partisan conclusion."

    I think most of those peoples are "Independents", that catch all term for people who aren't very ideological nor easy to put in a bucket. Some will drift towards Libertarian ideas, but it's virtually certain that most won't.

  • Mr. JD||

    "Independent" is a synonym for "too ignorant to realize that your collection of positions is self-contradictory."

  • OneOut||

    I don't think that's what it means. For me, being politically independent means that no party represents my interests or concerns.

    I consider myself socially moderate and fiscally conservative.

    I don't think my positions are necessarily self contradictory just because of that.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    A lot of "independents" do take a contradictory mix of "conservative", "liberal", and "moderate" interests. They'll act all fiscally conservative, and then be in favor of some market manipulating policy for or against some industry, for example.

  • Eric Bana||

    And how is that different from Republicans?

  • Robert||

    Not by their logic, it ain't. Different people have different ways of analyzing things. Their priorities are not yours.

  • Ann N||

    consistency is an objective trait.

    you don't get to assign moderates consistency when they are hypocritical.

    moderates combine elements of 2 radically different ideologies. different at core.

    if that can result in consistency it would be an understatement to say its a tight rope act.

    thus most moderates are too indifferent or stupid to recognize inconsistency in their world view.

    of course we all are, but not all world views have the same level of inconsistency.

    believing in free markets and supporting TARP in 2008 is a pretty big one. let corpses hit the floor! they make good fertilizer.

  • John Galt||

    Liberty is terrifying to most people. Not surprising, it takes a strong people to thrive in a society which prizes freedom. So, given the fact that the American people have become some of the weakest on the face of the earth, I sadly must agree with you.

  • Duke||

    So, given the fact that the American people have become some of the weakest on the face of the earth...

    Can you imagine a New Yorker or Californian getting into a wooden, wind-powered boat and sailing across the Atlantic with no electronic gadgetry to conquer an unknown land? Or risking life and property by taking up arms against the most powerful country on earth in order to be free?

  • John Galt||

    That's why the country should be redivided up upon social-regional lines. There can be no justification for forcing large swaths of basically good citizens to suffer just because some groups have been so corrupted they apparently can't even understand that in the eyes of the law all must be equal and none merit special privilege, benefit or protection.

  • dbobway||

    What a wonderful experiment to get the Federal Govt' out of the states business and see where people gravitate and which states crumble and which prospers.

    Oh yea, that was the whole idea!

  • Procrastinatus||

    ^^^ This. If strict Constitutional Federalism were still followed, of course.

  • Rhino||

    I think more and more people are calling themselves independent because they don't really like what their party of choice is doing, but when it comes time for election day, they still pull for whatever team their ideology leads them.

    Or they want to avoid a political confrontation by identifying with a party that the questioner my be against. It's very PC to be independent.

  • LibertarianX||

    I think it's worse than that. To many independant means "open minded" as in don't know enough to make a decision. They don't pay attention to anything and give important ideas the most superficial review. They don't know enough to be able to make up their mind.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I think the heat might have been turned up a little too much lately because I have been surprised by how much people are starting to learn or talk about.

  • dbobway||

    Maybe we get enough people to vote for someone who doesn't want to shove us all into a box.

  • Michael Hihn||

    35-40% of all self-proclaimed independents are hardcore progressives, depending how it's asked. Likewise 30% of those who oppose Obamacare are hardcore single-payer advocates.

    Reason is targeting the wrong audience.

  • C. Anacreon||

    oh please

  • Michael Hihn||

    Do you ever venture outside your partisan echo chamber? Is Obama a Kenyan?

  • montana mike||

    Give it a rest moron, you and your ilk have been exposed and the future for you idiots won't end well, do us a favor and go troll fluffpo and engage in their perpetual circle jerk...you'll fit right in.

  • Michael Hihn||

    (snicker) I'll go slowly for ya.

    1) First, go to my website archive libertyissues.com
    Pick any link to read my work, especially Taxes, Healthcare or Governing. (lol)

    2) Google for "Mike Hihn libertarian" ... ummm, over 4,000 hits. (OMG)

    3) Now go to the history of the Libertarian Party, do a page search for my name. Mike Hihn. It's there twice. (feeling silly yet?

    http://bit.ly/1diJC3X

    4) Now go to my Voter Description, Libertarian Party candidate, Washington State Insurance Commissioner. Having fun? I'm the third one down.

    http://1.usa.gov/17ciBjg

    There's more! (lol)

    5)My candidate interview in the Seattle Times

    What would you do to make health insurance more affordable and available for individual consumers?
    Deregulate. Open your Yellow Pages. Compare the number of health insurers with the number of auto and home insurers. Then ask yourself which insurance is the most highly regulated -- but offers the fewest choices, with out-of-control prices. As you can see, over-regulation is hazardous to your health.

    bit.ly/1mZFmvj

    Now tell us about YOUR ilk. (lol)

  • David_B||

    The vast majority of people I know, have very little to no idea about political ideology. They also have essentially a zero inclination to educate themselves. Yet all of these people get to vote anyway.

    Education is the key and it needs to start early, which is difficult, when most of the education institutions are full of leftist progressives.

  • creech||

    If they have zero inclination to educate themselves then how is education the key? Maybe they can be educated through the activities that appeal to them. Say, instituting a handicap system in football where the underdog team gets spotted 10 points in order to equalize outcomes? Or, that tactic by some libertarian teachers to redistribute grades on a test from the A students to the F students.

  • Jerryskids||

    I educated my kids early on about libertarian ideology - "get your goddamn hands off that, it ain't yours".

  • John Galt||

    One of the biggest problems in not just America, but much of the world, is kids who think anything not presently guarded, or in active use, is theirs. What a cruel thing it is to lead children to believe. Lands many of them in a prison cage, a grave or even worse as an adherent to an extremely destructive, disproved political ideology.

  • Redmanfms||

    Who the hell are you hanging out with?

    The fact that the crime rate, both violent and property, has been falling pretty consistently for the last several decades indicates this is just a load of abject horseshit.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    You might want to reread what you replied to as the only "abject horseshit" visible is your attempted burning of perceived straw men.

    Simply put: falling crime rates in the US does not remotely refute the idea that "bad thinking can lead to bad decisions and can be seen in some to lead to prison or worse".

  • Rhino||

    Like how the NFL is getting rid of the field goal for the 7th point?

  • DarrenM||

    Too many people don't think much on policies. If something sounds good on the surface, it must be good. Secondary effects and unintended consequences don't exist.

  • Michael Hihn||

    The vast majority of people I know, have very little to no idea about political ideology

    Why should they???? Should all Americans sit around debating the finer points of political ideology? That's failed for over 30 years for libertarians.

    Do you want votes? Then don't try to win those votes with ideological debates (shudder). TELL them, better yet SHOW them how libertarian governance would improve their lives and better achieve their dreams ... with specific policies to get them there.

  • Hawk Spitui||

  • OneOut||

    I think it's easy to over think these things. Too many people make a living doing so and I can't blame them for doing it if that's how they earn their money.

    Romney didn't win because too many Republicans stayed home rather than vote for a Mormon. After the election I wanted to strangle each and every one of them who didn't vote. I'm sure you've all read the stat that McCain got more votes running against Obama than Obama got running against Romney.

    That's it. If the same people who voted for McCain would have voted for Romney, Obama would have lost his re election bid.

    Period.

  • ||

    Romney didn't win because too many Republicans stayed home rather than vote for a MormonMoron.

    You were only 1 letter off, easy mistake.

  • BardMetal||

    Yeah I don't think Romney being a Mormon had anything to do with it. They didn't vote because they didn't see much difference between Romney and Obama.

    Romney has supported assault weapon bans, and created the inspiration for Obamacare. When that is your alternative to Obama then why on Earth should a Republican waste a second of his life going out and voting?

  • John Galt||

    That's how I saw it. Far too little difference between Barack Romney and the other one, Osama bin something, or whatever.

  • Duke||

    I so hate that magazine.

  • Waffen Hans||

    Wasn't it the very same "progressive" party/movement of the 30s that supported Prohibition? How are they now claiming to be the choice that most of America is turning to? If anything, I have noticed more younger kids/people talking about Jeffrey Tucker, Libertarian Girl, Tiffany Madison, TheLibertarianRepublic.com, Judge Andrew Naplitano, and other libertarian opinion leaders via their Facebook pages. I have yet to see one "liberal" or "progressive" individual or organization being discussed on this very same medium or age group.

  • Rhino||

    might just be your perspective. if you were liberal and followed pages like Being Liberal, or ThinkProgress, you might see more young people commenting and talking about Rachel Maddow or Chris Matthews.

  • Tony||

    Nah. People sound more like libertarians in polls. Because libertarianism doesn't think it needs to define freedom. It's just for it. Also lollipops and kittens. Government is too powerful? Sounds good to me. Get specific at all and people are basically left of center. The only thing that drags people to the right is religion, and I don't see the population becoming more religious with time. Every pseudo-sophisticate is "socially liberal and economically conservative." But nobody wants to give up a dime of their own benefits, and nobody is serious about big cuts to government. I suggest a poll that details the various levels of risk differing political systems offer (libertarianism of course offering the most risk), then see what people want.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The only thing that drags people to the right is religion

    Objectivists don't exist apparently.

    I suggest a poll that details the various levels of risk shamelessly leads the respondents to something I am incapable of selling.

    FTFY

    Bad news Toney: reality exists and left-wing ideas are incompatible with reality. You're getting smaller government no matter who you vote for.

  • Tony||

    I barely need to do any selling at all. At least once people stop swallowing horseshit small government platitudes. I'm a pragmatist. I can't be for anything that doesn't work, by definition.

  • Ballz||

    "I can't be for anything that doesn't work, "

    You can't claim your big government ideas "work" until you first state the objective.

  • OneOut||

    Objectives are fluid and poll dependent.

    Obamacare's original objective was to insure 30 to 45 million people then currently without insurance while lowering insurance costs, healthcare costs, insure those with preexisting conditions, and insure a progressive coronation of the electorate and put a unicorn in every pot.

    It's current objective is to exist.

  • Tony||

    True, and the objective is maximizing human well-being. What's yours?

  • ||

    the objective is maximizing human well-being.

    And in the cases where human beings feel less well as a result of your policies it's simply because they were too stupid to properly evaluate their own well-being.

    What's yours?

    Maximizing human liberty. You should know this well enough by now, you rail against it every day.

  • Tony||

    But liberty is just one aspect of well-being. It's like saying your entire political philosophy is about maximizing access to food, but not water. Why just the one metric?

  • Ballz||

    "True, and the objective is maximizing human well-being. What's yours?"

    I was referencing the function of government. If that's your definition, how can you not see it as a total failure? Unless you're the fat slob whose ass I'm carrying.

  • montana mike||

    Preventing stupid government which does nothing to maximize human well being you fucking moron. That you believe government is capable of this pretty much defines you as a dolt, but you seem to be a TOFTT kinda guy. Appreciate your seppuku spirit, but stupid is just stupid.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I barely need to do any selling at all. At least once people stop swallowing horseshit small government platitudes.

    Won't matter. Reality is closing in on the welfare state.

  • John Galt||

    You obviously don't know yourself at all. In the real world you're wholeheartedly in support of everything which can't possibly work.

  • ||

    Pragmatism means you have no core principles or ideals.

  • DarrenM||

    left-wing ideas are incompatible with reality

    Yes, but they sound good. Who wouldn't be for everyone having everything they could want? The problem is it's much easier and self-fulfilling to give (especially if it's someone else's money) than to make the hard decisions which might offend someone. (I'm looking at all political leanings.)

  • Hopfiend||

    Yea, you say, as if it is indisputable that libertarianism poses the most risk. Precious little to back that up but your own biases.

  • Tony||

    Shouldn't it be a given? Unless you define libertarianism as something other than abolishing social safety nets and other means of collective risk mitigation.

  • Hopfiend||

    you simply dismiss private action as a means of mitigating risk. I don't.

  • Tony||

    I acknowledge that leaving everyone to the mercy of private action will mean increased risk as a statistical certainty. Come on now. You can believe we should live in a riskier society, but don't feed me unicorns.

  • Hopfiend||

    If it is a statistical certainty then why hasn't the social safety net abolished poverty, hunger, homelessness?

  • Tony||

    Because it's not adequate to that task? Must it be perfect before it is considered to work at all? Is your system subject to those same standards?

  • Hopfiend||

    Sure it is. However, if neither is adequate to the task, then the discussion isn't meaningless or ridiculous who is better situated to meet needs.

  • Tony||

    I don't acknowledge the task of achieving perfect abolition of all social ills to be attainable. It's not what I'm measuring systems up to. Yours just has to do better than mine.

  • Tony||

    unattainable*

  • ||

    'not adequate to the task.'

    Why does this sentence frighten me so?

  • Hopfiend||

    But I concede that your conclusion isn't ludicrous.

  • OneOut||

    When one looks at Obama and Biden's gifts to charity ( or lack thereof) until it became public, I have to agree with you.

    By their actions liberals obviously only want to give other people's money to mitigate that risk.

  • Tony||

    That individuals want to minimize their contribution is a fact of nature, and the very argument for why collective risk pooling is a good idea.

  • ||

    That individuals want to minimize their contribution is a fact of nature, and the very argument for why collective risk pooling is a good idea.

    Collective risk pooling is called 'insurance', and you can minimize your contribution by not having any, or by offsetting only the particular risks that you can afford to offset. Charity isn't risk pooling, it's charity. You contribute to charity on the expectation of not getting a return. Which is why the ostensibly most compassionate tend to contribute nil.

  • David Wall||

    You are right Tony. In certain situations, collective risk pooling is a very good idea for many people. That is what drives the insurance industry and use to drive mutual support societies before social security destroyed them. The key to the issue is "in certain situations". The only person that can assess whether it is a good idea for them is the persons themselves. The problem is folks like yourself want to put other people in charge of making those decisions for everyone else. That is where you go off the rails by screwing with people's freedom. Making decisions for people and not allowing them to make their own decision is called tyranny. That is what you are advocating.

  • Tony||

    Nope, just democracy. You don't always get your way, but most people learn that before they get out of kindergarten.

  • David Wall||

    It is probably too late and I will ask it later: but why? Why should I not have to opportunity to decide whether I participate in your collectivist schemes. It is my life? Is it childish to assume that I own my own life?

  • Eric Bana||

    Collective risk pooling, Tony?. So that's why Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are going to be absolutely wonderful over the next two decades, right?

  • Michael Hihn||

    On purely fiscal matters, conservatives outnumber liberals by 2 to 1. Then again, most Americans think wealth is distributed too much to the very top ... even thoughthe rich subsidize 35% of the entire middle-class federal income tax burden.

  • Tony||

    Which is a pointless thing to say. It's like saying the rich subsidize 35% of the lobster industry. The income tax is designed to be progressive. But there are a bunch of other nonprogressive taxes out there that people pay and that the income tax was invented to balance out.

  • Michael Hihn||

    Which is a pointless thing to say.

    Not when we have a psychotic liar in the White House.

    Psssst. Our liar-in chief says a $50,000 secretary pays a higher average tax rate (at 8%), than millionaires and billionaires (at 22%).

    And, seriously, many brain-dead liberals swallow it whole! They're kinda like Birthers on the right -- gullible puppets of the Ruling Class.

    Do you agree with Obama, that 8% is larger than 22%?

    But there are a bunch of other nonprogressive taxes out there that people pay and that the income tax was invented to balance out.

    Yep. Just like a Birther!

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Because libertarianism doesn't think it needs to define freedom.

    A perfect example of the study someone posted earlier about how liberals have no idea what their opponents actually believe of think.

    Just in case Tony actually cares, I'll take the time, to arduously and completely define freedom from a libertarian perspective.

    First though - I want to apologize for the upcoming length of said explanation - the complexity and difficulty is a little overwhelming.

    Additionally, for those libertarians here - feel free to help me by editing/suggesting additional information as I will try to be brief, but also as thorough is possible.

    Without further qualifiers/disclaimers.... I'll try my best to explain freedom.

    Here goes:

    Freedom for libertarians is defined by the NAP principle.

    Again, for all those brave enough to read this far, I am very sorry my explanation was so long and wordy, but like I said - while brevity might be a noble goal, when dealing with such complex things it's nigh impossible.

  • Tony||

    Freedom is freedom from being the victim of aggression by other human beings. Fantastic. That's why liberalism is better. It has a much more expansive definition of freedom. It's not solely concerned with what other humans can do to you, but what nature and society can do to you as well. To a libertarian, a man made homeless by a hurricane is 100% free so long as no one is punching him in the face or taxing him.

  • ||

    Because libertarianism doesn't think it needs to define freedom.

    More proof that tony is incapable of understanding anything he has ever read at Reason.com

  • Tony||

    The Obamacare debate has made it nearly impossible to do anything in Washington (a triumph for libertarian governance).

    And this cynical bullshit is just rich. You're saying the status quo is the most libertarian possible system? Really?

  • Rabbit||

    Yes, I think one could argue that if you are able to put the breaks on regulation, new technology and products will not fall under government control. That would be a good thing from a Libertarian's point of view. Also, with the majority of the Senate and the Presidency controlled by Democrats, any new laws passed are not likely to be favored by Libertarians. Or did I miss the bill Reid and Obama are trying to pass through to reign in entitlement spending?

  • OneOut||

    "You're saying the status quo is the most libertarian possible system? Really?"

    No that's not what was said. What was said is what was said. Changing what was said and then attacking that change is very obvious to most readers here.

    No one said that, "the status quo is the most libertarian possible system? ", except for you.

  • Tony||

    Congress doing nothing is a "triumph for libertarian governance." I get that libertarians don't think government should do much in an ideal world. But we're in a world that needs a lot of policy change to reach a libertarian system. Lots of laws passed and repealed. A very activist Congress, for a very radical change. Praising gridlock as a "triumph" suggests that you think the status quo is the best possible world. Obviously you don't, but that's why it's a dumb thing to say.

  • ||

    Praising gridlock as a "triumph" suggests that you think the status quo is the best possible world.

    Only if you're addressing someone with the sentience of a insect who is unaware of political reality. Gridlock is about the best a libertarian can hope for given present conditions. That's not an endorsement.

  • Michael Hihn||

    What a piece of bullshit, that the legislature doing nothing is a triumph for libertarian governance. It's a triumph for anti-gubmint which is NOT libertarian. Libertarian governance would be passing bills that explicitly reduced the size and power of government, in fiscal and/or social matters. Maintaining the status quo is hardly libertarian.

    Once upon a time, in a land far away, real libertarians knew enough to "always be pro-liberty and never be anti-government"

  • ||

    Once upon a time, in a land far away, real libertarians knew enough to "always be pro-liberty and never be anti-government"

    Yeah, libertarianism is never anti-government. Even when the government is shitting all over individual rights and then smearing the walls with the excess. We should applaud, because one day there might be more than 3 congressmen with even a passing interest in reducing the government's size and scope! Do you have any idea how abjectly retarded you sound? If stasis is the only means available of preventing something even worse than the status quo, you go with stasis. That's not an endorsement of anything, it's a pragmatic approach to try and cling to the scraps of individual rights you still have left when the world is moving in the direction of tossing them out the window.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    ...real libertarians knew enough to "always be pro-liberty and never be anti-government"

    I guess I'm not, nor have I ever been a real libertarian, but in my experience, libertarians are actively anti-government due to the power the government can bring to bear on any individual it chooses.

    Not to mention that being anti-government today seems to be the only rational choice - a police state where people can be forcibly anally raped, where the IRS and the WH actively bullies people into submission, where the President contends he can murderdrone anyone he chooses, etc, etc, etc.

    I mean looking at the current government - a better question isn't why are people anti-government, but why is anyone pro-government?

    How far we've come from "The most dangerous phrase in the English language is 'We're from the government and we're here to help'".

  • Michael Hihn||

    ...real libertarians knew enough to "always be pro-liberty and never be anti-government"

    I guess I'm not, nor have I ever been a real libertarian, but in my experience, libertarians are actively anti-government due to the power the government can bring to bear on any individual it chooses.

    That's why we lose. We were MUCH smarter 40 years ago.

    Not to mention that being anti-government today seems to be the only rational choice

    Only because today's libertarians have nothing to offer -- so you're preaching to the choir -- and we'll be pissing and moaning forever ... but never governing.

    I mean looking at the current government - a better question isn't why are people anti-government, but why is anyone pro-government?

    You've just proven my point!!!! It's because there are no pro-liberty alternatives for them. They have no idea how liberty would enhance their lives .... cuz they ain't nobody tellin' 'em ... and even you don't know.

    How far we've come from "The most dangerous phrase in the English language is 'We're from the government and we're here to help'".

    You prove my point AGAIN. That was said by a libertarian President ... but he also had a pro-liberty policy agenda ... creating the strongest economic boom in world history.

    Memorized slogans ain't gonna fix nuthin'

  • montana mike||

    That you don't realize that OBOcare will set progtards back a generation is delicious. Watching progtards like you squirm is very fun to watch as it happens...it's like beavis and butthead all over again. Golf clap Tony

  • Mr. JD||

    The author overestimates the maturity of the mainstream electorate. Leftists long ago learned to frame their authoritarianism in libertarian terms, "freedom is slavery"-style. Too many now believe that the way to have "libertarian freedom" is to have government protect us from all the bad people. And "bad people", increasingly, are any people not perfectly aligned with you. Realizing that the government is in this category comes too late.

    Sure, the poll questions that are cited in this article get the answers it reports, but that means little when the practical response of the voters is to vote for more government every time. "Union" support is declining? Really? Does that mean spit when everyone's voting for nationalization?

    Societies only ever move leftward until they collapse and are reborn much further to the right. This has been seen throughout history, and it is being seen again. The best we can do is slow the movement around the best part of a society's early life. We seem to be past that point now.

  • Harun||

    Exactly. They have learned after the fall of communism to cloak all of their policies in market-ese.

    Some of them are quite good at twisting it all around to make what look to be cogent argument.s

  • Rhino||

    like coercion can be defined as structural violence. Not the application of force or the threat of force or fraud.

  • Waffen Hans||

    “I do not intend to defend capitalism or capitalists. They, like everything human, have their defects. I only say their possibilities of usefulness are not ended.

    Capitalism has borne the monstrous burden of the war and today still has the strength to shoulder the burdens of peace. ...

    It is not simply and solely an accumulation of wealth, it is an elaboration, a selection, a co-ordination of values which is the work of centuries. ...

    Many think, and I myself am one of them, that capitalism is scarcely at the beginning of its story.”

    ― Benito Mussolini

  • ||

    "Many think, and I myself am one of them, that capitalism is scarcely at the beginning of its story.”

    Absolutely.

    Just like the Internet's story has onlt begun. Someone asserted to me the Internet has already 'saturated.' I may be a technology rube but that struck me as wrong.

  • Rabbit||

    What would say about Scandinavia (not including oil rich Norway). Would you call their their movement to the right a rebirth?

  • Michael Hihn||

    Self-preservation. Sweden was the first to learn that a society cannot function by taxing the rich to support the middle class, as we do here. So they began the trend of a social welfare state with very high taxes on their middle class. It took longer, but now that too has crashed into a brick wall.

  • Cytotoxic||

    This is wrong. For one thing, America is moving to the right on guns. Also, Canada moved to the right in the '90s without being destroyed.

  • Boisfeuras||

    Moving right relative to the time period you are considering perhaps, but I think you are looking at too short a timescale. Some current restrictions on firearms are now considered status quo and reasonable by even most fervent gun rights advocates. Virtually no restrictions existed (and I believe, none existed at all at the state or federal levels) before the Sullivan Act of 1911.

  • Joao||

    The constitution stopped the gun rights issue.

    The US constitution does not forbid the addition of further bulky, degenerate government institutions that will bring about US collapse.

    The people have spoken

  • Michael S. Langston||

    The constitution stopped the gun rights issue.

    Huh? CA trying to legislate ammo out of existence

    The Constitution also speaks to due process, yet we have a murderdroning president.

    & let's not forget a penal-tax which isn't a penalty or something like that.

    Which isn't to say I don't agree with self defense rights. The 2nd Amendment is clear and basically absolute and I am aware of recent court decisions which have upheld individual gun ownership rights, but I don't think, given the current political landscape, SCOTUS, etc, that the Constitution is capable of stopping much of anything.

    & from a pedant perspective - technically the Constitution cannot stop anything regardless of what's written on it as it's an it - not a person/voter/

    etc. & due to that, as soon as most citizens agree, explicitly or through apathy, that it's necessary to follow the Constitution - we will stop following it (arguably we stopped following it a very long time ago).

  • AndrewR||

    The re-election of Bill Ayer's sock puppet makes some of us think it unlikely that the voters of this country are moving away from the statist ideology of the liberal fascists who call themselves "Democrat".

  • Rhino||

    well, they weren't exactly given much of an alternative that they believed was viable. Republicans sent up Mitt Romney, who is just as bad, and convinced conservatives and independents that to vote 3rd party was to vote for Obama.

  • Boisfeuras||

    It seems to be widely accepted by the media that demographics, GOP ineptitude and internal division, and a generational shift on social issues place the American voter on an enduring leftward course. Is this inevitable? Well, about as inevitable as Karl Rove's durable Republican majority...But you don't have to be a historian to understand that the electorate, though hardly immune to terrible ideas, is, in the end, stubbornly moderate with little use for philosophical consistency. Which is to say, no one knows what the future will look like.

    Sorry, David, but this makes you sound "a lot like other wishful thinkers arriving at a comfortable partisan conclusion" yourself. Do you have to be a historian to compare America in 1904, 1914, and every decade since, to 2014? Our system has a (possibly fatal) vulnerability to Fabianism. We've been seeing it at work since at least the turn of the 18th century, and the ratchet has been working almost entirely in a leftward direction since at least 1913.

  • Cytotoxic||

    the ratchet has been working almost entirely in a leftward direction

    I'm getting real sick of the historical ignorance of the 'woe is me' crowd at Reason. This is simply wrong. Taxes (other than corporate) are much more reasonable than the 70s and price controls of goods like gasoline are gone. So is currency control. Airlines and trucks deregulated.

    Sorry, David, but this makes you sound "a lot like other wishful thinkers arriving at a comfortable partisan conclusion" yourself.

    No he doesn't. He's making cautious statements.

  • Boisfeuras||

    You should have your facts in order before accusing others of "historical ignorance". The average marginal tax rate is higher now than it was in the mid-1970s or any point prior. It went up and then dropped in the late 1970s-1980s, and again in the 1990s. We also have a situation now where 40% of Americans pay more than 100% of income taxes, while the bottom 40% pay nothing or receive redistributed money.

  • Will Nonya||

    The fatal flaw in our system is the democratic element. When the mob wants bread and circuses Caesar gives it to them because the republic is unable or unwilling to stand in the middle.

  • XM||

    Polygamy, prostitution, bestiality (not "beastiality") and eating of exotic animals are still icky for most people. Support for SSM and pot legalization is more of an indication that Americans tend to rally around issues that are cause celebre or involve race and gender (compare the nation's reaction to Zimmerman and Kelly Thomas). We're far from a true "live and let live" ideology.

  • Will Nonya||

    If you're looking for the group that plans to sell sex with exotic animals before eating them with their many wives I have to think that is a pretty small demographic.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Is it April 1 already?

  • Mark22||

    I don't think so; I left the Democratic party over Obama's first term in office. Many Democrats are pissed off at him, or frenetically trying to find excuses for what they recognize is lies and failures of Democrats and the president.

    The causes Rosenthal lists are not progressive causes. Progressives pay them lip service, but immigration is in conflict with big labor and marijuana legalization with nannyism and prison unions. And what Americans dislike about "big business" is crony capitalism, something Democrats and progressives engage in even more than Republicans.

    Voters like what liberalism historically stands for; unfortunately, Democrats are not those kinds of liberals, not even close.

  • Boisfeuras||

    If I may ask, why you were in the Democratic Party in the first place?

  • Joao||

    Voters are morons.

    They are getting all excited over "social justice" and wealth disparity correction.

    All Hillary has to say is that her opponent hates women and anyone who has gone to college "knows" she's right. Game over, election lost.

    I see one way out. If the rich destroy most of their money, then there will be nothing for the takers to take and no income for the state. Good luck with that tho.

  • Tony||

    85 individual people have as much wealth as half of the population of the planet.

    Their interests are not your interests, and they shouldn't be your concern, as life is short.

  • ||

    85 individual people have as much wealth as half of the population of the planet.

    Which, of course, says absolutely nothing about that half of the population of the planet or their economic well being. Which, in point of fact, has risen dramatically. It's almost as if there isn't a fixed quantity of wealth or something, so one person having more doesn't mean another person having less.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Their interests are not your interests

    Spoken like a true amoral cunt.

    All Hillary has to say is that her opponent hates women and anyone who has gone to college "knows" she's right. Game over, election lost.

    Oh dry up.

  • Michael Hihn||

    Most of the Dems who oppose Obama are even more statist. They call him a DINO or a moderate.

    They wanted Obama to keep supporting Medicare for all, when it had no chance of passing ... which would have been as wacky as Ted Cruz on the right.

  • Paul.||

    Wake me up when we trend a bit further.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "America Isn't Destined To Be More Liberal
    If anything, we're trending toward libertarianism."

    What does not "liberal" libertarianism look like?

  • LibertarianX||

    Fiscally and personally responsible.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    No, that's liberal libertarianism. I said libertarianism that is not liberal. I don't think that can exist.

  • ||

    Define "liberal". It's a comparative term just like "conservative", and in modern parlance refers more or less exclusively to social liberalism, which is wholly incompatible with libertarianism since it takes a completely different view of fundamental rights.

  • LibertarianX||

    The nation is steadily moving to a more libertarian society. The push to fight government interference in personal lives, the increasing push for fiscal sanity, the growth in acceptance of personal choices all push the country in a libertarian direction. If we could get a greater acceptance for personal responsibility we'd really be getting there.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    I wish this were true, but it seems while some voters are pushing back against some state abuses, only a small percentage of those angry with recent government actions believes the power afforded to the government, LEOs, and other agencies, should be reduced.

    Most others upset with the current abuses generally fall into two camps:

    a) Obama is weak and hasn't gone far enough
    or...
    b) The only problem with all the power the government has is that Obama is in control.

    So yeah, there is a backlash against specific actions by the government, and those actions have always been anti-libertarian thought, but the fact that a great number of people agree with libertarians on even 30% of things, in no way means those people aren't statists.

    Put it this way - while I believe that R's elected may roll back O-care and overall that would be better for the US in a number of ways - name one national politician (with one well known exception) actively arguing publicly that government power should be reduced?

    Or maybe this way - who thinks if the federal government tomorrow decided to legalize all drugs thereby ending the WOD, they would also disband all agencies who had drug enforcement as their primary or only function?

    Or more likely - their budgets increase the very next year as they retool and continue the good fight against the next "scourge"?

    Nominally I'm an optimist - but I don't see any evidence of a new widespread love of freedom.

  • Will Nonya||

    Generally the one who are upset and push back against government are those who are powerless to do anything about it. The same ones who find theirs dogs shot in their own yard, wake to no knock warrants and get to watch their toddlers get hand cuffed and so one.

    They are powerless because as individuals they have no recourse and are taught that "you can't fight city hall" and other such nonsense.

    What they really need is someone to show them that they are not powerless but rather that they are powerful.

    While paul is not a perfect candidate he is the best hope I see on the horizon.

  • Michael Hihn||

    The majority of Americans has been "generic" libertarian -- fiscally conservative and socially liberal -- for over 30 years. What we need is for Ron Paul,Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and the other hardcore conservatives to move toward libertarianism.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Rand Paul is a libertarian, more or less. And please spare us your Sunday special regarding abortion.

  • Michael Hihn||

    Yeah, right. Don't let reality conflict with your delusions. (lol) He's just as bad as his father in misapplying the 10th amendment, which no real libertarian would do.

    Now tell us on what authority you deny the unalienable and/or God-given rights of a pregnant woman (OR a fetal child) We'll wait.

  • ||

    He's just as bad as his father in misapplying the 10th amendment, which no real libertarian would do.

    Do you have an example you'd like to share with the class, or shall we take your word for it?

    Now tell us on what authority you deny the unalienable and/or God-given rights of a pregnant woman (OR a fetal child)

    If they both have an unalienable right to life then your position can only be outlawing abortion, on the same grounds you would outlaw any other non-defensive taking of life. Remember, rights can't be inalienable if they come into conflict (compossibility). Not that a little logical inconsistency ever stopped you from mindlessly regurgitating the same horseshit by rote like it was the pledge of allegiance before.

  • Michael Hihn||

    Do you have an example you'd like to share with the class,

    Ummm, gay marriage! Ron Paul says it should be left up to the states ... but he also supported DOMA and voted for it. So it should be left up to the states, except when it shouldn't. Howzat?

    If they both have an unalienable right to life then your position can only be outlawing abortion,

    (laughing) They do NOT both have an unalienable right to life. Ever hear of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?"

    You deny the woman's unalienable right to Liberty ... a denial I asked you to justify, but you refused to. It is only the fetus which has an unalienable right to Life.

    Remember, rights can't be inalienable if they come into conflict

    (lol) Conflicting or competing rights means they cannot be absolute. They are competing because BOTH are unalienable. You'll learn that in high school.

    In the vernacular, two common examples.
    a) Free speech is an unalienable right, Sport, but you have no absolute right to yell 'fire' in a crowded theater.

    b) Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.

    Not that a little logical inconsistency ever stopped you from mindlessly regurgitating the same horseshit

    I suspect you frequently make a blithering fool of yourself in public ... as most trashmouths do.

  • Michael Hihn||

    PART TWO

    PM,

    1) The only limit on a fundamental (unalienable) right is another fundamental right.

    2) When rights conflict, our judiciary sets the boundaries of each, draws the line -- like the top of my nose as the boundary on you swinging your fist.

    3) In drawing the boundary, the Court is constitutionally required to treat each right equally. How can they best defend BOTH rights?

    4) In abortion, the fetal child's right to Life competes with the woman's right to Liberty. The current boundary is viability of the fetus, including mechanical help (incubator), when the fetus can live outside the womb.

    5) Some say the right to Life trumps all others. They don't know what 'unalienable' means. The Founders knew.

    This is why social conservatives (and faux libertarians) are wrong to say it is a state matter, citing the 10th Amendment ... because the 9th amendment trumps the 10th here.

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people

    The 10th deals with powers, not specified in the Constitution But the 9th guarantees rights, not specified on the Constitution. (unenumerated) And in our Republic, individual rights trump state powers.

    So the folks claiming "state power" here, and claiming to be "strict constitutionalists" are, in fact, denying the 9th Amendment. By what right? And who tells Ron Paul?

  • Waffen Hans||

    How is it bad to leave it up to the states to decide on issues? Even Gov. Gary Johnson agrees with that view, and he is in someways a lot more statist than the Pauls on some subjects.

    I really detest wall-of-quotes/text. I simply can't be bothered with that shit.

  • Michael Hihn||

    How is it bad to leave it up to the states to decide on issues?

    Depends on the issues. States have NO POWER to deny or restrict fundamental rights.

    Even Gov. Gary Johnson agrees with that view,

    Nope. Not to the extend the Pauls do. He would not allow the banning of gay marriages or abortion.

    and he is in someways a lot more statist than the Pauls on some subjects.

    The Pauls are infinitely more statist than Gary Johnson. It's the social issues that kill both Ron and Rand as libertarians.

    I really detest wall-of-quotes/text. I simply can't be bothered with that shit

    The 9th Amendment is a single sentence. Which part can't you be bothered with?

  • Michael S. Langston||

    So the folks claiming "state power" here, and claiming to be "strict constitutionalists" are, in fact, denying the 9th Amendment.

    Ummm.... no they are not. And your tortured logic to try to state otherwise is... well, tortured logic.

    As by your logic, are you also saying if libertarians were huge fans of the 9th, they would automatically be denying the 10th?

    Or how about freedom of speech? Does advocating for it necessarily mean one is ignoring freedom of association?

    By what right?

    Nice try sport, but one doesn't need any right to do something which only exists in your head. Only you can control those voices.

  • Michael Hihn||

    As by your logic, are you also saying if libertarians were huge fans of the 9th, they would automatically be denying the 10th?

    Speaking of logic, where in hell did you get such a wacky notion?

    Neither Amendment can be ignored. It's the Constitution!Sheeesh

    Or how about freedom of speech? Does advocating for it necessarily mean one is ignoring freedom of association?

    Ummm, they must BOTH be protected. YOU are the one who says that unalienable rights can be denied at the state level.

    but one doesn't need any right to do something which only exists in your head.

    Mr. Logic concludes by saying unalienable rights exist only in my head. (snicker)

    Simple question. Where are states given the power to deny a fundamental human right? Duh.

  • Will Nonya||

    Michael the conflict you run into with your abortion argument is that neither have a right over the other and only the state has the right to take a life but only after due process of law.

    As it is now abortions happen on a whim after people make choices they prefer not to accept the consequences for. If we were truly following the law someone seeking an abortion should be required to make their case before a judge to ensure that life isn't being ended frivolously.

  • Michael Hihn||

    Michael the conflict you run into with your abortion argument is that neither have a right over the other

    Uhhhhh, yeah. That is my point. And now you run off in the opposite direction.

    and only the state has the right to take a life but only after due process of law.

    Uhhhh, wrong.
    1) That's a power, not a right. You'll learn the difference in high school.
    2) The law must be constitutional! (See Jim Crow laws)

    Apparently, you cannot grasp our entire founding principles .. which allows you to commit the following moral atrocity.

    If we were truly following the law someone seeking an abortion should be required to make their case before a judge to ensure that life isn't being ended frivolously.

    Who are you to deny the woman's unalienable right to Life?

    Ninth Amendment. Read it. Deal with it.

    Like I said, your ilk has nothing but contempt for the entire concept of equal, unalienable and/or God-given rights.

  • Michael Hihn||

    correction

    PM If they both have an unalienable right to life then your position can only be outlawing abortion,

    Hihn(laughing) They do NOT both have an unalienable right to life. Ever hear of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?"

    As suggested by the second sentence, they do not both have only an unalienable right to life.

    Abortion is a conflict between two absolute tights -- to Life (fetal child) and to Liberty (woman). Fot two centuries now, it has been the Court's responsibility to find a solution that best defends BOTH rights.

  • Paul.||

    The majority of Americans has been "generic" libertarian -- fiscally conservative and socially liberal -- for over 30 years. What we need is for Ron Paul,Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and the other hardcore conservatives to move toward libertarianism.

    Then why are 100% of the news stories I'm hearing in the MSM hand-wringers over income inequality and a $15 per hour minimum wage?

  • Michael Hihn||

    Why do you believe the MSM speak for the majority of Americans?

    You hear the news stories, also because today's libertarians are essentially incapable of defending or advancing liberty. We cannot even define a free society any more. We defend tribal libertarianism instead of liberty, so we have nothing to offer ... except to other libertarians. How's that been working?

  • ||

  • Michael Hihn||

    Yep, libertarian politics COULD save America. If only we had some.

  • Ann N||

    America has a consistently progressive media blitz inflicted on it.

    The right has some moral conscience, and the party is divided over it.

    That means a 2 party gamed-system will eventually hinge on whether leftists have any moral values.

    The resounding answer coming back is no. Obama does not offend them like bush offended the right. They are not ashamed.

    America is specifically right wing, but establishment actively works to change that, and the group they do 'own' has no conscience. Its the ultimate cult of personality and identity politics.

    Yes we are doomed to leftist rule, but I still agree with the premise of article. We aren't getting more liberal, we are getting less after obama years. It's just that govt is increasingly not representative of the voice of the people.

    This is how you get a democrat dynasty for foreseeable future, Obamacare, unprecedented debt, surveilance state NSA, war from nobel prize winner.

    Liberals have no moral conviction, its all talk. This is how gitmo is open and Obama is their savior. CULT OF PERSONALITY.

    palin is the same way. heaven forbid she ever gains power.

    If both your legs are broken you walk symetrically. This is why the right demanding ideological purity from its politicians is so radical and will result in democrat dynasty.

  • Will Nonya||

    The "two party system" really is an abomination that should be dealt with. If we cant break it's hold on our politics we'll never see any meaningful improvement.

  • Herb||

    It's easy for people to think that libertarianism is on the march, but just because liberals and conservatives arrive at libertarianish ends doesn't mean they got there by libertarianish means.

    We're not headed toward a more libertarian future. We're heading to a future where libertarianism is moot. Liberals will legalize your weed, conservatives will cut your taxes.

    And libertarians will keep telling themselves, "See? They agree with us!" No...no, they don't.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Agreed. Thinking otherwise would be similar to thinking US Christians are becoming more Islamic since they tend to agree on things like strong marriages, religious instruction, et al (though the left has made this very argument and I think many on the left believe it - that conservative Christians want a theocracy. Not that stupid people believing stupid things is all that relevant, but seemingly true nonetheless).

  • LibertarianX||

    Honestly, if they leave people alone and don't make me pay for the problems of others I don't much care about their ideology.

  • ||

    A world closer to what we see in 'Demolition Man'?

  • Michael Hihn||

    Great thread.

    The movement is now no different than the Reps and Dems ... driven largely by tribalism. For much of last year we were in a "libertarian era" -- even greater than the "libertarian moment" of recent years. But in early January, the same Reason editor said that 2013 had been one of the very worst for libertarians ... but THIS year could see major libertarian gains. Good grief.

    If Rick Santorum announced a budget to cut government by 50% in NINE years, would we declare more "proof" of a libertarian era. Or would we continue dissing him on his extreme social conservatism?

    And if we'd reject Santorum on that, why do we celebrate Ron and Rand Paul who are both Rick Santorum with BIG spending cuts?

    I've been in this movement since it began in 1960. I've been elected as a libertarian, and I was the first (only?)paid executive director of a state LP. But the movement has now gone off the rails entirely.

    More than ever, preaching to our own choir. We sit passively, doing nothing toward libertarian governance, waiting for somebody else to do something. Then something happens, usually in the GOP, we jump up and take credit for something we had not a damn thing to do with, and proclaim a Libertarian Era. Yup, off the rails entirely.

    The movement is now copying the wildly successful party. (sarcasm)

  • montana mike||

    I'd like to think people are wising up and seeing how the masters in DC are over reaching, but frankly it doesn't matter which tribe rules, the over reach will be there.

    So I'll be hoping for a split between the tribes, that way really stupid legislation isn't possible when one tribe holds all the cards. If the congress and executive are from different tribes it precludes shit like Obamacare. Here's to a do nothing government, the less they do the better off we are.

  • ||

    I'd like to think people are wising up to the plutocrats who buy our government off every erection cycle. The people at Goldman Sachs want you yelling at the government. The Occupy movement had it right!

  • Will Nonya||

    As long as we're limited to a "two party system" then the argument that the country is becoming more "liberal" stands.

    If we as a country wake up and realize that we are not limited to two ideologies but that we are allowed to choose form a whole smorgasbord of options then I believe many more people are likely to become libertarians. Other than the two party nonsense the biggest limitation that libertarians have to overcome is the perception the general population has that we're just a bunch of pot smoking anarchist who simply hate government for the sake of hating government.

    When you go issue by issue many people both dems and gop faithful alike are more likely to align with libertarian principles than with those of their own parties but they'll never accept the label as long as they believe what the rest of the media says about us.

  • Craig@NC||

    I don't buy the thesis of this article or the cited article. I'd suggest a substantial bloc of voters are almost entirely motivated by the illusion of government fixes for anything and everything at little to no cost to them. I don't think this makes people liberal or conservative or anything else. "I'm going to fix problems with new programs and give you stuff and some greedy corporate fat cat is going pay for it; so don't worry about the bill." If your response to this sort of rhetoric is "where do I sign up!" it doesn't make you a "liberal", but it probably does make you a registered Democrat and, of course, it means you like free stuff and either don't understand or care how it might be funded.

    The GOP's playing Pepsi to the Democrat's Coke hasn't been working out so well for them. Either the GOP moves more toward a Libertarian-leaning platform that does more than play lip service to fiscal responsibility or we're going to continue down this path toward a de facto one party system.

    I keep reading this line of criticism that seems to imply a Libertarian president's election would result in immediate chaos and anarchy. I'm not sure how absolute power in the Executive is assumed in this line of attack.

  • ||

    I have a completely different take on the current political situation. We live in a society dominated by corporate conglomerates, who buy and sell both parties. You'r notion that the government is handing out free stuff is correct- your notion that it is handing out free stuff to poor people is popular, but misguided. I find it odd that at a time when corporations have almost total control over our political process, people on the right are yelling at the powerless poor people, the people that have been left behind by a plutocratic system that abandoned them decades ago.

    Have a nice day!

  • ibcbet||

    The modern use of the word liberal = progressive = authoritarian statist . The only thing they are liberal with is other peoples money.

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  • ||

    Mr. Harsanyi is correct that Americans are not trustful of government, but he neglects to discuss the broad distrust of corporate America as well. A quick search of polling data suggests that Americans are VERY distrustful of corporate power. They also, by a large majority, want taxes raised on top income earners- a position diametrically opposed to the libertarian stance. Aside from the social issues, upon which libertarians and liberals tend to agree, there is little evidence suggesting that the American people want to embrace the libertarian economic platform.

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