The Libertarian Party held its national convention this last weekend and turned aside some more idealistic candidates for leadership from the Libertarian Reform Caucus. The Caucus' candidates promised to water down the party's platform and message as a way to, you know, win some elections already.
Fringe politics does not work in the United States. A political party must appeal to a plurality of voters (effectively, at least 40%) in some districts in order to win elections. Since districts vary, such a party could get away with appealing to less nationwide, but it must at least appeal to 20-30%.
In other words, for the Libertarian Party to be effective, it must appeal to the top 20-30% of freedom-lovers. Appealing to the tiny minority of freedom-lovers who want no government at all, or something very close to that, is a recipe for failure.
The platform and message of the Libertarian Party is extreme, sacrificing practicality and political appeal in favor of philosophical consistency with a single axiom. As such, the party currently appeals only to a tiny fraction of the voting public.
The Libertarian Reform Caucus is working to reform the Libertarian Party, to turn it into an effective tool for increasing liberty.
Ron Gunzberger of Politics1 has a report on the fissures this caused at the convention, with one member calling the LRC "neocon traitors" and another forming—what else?—a splinter group.
It's easy to joke about this, but what are the big subjects of discussion in the political blogs right now? One is whether libertarian-minded voters are up for grabs. Another is whether the extreme divisions, hilarious incompetence, and disregard for liberty of the two main parties could pave the way for a third party. And the latter issue isn't so much a debate as a martini-fueled fever dream for political reporters—a McCain/Lieberman ticket! America rushing the hoist the flag of Michael Bloomberg!
So, a reconstituted Libertarian party that's anti-war and anti-tax, and focuses on winning local elections instead of scoring 0.5% of the presidential vote? As my favorite independent candidate says, why the hell not?