Election 2012

Libertarian Legal Theorist Randy Barnett on "The Mistake That is The Libertarian Party"

Libertarian intellectual and Georgetown professor of law Randy Barnett - one of the architects of the legal challenges to Obamacare - writes in today's Wall Street Journal that if you care about liberty, you should vote for the Republicans.


Libertarian intellectual and Georgetown professor of law Randy Barnett—one of the architects of the legal challenges to Obamacare—writes in today's Wall Street Journal that if you care about liberty, you should vote for the Republicans.


The Libertarian Party's effort will, if effective, attract more libertarian voters away from the candidate who is marginally less hostile to liberty, and help hand the election to the candidate who is more hostile to liberty….

Libertarians need to adjust their tactics to the current context. This year, their highest priority should be saving the country from fiscal ruin, arresting and reversing the enormous growth in federal power—beginning with repealing ObamaCare—and pursuing a judiciary who will actually enforce the Constitution. Which party is most likely to do these things in 2013?

So, argues Barnett, that means voting for Mitt Romney and other GOP candidates this time at least. Elsewhere he suggests that this doesn't mean just joining the Republicans, though it always means killing the LP:

Libertarian activists need to set aside their decades-old knee-jerk reactions to the two major parties, roll up their sleeves, and make the Republican and Democratic parties more libertarian. When it comes to voting, libertarians need to get serious about liberty and give up on the Libertarian Party. Nov. 6 would be a good day to start.

Read the whole thing here. (And read/watch Barnett's recent interview with Reason.)

There's a lot to respond to in this piece, especially for politically unaffiliated libertarians (note the small l) such as myself.

First is that, in siding not just with a major party but with the Republicans, Barnett is following in the footsteps of Milton Friedman, almost certainly the most influential and politically effective libertarian theorist in the post-World War II era. As he told Brian Doherty in a great 1995 interview, "I have a party membership as a Republican, not because they have any principles, but because that's the way I am the most useful and have most influence." And as Barnett himself points out, characters such as Ron Paul have made peace with the GOP in a way that even the hardest-core libertarian should try to understand. Paul pere (et fils) are as important as they are precisely because they represent one of the duopolistic firms managing electoral politics.

At the same time, to be honest, Barnett's case that the Democrats in the current moment (or, as important, over the next four years) are truly worse than the GOP will be on a wide variety of economic and social issues is not particularly strong. There's no question that President Obama has been as big or bigger a disaster than George W. Bush was. Historically, however, there's every reason to fear Republican presidents more than Democratic ones. As the chart (prepared by libertarian economist and Reason columnist Veroniqe de Rugy) above shows, real per capita spending cranks up under Republicans and then gets hardened into reality by Democrats. Regardless of how you vote or identify politically, we all need to face up to the fact that outlays go up under GOP presidents more than under Dems. When it comes to foreign policy and especially military interventionism, I think Barnett, who took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal in 2007 to support the Iraq War, would be hard-pressed to claim that the GOP has any claim to superiority.

One thing Barnett gets right is a point that Matt Welch and I make in The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America (out in paperback with a new intro for around $10 on Kindle!) is that libertarian is best understood as a pre-political impulse. That is, being in favor of a limited government that maximizes individual autonomy and freedom, informs your partisan affiliation, but it doesn't necessarily dictate it. There are libertarian Democrats (two of them are Reason regulars: Terry Michael and Mike Godwin) and there are libertarian Republicans and there are libertarian Libertarians too. There are many libertarians who refuse to vote, too. 

But that realization leads to questions of effecting social change and here is where I find Barnett's argument utterly unconvincing. Whatever his rhetorical flourishes, the message of his piece is aptly summarized in its sub-headline: "Voting the LP line could swing the election to the Democrats. That's not an outcome libertarians should hope for" (yeah, yeah, I know writers don't pen their headlines, but this one is truly accurate).

His argument boils down to a variation of the open letter that the left-wing magazine The Nation pens to Ralph Nader whenever his presidential bids might have the ungodly effect of changing the outcome and electing a Republican. As the mag opined in 2004:

When devotion to principle collides with electoral politics, hard truths must be faced. Ralph, this is the wrong year for you to run: 2004 is not 2000. 

Of course, in 2000, when Nader was running (and did influence the outcome), The Nation had editorialized that its readers—who presumably agreed 100 percent with Citizen Ralph's platform—should only cast a ballot for him if it wasn't going to matter:

Vote with your heart where you can, and vote with your head where you must. In states where either Gore or Bush has a commanding lead, vote Nader. In the states too close to call, vote Gore. In either case, the imperative is to end Republican control in Congress by electing Democrats, also vital to the prospects for progressive change.

For more in that vein, repair to "Dear Ralph, Go Fuck Yourself. Love, The Nation."

This is essentially the same argument that Barnett is making: This election (read: every election) is too important to waste votes on minor parties that will never steer the ship of state but might cause the second-best choice to lose. The best way to influence politics and hence policy is to go with one of the two big boys, or, realistically, the Republicans for the foreseeable future.

Is that true? For starters, it's wrong to presume that Gary Johnson—the immensely appealing and accomplished LP candidate for president—is taking more votes from Romney than Obama. In the Reason-Rupe Poll conducted in late September, for instance, Johnson pulled about 3 percentage points from each. In the swing state of Colorado, it's Obama, not Romney, who is sweating Johnson's total. Beyond that, there's something fundamentally weird with pre-counting votes as belonging to one or other of the major parties.

But more important in my estimation is understanding how change comes to political parties. Yes, someone like Rand Paul— the most interesting man in the Senate, we've called him—is huge. He's pulling (pushing?) the GOP in a more libertarian direction and he's being joined by younger characters (such as Rep. Justin Amash and Sen. Mike Lee) and older ones (Sens. Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn) who get the reality that the future of the Party of Lincoln requires getting more libertarian.

But the Tea Party—which is widely hated among the GOP establishment—has been the real engine of change precisely by refusing to go along with the status quo to eke out another near-term election win. The Tea Party is the reason that Rand Paul is in the Senate (they are the reason he won against the handpicked candidate of the Senate Majority, fer chrissakes). And it's the Tea Party's single-minded insistence on fiscal restraint uber alles that gives it power. This is a group of folks willing to nominate a nut like Christine O'Donnell over a sure thing, to primary eminent non-entities such as Orrin Hatch and Dick Lugar. That sort of focus has scared the GOP plenty and is the only reason the GOP is talking at all about reducing future spending. And still, the Tea Party has miles to go before it sleeps. The minute that the Tea Party—and Rand Paul, who takes regular abuse from Republicans for refusing to fall in line—eases off, the GOP will drift back to its worst tendencies.

But change doesn't come to parties simply from within, and here's where a strong showing by Gary Johnson and libertarian voters can absolutely send exactly the sort of message that both parties need to understand. The libertarian vote comprises somewhere between 10 percent and 15 percent of votes. It's remarkably reliable and consistent in that it supports candidates who believe the state should not enforce a single set of moral values and should stop doing things that individuals and businesses can handle better. That vote can swing any election and it will cozy up to whatever party takes it seriously. If the Republicans want to win the libertarian vote, all they have to do is…change a little bit. Ironically, all the party has to do is start pushing what it says it believes in: Individual rights and limited government. For the Dems, it might be more of a stretch, but they too can win some libertarian votes by changing their stances on various things.

GOP politicos and analysts have known this for well over a decade-plus, but they have been painfully slow (or maybe just stupid) to acknowledge libertarian sentiments in their party's policies or priorities. Instead, we get endlessly recycled thumb-sucking pieces about "The Libertarian Temptation" or accusations that by voting in what they believe, libertarians are "serving, in effect, as Democratic Party operatives." Republicans endlessly shout out, like Freud with the ladies, "What do libertarians want?!?!" Easy fellas, it's not a secret. Just take your heads out of your ass and listen once in a while.

Voting LP thus may serve as the spur to change in a GOP that should be looking not just at this election (which like every election is the most important election EVER!) but down the road a bit, to a country in which nobody cares about sexual orientation and an always-more-globalized economy means we're all immigrants and mongrels and that businessess of all sizes and shapes benefit not from politically connected tax breaks and subsidies but from honest-to-god free markets and drugs aren't a big deal and spending 4 percent of GDP on military contracts is self-evidently idiotic and on and on. Which is to say: The GOP should wake up to what America is like today if it wants to win the future. What part of "Majority of Americans Want Government to Do Less, Promote Fewer 'Traditional' Values" don't politicians understand?

In the meantime, far from fretting that the LP will cost Mitt Romney the election (arguable on every level), the GOP might "man up" a bit and take some personal responsibility for its failure to perform as promised. And how that—not third parties—depresses its vote count.

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  1. Just got back from voting:

    1. I voted for Johnson, so shut the fuck up, Barnett.

    2. I wrote in “Lizard People” for Soil Commissioner. Fingers crossed!

    3. I had 5 options for straight-party voting: DEM, REP, LIB, GRE, and DAS. The first 4 are obvious, but the 5th was new to me. Its the Descendants of American Slaves Party. They didnt have a candidate on my ballot anywhere, but I guess they do somewhere in the state.

    1. What in the fuck does a Soil Commissioner do?

      1. Duh, he identifies soil that is especially trustworthy and grants them a commission!

      2. Commissions soil? Can you imagine a square inch being so deployed without the tutored hand of such a person?

      3. Technically it was “Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors” [Vote for 4].

        And I have no clue what they do, but I think the Lizard People are most qualified.

        1. They make sure that the people upstream don’t use all of the water so that none is left for the downstream people.

        2. My vote went to Norman Borlaug. It seems like a good fit for him, especially in his present state.

      4. If your soil isn’t commissioned, it’s just enlisted soil.

        1. I have to assume that this is a $100k/yr position plus overtime and pension.

          1. It’s funny.

            The graves commissioner for our town is a kid who is the hird generation of a local political family who fits the stereotype of a clueless scion of privilege to a T.

            He’s on the local politics cursus honorum that will eventually get him a seat as state representative.

            1. I could have sworn people settled this country in the first place in order to escape the hereditary aristocracies of the Old World. But what do I know – I learned most of my political history in a government run school.

          2. The Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors are elected by registered voters in the county and serve without compensation.

            That actually might be worse.

  2. Barnett’s implication that Romney is marginally less hostile to liberty is flat-out wrong. Romney is a big-government autocrat.


    1. He might be marginally less hostile to liberty. But “marginally” is the key word. Also “might”. If the GOP had wanted my vote, they could have nominated Paul.

      They knew this, they told me to fuck off. I fucked off.

      1. Provided you think the point of voting is to make a point to one of the two big parties, and has nothing whatever to do with the country, then that makes perfect sense.

        1. I think Johnson is the best candidate for president amongst the 5 on my ballot.

          I had the choice of:

          *Randall A Terry. Is that THAT Randall Terry? No clue, was running as an Independent with Missy Reilly Smith.

          1. Like with Lizard People, I always vote for the candidate I want to win.

          2. Yes, that guy.

        2. Provided you think the point of voting is to make a point to one of the two big parties, and has nothing whatever to do with the country, then that makes perfect sense.

          I thought the point of voting was to choose the person who most closely reflected your views on how the government should be run?

          GJ for me.

          1. No, the point is to always always compromise your beliefs and values.

            1. Gary Johnson supports mandatory labeling of GMO foods! The fucking fascist!

              So I’m going to be compromising my values, when I vote for him.

              He wants to abolish the Dept. of Education (GREAT!) but not public education altogether.

              He wants “sensible regulation” of marijuana, too.

              GJ is great. He’ll get my vote (I’m not in a “battleground state” so I don’t have to game it). But would Gary Johnson and I agree on every single thing, 100% of the time? Probably not.

              Compromise is required, no matter what. The real question is where, what and how much.

              1. I think there’s a fine line between not agreeing with someone on everything, and disagreeing to a large extent on every issue

              2. Just a clarification. Gary Johnson retracted his statement on GMO labeling and apologized after he thought it through. He basically said that he was in favor of the transparency, but opposed to the government bureaucracy such an implementation would create.

                I know he is not perfect, but I am willing to compromise that far and vote for Johnson too!

          2. I had been planning on writing in None of the Above for President (Johnson’s support for the so-called ‘fair’ tax is a deal breaker for me).

            But then I decided that if he were to win, it would create great LULZ, so I colored the oval.

            1. I was with you on the qualms about the Fair Tax, but I saw it as more of a party platform and not something GJ fully endorsed. Probably just me being naive, but I looked at his two-term governorship of New Mexico to see what kind of president he would be and not necessarily everything he is saying now.

              1. Then he’s a FLIP FLOPPER!

                See how silly this gets?

      2. Another problem for Barnett’s thesis is that the plurality of American adults are neither Libertarian Party libertarians nor Randy Barnett-Rand Paul libertarian Republicans. Only 30% of them voted for Romney or for Obama. Almost 40% seem to be Katherine Mangu-Wardmanite anti-voting Libertarians.

        Hence I think the Reason Foundation should prepare a law suit, as Mistress Mangu-Ward is our rightful ruler.

    2. Check out the candidates on a quantitative matching program like the one at procon.org . I did and found out there was more difference in match with my opinions between Romney y Obama than there was between Johnson y Romney. So yes, Romney is significantly better. He gets me more than halfway from Obama to Johnson, but with a much greater chance of being effective.

  3. He’s right.

    The established parties love having a few principled third parties to siphon off those who would vocally challenge the status quo.

    The GOP establishment is not especially afraid of Gary Johnson. They showed themselves to be afraid of Ron Paul, though.

    Mr. Johnson, you’re a great guy. Had you run for Senate in NM (which you probably would have won), I would have cut you a check, despite living far from NM. You and Rand Paul, with a few other allies on specific issues, could have had a huge impact on cloture votes, thus pushing the Senate in a libertarian direction. A few Senators with similar goals can wield a lot of power.

    OTOH a 1% third-party Presidential candidate is just background noise in the American political system.

    Gary Johnson, you are so much better than background noise.

    1. ^This^

      Barnett is wrong about Romney and totally right about the LP and Johnson’s run.

      1. Hard to say whether his judgement of Romney is correct.

        Chances of Romney being worse than Obama? Infinitesimal.

        Reasons to vote for Obama over Romney?
        Not one.

        Chances that a third party vote will accomplish anything at all, including “making a statement”?

        Reality bites. But reality it is, nonetheless.

      2. You’re both part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

        1. Oh that’s adorable!

          1. Selling out your integrity and principles because some attractive Republican said some nice words to you is the adorable part, if you consider bimboism ‘adorable’.

              1. That sounds…itchy.

            1. When did I say we should support the GOP this round? When?

              Attacking arguments I never made is not adorable.

              1. Who said I was talking about Romney or ‘this round’, Cyto?

          2. You have to admit, it’s super-duper clever and original.

            Randian, you may need to read a little more Rand. She had a thing about reality being objective. Or something like that…

            1. Never heard that one before.

              You vote for a big-government loving, social welfare and foreign warfare party, and expect me not to call you part of the problem?

              1. So what has the LP accomplished?

                1. It has somehow managed not to start a war in Iraq, pass Medicare Part D, or spend us into massive debt.

                  1. To be fair, neither have the Greens, Constitution Party or the YIP.

        2. If your not part of the solution, you are the precipitate.

          1. You owe me one keyboard cleaning, sir. That is high quality geek humor there.

            1. Chemist. 🙂

          2. Thank you for making me smile. 🙂

    2. The GOP establishment is not especially afraid of Gary Johnson.

      For the last week I’ve heard on the radio, every day, some GOP politician pleading GJ voters to go for Romney since a GJ vote is a vote for Obama.
      Rand Paul, Scott Brown, Charlie Summers, and a few others, all admonishing potential GJ voters for supporting Obama.

      1. Where is this?

        1. New England.

  4. I like how it’s just assumed that my vote would go to Republicans but-for the Libertarian Party.

    1. Dude, the Bourbon Democrats are dead. Their light has gone out of the galaxy.

      1. Fucked up as the GOP usually is, I couldn’t drink enough Bourbon to be a Democrat.

      2. Like I said, since I think the parties are largely the same on economic interventionism, I prefer the party that is slightly less warmonger-y. That is IF you had a gun to my head.

        1. The GOP is not as economically interventiony as the Dems, and I see no difference in FP.

          1. The GOP is not as economically interventiony as the Dems

            Now THAT’S adorable!

            1. Oh dear. Randian has missed his enema again. He gets so cranky when that happens.

              1. My own troll is back with his facile commentary. Do you have a fetish for enemas? NTTAWWT.

            2. It’s reality.

          2. The GOP is not as economically interventiony as the Dems

            GOP politicians talk a good talk with regards to economic intervention, but in practice they churn out just as much red tape as the other TEAM.

            1. The red tape is less lethal. No CO2 restrictions for one. But yeah the improvement isn’t really good enough.

            2. Not just red tape. They churn out the pelf with equal or greater rapidity.

        2. I am at a loss to determine which party is less warmonger-y.

          Democrats like to do things quietly, but they usually don’t end quietly. They often don’t end well, and that’s not even counting the blowback.

          Republicans like to send in the hardware and men. This is expensive, but it’s above-board and seems to be less blowback-y.

          Pick your poison.

          1. Democrats gave us World Wars 1, 2 and the Vietnam War. Republicans have been itching since Bush to make up for lost time.

        3. I have a friend whose response to the “if you had a gun to your head” question is “I’d take the bullet.”

          1. That’s dumb. Voting is not that important.

            1. I’d vote Romney just because I am so sick of Obama. I’d probably vote Democrat in four years because I’d be so sick of Romney though.

        4. since I think the parties are largely the same on economic interventionism, I prefer the party that is slightly less warmonger-y.

          Now THAT’S adorable.

          1. I said ‘slightly less’

            If you think McCain would have adhered to the SOFA with Iraq, I have some new coastal property in Jersey to sell you. The man fucking sang “Bomb Iran” in the middle of a campaign.

            1. McCain is not the GOP writ large. It’s worth noting that that GOP, while temporarily hijacked by the Neocon agenda, still has a more non-interventionalist streak and a considerably larger base of party members who are inherently skeptical of govt motives and abilities.

              1. Nope. The noninterventionists are almost non-existent since 9/11.

                1. Many conservatives are more sceptical of interventionism than a while ago, they’re just adherents to The Faith of Noninterventionism.

                  And what would have McCain done about SOFA?

                  1. Your faith in the Power of War and Overseas Meddling is much more harmful than the clearly moral choice of a general policy of noninterventionism.

                    Please note I said ‘general’, you illiterate gibbering monkey.

                    McCain would have simply ignored the SOFA, more likely than not.

    2. That’s hardly what Barnett assumes.

      He assumes, like the Pauls, that the Republican Party has room for libertarians in its coalition, and that reality says it’s Republican, Democrat, or effective abstention.

      You might argue with that, but it’s a different assumption.

      1. If, by “room for libertarians in its coalition”, you mean the Reps are happy to co-opt libertarians, take their votes, and do nothing to advance their issues, then I would say he is right.

        However, that doesn’t really strike me as a reason to go full Repubtard.

    3. I like how it’s assumed it would make any difference anyway. I live in New York State. Voting for Romney is about as likely to have a practical impact as voting for Johnson. I could give my vote to the Republicans, and be one of 2,750,000 or so, or vote Libertarian and be one of 20,000 or so. If either of those is at all meaningful, it’s the second, not the first.

    4. Exactly, hence my user name here. Before this election, I had never voted for (or even thought about voting for) a Republican.

      Gary Johnson can split more than just the Republican vote.

  5. I think Randy Barnett’s article makes sense if one is trying to stay in the sandbox of bringing liberty through altering government via the current political system.

    The problem is that literally every path to a freer country through the ballot box has less chance of happening than a whelk surviving a supernova. The government is designed to plunder people. The patrons of the various factions do so because they want the plunder. A group that advocates an end to plunder will always unite the other factions against it, and there is no way for them to play the factions against each other to expand the pro-freedom group’s power.

    In the end, freedom will come from the development of technologies and institutions that prompt people to stop cooperating with the state. The ballot box will be an afterthought.

    Freedom will come from extra governmental institutions

    1. Whoops, ignore the last sentence fragment. It was supposed to go on the cutting room floor. 😉

      1. Actually, Tarran, I liked the summary… Freedom WILL come from extra government institutions…


        1. There’s a big difference between “extra-governmental institutions” and “extra government institutions”.

    2. “Except for your sudden obsession with whelks, which I still haven’t understood.”

      1. I have no such obsessions

    3. These are not mutually exclusive options.

    4. Freedom will come from extra governmental institutions

      You are absolutely right. And that’s just what Romney’s Department of Freedom will do.

  6. if you care about liberty, you should vote for the Republicans.

    As far as I go.

    Fuck off, Barnett.

    1. Yeah. First his remarks that the Obamacare ruling was really a small victory for liberty and now this…

      I can’t believe I was actually thinking about going to Georgetown Law because of this guy for a time. I like The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law, but that’s about all I can handle of this guy anymore.

  7. I’d rather play the long game. If the GOP thinks they’re getting burned because they’re losing the libertarian vote, it’s up to them to correct their behavior and get it back.

    1. I’ve been playing that long game since 1980. I’m a patient man. (And yes, I cast my vote for G.J.)

      1. I’ve voted LP every election since 1994, although I’ve voted in GOP primaries twice now, thanks to Ron Paul. I’m happy that I get to vote for both Paul and Johnson in 2012.

        1. I got to vote for Paul 4 times in last 4 years.

          2008 and 2012 in the GOP primary.
          2010 in primary and general.

          Different Pauls, but still.

          1. I was excited because my address was shifted into Ron Paul’s new district, but then he up and retired.

        2. I maintain GOP registration for the purpose of voting in the GOP primary every year, but I always vote for the LP candidate come general election time. Because I’m in CA, I make the exception for close races in my district where getting rid of Waxman is more important to me than anything. But because the GOP is generally the only party that has a marginally liberty minded candidate, I will always vote for that candidate in their primaries.

  8. I drove past my polling place this morning. I turned up Machine Head, and kept on driving.

    1. Lazy.

  9. I disagree that republicans are less hostile to liberty.

    If I had to prioritize, Personal Liberty trumps economic liberty.

    Republicans (especially the Sam Alito types) are beyond hostile towards personal liberty. I find most republicans are hostile to personal liberty. Romney, who is barely a real republican, doesn’t seem that way.

    Since I live in NYC, I can afford to vote for Gary Johnson. To me, he’s a left-leaning Libertarian that I really like. Ron Paul was too much.

    I live in NY. If I lived in a SWING STATE, I would have voted OBAMA. I’m a single-issue voter. I don’t want another Sam Alito on the Court. It’s pretty close. Didn’t reall

    1. Your definition of personal liberty must be pretty odd.

      Democratic SCOTUS nominees tend toward the hardcore statist position in every single opinion other than those involving buttsex.

      1. Nothing in life is more important than killing unborn children.

        Take that away and life isn’t worth living.

        1. Vaginas and anuses are the only things that matter in personal liberty. Ability to eat or drink what you wish in the measure you wish, speak your mind no matter who may be offended, smoke, own and operate a firearm, and all manner of other things do not fall within the Left’s definition of personal freedom.

          Such hogwash.

    2. Personal liberty is economic liberty. The two are not distinct. Ultimately, both rely on the principle that you own yourself. If you do not own the results of your labor and cannot freely engage in economic activity, then its hard to make an argument that you are in any way free, personally or otherwise, especially since economic activity pretty much encompasses any human activity these days.

      1. Exactly.

        Also, look at how the feds have restricted ‘personal’ liberties with drug, gun, and anti-free speech laws. They claim that by indulging in those types of activities that you are participating economically and therefore fall under their purview.

    3. If I had to prioritize, Personal Liberty trumps economic liberty.

      I fail to see how you can maintain any meaningful, principled distinction.

      As people will learn to their sorrow with government control of healthcare. Violations of “economic” liberty inevitably entail violations of “personal” liberty (we’re paying for your healthcare, so we get to control what you do with your body).

    4. If I had to prioritize, Personal Liberty trumps economic liberty.

      Economic liberty is a personal liberty. Do you like someone telling you what you can do with your money and property? What’s more personal than that?

      1. Yup, it’d be like saying: “Sure, you can do all the drugs you want, but if you’re caught buying or selling them we’ll cut your dick off.” -the feds.

      2. Something else: If I were in government and I wanted to interfere with a “personal liberty” – say, for example, how one wipes one’s ass – I wouldn’t pass a law that directly dictated such. Instead, I’d pass laws that did it indirectly – like laws controlling what can be sold as toilet paper and at what price, or laws controlling the amount of flush water a toilet could have – economic laws. Get it?

  10. I think Barnett is right. The LP is just a footnote and needs to die. It’s a vanity project for a few movment libertarians.

    That said, the only one of the two major parties that even makes noises about welcoming libertarians is the the RNC. Democrats fucking hate us with a passion, as their commitment to true civil liberties is an inch deep while their devotion to Leviathan is the confluence of the Mississippi, Amazon and Nile.

    Libertarians would do well to work within the structure of the Republican Party, the same way the socialists and communists have wormed their way into ownership of the DNC. Let’s take over the RNC and actually elect some libertarians, shall we?

      1. That’s your right.

        It also means you are taking yourself out of the game.


          Or rather, it probably is, so who fucking cares.

            1. When you play the Game of Clowns, either you win or your opponents just do the same thing you would’ve done anyways while you take a job as a lobbyist and make big bucks.

              (doesn’t quite have the same ring to it)
              (vote Joffrey Baratheon ’12. Because he’s still better with regards to Civil Liberties than Obama or Romney)

            2. mumblety peg

        2. It also means you are taking yourself out of the game.

          Then come get me.

          The fact that your team hasn’t is a failure on your part, not mine.

    1. Fuck the Republican Party. That is all.

      1. I mean, how old are these “Let’s take over the GOP, wheeee!” types?
        I’ve been hearing the same promises from the GOP since before Reagan. They’re lies, you fucking morons. Lies.

        1. And yes, after participating for 30 years, these quadrennial exercises in stupidity are starting to make me cranky.

          1. And causing me to misplace modifying phrases.

        2. No kidding. I’m not that old, but each and every election, the GOP looks at me and says “hey, forget about your libertarianism for the moment. We’ll get to that after we get that other Big Government Socialist out of office”

          Just one more time, Charlie Brown, I promise!

          Fuck the GOP.

          1. Like I said above, FIRST the GOP needs to nominate a libertarian-leaning politican, THEN I will support them.

            I did in 2010 in KY. See, GOP, if you want me vote, stop booting me out.

            If you nominate candidates at least as libertarianish as Rand Paul, you can have my vote. I would prefer more libertarian, but see, I am willing to compromise.

            Rand is a good “half way” candidate.

            If you nominate Romney instead, you can go fuck yourself.

            1. Well put, robc. If the Ohio GOP ran a Rand Paulish candidate, I’d happily vote Republican for the first time in my life. But I’m not at all worried that that’s ever gonna happen.
              (And if a Dem ran who really emphasized civil liberties and non-interventionism and an end to the Drug War and was willing to back off a little from the share-the-wealth nonsense, I’d probably vote Dem for the first time in my life. But, again, I’m not worried it’ll ever happen.)

          2. Interestingly, here in MA, where they are out of power, the Republicans do allow libertarians to occasionally get on the ballot since they are destined to lose.

            In the offices where they have a chance of winning the election, though, the GOP runs statist fuckwads like Romney.

        3. The problem is that the LP wants the Republicans to come their way, then runs candidates against them in elections. Hello?

          It’s the libertarian “purity problem,” the very same one that makes the LP so radioactive to voters and schisms in the leadership so frequent. We need to get used to getting 75% of a loaf today and waiting/working for the other 25%. We have roughly 0% of one now…how’s that working for you?

          1. The LP doesnt run candidates against the Paul’s, so what the fuck are you talking about.

            When the GOP runs libertarianish candidates, the LP generally backs off.

            1. State and local elections, even when the R candidate is fairly libertarian.

              1. If the GOP had nominated Paul, there’s zero chance the LP would’ve run a candidate. They would’ve either let this one go, or they would’ve had RP on the LP ticket.

                Instead we get Obama’s white mormon GOP doppleganger. And we’re expected to vote for him because hey, some time in the future maybe the statist Republican Party will somehow back off and become more libertarian? Are you kidding me?

                1. Fuck Ron Paul. Do you think you’re going to get the goddammn brass ring first? Do you think you don’t have to show you can actually run something that is the purview of government? School board? Water commission? State rep?

                  1. 20 something years in the US House is much greater than state rep.

                    Plus 50 years of running a medical practice.

                    I rank that above Romney’s experience.

                    I would probably rank Johnson’s experience as the best of the bunch, however.

                  2. What is being a Representative if not ‘the purview of government’?

                    And the GOP nominated a Senator in 2008 and 1996.

              2. State and local elections, even when the R candidate is fairly libertarian.

                Rand fucking Paul.

                I gave you the fucking example in the post you are resonding too and you still dont get it.

                When the GOP runs candidates like that, the LP fades away.

                Sometimes someone still ends up on the ballot because that was already in the works, but the party abandons them.

                Like I said, when the GOP meets me half way, I support them.

                The KY GOP did but nominating Paul instead of McConnell’s hand picked guy. And they got my support for doing it.

                The KY GOP is doing it again in KY-4, they nominated Paul’s choice for that district. And he will be in the House next year. He had to beat out multiple mainstread GOPers in the primary, but that is okay, the party regulars supported him, even if the party insiders didnt.

            2. LP ran a candidate vs. Ron Paul for H.R. in or about 1980.

          2. We’re not getting 75% from the GOP today. Give me a break. We’re not getting 7.5% from the GOP today. We’re not getting 0.75% from the GOP today. We’re getting screwed, and for some reason people like you ask for more.

            1. You exaggerate.

              I get to lobby a Republican state senator on a regular basis, and he’s already started moving well into libertarian territory as a result. If I was screaming at him because he supports the drug war (one of the issues he’s moving on, I’ll add), he’d shut me out and that would be that.

              Is the objective here good public policy or feeling superior about one’s self?

              1. What exactly do we, as libertarians, get from the GOP nowadays?

                Economic policy? Nothing good there. Trillions of dollars of new debt coming, even under Ryan’s old plan.

                Foreign policy? We already know that’s atrocious.

                Civil liberties? Moving on…

                Drug war? Not even going to touch that.

                So what exactly do we get? The thought that maybe, one day, 50 years down the road, they’re going to move to a slightly more libertarian-ish policy? For as much lip service as some in the GOP pay to libertarian views, when it comes down to voting, it’s only been Ron Paul and Justin Amash in the Congress. And the GOP has tried to do everything in their power to get rid of Amash, like they did with Paul.

              2. he’s already started moving well into libertarian territory as a result.

                Let us know when he starts sponsoring and voting for bills to scale back the WOD, eliminate departments and agencies, repeal regulations, and the like.

                I’ve lobbied, and nothing is cheaper than the talk that lobbyists and legislators toss at each other.

                1. I sent an email to a state legislator a few years ago on something or other (can’t remember, probably gun rights) and got a reassuring email back. He then proceeded to vote the opposite of what he implied* in the email.

                  *they’re slimy. you won’t get a definite answer, just one to shut you up until the vote is over.

              3. The answer is obvious.

          3. What’s this “We” shit, Kemosabe?

    2. Yeah, because if there’s anything we learned from this election cycle, it’s that the Republican Party is really welcoming of libertarians and treats them well, especially at the party convention.

      1. That’s a good point. The treatment of the RP delegates was atrocious.

        1. But VOTE TEAM RED ANYWAY y’all!

    3. That said, the only one of the two major parties that even makes noises about welcoming libertarians is the the RNC. Democrats fucking hate us with a passion…

      They’re only welcoming because they’re on the outs. They take over congress and the White House and that shit will end real quick like.

      Do you really think they’re gonna want a bunch of ‘extremists’ telling them what they can or can’t do with their newfound powers?

      1. You get a BINGO!

    4. Libertarians would do well to work within the structure of the Republican Party

      Remind me again how that worked out for the Ron Paul delegation.

    5. Even if it makes sense to work within the Republican Party, the issue here is whether to vote for Romney and your local slate of Reps. None of them are libertarian or even close to libertarian, so voting for them only confirms to them and everyone else that ‘the people’ want a non-libertarian government.

    6. Working within the GOP is one thing. Voting for whatever statist the RNC vomits on to the ballot is another.

      I’ll vote for an imperfect candidate like Ron and Rand Paul. But guys like Nixon, the Bushes, Newt, Santorum, and Romney? You’ve got to be kidding me.

      To get my vote, a candidate has to at least be in a nearby zip code. The RNC and DNC are usually on another planet.

  11. Another thing about voting today. First time I ever had to wait in line at my polling place. I was 3 deep in a line that got about 5-6 deep.

    All of us at the A-L book. Lazy ass M-Z line was empty.

    1. Better than the 2 and a half hour line I had at my polling place. I can’t even imagine how bad this would be in the districts without power from the storm.

      1. Ive wondered about this. How many fucking people are in these precincts.? (Hint: make more precincts) The longest Ive ever waited in my life was about 10 minutes.

        I seriously considered leaving and coming back later to avoid a 3 person wait in line.

        1. I skipped a 3 block line this morning. I’ll try again after work.

  12. Confining this to “federal outlays per capita” in the graphic, although seemingly normalized, obfuscates the actions of government, unabated in two hundred years, which intrudes into the lives and the transactions of individuals. And I don’t subscribe to the nonsense that “transactions” refer to monetary exchange alone. There is no difference between personal liberty and economic liberty.

    The federal government’s tomes of regulations increased, nonstop, under both parties; the bureaucracies ever expanded (per capita!); and the intrusive laws binding the citizenry are increased daily.

    “Federal outlays,” indeed. Pfft…

    1. There is no difference between personal liberty and economic liberty.

      THIS. So many times this.

  13. As the chart (prepared by libertarian economist and Reason columnist Veroniqe de Rugy) above shows, real per capita spending cranks up under Republicans and the get hardened into reality by Democrats.

    It shows no such thing. The sample size is 3 Republican presidents…and GHWB held spending flat.

    1. Spending per capita clearly rose under GHWB. It wasn’t huge, but it was there, despite only serving four years.

  14. Randy Barnett was also for the Iraq War. For an anarchist, he’s awfully statist.

    1. One good reason to vote for anybody but Romney: Randy Barnett’s salty ham tears.

      1. As libertarians, our goal each election should be to maximize salty ham tears.

      2. I’d only quibble with you re the “anybody”. “Anybody but” would include the current White House Occupier. He’s already proven his neo-con credentials, followed the Bush timeline to a T, and continues to prosecute the nonsense in Afghanistan.
        And if he reverses course after today? He still gets no credit. It would just validate that he’s got no backbone. He could have stopped this war-mongering rubbish years ago.
        Reminds me of his gay marriage stance, too little, too late. Of course, the brain-dead left applauded him for his support, instead of reviling him for hiding all those years.

        1. I actually mind Obama much less than I mind his creepy, sycophantic, brain-dead followers. Fuck, what a pack of losers.

    2. If he did support the war (I am unfamiliar with that), then there is no surprise that he finds comfort in one of the two major yet dysfunctional, anti-liberty parties.,

  15. Based on his book, The Structure of Liberty, combined with his defense of US aggression in Iraq (the 2007 WSJ piece Nick links to above–which argues that if one thinks of libertarianism as a sterile logical exercise about what follows from the non-aggression axiom, as opposed to the deep and textured history of actual libertarians over the last three centuries, there is no NECESSARY connection between libertarianism and a non-interventionist foreign policy), some libertarian wags have started to call Barnett the head of the “anarchoimperialist” faction of the libertarian movement.

    His current essay now wins him the tag “leader of the anarchoRepublicans.”

    One of Barnett’s primary goals, and a noble one, is to overturn/repeal Obamacare. His enormous efforts came to nothing in the Supreme Court as the result of a Republican-chosen chief Justice. So now he turns his remaining hope to the only Republican who gave us a state-level version of Obamacare and says if he wins he wants to keep “the good parts.” Perhaps Randy is beginning to show the signs of Stockholm syndrome?

    1. One of Barnett’s primary goals, and a noble one, is to overturn/repeal Obamacare. His enormous efforts came to nothing in the Supreme Court as the result of a Republican-chosen chief Justice. So now he turns his remaining hope to the only Republican who gave us a state-level version of Obamacare and says if he wins he wants to keep “the good parts.”

      I just wanted that repeated.

    2. The SCOTUS ruling will stick in my craw forever. Inasmuch as healthcare services are state supervised, socialized, and welfare-ized already, this was still dreadful law. Obama would have had absolutely nothing (and I mean nothing!) to show for his first term.)

      But now, it is the law of the land and shall be for the next several generations at least.

  16. One way or another, there are gonna be a lot of salty ham tears out there tomorrow, which is my only solace at this point.

    1. It’s election day.

      I will be up all night chugging salty ham tear martinis.

      We’re fucked either way, so might as well have some lulz, right?

  17. Libertarians who vote GOP are like women who have affairs with married men and stay with them because “He promised me he’s going to divorce his wife and marry me!”

    1. Libertarians who vote GOP are like women who have affairs with married men and stay with them because “He promised me he’s going to divorce his wife and marry me!”

      That’t one of the best analogies I’ve read in a long time.

      +1 Palin Uterus.

  18. I voted for Amendment 64 and Gary Johnson. Who did I steal my precious, precious vote from, Obama or Romney? Since both of them would proudly see me in prison for daring to support the former, I respectfully submit that Randy Barnett can go fuck himself.

  19. Don’t change your beliefs to represent a politician. Represent what you believe in not for others, but for yourself, because you can. Politicians are largely ordinary men and women, elevated to a depressingly extraordinary stature, in an extremely broken system. Why continue to feed this broken system with encouragement, when you have the right to pursue a different course of action?

    1. I don’t think they’re ordinary. Ordinary people have difficulty lying so sincerely.

  20. In the general spirit of the article I give you:


    Obama and Romney were in a virtual nationwide tie, a symptom of the country’s vast partisan divide.

    Oh you really are too much. Really. Jesus.

    1. Just says it all. Incredible.

      Romney’s pretty much toast, I think, so I just hope there’s gridlock-supreme for the next few years.
      It would have been cutting off my nose to spite my face seeing Mitt win, but a Romney loss will add some aggravation to future political arguments. My continued antipathy toward Barack and his minions will be mistakenly construed as “poor loser” syndrome, even when I tell the dorks that I support the libertarian candidates. And if Romney had won, the coming years’ libertarian outcry might have awakened the establishment left to the fact that we realy are the antithesis of the whole corrupt system.

      1. I’m pretty optimistic. I think that whoever gets elected will try some big government shenanigans to ‘fix’ things, fuck up, and give us all a big “I told you so” moment.

        As for whom I hope prevails in this noble contest of great men; I, as you do, hope that the winner is met with an antagonistic, and stubborn congress leading to four years of gridlock. It’s about the best we can hope for *sadface*.

        1. No, they will try some big government shenanigans to ‘fix’ things, fuck up, and then blame it on the free market, capitalism, etc.

  21. I voted for Gary Johnson today and said so to the exit pollster who stopped me on my way out.

    I got the “evil eye” from both Obamabots and Romney bots who overheard me.

    I’m a middle class white guy, but I wear hipster-ish glasses, brought my bi-racial daughter with me, and drive a hybrid, so I guess both Red and Blue had reason to think I was not doing my part for “our Team.”

  22. It’s all “Only Nixon can go to China” stuff.
    Their rhetoric allows the GOP to really screw us economically, and the Dems to really fuck with our civil liberties.

  23. If the GOP hadn’t shown us at the convention how they treat people who try to change the party from within, I’d be more sympathetic to his argument.

  24. “This is essentially the same argument that Barnett is making: This election (read: every election) is too important to waste votes on minor parties that will never steer the ship of state but might cause the second-best choice to lose.”

    i disagree with this analysis of barnett. not every election is too important. 2004 was a great year to vote third party. 2012 is not: there’s a real libertarian shift underway in the GOP. the race is between a proven tyrant and a manager. tyranny needs to be stopped. romney is far from an ideal defender of liberty and the constitution, or for long term fiscal/economic/tax reform. but he will likely provide much needed short term economic relief for the too many americans who are suffering. these folks can’t afford another four years of obama. the only thing libertarians stand to get: a signature. ask yourselves, how is more likely to sign a bill from rand paul? it’s time to vote reverse coat-tails: let’s give romney the opportunity to pleasantly surprise, then hold his feet to the fire.

  25. The GOP kicked us in the face, then told us it is our duty to do their bidding.

    I’m not accepting the premises of this article. The point of a Johnson vote is twofold…

    1. Romney and Obama will probably be about the same on the big issues, so why give them the credibility of your vote.
    2. If Johnson gets five percent, it will send the system into shock at the next election. It will prevent the third party suppression model that major parties use (by restricting ballot access) and will allow the next libertarian candidate to focus all resources on promoting the issues instead of ballot access.

    A vote for Johnson is a long term solution. A vote for Romney is short term and naive.

  26. The Wall Street Journal is telling people to vote for Romney? OMGOMG!!!

  27. An intellectual named ‘Randy’? — yeah, right….

  28. I can see both sides of this arguement. I am a hardcore Libertarian, and happily voted for Johnson today. But I live in Ca, so my vote is worthless. If I lived in OH, VA, FL, WI, etc., I would vote for Romney while holding my nose. Because another big gov’t repub (i.e., Bush the III) is far better than a radical Marxist Communist who hates everything that this country was founded on, and his goal is its destruction and replacement with a Soviet-style communist regime.

    1. ^^THIS is why nobody takes hardcore Libertarians from California seriously.

      1. He does not speak for all of us.

        I want Romney to win, not because I think he is better, but because I find Democratic politicians and activists more abhorrent and twisted than Republican ones, and it’s donkey tears that are sweeter to me.

        Still not gonna vote for him though.

  29. And in four years, the Repugnicans will think of some other impending disaster to try and convince libertarians to vote for some dullard candidate. But for tonight, it looks like Robotney is going to lose.

  30. It looks like I am getting over 8000 votes and getting the Libertarian Party permanent ballot status. And probably getting more votes in DC than Mitt Romney will.

    1. Congrats! I hope the permanent ballot status goes through.

  31. Successful third parties die because they get eaten up by one of the two major parties.

  32. Libertarians are not just overzealous Republicans who need to get back in line. We have fundamental differences over social issues, foreign policy, the drug war. And while on economics the GOP pays lip service to libertarian themes, when they get the chance in power their policies are mixture of Democrat-lite and crony capitalism.

    As far as the LP is concerned, I consider it the retail arm of the libertarian movement. I never heard of Reason until I saw a copy of Reason Magazine (this was pre-internet) at an LP meeting.

    So, do I have a any brilliant ideas about how to break out of election night round off error? Most people are not ideological; they just want their problems solved. Libertarians can’t just hit people over the head with a copy of Atlas Shrugged; they have to persuade and show, issue by issue, how the application of libertarian principles can make life better.

  33. “This year, their highest priority should be saving the country”

    I can’t save the country this year. It’s not looking good for 2016, either (and likely not for many years to come after). But what I *can* do here and now is contribute to the growth of the third party movement. By increasing the percentage of third party votes, third parties begin to look more respectable in the eyes of the mainstream voter. I’m looking at the long haul here – breaking up the two-party chokehold isn’t just about getting a candidate I like better into the running, it’s about preventing all viable parties from participating in the political equivalent of price-fixing. *Both* parties support unmanned drone attacks. *Both* parties support diminishing personal privacy. *Both* parties agree on a dozen other contentious issues – and as long as they together constitute a monopoly, independent politicians and smaller parties don’t have an equal chance to present their case to the voters. I don’t know what the ‘big issues’ will be for America in 50 years, 75 years, but I do know I want my grandchildren to have the opportunity to vote for a party that supports their beliefs. Voting third party now is how to get there from here.

  34. After last night? Barnett may have something.

    1. Bah. You’re crazy if you think all Johnson supporters would have voted Romney. Plenty of us were Dems.

  35. See my response in the WSJ comments as a teen Libertarian in public office.

  36. The libertarian party is so marginalized today that even if you all voted 100% for the libertarian candidate, it wouldn’t swing the election.

    When you lost the distinction between personal liberty and corporate freedom to pillage, you lost your relevance; and this is only becoming more evident as time passes. Even as you argue for the free market and ultimate corporate freedom, corporations are controlling the government, and thereby you, and you’re just too blind to see it.

    I had to laugh at all the butthurt conservative milling about on the net this morning. I told you months back exactly how this election would go, and why. Not one of you took the time to consider the facts, and instead rode your emotions down in flames.

    I tell you again, today: follow the money. All else is illusion, designed to make you do exactly what you did: mill around in a confused manner, gargling irrelevancies, calling names and accomplishing a whole lot of nothing.

    Drug war? Money. Foreign wars? Money. TSA? Money. ACA? Money. Etc., ad infinitum.

    Even the constitutional abuse by SCOTUS is, in the end, about money. Examine family connections, and look for new family wealth and property. Look for dishonorable behaviors like SCOTUS members showing up at Bilderberg meetings. Now THINK. It’s not that hard, most of you can do it.

    But will you? Probably not. Too involved in your illusory worldview to stop babbling, even for just a few moments. And that, as Yoda might put it, is why you fail.

  37. Have to agree with robc. Voted for Gary. Card carrying member of the LP. I finally wised up and realized that, while the Republican party rhetoric is attractive to libertarians, their policies are nearly as statist as the Dems. The way I see it, the Republicans are taking us down the same road, only less quickly. Who was the last limited government Republican president, Coolidge?

  38. Another reason to hate the Republicans is their facistic efforts to keep G Johnson off the ballot. All about power for them (justified, in their eyes, because they are the “good guys.” We know where that kind of thinking leads.)

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