…it seems much clearer to me than to many other commenters that Brink Lindsey's TNR article is proposing an intellectual and policy alliance/debate, along the lines of the fusionism on the postwar right, not a short-term partisan political coalition to win the 2008 election. The stuff about 13 percent of the vote is mostly news-peg boilerplate. That's how you get TNR and the WaPost to pay attention. It's as irrelevant today as it was in the 1950s just how many libertarian-identified voters there are. The point is to talk seriously about policy ends and means and the role of market processes in serving liberal (in all senses of the word) values.
I'll add that just as libertarians have more to offer than a pathetic voting bloc, the left has more to offer than the pathetic Democratic Party. I really don't see much hope at all for turning the Democrats in a libertarian direction (though I'll cheer on anyone who's willing to try), but I know plenty of people who reflexively vote Democratic (when they vote at all) but are easily 80% libertarian in their own attitudes. Call them Whole Earth Catalog libertarians, Santa Fe Institute libertarians, bOING bOING libertarians. They appreciate spontaneous order, entrepreneurship (many of them are entrepreneurs themselves), decentralization, free expression, and peace. The hard-core do-it-yourselfers among them (and the veterans of the New Left) also appreciate the widespread private ownership of guns. They might not agree with everything in Brink's article, but hey, neither do I. That's fine. It's a big tent.
Another pet peeve: Why does this have to be discussed as a "divorce" from the conservative movement? A divorce from the Republican Party, sure—my hat's off to Ron Paul and a few others in the GOP, but the Republican establishment is as hostile to liberty as the Democratic leadership, maybe more so. But there's plenty of 80%ers on the right, too, and I'm as happy to hang out with them as I am to hang out with friendly liberals, friendly leftists, and friendly counterculturalists. There are many lefts, and there are many rights. We don't have to marry any of them, and we don't have to divorce any of them either. Insert the free-love metaphor of your choice here.