I've got a piece about "5 Myths About Libertarians" in today's Washington Post Outlook section. We posted a link here on Friday (read that Reason discussion here) but if you missed it—or want to add to 1,000+ comment thread at the Post, go here.
Here's the start of the Post piece.
Five myths about libertarians By Nick Gillespie, Published: August 2
Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason.com and a columnist for the Daily Beast, is a co-author of "The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America."
The specter of libertarianism is haunting America. Advocates of sharply reducing the government's size, scope and spending are raising big bucks from GOP donors, trying to steal the mantle of populism, being blamed for the demise of Detroit and even getting caught in the middle of a battle for the Republican Party. Yet libertarians are among the most misunderstood forces in today's politics. Let's clear up some of the biggest misconceptions.
1. Libertarians are a fringe band of "hippies of the right."
In 1971, the controversial and influential author Ayn Rand denounced right-wing anarchists as "hippies of the right," a charge still leveled against libertarians, who push for a minimal state and maximal individual freedom.
Libertarians are often dismissed as a mutant subspecies of conservatives: pot smokers who are soft on defense and support marriage equality. But depending on their views, libertarians often match up equally well with right- and left-wingers.
The earliest example of libertarian principles in partisan politics might have come in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,when Anti-Imperialist League Democrats rejected empire and war — and believed in free trade and racial equality at a time when none of that was popular. More recently, civil libertarians such as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) supported Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in his filibuster on domestic drones and government surveillance.
Libertarians are found across the political spectrum and in both major parties. In September 2012, the Reason-Rupe Poll found that about one-quarter of Americans fall into the roughly libertarian category of wanting to reduce the government's roles in economic and social affairs. That's in the same ballpark as what other surveys have found and more than enough to swing an election.
Other debunked myths include the idea that libertarians don't care about the poor or minorities; that libertarians are an all-male fraternity; that we're all pro-drugs, pro-choice, and anti-religion; and that we're destroying the GOP.