The Great Libertarian-Populist Roundup

A reading list.


As Nick Gillespie mentioned this morning, he and I and two guests will have a panel discussion about libertarian populism at Reason's Washington office tomorrow. If you're coming in late and wondering what this whole "libertarian populism" thing is supposed to be, here's a long, detailed, and probably excessive reading list that'll get you up to speed:


* Timothy Carney, "GOP must woo working people chasing American dream" (The Washington Examiner, November 7): The ur-text. "It's time for free-market populism and a Republican Party that fights against all forms of political privilege," Carney argues. Carney will be one of the panelists at tomorrow's event.

* Ross Douthat, "Libertarian Populism and Its Limits" (The New York Times, June 4): Contains one of the better definitions of the libertarian-populist impulse: "a strain of thought that moves from the standard grassroots conservative view of Washington as an inherently corrupt realm of special interests and self-dealing elites to a broader skepticism of 'bigness' in all its forms (corporate as well as governmental), that regards the Bush era as an object lesson in everything that can go wrong (at home and abroad) when conservatives set aside this skepticism, and that sees the cause of limited government as a means not only to safeguarding liberty, but to unwinding webs of privilege and rent-seeking and enabling true equality of opportunity as well."

* Ben Domenech, "The Libertarian Populist Agenda" (RealClearPolitics, June 5): A Republican expresses interest in the libertarian-populist label. Domenech will be one of the panelists at tomorrow's event.


* Ben Domenech, "Three Challenges to Libertarian Populism" (RealClearPolitics, June 6, 2013): Ponders potential tensions between populist- and libertarian-leaning Republicans.

* Mike Konczal, "Can libertarian populism save the Republican Party?" (The Washington Post, July 6): A leftist looks at libertarian populism. Makes the novel argument that "Mitt Romney arguably tried this…in his 2012 presidential campaign."

* Paul Krugman, "Delusions of Populism" (The New York Times, July 11): The column where many people read the phrase "libertarian populism" for the first time. Notable for never bothering to describe what libertarian populists actually believe.

* Conn Carroll, "Economic populism, not Gang of Eight immigration reform, will boost GOP's future" (The Washington Examiner, July 13): The term "libertarian populism" doesn't actually appear here, but there's some obvious overlap.

* Timothy Carney, "Libertarian populism: The economic prescription for the right" (The Washington Examiner, July 15): Lays out a libertarian-populist economic agenda.


* Ramesh Ponnuru, "Libertarian Populism, Trashed by Krugman, Won't Save Republicans" (Bloomberg View, July 18): A conservative makes the case that libertarian populism won't win elections.

* Nick Gillespie, "Paul Krugman's Nasty and Inane Attack on 'Libertarian Populism'" (The Daily Beast, July 19): My Reason colleague takes on Krugman's column.

* Will Wilkinson, "Unpopular and impolitic" (The Economist, July 20): It's too bad Wilkinson no longer calls himself a liberaltarian, 'cause I'd really like to advertise his critique as a liberaltarian/libertarian-populist cage match.

* Jeremy Kolassa, "Libertarian Populism and Basic Income" (Quantum Matrix Scribe, July 20): Asks what sort of safety net is most compatible with libertarian populism.

* Jesse Walker, "Three Lessons for Libertarian Populists" (Reason, July 23): My contribution to the debate. Introduces the ugly term "LibPop," which has mostly (and mercifully) failed to catch on.

* Josh Barro, "Republicans Shouldn't Get Sidetracked By 'Libertarian Populism'" (Business Insider, July 25): Argues that "Libertarian populism aims to fix a messaging problem that doesn't actually exist."


* Will Wilkinson, "Tell it to the widows" (The Economist, July 26): Argues that Chris Christie's "explicitly anti-libertarian fearmongering probably remains the more potent populism."

* Ross Douthat, "Going for Bolingbroke" (The New York Times, July 28): Combines the concept with the old Court Party/Country Party idea.

* Scott Galupo, "'Libertarian Populism' Is a Stepchild of McCainism" (The American Conservative, July 29): NOW THAT'S HITTING BELOW THE BELT.

Bonus reading, in case you just can't get enough: I wrote about the larger populist tradition here and here. And to see how far a libertarian critique of corporate power can go, check out this book edited by Gary Chartier and Charles W. Johnson. Not to go out on a limb or anything, but I have a feeling the GOP isn't going to look there for its next platform.