Optimism About the New Libertarian Age

Interesting and very long Associated Press story, via the Alton Telegraph, in which I'm quoted, that takes a very optimistic view of the prospects of a resurgence of libertarian thought in the Republican Party and American politics and culture in general. While the specifics the author cites are true enough, from Ron Paulite takeovers of various state Republican Parties to an inchoate sense of weariness with pointless nannyism, I vacillate myself in how much hope I place on them.

That said, some highlights:

In its annual governance survey conducted last fall, Gallup found that a record-high 81 percent of Americans were dissatisfied with the way the country was being governed. There were increases, too, in the responses to questions that gauge a more libertarian-view of governance: A record 49 percent said they believed government posed "an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens"; 57 percent believed the federal government had too much power; and 56 percent said they would be willing to pay less in taxes and accept fewer services (a position advocated during the campaign by Paul).

But do we really need numbers to confirm the strong libertarian-like streak running through the nation of late? Instead, just look to the rise of the tea party with its smaller-government, "back-off" mantra. Or take in some of the signs posted along U.S. roads these days, like this one outside of Wickenburg, Ariz.: "Choose Freedom. Stop Obamacare." Or consider the backlash after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed banning large servings of sugary sodas.

The libertarian message is especially attractive to younger Americans who are war-weary, socially liberal and skeptical of government interference in their lives. They've grown up paying into Medicare and Social Security but hearing - endlessly - that they're unlikely to receive the benefits of those programs. They see many government initiatives as unnecessary evils, and believe social issues such as abortion and gay marriage are matters of personal choice not political debate.

Many pondered why Ron Paul, at 76 years old, attracted throngs of 20-somethings to his rallies and, according to exit polls, consistently won the 18-29 age bracket early in primary season in states such as New Hampshire and Iowa.  

Twenty-six-year-old Alexander McCobin has a response for that: "This is the most libertarian generation that's ever existed, and it's because libertarianism is just correct."

Four years ago, McCobin co-founded the group Students For Liberty, which now has some 780 affiliates...

In a 2010 paper, Cato concluded that libertarians "are increasingly a swing vote ... a bigger share of the electorate than the much discussed 'soccer moms' of the 1990s or 'NASCAR dads' of the early 2000s, and bigger than many of the micro-targeted groups pursued by political strategists in the 2004 and 2008 elections."

Many of these voters would describe themselves as independents, a group that both candidates desperately need in order to win, said Samples. The libertarian view of limited government and free market economics usually pushes these voters toward Republican candidates, even if their social views are more in line with the Democratic Party.

But as the Cato study pointed out, such voters are not firmly committed to either of the two major parties...

....this is neither a passing fad nor a "Ron Paul phenomenon" that will fade once he's gone from the scene. [Nevada Paul supporters and GOP activists Carl and Richard Bunce] see hope in other up-and-coming libertarian-leaning Republicans: Justin Amash, a Michigan congressman seeking re-election whom Reason magazine christened "the next Ron Paul"; Kurt Bills, a Minnesota state representative who is running for U.S. Senate; and, of course, Rand Paul.

"Everything we've done up to this point is based on ideas. ... It carries on well past Congressman Paul," said Carl Bunce. "Hopefully we'll start to bring more voters to bear into the Republican Party - all those apathetic voters that were like myself."

When that happens, he said, "our ideas of liberty and freedom will persist."

For more on the general trends this story discusses, see both my new book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired and the out-in-paperback classic by my Reason colleagues Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America.

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  • ||

    OT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related

    Am I the only one who sees absolutely nothing wrong with what that guy's doing?

  • The Hammer||

    No youtube at work. What's he doing, so I can be properly informed in my outrage?

  • Randian||

    The links to YouTube need to stop. There is nothing worthwhile in news stories and other topics of interest that cannot be expressed in text, and text is faster to load and faster to read and digest.

  • CE||

    +100

  • ||

    Yeah, or not.

  • Randian||

    *shrug*. I'm not going to spend 10 minutes watching a video of Dr. Phil when a two-line piece of text would have sufficed to communicate the point.

  • ||

    Which is why clicking on links posted on the Internet is voluntary. God bless free will.

  • Randian||

    Let's get all recursive on this shit and say that my complaints about your videos is also voluntary and comports with "free will". And your complaining about my complaining blah blah blah.

    Bottom line: text is more efficient. Videos, unless you have to actually see something to understand it, are a waste of time.

  • ||

    I don't recall complaining, but sure.

    Here's a video to lighten the mood:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyMXYE_50Ts

  • Tulpa the White||

    Would you prefer that he post nothing at all?

  • Randian||

    Probably. Especially if he's going to endorse PUAs.

  • ||

    Well, unless you live on Easter Island, Flash and a connection fast enough to load a video aren't too rare these days, so I think I'll just go ahead and continue linking videos.

  • Hugh Akston||

    PUAs are douchebags.

  • Randian||

    Oh, yeah, we didn't need a video to tell us this eternal truth.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Once he talked about purposely having scruff I knew to give up on him possibly redeeming it. That shit is retarded. Either grow a beard or shave it off.

  • Coeus||

    Fuck that. It's like male makeup. Hides unsightly skin discolorations.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Then grow an actual beard.

  • Coeus||

    Easier said than done when you have to regularly wear a gas-mask.

  • The Hammer||

    You only do that if you're a decorated general with a heart of gold.

  • Randian||

    Am I the only one who sees absolutely nothing wrong with what that guy's doing?

    Going around sticking it to as many women as possible is definitely the height of maturity and class. Bragging about it doubles up on the Supreme Coolness.

  • ||

    If he and his dates are having fun, that's all that matters.

  • Randian||

    Adulterers are probably "having fun" too.

  • ||

    You're not seriously equating guys whose goal is to charm and fuck as many women as they can with adulterers, are you? Because that would be silly.

  • Coeus||

    Shhh. You'll disrupt his dry-dicked sense of self righteousness.

  • Randian||

    *yawn* yeah, an anti-libertine approach is so popular around here that it must be self-righteousness that is driving me.

    PUAs and their enablers are so predictable: anybody who doesn't immediately endorse their behavior is an old prude and they're just fun young guys like, doing their thing, man.

    No one is interested in your trite, post-modern relativistic morality.

  • ||

    PUAs and their enablers are so predictable: anybody who doesn't immediately endorse their behavior is an old prude and they're just fun young guys like, doing their thing, man.

    ------------------

    I didn't say you were a prude, or that you had to endorse them. I just don't see anything wrong with a guy and a girl-times-132 getting together for some action.

    "No one is interested in your trite, post-modern relativistic morality."

    You just jumped the shark. Congratulations.

  • Randian||

    You just jumped the shark. Congratulations.

    I'm just having fun, RPA! Doesn't that make everything I do and/or so permissible and free of judgment? I could have sworn you just said that.

  • ||

    I could have sworn you just said that.

    ----------

    You'd be lying if you did that.

  • Randian||

    If he and his dates are having fun, that's all that matters.

    What mean then?

  • ||

    It means I don't see anything to judge (or anything impermissible) about Johnny fucking his way through city.

  • Randian||

    It means I don't see anything to judge (or anything impermissible) about Johnny fucking his way through city.

    You're actually judging it as "good" because "everyone is having fun", which is not a very good moral metric.

    The idea that people are mere playthings is called sociopathy and is not a healthy outlook. Treating people as means to an end is for utilitarians and nihilists.

  • ||

    What the fuck are you talking about?

    "You're actually judging it as "good" because "everyone is having fun", which is not a very good moral metric."

    I'm not judging it as positive or negative, only that there's nothing wrong with it. And I was referring to the particular acts he's responsible for. "Everyone is having fun" is obviously not the way I judge actual immorality.

    "The idea that people are mere playthings is called sociopathy and is not a healthy outlook. Treating people as means to an end is for utilitarians and nihilists."

    How the shit is this at all relevant or applicable to this guy? He meets women that then consensually get into his bed, and that's it. Where's the inference that people are at all devalued? "Mere playthings"? Where's this coming from?

  • Randian||

    I didn't say you were a prude, or that you had to endorse them. I just don't see anything wrong with a guy and a girl-times-132 getting together for some action.

    I was talking to Coeus, who seems to think I'm "dry dicked", as if I'm in the mood to get into an Angry Young Man/Fratdouche argument with him about who gets the most [insert thing Fratboys never get here]

  • Coeus||

    I was talking to Coeus, who seems to think I'm "dry dicked", as if I'm in the mood to get into an Angry Young Man/Fratdouche argument with him about who gets the most [insert thing Fratboys never get here]

    I'm eager to hear another explanation.

  • Randian||

    I'm eager to hear another explanation.

    How about, "I think PUAs and their enablers are d-bags". Rather than take that at face value, of course, you choose to attack and/or invent motives.

    See, now you have a neat little rhetorical set-up, don't you? If I continue to tell you you're wrong, that just provides further evidence that you're right. Any evidence that comes your way just proves your invented thesis.

    Watch, I can do it too: "Coeus's defense of PUAs is because he worships them because he's sad, lonely, and has a tiny dick".

    There, now anything you say will reinforce that completely made-up POV.

  • Coeus||

    How about, "I think PUAs and their enablers are d-bags". Rather than take that at face value, of course, you choose to attack and/or invent motives.

    Why? If you never give a reason, we have to infer the most likely one, don't we?

    There, now anything you say will reinforce that completely made-up POV.

    Really? Not much imagination in you, is there?

    How about this:
    I hate people who talk shit about PUAs through a moralistic lens where they stupidly equate it with adultery. Because I hate people who don't use logic.

  • Randian||

    Why? If you never give a reason, we have to infer the most likely one, don't we?

    No more than I have to give a reason as to why hipsters are d-bags, or why envirotards are d-bags, or religious nutjobs are nutjobs. They just are.

  • Coeus||

    No more than I have to give a reason as to why hipsters are d-bags, or why envirotards are d-bags, or religious nutjobs are nutjobs. They just are.

    And we would assume the most common reasons for that hatred. Hipsters - hated for cultural accouterments of "ironic" styling. "Envirotards" - hated for wanting government solutions to invented or grossly exaggerated problems. "Religous nutjobs" - hated for holding viewpoints contrary to evidence and wanting them enforced on the general populace.

    You are fine with those inferences, yes? Well, newsflash, most PUA hate comes from the fact that they have more sex than average. Since you're not a "religious nutjob", we have to assume that the hatred of more sex comes from the only other logical reason, jealousy.

    We would not have to assume this if you would give another reason, something you seem oddly resistant to doing.

  • The Hammer||

    What's a PUA?

  • ||

    Pick-up artist.

  • Randian||

    You're not seriously equating guys whose goal is to charm and fuck as many women as they can with adulterers, are you? Because that would be silly.

    What does it say about him that he has to brag about his behavior on national television? My guess? He's fast on the trigger.

  • ||

    I don't know anything about the guy. That wasn't the point. The point was that labeling someone a chauvinist with a bloated ego for successfully bagging lots of dates is fucking retarded.

  • Randian||

    The point was that labeling someone a chauvinist with a bloated ego for successfully bagging lots of dates is fucking retarded.

    The part that gets one labeled that is bragging about it on national television. You have to be a serious attention whore to get to that level. I bet the guy wrote into Dr. Phil himself to get on television just to brag. He's pathetic.

  • ||

    The part that gets one labeled that is bragging about it on national television.

    -------------

    Not according to the show.

  • Coeus||

    The part that gets one labeled that is bragging about it on national television. You have to be a serious attention whore to get to that level. I bet the guy wrote into Dr. Phil himself to get on television just to brag. He's pathetic.

    It's all part of the same schtick. Fame, no matter how stupidly it is achieved, gets him more ass.

    Don't hate the player, hate the game. If it makes you feel any better, know that most players hate the game as well.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Randian is right PUAs are douchebags RPA stop dodging Randians points.

  • Coeus||

    Randian is right PUAs are douchebags

    Actually, Randian never said that. Hugh did. And he's right. Acting like a douchbag is kinda a big part of PUA. It's the moralistic judgments which are stupid, like equating it with adultery.

  • ||

    That depends on what you mean by 'wrong'.
    Once upon a time I behaved that way, but I do not any longer, nor do I encourage anyone else to.
    There are lots of things 'wrong' with behaving that way, but no, there should be no legal sanctions.
    Of course it is a TV show so it has to be over the top. If I had to put money on it, I would bet its fiction.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Who said anything about legality? What are you, dunphy?

  • Coeus||

    Once upon a time I behaved that way,but I do not any longer, nor do I encourage anyone else to.

    I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that magical change in thinking occurred around the same time you got old enough to see the over 35 crowd as dating material.

  • The Hammer||

    When was the over 35 crowd not dating material? When we were in college cougars were one of the ultimate goals.

  • Coeus||

    When was the over 35 crowd not dating material? When we were in college cougars were one of the ultimate goals.

    That's just because until Junior year, college age pussy was mostly off the table. Believe me, I was in that same crowd. We were deluding ourselves.

  • The Hammer||

    College age pussy was never off the table. "What's your major; that's so interesting, what led you to that; what are you going to do when you finish school?" were enough to get you laid through your first couple of years. Older women, if just because of the smaller ratio of hot ones to the general population, seemed more exotic and sexy. Plus, they had nicer places to go than dorm rooms or college houses, and were always very impressed when you could go more than twice in a night. And you usually got a nice breakfast or brunch out of it. I don't think we were deluding ourselves at all; it was a pretty sweet deal.

  • Coeus||

    College age pussy was never off the table. "What's your major; that's so interesting, what led you to that; what are you going to do when you finish school?" were enough to get you laid through your first couple of years.

    Then you were either one of the 10% who got regular teen-age ass before Junior year, or you had a vastly different college experience than I did. It's dry bones now for the first two years of college for a large majority of males. Hypergamous impulses are increasing at a geometric rate now that social-shaming has mostly gone by the wayside. It's both good and bad. It means that for the first couple of years, freshman girls are off the table, but it also means that saying "Hi, I'm a Junior/Senior" is all you need for seduction for the last 2.

  • The Hammer||

    I went to a private college with a lot of girls from Catholic high schools, which probably helped.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Is this book new enough to have alt-text?

  • Hugh Akston||

    If there is hope [wrote Winston] it lies in the proles.

    If there is hope [wrote the AP] it lies in the Republicans.

  • CE||

    The immediate future is not so bright -- continued record spending, record borrowing, and record deficits as far as the eye can see, followed by an economic collapse, followed by a political one. After that, some of the autonomous regions that rebuild may be considerably more libertarian than what we have now. Of course, some of them will be worse.

  • fish||

    Libertarian because we are too broke to afford anything else!

  • ||

    Reason has called 8 of the last 0 Libertarian Golden Ages.

  • Voros McCracken||

    Yeah the problem is that binary politics has proven unbelievably effective. If you can get people to loathe the other side (Sarah Palin is an excellent example), binary politics allows you to scoop up massive amounts of votes despite not being a particularly good alternative yourself.

    Your never going to convince someone to vote libertarian unless they think they could win. Otherwise they'll simply vote against the party they hate. And no one's ever going to think libertarians can win until you convince more people to vote for them. Catch 22.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's some catch!

  • Voros McCracken||

    It's the best there is.

  • Brandybuck||

    The catch is that you need to offer something to the voters to get them to vote for you. Which principled libertarians will not do.

    But it's more than that, you also need to promise to do stuff to other people. Like arrest "illegals", or bomb Arabs, or tax the rich, or force fatties to diet, or something. People want carrots for themselves and sticks for their neighbors.

    We need a radical change in social mores before the average voter would consider cutting back on their consumption of coercion. It's changing in some areas (marijuana) but remains as gluttonous as even in others (cocaine, heroin, etc.).

  • Voros McCracken||

    The only thing you can offer Republicans that matters to them is that you can beat Obama. I think we learned that in the primary.

    And the only thing that mattered to Democrats in 2004 was that you could beat the evil Bush. Hence John Kerry, war hero.

    Everything else is small potatoes. And libertarians can't offer either at the moment.

  • James Otis||

    Optimistic libertarians?
    Good one!
    No, seriously, that cracked me up.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I am... I'm optimistic that we are fucked if either Team has ultimate power.

    /loophole

  • Fluffy||

    I'm just having fun, RPA! Doesn't that make everything I do and/or so permissible and free of judgment? I could have sworn you just said that.

    The reason this is ridiculous:

    You are equating your outrage that two (or more - or a lot more) other people who aren't you are having fun with RPA being annoyed at you being a dick directly to him.

    You are saying, "Well, if you think people who want to fuck each other should be allowed to, that means you also have to think I can take a shit on your head. Because those two things both consist of a lack of moral judgment." And that would be fucking stupid.

  • Randian||

    I wasn't outraged that they were 'having fun', so that doesn't hold water as a criticism. I said that PUAs are no-class losers, and RPA said "well, they're just having fun and that's all that matters". Well, no, actually, that is not all that matters.

  • Drake||

    The New Libertarian Age - is that some kind of alternative universe? Please tell me how to get there, because this one sucks.

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