(L-R: Jonathan Chait, David Kirby, David Boaz, Ramesh Ponnuru, Brink Lindsey)
In case you were wondering how that Liberaltarian debate shook down, you're in luck: Much of the discussion sprung from the public articles the speakers have already written on the subject. David Boaz marshalled his polling data suggesting that up to 50 percent of voters could count themselves as libertarian, depending on the issue map. Ramesh Ponnuru expanded on his super-skeptical blog posts, arguing that the GOP would be silly to trade large numbers of conservative votes for a smaller number of anti-spending, socially liberal votes. Brink Lindsey re-argued his article, this time with feeling. And Jonathan Chait thoughtfully dumped cold water on it all.
There was an extremely brief Q&A, during which Reason Contributing Editor Julian Sanchez got off a stumper about how fast young voters were leaving the GOP. One question I wanted to ask, and didn't have the chance to: Since we've learned that the optimal real-world political situation* for libertarians is divided government, shouldn't the libertarian vote be incredibly fungible? That is, they should vote for Republicans when a Democrat is president and vote Democratic when a Republican is president? A Republican president appointing economically conservative judges with a Democratic Congress nixing the occasional lunatic nominee and blocking his efforts to wage ridiculous wars; a Democratic president appointing socially liberal judges with a Republican Congress cutting his spending requests. Of course, divided governments may compromise and agree to ram through their absolute worst ideas, but we saw plenty of stuff like that—Republicans boxing out Democrats on an issue like Medicare—with total GOP control.
*The optimal fantasy world situation being one where the Libertarian Party actually can win the presidency and ice cream makes you skinny.