Libertarian History/Philosophy

Can We Start Talking About the Libertarian *Era* Already?

If media hype is any indication, laissez-faire bontemps roulez!


If you read the weekend papers, you already know this much: Libertarians are the new black.

Indeed, based on the recent and ongoing coverage, there's a strong case to be made that we're smack dab in the "The Libertarian Moment" that Matt Welch and I—and others at Reason and beyond—have been trumpeting since at least 2008. As Welch's and my December 2008 essay in Reason magazine prophesied, "Despite all leading indicators to the contrary, America is poised to enter a new age of freedom."

What a silly, stupid, idea that seemed, especially when we first trumpeted it (we've kept all the emails telling us to get off the drugs—or at least to share them already). Could the timing have been worse for such a bold affirmation of the "Free Minds and Free Markets" worldview Reason touts across all its platforms? You remember the end of 2008, don't you? The Bush admin, already a record-setter when it came to spending, debt, and regulations (yes, it's all true) spent its final, desperate days in office destroying free-market capitalism in order to save it by pushing through TARP and illegal auto-company bailouts.

A new president was elected who promised an even more interventionist economic policy (and was simply playing coy about his equally interventionist foreign policy). Barack Obama was already plumping for the mother of all stimulus packages, and the only question was whether his awful, transformative healthcare entitlement would be more Canadian than British in accent. What have we learned over the past half-decade or so of hope and change? That Obama—who said he'd run the most transparent and clean-smelling White House operation ever—is even worse on civil liberties and constitutional restraints than George W. Bush (who, if memory serves, was worse than Hitler).

[Related Update 8/21: #Winning: Progressive Think Tank Demos Targets "Libertarian Right"]

Yet from listening to NPR and reading the Wash Post and The Atlantic over the past few days, you'd think the Libertarian Moment has more upside potential than the national debt (which is, at least theoretically, subject to limitation). Indeed, The Atlantic proclaims "America's Libertarian Moment" in the form of a long and insightful interview with the Cato Institute's David Boaz. Boaz sketches out some of the reasons why libertarianism—imperfectly but usefully summarized as being fiscally conservative and socially liberal—is on the upswing:

The end of the Bush years and the beginning of the Obama years really lit a fire under the always-simmering small-government attitudes in America. The TARP, the bailouts, the stimulus, Obamacare, all of that sort of inspired the Tea Party. Meanwhile, you've simultaneously got libertarian movements going on in regard to gay marriage and marijuana. And I'll tell you something else that I think is always there. The national media were convinced that we would be getting a gun-control bill this year, that surely the Newtown shooting would overcome the general American belief in the Second Amendment right to bear arms. And then they pushed on the string and it didn't go anywhere. Support for gun control is lower today than it was 10 or 15 years ago. I think that's another sign of America's innate libertarianism.

This year you have a whole series of scandals that at least call into question the efficacy, competence, and trustworthiness of government. The IRS, maybe the Benghazi cover-up, and the revelations about surveillance. All of those things together, I think, have lit a fire to the smoldering libertarianism of the American electorate.

Over at NPR, Don Gonyea reports that "Amid Struggle for 'Soul' of GOP, Libertarians Take Limelight." Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) explains,

Members of Congress who are on the more libertarian side—and it's a pretty large group now—are tired of the wars that go on overseas, think that we shouldn't be in Afghanistan, want us to bring our troops home from across the globe. And young people really represent that strain of thought. They've seen these wars go on for years with no end. And they'd like to see some peace. They'd like to see us return to some normalcy…

In the Wash Post, Chris Cillizza paints the future of the Republican Part explicitly as a war between a libertarian Rand Paul wing and a mainstream, establishment Chris Christie wing. He writes,

The battle between the two men will be all the more intriguing because it is really a de facto fight for what Republicans have learned from the past two presidential elections and what they believe is the solution to their problem. Did Republicans lose to Barack Obama twice because they nominated establishment Republicans who didn't excite the party's base? Or did they lose because many within the party demanded absolute fealty to core principles at the detriment of winning votes from the middle of the ideological spectrum?

This is the wrong way to phrase the question for at least a couple of reasons. First, the question Republicans need to wrassle with isn't simply about the past two presidential elections but the past four. Until the GOP groks what a full-out disaster George Bush was in terms of spending, regulations, foreign policy, and entitlement expansion, there can be no learning on its part. Cillizza's framing also presumes that Rand Paul—because he is ideological and at the very least a libertarian fellow-traveler—is incapable of appealing to the "middle of the ideological spectrum." But John McCain and Mitt Romney didn't lose because they swore fealty to the retrograde conservatives that control the GOP. They lost because they were unexciting and because they had no core governing philosophy (or at least one they bothered to articulate or could show from their political lives). Did they offer a coherent or at least compelling vision of the future? Not even their family members could pretend they did.

Recall that McCain suspended his campaign to rush back to DC to vote for TARP. Given that Obama was also voting for TARP, why the rush? McCain's reflexive war-mongering is derived more from blood-sugar spikes than any thought-through foreign policy vision and, as important, it allowed Obama to passively paint himself as the anti-war candidate (despite not being one, as evidenced by his admin's desperate attempts to overstay our welcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan and unconstitutional deployment of force in Libya). McCain's great policy flip-flop came on immigration. He'd long defended an inclusive set of policies which he dumped overnight in one of the most blatant instances of panicked pandering in recent years (watch this and weep for your country). But the real damage was less about the policy topic itself and what it said about McCain: He was a man without strong convictions, except for the one about him deserving to be president. Mitt Romney was another ideological cipher for the most part who was running more for "consultant in chief" than president. Even before he wrote off 47 percent of the electorate (even there, he was no good at predictions), he was effectively toast because his signature achievement as governor of Massachusetts was exactly what Obama had accomplished. That Romney could not articulate exactly what was different about his health care reform and Obama's—or even acknowledge that we would tear up the latter's root and branch (remember, he wanted to keep the parts he liked") showed independent voters all they needed to know.

The growing libertarian wing of the Republican Party surely does have some core principles on which they will not (and should not) compromise. Chief among them is a serious commitment to reducing the size, scope, and spending of the federal government. The libertarian wing is not simply antagonistic to the surveillance state, the garrison state, and America as globo-cop; it is leading the charge against such things. The libertarian GOPers speak differently than old-school conservatives and even establishment Republicans.

"We need to be white, we need to be brown, we need to be black, we need to be with tattoos, without tattoos, with pony tails, without pony tails, with beards, without," Rand Paul told a New Hampshire audience earlier this year. He's no hippie, that's for sure, but at his best moments, he knows what America looks like and wants to be part of its future. That means embracing the diversty you see shopping the aisles of Walmart, where goth crosses on UFC paraphernalia and once-forbidden AC/DC CDs fill the discount bins.

"If you allow people to make their own decisions, you actually get good outcomes for society," Justin Amash told me earlier this year. As an observant Orthodox Christian, he's no fan of same-sex marriage, but his response to recent Supreme Court rulings sanctioning the practice is something most of us can live with: "Marriage is a private institution that government should not define. To me and millions of Americans, marriage is also a religious sacrament that needs no government approval…. I will continue to push for less government interference in our personal and economic affairs." 

These are very different sensibilities and principles than those of the status-quo conservative wing of the party, which is dedicated to increasing spending on defense and other favored constituencies (such as Medicare beneficiaries and farmers in the form of subsidies) and to running off at the mouth about immigrants (at least if they come from south of the border), the gays, and abortion. That establishment GOP pols talk more about the last three topics rather than things such as entitlements, spending, and overseas war is a sign they are not serious when it comes to governing. Cillizza and others are probably right that a dedication to crusty old conservative values will not ever again win national elections. Especially if those values seem to long for the good old days of closeted gays, immigrants from the slums of Southern and Central Europe, a blank check for seniors (and nothing but aspersions for senors), and a willingness to bear any burden in the fight against international communism (news flash: we won that battle!). But that's not what is getting people hopped up about libertarians these days. What does it tell you that observers from George Will to Julian Assange are swooning for the libertarian Republicans? As Assange put it recently, he is "a big admirer of Ron Paul and Rand Paul for their very principled positions in the US Congress on a number of issues…[and] the libertarian aspect of the Republican Party is presently the only useful political voice in the US Congress."

It's worth noting that Chris Christie's latest round of press came about only because he bashed "this strain of libertarianism that's going through both parties right now and making big headlines." That tells you something about what's on the rise and what isn't (so do attacks on Rand Paul from National Review types who sniff that a guy calling for smaller government "doesn't offer much to conservatives." Christie called libertarianism "a very dangerous thing" because…because…because…9/11? Hurricane Sandy aid (which ended up coming in droves to the affected areas and being deployed with exactly the same inefficiencies as disaster aid always does)? Because as a former prosecutor, Christie doesn't give a fig about civil liberties and, as a foreign-policy naif, he blindly follows the leads of the latter-day McNamaras and Bundys cooling their jets at the American Enterprise Institute and The Weekly Standard?

In a way that standard-issue Republican conservatives, including folks such as Christie (who has increased spending each year in office), and even most Democrats can't, the libertarian Republicans are embracing the ongoing shift to a looser, more decentralized America. The libertarians can make peace with the too-long-delayed acceptance of marriage equality, marijuana legalization (Rand Paul is pushing sentencing reform and has argued that drug laws should be state matters), and they can articulate a vision of open borders that encompass the free movement of goods and people ("We will find a place for you," Paul has said of illegal immigrants).

In this, it's worth stressing, the libertarian Republicans are not leading but following public opinion. A majority of people think government has long been doing too much and they want less spending. A plurality wants to see more independents in national office. However many parties there are, the ideological duopoly is in its dying days.

Pols following the public's lead is precisely how it always plays out and one of the reasons that the Libertarian Moment is upon us. As Matt Welch and I argued in 2008—and later in our 2011 book The Declaration of Independents—politics is a lagging indicator of American society:

It's wrong to look at politics as anything other than the B.A. Baracus of American society, the last one through the door and the last member of The A-Team to get the joke. And a simple study of incentives will tell you that political parties will use whatever is at their disposal to stay in power, particularly the government they control. Expecting Washington to cut back its main instrument of power after a capitalism-bashing political campaign is like expecting Michael Moore to share his Egg McMuffin with a homeless man.

But when the gap grows too wide between voter desire and government policy, between the way people actually live their lives and the way government wants them to behave, then a situation that looks stable can turn revolutionary overnight. Richard Nixon may have been sitting pretty in 1971, but he was sent packing to San Clemente by 1974.

After a dozen years of expanding government at every possible level across every possible front and a seemingly endless series of new and ever-more furshlugginer policies large and small (Medicare expansions, No Child Left Behind, TARP, stimulus, NSA surveillance, soda bans, cheese bans, you name it), there are real victories for libertarian themes on the drug and lifestyle fronts, real per-capita federal spending has flattened (though not for lack of trying to jack it up), and there's widespread and growing dissatisfaction with a DC crew that seems forever out to lunch when it comes to everything (some polls have Congress' approval rating in the single digits; Obama's disapproval rating hovers near its all-time high). Affiliation with two major political parties continue to sag like network ratings and self-described Independents are a large plurality, comprising 43 percent of respondents in a recent Gallup survey.

Far more important—and far away from the muddy field of politics—ongoing experiments in living proceed apace, with individuals, communities, and entrepreneurs plowing ahead with new and different ways of getting on with their big thing. founder (and Reason Foundation donor) Jeff Bezos buys the Washington Post, experimenters unveil vat-grown beef, thousands flock to Burning Man, and more kids attend schools of choice (public, private, nonprofit) than have in decades. In a world you can get an infinite number of drinks at Starbucks and a dozen or more strains of weed at your local medical marijuana dispensary (the very ones Obama has raided like a drug-war Republican), choosing between column A and column B just doesn't cut it anymore.

If the long-term, decentralist trends described in books as different as Moises Naim's The End of Power, Grant McCracken's Plenitude, and The Declaration of Independents are at all true, we can forget about the Libertarian Moment and start jawing about the Libertarian Era. At least it will give the legacy media something to fill their pages while they're still around.

[Related Update 8/21: #Winning: Progressive Think Tank Demos Targets "Libertarian Right"]

NEXT: Using a Proxy To Circumvent IP Blocks is a No-Go, Says Court

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Well, there are several forces at work here. First, the left needs to show that the GOP is a poor alternative to their insanity because the GOP is even crazier, with militias, Nazis, racists, and libertarians. There’s actual evidence of the presence of the last in the party, so it’s getting even more play.

    Second, the GOP actually has a rising influence to crush, so it’s doing all it can to identify and stamp out libertarians. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the RLC forcibly shut down between now and 2016. So, they’re publicly bitching about libertarians, too.

    Finally, there’s the fact that libertarianism makes a whole lot of sense as we see the disaster of state control slowing down, apparently for the long term, our economy, shredding our civil liberties, and exercising levels of corruption heretofore unknown in this country, so people are actually listening to our message and wondering if it could work.

    1. so people are actually listening to our message and wondering if it could work.

      Unfortunately, it seems that too many people are listening to our message and hoping it doesn’t.

      1. Oh, sure, we’re despised. We may be first in the reeducation camps, now.

        1. Were we ever not?

          1. When we were beneath notice.

            1. Job opportunity for everyone! Work from comfort of your home, on your computer and you can work with your own working hours. You can work this job as a part time or as a full time job. You can earn from 65$ an hour to 1000$ a day! There is no limitations, it all depends from you and how much you want to earn each day. Go to this site home tab for more detail===== WEP6.COM


        2. Oh, sure, we’re despised. We may be first in the reeducation camps, now.

          Yeah libertarians *are* the anti-government extremists the left has been calling the Republicans since Eisenhower’s time. I mean if Paul Ryan is unacceptably radical than what does that make libertarians?

        3. We won’t be first to the camps, because we are a harder target, what with the guns and all.

          No, the first generation to the camps will be splitters, fellow travellers from juuust outside the inner circle. TEAM BLUE camps will be populated with RINOs, that kind of thing.

        4. “If you read the weekend papers,” writes Nick Gillespie, “you already know this much: Libertarians are the new black.”

          And they will soon be be wearing orange if trends continue.

    2. One of the greatest points made by Robb Wolf (a fixture in the paleo community) is the problem w/ paleo diet as a movement is that in it’s purest form there’s no money to be made in it, or more accurately there’s a lot of folks who have something to lose if we all of a sudden got healthy, since you can do it without selling people pills, meals, etc. I see huge parallels with libertarianism since although there’s money to be made in “the market” by the individual there’s a whole lot of money to be lost in special interests, mil-ind complex, unions, etc, etc if freedom actually took hold.
      Either way, it’ll be interesting to see.

    3. libertarianism makes a whole lot of sense

      It’s necessary for proponents to understand the limitations of ideological libertarianism. There are always exceptions that an no ideology can adequately address. That’s reality. For libertarianism to advance, there must be some very basic and general core principles to refer to while at the same time it needs to be recognized that specific situations require flexibility in the application of these principles. If you try to defend a position or solve a problem strictly relying on an ideology, you ultimately lose. You’ll come across like a fanatic and people will ignore you. This can be a hard thing to do.

      1. Sorry, just thinking about some ‘conversations’ I’ve come across on the internet. Also, I read a book once on ‘what is conservatism’. It devolved into specific policy prescriptions that did nothing to define the subject. Perhaps the authors were just trying to fill up the pages. It seemed a little odd in any case.


    “Move in now move out!
    ..hands up, now hands down
    Back up, back up!
    Tell me whatcha gonna do now?
    Breathe in now breathe out!
    ..hands up, now hands down
    Back up, back up!
    Tell me whatcha gonna do now?

    Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
    Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
    COME ON!
    Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
    Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’….”

  3. “you already know this much: Libertarians are the new black.”

    Given how government and the media treat us, yes, yes I’d say we are.

    1. But we’re at the FRONT of the surveillance queue!

    2. ^THIS.

      The GOP treats libertarians in very much the same manner as the Democratic Party treats blacks.

  4. Republicans are Lucy. Libertarians are Charlie Brown. You can figure out the rest.

    1. DON’T YOU TALK ABOUT LU..oh wait, wrong one.

      And Republicans are going to charge libertarians five cents to give them psychiatric advice?



        1. Right!


    3. You can figure out the rest.

      How bout never showing up for Lucys little get togethers and letting her die by herself in the rain?!

      1. Harsh. I like it.

      2. “Geeks like to think that they can ignore politics, you can leave politics alone, but politics won’t leave you alone.”
        – Richard Stallman

        1. Not talking politics…talking about letting TEAM RED go the way of the Whigs.

          Chris Christie a viable candidate….meh! Oh wait he’s Henry Kissinger approved…well I’m sure he’ll be fine then!

          1. That would be awesome if the establishment gets their way again! You know how many rank and file members of the GOP think Christie is a big fat bozo and a traitor to the brand? Outside of the North East, all of them.

            They’ll turn away in droves and find a Ross Perot to support.

        2. In Greece, politics covers YOU!

          Yakovo Smirnoffoulos

        3. Ignore the state for long enough and it will go away, but only if everyone else does too.

    4. The rest = we’ve started kicking Lucy. Bitch is starting to take orders.

      Oh wait. Is this another ‘why there are no libertarian women’ moment?

    5. Don’t you mean libertarians are Ricky?

  5. “you already know this much: Libertarians are the new black.”

    insert racist comment here

    1. You know who else inserted racist comments?

      1. Every libertarian ever?

        /derp OFF

      1. Damn righhht!

      2. He’s a baaaaaaaaaaad mother….

        SHUT YO MOUFF!

      3. I think it makes him Pauline Kael.

        1. I think it makes him Pauline Kael.

          I’m talkin’ ’bout Shaft.

  6. Social liberalism?

    You mean Asquith, Lloyd-George and Churchill sort of social liberalism?

  7. Nick’s got some good ideas. Maybe he should write a book.

    1. I won’t call any time period a libertarian era until the federal budget drops back under 2 trillion a year, like it was under that noted libertarian/fiscal conservative, Bill Clinton.

      1. Spending was always more than 2 trillion a year under Clinton.

  8. Bush was worse than Hitler? I thought that was Episiarch.

    1. I thought Nicole was the worst ever.

    2. My reputation proceeds me!

      1. …and trails in your evil wake!

      2. Your reputation exceeds you.

        1. Precisely…wait, what?

        2. When you gaze into Epi’s cooking, the cooking gazes back at you. Especially the chili with conversation hearts.

          1. The reason he and Paula Deen have never been photographed together.

              1. Wait, Epi’s black?

                I thought that was the point of the article….and in keeping with the theme, that makes Epi a shade of black from which light cannot escape…which is also reflective (no pun intended) of his charming personality!

                1. Wait, Epi’s black?

                  No. He is Italian.

            1. That’s absurd. I happen to know that they are sleeping and cooking together, often simultaneously. It seems an odd match, but she’s trampy without tattoos, and she hooked him by demonstrating that polenta and grits are actually the same thing.

              1. As if I would bang a fat chick who wasn’t your mom. Wait, is your mom Paula Deen?!?

                1. As if I would bang a fat chick who wasn’t your mom. Wait, is your mom Paula Deen?!?

                  So what’s that make my mom….chopped liver?

                  Wait never mind this subthread isn’t about Warty.

                2. Like you aren’t intimately aware that she’s wearing a fat suit.

  9. “Expecting Washington to cut back its main instrument of power after a capitalism-bashing political campaign is like expecting Michael Moore to share his Egg McMuffin with a homeless man.”

    You owe me one bite of mesquite turkey and sharp cheddar cheese sandwich that I blew out of my mouth cause I laughed so hard.

  10. Off topic;

    From the “this seems awfully convenient” file, one week after stop-and-frisk was thrown out, the NYPD makes a major gun bust, and Ray Kelly says they have a wiretap of the perps talking about how worried they are about being stopped and frisked.

    1. Wow! What a coincidence! WEIRD!

      1. Well, not really. What really got people suspicious is the part of the tape where they start talking about how they started the gun business after having a discussion over a couple of 64-ounce Big Gulps.

        1. And they only needed the money because their blood pressure was so high from eating salty food and they couldn’t afford health care because of no Obamacare yet, and wait, who’s delaying the rollout?

      1. So criminals try to avoid cops, or something.

    2. How amazingly convenient that the bust is the largest ever, all the guns come from some of the states Bloomberg is obsessed with as “gun suppliers” to NYC, and they just happened to talk on tape about how they were worried about stop and frisk.

      The NYPD has never been subtle. Ever.

    3. Sounds to me like the geniuses at NYPD have shown that stop and frisk is actually irrelevant to busting gun traffickers.

      Because they busted this crew without stop and frisk.

  11. “In this, it’s worth stressing, the libertarian Republicans are not leading but following public opinion. A majority of people think government has long been doing too much and they want less spending. A plurality wants to see more independents in national office. However many parties there are, the ideological duopoly is in its dying days.”

    THAT is the definition of a libertarian. Hey guys, did you know I’m a libertarian! Yep, Nick Gillespe says so, I want less spending and think the government has been doing to much. And I oppose the ideological duopoly.

    1. Shut up, moron. Every comment you make is the equivalent of a monkey smearing its shit on the walls of its cage.

      1. I’m assuming a comment was deleted.

        Either that or I’m sad cuz you don’t wuv me. 🙁

        1. Yeah, that was to the racist troll who keeps coming back. Looks like he got nuked.

      2. When they delete a comment they really ought to replace it with a placeholder like “this comment has been removed”. At first I thought everyone below in this thread was responding to Andrew S. I was going back and trying to figure out how his comment was racist until I noticed the weirdness of the timestamps.

    2. Don’t you need to press your white sheet or something?

      1. Not until he washes those feces smeared hands he doesn’t!

    3. Fuck off you racist pig!

      1. And like magic…

        …the pig is gone.

  12. Have any books been written on this subject?

  13. Here’s the thing. Nick keeps talking about how it’s libertarian time now. Except that the government keeps growing exponentially, more liberties are curtailed every day, and the government steals more and more from us all the time. If this is libertarian time, I want the before time, or at least the Amok Time.

    1. Amok
      Here I hide the severed head I keep alive
      I’ve got bruises, lies, here’s my pride
      Looking down the barrel on my 45

    2. the government keeps growing exponentially, more liberties are curtailed every day, and the government steals more and more from us all the time

      Soooo…what you’re really saying is, it’s Hammertime .


      1. I’m not getting RickRolled if I click that link am I?

        1. You can click it. It’s just MC Hammer. Really. You can trust me…

          1. well okay then


    3. Things have to get worse before they get better.

      Unfortunately we may have underestimated the extent to which Americans love their chains. The NSA thing has not brought down the wrath of the print and broadcast media on the Obama administration nor has it changed the opinions of many of his cultists.

      I’m afraid something truly awful as to happen and be inflicted on the American people before they have had enough of government.

      1. This is sort of my point. There’s just no indication that some libertarian era is dawning. In fact, it’s the opposite, as you point out, with scandal after scandal and…no impeachment. No firings. No heads rolling. Just evasiveness and then the people forget it ten minutes later.

        I wish Nick was right. But I don’t see how he can be.

        1. Just a little worse, then the libertarian utopia will start…

        2. Yup. The problem is “Everyone” who thinks that the government “does too much” are not libertarians. They are liberals who think the government spends too much money on defense and conservatives who think the government spends too much money on everything BUT defense.

          Ask any of these people to make across the board cuts to 20% of the budget and then you’ll really see how many libertarians you have.

          1. And they compromise by increasing spending on both defense and everything else.

            1. A year ago I would have agreed with you. But the sequester was actually a significant cut. Not enough granted, but clearly a start.

              1. No, it wasn’t a cut at all.

      2. You know, it’s really a damn shame the NSA stuff didn’t come out while a Republican was in office. It would probably be getting a lot more traction.

        1. Maybe. But it would still be crocodile tears, and as soon as their guy was in charge, it would be crickets. Partisanship is insidious and evil.

    4. I would totally pay to see you take on Warty in a HampersandR-sponsored pon farr. Welch can be the prize.

    5. Exactly. And to the extent there is a libertarian moment, it is torn apart by Kulture War. That is how the big government types on both sides keep winning, they get people to vote on social bullshit so they ignore what is actually happening.

      Nick is all about inclusion, as long as everyone agrees with him about the Kulture War. He would never vote for someone who was on the other side of the Kulture war even if that guy did want to limit the scope of government. And the people on the other side of Nick would likely do the same despite his appeals for them to do otherwise.

      So, everyone is going to continue to argue over abortion and gay marriage and who is really icky and who isn’t while the powers that be continue to reenforce their oligopoly at the expense of our privacy and various other civil rights.

      1. Red Tony!

        Go! Go!

        Red Tony!


        1. John is very correct that the politicians make very good use of KULTUR WAR to keep people voting for their respective teams. Just because John happens to mostly live on one side of that KULTUR WAR doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

        2. What does that even mean? Do you read the posts? Do you even try anymore? I just said that the big government types on both sides are probably unstoppable since people love to argue about the Kulture War more than they like to actually do something about the encroaching police state. Yeah that makes me a real cheer leader for team Red. Nothing says commitment to the party like saying there is a strain at the top of it that is no different than the worst of the other party.

          You really have me pegged there sarcasmic.

        3. There’s nothing particularly partisan about John’s remarks.

      2. So, everyone is going to continue to argue over abortion and gay marriage and who is really icky and who isn’t while the powers that be continue to reenforce their oligopoly at the expense of our privacy and various other civil rights.

        Well, to some people abortion and gay marriage are just as much about privacy and civil rights as NSA spying.

        Didn’t you read about that dude that had his and several others lives saved from baby terrorism with an abortion?

      3. One potential problem with this is some, if not many, ‘culture war’ issues are liberty/scope of government issues.

        1. Some are. But most of those issues everyone agrees belong at the state level. All of the real culture war issues belong at the state level.

          Beyond that, you have to figure out a way to talk to people who are not doctrinaire libertarians and appeal to them. And “fuck you forget about all of your values” is really not going to be effective. I think most people would have lived with civil unions as a compromise on gay marriage. But thanks to the Supreme Court, we can’t have that compromise and will spend the next who knows how many years fighting about it.

          1. I do not think the Supreme Court has required acceptance of gay marriage yet. They did not reach that issue.

            1. They did. Read the opinion. Court mandated gay marriage is here. It is just a matter of getting the courts to get around to doing it.

              1. Which opinion? They declined to reach the issue in Perry, deciding on standing grounds and in Windsor they ruled only that the federal government could not treat state recognized marriages differently based on the genders of the union.

                1. It said that the feds had to recognize gay marriages. It said nothing about other kinds of marriages. The feds would not have to recognize state polygamy or incest marriage under that decision, only gay marriage. The feds can’t define their own statutes in regard to gay marriage. That means gay marriage is a right.

                  1. Only if the marriage was recognized by a state. That’s a huge difference.

                    1. When I read that opinion, what I see is paragraph after paragraph that can and will be cut into their next opinion requiring states to recognize gay marriage.

                      The discussion has an awful lot that is unnecessary to reach the decision that the feds have to recognize state marriages, where the court goes on at some length about the burning moral imperative of gay marriage.

                      Its a done deal. They’re just waiting for a little cleaner test case.

                  2. And now the battle front of the Kulture War will advance with skirmishes over whether a flower shop or bakery is a public accommodation, whether churches can elect not to serve gay couples with adoption services, etc., etc.

                    Popular notions of positive rights really do lead to all sorts of intractable problems that politicians love to exploit.

              2. So does that mean if I don’t have a gay marriage I don’t have any marriage at all?

          2. All of the real culture war issues belong at the state level.

            The problem is that the losers in the culture war at the state level will then turn around and want to federalize it. The winners want to federalize it to pre-empt the losers. Both sides want to federalize it because it’s important. If you disagree with them you must be evil and stupid and absolutely *must* be force to do what is right.

    6. Did you forget about the part where Gary Johnson, a successful two-term governer of NM got almost 1% of the popular vote?!?!?!? It’s a fucking huge groundswell, man.

      1. But didn’t have more to do with Johnson being really boring and Ron Paul taking pretty much all of Johnson’s potential voters?

        Beyond that, a bunch of people who voted R in 2000 and 2004 stayed home in 2012. They voted none of the above. For whatever reason Johnson couldn’t connect with those people. I am not saying those people are necessarily libertarians. But they clearly were not buying what the two major parties were selling in 2012.

        1. It likely had more to do with most people having not heard of Johnson and what he has done/stands for.

          1. And whose fault is that? It was his job to get his name out there. Plenty of people knew who Ralph Nader or Ross Perot were. It is hard to be a third party candidate. But that is the job.

            1. I doubt that many people know who Ralph Nader is. People knew Ross Perot because he had the money and connections to be known.

              What was Johnson supposed to do to get more known? Chain himself to the debate doors like Alan Keyes?

              1. I doubt that many people know who Ralph Nader is

                I think they do. And sure Perot had money and connections. Johnson needed to raise money and make connections. That is the job of running for office.

                1. Raising money and making connections often means compromising oneself quite a bit, though I would say that Ron Paul’s example shows that it can be done better than Johnson did.

              2. I’m pretty sure that Ralph Nader had much greater name recognition than Johnson. Johnson was a nobody and made no significant impact on the election.

                You can blame that on the media, but I knew enough and was interested enough to watch some of his appearances. And they were pretty unimpressive. I can’t imagine they made any impression at all on your average independent voter.

              3. A lot more people knew, and know, of Nader than Perot! Nader’s long been a household name among those who love him, those who revile him, and everyone else. People remember the skinny ties and ill-fit shirt if nothing else. Perot had a cult following and nobody else cared about him one way or another, and now he’s mostly forgotten.

            2. Well, he did get screwed in the debates. Remember how Huntsman got in on those because he was the Dem’s FAV REPUBROCAN.

    7. I sort of envisioned the libertarian future with an annual deficit somewhere south of one trillion bucks.

  14. Alt. text: You know who else… well never mind.

  15. Many good points in this piece. I think libertarians and Republicans need to make decentralization a major theme. So many people are drawn to centralized solutions because they seem “natural” and “efficient” and “fair.” Libertarians need to explain how science shows that none of these things are necessarily true. Use words like “organic” and “personalized” and “grassroots” and “creative” and “new” when talking about this approach.

    And come up with specific, practical, small-scale, solutions that may not be Libertarian Purist?, but are attractive and convincing to many people on all sides, and hard for the left to argue against. (Handy hint: “Abolishing Social Security” is easy to argue against.) Allow people to get experimental drugs by signing an FDA waiver. Stop raising food prices with tax money, much of which goes to rich people or giant corporations. The USDA doesn’t need to regulate magician’s rabbits. Cities don’t need expensive light rail systems, they just need to allow jitneys and more cabs. Etc.

    1. Libertarians and Republicans need to make peace at the national level. That means taking social issues out of the debate because both sides agree that no matter what the answer to this or that issue is, it is not within the purview of the federal government. Gay marriage is a state issue. It therefore shouldn’t even be debated at the federal level. Same with abortion and the rest of it.

      I think a lot of conservatives have started to sour on the drug war. The prison population is too big and too expensive and so inhumane and corrupt only those making a living off of it can defend it as currently constituted anymore. And Republicans would be very smart to finally step up and be the party that is against police power.

      1. I just don’t see Republicans accepting the position that the federal government get out of culture was issues anytime soon. Just recently the House GOP have defended DOMA and passed federal abortion restrictions.

        I do not even know if libertarians would accept turning these issues over to the states since state governments can be quite oppressive and federal provisions can curb that.

        1. I do not even know if libertarians would accept turning these issues over to the states since state governments can be quite oppressive and federal provisions can curb that.

          Then Libertarians don’t believe in a limited federal government. They just want their pony like everyone else.

          1. It is not about a ‘limited federal government’ as much as it is about ‘limited government.’

            Some exercises of federal power act to curb state power in liberty enhancing ways, from the incorporated Bill of Rights to Se. 1983 suits, as examples.

            1. It is not about a ‘limited federal government’ as much as it is about ‘limited government.’

              So it is about using the power of the federal government to enforce your view of how things should be on the states. Again, you just want your pony. The feds have no business telling any state what is or is not a marriage or when or if an abortion should be legal.

              Once you buy into the idea that the federal government is the enforcer of all that is right and good over the states, rather than a limited creation to ensure national defense, a national market and do a few other emmunerated things, you have lost the argument. You want federally mandated gay marriage. Good for you. The liberals want federally mandated minimum wage and environmental regulations and so forth. Who are you to tell them they can’t have it? You both want your ponies. It is just a political fight as to who gets theirs.

              1. No, it is about using the power of the federal government to enforce certain rights on the states.

                This is not a new thing. One of the most prominent things the Founders pointed to in pushing for a more powerful federal government was one that could protect creditors from state governments where those creditors were unpopular. The whole idea of diversity jurisdiction was pushed because state courts were treating interests that were unpopular in their states poorly. Etcetera.

                Our history is not one where states have protected liberty in general better than the federal government.

                1. Of course gay marriage is a totally invented right. Being gay was illegal at the time of the drafting. The constitution was never intended to do that. You are just getting your pony by saying “if we like something it should be a right”. That is what liberals do. If you want the Constitution to guarantee gay marriage, amend it.

                  1. Why amend it when the principle which proponents argue for it is already explicitly stated in the 14th Amendment?

                    Should we just pass the wording of the 14th Amendment with ‘and we mean gays too’ added at the end?

                    1. Clearly when they wrote the 14th Amendment they didn’t mean for it to create a right for gay marriage. So, yeah, if you want a Constitutional right to marry, create one. The only reason you think it includes gays and not people who want to do anything else is because you like it that way. Again, you just want your pony.

                    2. I doubt when they wrote the 14th Amendment they were thinking to protect whites from affirmative action or ‘Chinamen’ from exclusionary immigration policies either. But who cares what they expected it to do, they wrote ‘equal protection of the law.’

                      By the way, I would like to see gay marriages recognized but by legislatures or refenderums.

                    3. I doubt when they wrote the 14th Amendment they were thinking to protect whites from affirmative action or ‘Chinamen’ from exclusionary immigration policies either.

                      Yes they were. They wrote it specifically to ensure that states didn’t deprive people of due process because of their race. It was never written to or intended to mean “the states must treat all groups equally”.

                      Again, you think it was, but you wouldn’t in other cases, because you want your pony. You want the Constitution to do what you can’t accomplish politically and to ensure no one can ever argue with you about it.

                    4. In the debates over the 14th there was a fair amount of discussion of how white ‘Yankees’ and Republicans in the Southern states were being denied equal protection of the laws. So while I have no doubt they were thinking of blacks discriminated on racial lines they were also thinking of whites discriminated on non-racial lines and demanding equal protection of the law be protected generally.

                      I agree they did not follow that logic to gay persons, but the Founders not following the logic of the Declaration and allowing slavery does not mean that the logic of the Declaration was what Judge Taney said it was (remember, Taney argued just as you are arguing here: since practices at the time of the Declaration sanctioned slavery then the Declaration’s words did not apply to black slaves).

                    5. Sure and you can read it that way. But I don’t want to hear you then tell me how the fact that the Founders never intended the commerce clause to authorize the feds to do anything it wanted is relevant. You don’t get to pick and choose how you interpret the Constitution. You are making the same argument with regards to the 14th that liberals make regarding the commerce clause. I think both are wrong and just amount to making the document a product of who ever is in charge and what pony they want rather than what the text was actually intended to mean.

                    6. Equal protection of the law is a principle, commerce is a specific activity. One is made to be general, the other not.

                    7. Doesn’t matter. Either you interpret the document based on the best evidence of what it was intended to mean or you interpret it based on whatever current fashion wants it to mean. You don’t get to pick and choose based on which one gives you the result you want. Well you can, but that just proves my point about you just wanting your pony.

                    8. I do not think it is picking and choosing. The fact that some concepts and principles can have general meanings that are broader than some people who use them think does not mean that anything can mean anything.

                      When wondering what the Equal Protection Clause means I don’t ask how the people who drew it up would have expected it to work, that is the same mistake Taney made. I ask, what principle were they getting at? The answer is treating people equally and not differently based on immutable qualities. When it comes to the commerce clause I do the same. I don’t ask myself what kind of laws the Founders would have thought would be passed under such power, I ask what did they mean by ‘regulate commerce’ and the answer is: to regulate commercial activity. That is the end of Obama’s mandate.

                    9. I want a pony!

                      I also want people to recognize that marrying whom you choose is an individual right, which trumps the states rights vs. federal powers debate.

                      Unless, of course, states are gay marrying each other…

                    10. Yes. Taktix, you want the court to read your favorite shit into the document. Good for you. Now please take a seat with the liberals who want the same thing. Those are the dogs you are now lying with.

                    11. No John, you want the court to read the amendment as saying “equal protection, except when it makes John has a sad”. The 14th says what it says, which applies even to issues which make you whine incessantly.

                    12. The 14th says what it says, which applies even to issues which make you whine incessantly.

                      The 14th argument only works if marriage (regardless of sexual proclivity) is a “right” in the federal sense. It’s not enumerated. If we take the 10th seriously, that means it’s reserved to the people or the states. Of course, due to miscegenation laws, the federal courts went ahead and invented that right so they could squash an injustice. But it was shitty legal reasoning then, as it is now. There is no reason that the federal government a strict reading of the constitution would create should recognize marriage of any kind at all. “Equal protection” doesn’t quite mean what most of the people beating that drum think it means. Which is why it was ignored in by both the justices and the litigators in SCOTUS’ recent gay marriage rulings.

                    13. Dogs? I ordered ponies!

                      WHERE’S MY PONY DAMMIT?!?

                      Seriously, fuck the Constitution. If you believe you have the authority to tell people what to do in their personal lives, then you can’t claim to desire freedom as a libertarian does. Plain and simple…

            2. It is not about a ‘limited federal government’ as much as it is about ‘limited government.’

              Devolving as much power as possible back to the states is not a cure-all, but a big step in the right direction. It’s easier for people to compare the results, and escape the worst states if needed.

              1. It is especially absurd in the case of marriage law, which was largely constructed due to difficulties in standard contract law for dealing with issues unique to marriage and the family (childrearing and what happens in the case of divorce, for example). Biologically, sexual relations between gays don’t result in children and socially the overwhelming majority of gays choose not to adopt. There is a compelling difference which makes heterosexual marriage law reasonable discrimination even if you don’t agree with the stated aim of marriage law — just as having income caps for participation in a welfare program are a meaningful form of income-based discrimination assuming you buy into the program.

                John is 100% right; you folks just want the Supremes to give you your pony, damn whatever the Constitution established.

                1. Bullshit. It has nothing to do with kids, or else the impotent/infertile and those who intend to remain childless would face the same scrutiny. This is obviously not the case. Claims like that are simply after-the-fact justifications for social attitudes.

                  1. *for anti-gay social attitudes.

                    1. Not to mention that the same people against gay marriage are against gay adoption as well. When it’s harder for gays to adopt, do you really expect them to adopt as often as straight people do?

            3. It’s not even about limited gov’t, it’s about unlimited liberty.

            4. Wording is everything. That’s why most of us hire lawyers to draw up contracts for us, to ensure they’re bulletproof.

              If the writers of ol’ Number 14 had really intended that amendment to just apply to freed slaves (as I keep hearing socons bring up in a blatant attempt to justify quashing marriage equality), they should’ve explicitly said so in the amendment language. The Federalist Papers do not carry any legal weight, as much as some people wish they did.

            5. I think if we answer the question

              Why should marriage be a government (state or federal) related issue at all?

              Instead of arguing about the extent of government involvement in marriage, we can come to a more useful conclusion.

              If the government had no laws pertaining to marriage (which it probably shouldn’t, unless someone knows of a useful law that I don’t know of) then this whole argument would be pointless. The equal protection clause wouldn’t apply, gay marriage wouldn’t need to be recognized by the government (but heterosexual marriage also wouldn’t be) and this whole issue would be resolved.

              As it stands, the benefits given to a married couple by the government are the reasons that the equal protection clause need to be applied.

              Feel free to let me know if I have overlooked anything

        2. It’s not the culture war stuff. Socons are just dragged along with rhetoric and never really get any strong policy push. It’ s the national security Republicans who will never let anything libertarian see the light of day.

          1. Most SOCONS want to be left alone. Even on gay marriage, their concern is that it will lead to the government forcing them to recognize gay marriages and churches and businesses and such. Sadly, Libertarians have done nothing to alleviate or address that fear and then wonder why SOCONS are so uncompromising on the issue.

            1. Most SoCons want to end abortion, first and foremost.

              And I do not think most SoCons only oppose recognition of gay marriage because of discrimination laws forcing them to serve them, they usually are quite open in saying they oppose them because they think it will damage the institution of marriage and society at large.

              1. And the reason they think that is because they know once the state recognizes it, then the state will be forcing everyone to recognize it. And that is exactly what is happening.

                Part of the problem is that the SOCONs are so easily trolled by the media. There just are not that many gay people out there. And by gay I don’t mean went to an English boarding school or had some fun to make your b/f happy in college. I mean actually gay and has long term relationships with the same sex. That is like maybe 2% of the population. But if you watched TV you would think it is like 20%. And I really think the SOCONS believe this. They have no idea how few gay people actually want to get married and how little effect this is actually going to have. Had they been smart, they would have gotten ahead of the whole thing and made recognizing gay marriage a priority so that gays can share in the responsibility of marriage. They could have passed some laws and the issue never would have gone to court and resulted in some fairly bad precedents.

                1. Again, simply read or listen to what SoCons that opposed gay marriage have to say. Sure they note that once recognized discriminations will likely force a parade of horribles on them. But they are also quite upfront that they oppose it in itself as harmful to institutions they value and society in general.

                  1. I think a lot of SoCons would be happy if the federal government was simply neutral, meaning it stopped pushing an agenda they disagree with.

                    1. I don’t believe that. Too many personal socons are also political socons, they actively want to promote their values and denounce and oppress opposing values. It’s all moot right now though, we’re not in a position to know for sure.

                    2. I bet you a buck that once gay marriage is expanded by SCOTUS to all states that the socons will immediately see the value of the government ceasing to sanction anyone’s relationships. And by “seeing the value”, I mean doing a complete 180 and protesting in the streets for it. And I will laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

                      The most ironic part is that by then, most “libertarians” in the Nick Gillespie sense will have invested so much in instituting gay marriage by judicial fiat that they will either completely ignore the new coalition they could build with the newly-anarchist socons to dismantle this utterly illegitimate function of government (most likely), or will be hobbled from doing so by their own legal precedents (less likely, IMO, because this particular stripe of “libertarian” couldn’t give a runny shit about limiting the scope of government in this area. John does have a point there).

      2. Libertarians and Republicans need to make peace at the national level.

        I like you dude but this is just never going to happen.

        1. We saw what such a ‘peace’ might look like with conservatives treatment of Ron Paul in 08 and 12.

          ‘We’re happy to hear you out Dr. Paul, but 9-11! radical Islam! Drugs! and Israel!’

          1. No one went after Paul over drugs. They went after Paul because he said a bunch of crazy offensive shit about US foreign policy. People were ready to listen to Paul on drugs and everything he had to say. All he had to do was make the point that he wouldn’t nation build as President but would follow the principle of rubble doesn’t make trouble. The GOP base would have ate that shit up. But they were not going to listen to some politician tell them how the only reason the Islamists hate us is because of the CIA and how mean we are to them. It may make Peacenik Libertarians feel better. But it doesn’t win elections.

            1. There was certainly some of this ‘crazy uncle Paul wants to legalize heroin’ talk.

              I agree he could have framed his foreign policy positions better, but I disagree that this would have lessened the attacks of the national security faction in the GOP.

              1. There was certainly some of this ‘crazy uncle Paul wants to legalize heroin’ talk.

                Ding, ding, ding! Part of the reason they didn’t hit him over all the libertarian positions is that they wanted to stay “on message”! Had things proceeded further you can bet that every position he espoused would have been hacked to pieces.

              2. He handled the heroin question pretty well in the South Carolina debate. But the fact of the matter is – there was a heroin question.

                The fact that he had about 40 years of extra experience in politics to help him navigate the traps doesn’t mean that there wasn’t an attempt to play “gotcha” games with Paul in the same way they were able to successfully derail Palin. They tried the same stuff with Bush II (hey, who is the president of Turkmenistan?).

                It happens every election cycle. If you are not one of the anointed candidates, you get all sorts of weird stuff thrown your way. If Obama had been treated with similar skepticism we’d all be complaining about President Clinton right now.

          2. Oh, get off your cross. Paul was a terrible candidate, and yes, he did say some crazy-ass shit. I voted for Gary Johnson for that reason.

            Sorry, but there were plenty of reasons for a normal person not to want to vote for Ron Paul.

        2. Not gonna happen, not without a comprehensive purge of Repub leadership.

          Establishment Repubs hate Tea Partiers and libertarians worse than they do Democrats. See my comment above about who goes to the camps. You don’t infidels from the other TEAM near as much as you hate the heretics on your own TEAM.

          Repub leadership has repeatedly torpedoed nominally Repub candidates who were TP/libertarian, showing that their revealed preference is for Dems over TPers or libertarians.

          1. Yes. The establishment will have to be purged. But the establishment is going to have to be purged anyway. The increasingly represent no one but themselves.

            1. I’ll believe it when I see it. Right now, we never go to the primaries, and when the incumbents stay on the ballot we blindly vote them in again. Third-party alternative? “Oh no, you’ll split the vote and the other guy will win!”

              I’d like to think we’d be able to have a longshot win if (s)he had enough money for a relentless media blitz. But all I’m seeing right now is the same old people in office and the sheeple prolonging their tenure.

      3. This ignores the two biggest issues that separate Libertarians and Republicans, immigration and war. Most Republicans oppose the amnesty and immigraton surge bill. Many Republicans are Israel-firsters who want to invade Iran.

        1. Shut up, moron.

          1. Jeez Epi could you narrow it down a bit! The thread has shifted!

            1. On the other hand, that response is kind of a one size fits all threads response.

              1. Yeah but if addressed to me I want to know….the writing staff and I have been working on some fabulous Epi comebacks!

      4. I tend to agree with you John, but the problem is that this isn’t a “leadership” problem. It is a population problem. Leaders are playing the Culture War because that’s what the people want- not the other way around.

        Our country fought a civil war over slavery. There are a significant number of people who see Abortion as equalling or even worse than slavery. And there are people who see the denial of gay (or whatever protected class) rights as in the same ballpark as Slavery- if not equal in magnitude. So to these sets of people, it is entirely appropriate for the battles to be fought at the federal level.

        1. I don’t think it is appropriate to be fought at the federal level. Beyond that, most people are in the middle on both issues. If you made abortion legal up to say 24 weeks, all but the hardest core SOCONS and feminists would be happy. Same with gay marriage. Just do civil unions and make it clear to the SOCONS no one is ever going to force them to recognize such. Yeah, the fringes would still be pissed. But the fringes are always pissed.

          There are compromises on most of these issues that would command a majority of the population. But the elites don’t want that to happen. They want to keep these issues alive so no one ever votes on anything else.

          1. -If you made abortion legal up to say 24 weeks, all but the hardest core SOCONS and feminists would be happy.

            I do not see this. Don’t most people who oppose abortion see life as beginning at conception?

            1. No. Most people don’t. Very few people take the view that life begins at conception. Beyond that, many of the people who do understand that it is a really complex issue and would be willing to live with such a compromise. Go look at the polling. Bans on partial birth and late term abortions are supported by large majorities. But they never happen because if they ever did, abortion would go off the political radar. And no one wants people voting and perhaps thinking about other issues.

              1. Polls show a majority of Americans believe life begins at conception, and I am sure that figure is higher for pro-life Americans.

                1. Polls show a majority of Americans believe life begins at conception, and I am sure that figure is higher for pro-life Americans.

                  But that doesn’t mean they demand all abortion be banned. Polls show most don’t want early term abortions banned either. The consensus is around 20 weeks or so.

                  Just get over it. Not everyone who disagrees with you is a fanatic. It makes you feel better to think that way. But it is not true.

                  1. First, you are confusing a bare majority with a consensus.


                    Second, I am talking about a majority of pro-life people. Do you have any evidence at al that people who identify as pro-life do not think life begins at conception and would be satisfied with a 20 week ban?

                    Third, I could swear that you have said yourself that life begins at conception (you said something about how traveling out of the uterus does not give the fetus some magical quality). Do you not think that? If you do would you be satisfied with a 20 week ban?

                    1. First, you are confusing a bare majority with a consensus.

                      If a bare majority is not a consensus in a Republic what is? You are never going to get everyone to agree on something. That is the whole point of a consensus, get the majority to agree on something.

                      Second, I am talking about a majority of pro-life people. Do you have any evidence at al that people who identify as pro-life do not think life begins at conception and would be satisfied with a 20 week ban?

                      Yes, it is in your polls. A majority of the country is pro life and a majority is willing to live with a 20 week ban. Will the fringe still be out there working for more? Sure. But they won’t have nearly as compelling of a case. Even the best compromise doesn’t satisfy everyone. But it would be good enough to make abortion a much less important political issue.

                      It is funny how you can only comprehend that pro life people might not be satisfied. It never occurs to you that anyone to the left might not be willing to compromise.

                    2. A four point percentage split is not a consensus.

                      And you are confusing the % of people who would support something with the % who would be satisfied with something. As an example consider whether you would be support a partial birth abortion ban. Now, would you be satisfied with that?

                      As to your last comment I think that many pro-choice people would not be satisfied with a 20 week compromise either, but you were talking about conservatives agreeing to a compromise to take culture war issues off the table so I focused on whether they would be likely to do so. I think not, but I don’t want to enter an area where we are repeating ourselves, so I will leave it at that.

                    3. I agree that a large chunk of the electorate would be willing to compromise on such a ban. But there are a lot of hard-core leftists who have a religious belief in “my body, my choice” in all cases. A big chunk of the activist left would not concede that a fetus could have any rights at all, even a day before delivery. (literally – I stole that notion from a huffpo commentariate debate from last weekend)

                      Similarly, if you believe actual human life begins at the moment of conception you are certainly not going to go “oh well, we managed to make sure that those babies are only murdered before they are 20 weeks along”.

                      Both of those groups are dug in hard – only death would dissuade them. I will posit that the “life begins at conception” group is somewhat larger than the “100% choice in all circumstances” crowd, although I have only my suspicions to back that up.

                    4. If both groups are dug in so hard, why aren’t they making much noise in most countries? Why are abortions controversial in so few parts of the world?

                    5. But there are a lot of hard-core leftists who have a religious belief in “my body, my choice” in all cases.

                      Unless you want a boob job. Or have your doctor prescribe a drug unapproved by the FDA. Or want to work for less than minimum wage. Or have sex on camera without a condom. Or….

                    6. If a bare majority is not a consensus in a Republic what is?

                      I would say a supermajority sufficient to amend the Constitution.

                    7. Why do you have to amend the Constitution to settle the abortion issue? Or any other social issue for that matter?

                    8. You seem to be assuming that the belief that life begins at conception entails opposition to abortions. Did it ever occur to you that many people decide on different bases? That they may say, yeah, it’s alive, but it’s OK to kill it? There are lots of living things that lots of people are OK will killing.

                      I really don’t care when life begins, but I still want abortion and infanticide legal.

            2. 24 weeks? It takes 6 months for some dimwit to decide if she wants the baby?

              1. Democrats will go batshit crazy over some law banning abortions after 20 weeks. Case in point: the recent brouhaha in Texas. Something about the doctors not being able to tell if the fetus will develop mental illness until it’s at 20-21 weeks. I’m okay with a cutoff point, it would certainly prevent any more Kermit Gosnells.

          2. Maybe civil unions would have been enough 10-15 years ago. Now — no chance.

      5. Agree with John and Papaya. A doctrinaire libertarian movement will never achieve electoral relevance for the same reasons that a doctrinaire socialist movement hasn’t. Libertarians need to reach people where they are at, push for marginal changes, and then build on those gains — kind of like the 19th century classical liberals (and the 20th century social democrats) did.

        1. +1. Pragmatism has historically been more successful than ideology.

    2. Abolish Social Security. It’s bankrupt and immoral.

      1. You’re never going to win elections with that attitude. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

        1. Oh, it’s not an electoral platform. It’s just the truth.

          I’d be very happy if a bunch of fiscally conservative Democrats (if any exist) and libertarian leaning Republicans got elected.

          1. Actually, George W Bush won an election talking about private accounts for Social Security, AND a more humble foreign policy.*

            Mine would just be a lot more private and a lot more humble.

            (*of course, the private accounts idea died a grisly death in Congress, and as president, Bush carpet bombed half the world.)

      2. Also remember that we did not get into the semi-socialist mess we are in because the Socialist Party won any elections worth mentioning. We got here because the socialists took over the Democratic Party and worked incrementally.

        1. With help from Republican statists. You seem to forget Bush’s half-trillion dollar senior prescription plan, 600 dollar spending spree benefit, etc…

          1. Granted.

    3. I think libertarians and Republicans need to make decentralization a major theme.

      I think of it as distribution of power. It seems to me things are clearer if you think in terms of centers of power. Concentration of power (long-term at least) is destructive. The U.S. Federal government is by far the largest power center in the nation, perhaps the world.

  16. “If the long-term, decentralist trends described in books as different as Moises Naim’s The End of Power, Grant McCracken’s Plenitude, and The Declaration of Independents are at all true, we can forget about the Libertarian Moment and start jawing about the Libertarian Era. At least it will give the legacy media something to fill their pages while they’re still around.”

    It really is a wonderful time to be alive. Sure, healthcare has been virtually nationalized, the second amendment is under attack, our communications are being snooped, war continues unabated, the police are more militarized every day, free speech is dead on college campuses, and the only thing keeping the Democrats from controlling the House is Republican gerrymandering, but I can sample so many strains of marijuana. Libertarian Era man!

    1. It’s poor immigrants’ collective fault, isn’t it, ‘Murcan? Come on – level with us. I can take it…

      1. The effects of immigration should not be overstated, but without the Hispanics immigrants Obama would not have been elected, and we would not have Obamacare, we would not have to fear that taxes could be raised or that our gun could be taken away. We would still have to deal with neo-conservatism, though, and we would still have to deal with liberals controlling the media, controlling acadamia, we would still have to deal with affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, and our personal liberties would still be taken away in the name of fighting terrorism.

  17. As much as I’d like to believe the article generally (and in fact I do agree with the really optimistic premise of the little-ballyhooed book Nick and Matt wrote), my main fear is that this “libertarian moment” is just the country’s current method of paying empty lip-service to long-forgotten constitutional ideals in order to fool ourselves into thinking we “did something” to stop the inevitable and accelerating slide into the abyss. Like all the little warning text about social security numbers on government forms or the breast-beating after the Japanese internments, this is just some way to achieve temporary inner peace as a body politic before they fit us for the agonizers.

  18. OT: Blind motorcyclist sets speed record for blind motorcyclists, 167 mph.…..cpshrjwfbs

    1. Holy fuck! I’m not blind and I’ve only done 150. I gotta give him credit – he’s a fucking retard!

      1. The thought of doing even 70 on a motorcycle and closing my eyes for more than a few seconds is terrifying. That guy has less sense and more balls than I have ever had.

        1. This guy has more balls than you will ever have. Or at least he used to.

    2. See? If that doesn’t herald The Libertarian Era, what does?

      1. Was he wearing a helmet? If not, we’re all free now.

        1. I think this guy was wearing a helmet. It didn’t help.


          BASE jumping seems like a bad idea. This story mentioned the guy who parachuted into the London Olympics with “Queen Elizabeth” killed himself last year.

  19. Mark Levin is right. There’s no way this train can be slowed down, let alone reversed, without some constitutional amendments. And that ain’t going to happen. So…. we’re fucked.

    Bend ovah!

    1. I received a pocket copy of the Constitution that came with an ACLU solicitation, and reading through the later amendments it occurred to me that I do not think I will see one added in my lifetime.

      1. An ACLU copy? Was the 2nd Amendment crossed out?

    2. Maybe we could just add “We really mean it!” to the end of the Amendments we already have?

      1. Yeah, except we don’t really mean all of them. The 16th thru 18th for example.

        1. We certainly don’t mean the 10th any more.

          1. The finest legal minds agree that the 9th Amendment is just an ink blot.

      2. Even Levin’s amendments wouldn’t work. At least not for long. For example he wants to sunset all federal legislation to force a new vote. Kinda like the rubber-stamped farm bill and defense authorization bill, Congress would just keep doing the same thing. There’s no point in hoping. We’re screwed.

        1. I know; the sunset amendment is the dumbest one ever. Here’s how it would work:

          New Congress convenes. First order of business, ratify/adopt new rules of order, elect leadership.

          Second order of business: a continuing resolution for the entire federal code.

          There. Amendment satisfied, nothing changes.

          1. How is that sunset provision working on the Patriot Act and the Farm Bill and the Defense Authorization Act?

            It wouldn’t hurt. There would probably be a few things that would go away. But it would hardly solve much.

            1. Add the Medicare doctor payment restrictions to your list. (for those not paying attention, the annual exemption to these cuts are called the “Doc Fix”.)

            2. In some ways, having a blanket sunset requirement would make it worse, because it would beget a blanket continuance of the whole mess.

          2. I know; the sunset amendment is the dumbest one ever. Here’s how it would work:

            New Congress convenes. First order of business, ratify/adopt new rules of order, elect leadership.

            Ha, that’s so last decade. Now, it doesn’t even matter what congress does. President Obama just passes an Executive Order and the budget is ignored, the Law “delayed”, enforcement is selected, etc.

          3. Second order of business: a continuing resolution for the entire federal code.

            It would force polticians to go on record as voting for or against it. This can then be used a fodder in the election by their opponent. Anything that would make it harder for an incumbent to remain an incumbent is usually a good thing.

        2. Hey, maybe we could pass some sort of amendment that prohibits a standing army too!

        3. Hey, maybe we could pass some sort of amendment that prohibits a standing army too!

          1. What about the Anti-Double-Post amendment?

            1. What about the Anti-Double-Post amendment?

              Voted down….sorry!

            2. What about the Anti-Double-Post amendment?

              Voted down….sorry!

              1. I giggled… twice!

            3. That will be ignored as well.

    3. Why would amendments matter? They don’t even follow the main text anymore.

      1. The follow the parts of the main text that matter: general welfare, regulate commerce, necessary and proper. See?

        1. You forgot “FYTW”. Welcome

  20. Definition distilled from various sources:

    Libertarians: A very small, powerless, extremely right wing, lunatic fringe group who are going to DESTROY LIFE AS WE KNOW IT!!1!

    1. Even though they’re occasionally right about one or two cool issues.

    2. My favorite thing about being a libertarian is that we’re simultaneously on the fringe, beneath notice, and hopelessly lost when it comes to politics, and we’re secretly running all corporations and destroying the economy with, well, I’ve never quite understood how free marketers are supposed to be destroying the economy.

      1. I’ve never quite understood how free marketers are supposed to be destroying the economy.

        Profits! Inequality! Wealth disparity! Wealth accumulation! Greed! Profits!

        1. Yeah, they sure waste money, don’t they? And decrease the value of the dollar. Fucking capitalists and corporations.

          1. Wealth is money and money is wealth! So when some rich fuck has all this wealth, that wealth represents money that could be spent feeding poor children! And since there is a fixed pile of money out there, there is also a fixed amount of wealth! Wealth and money are the same, after all! In a zero-sum game, as one person accumulates wealth everyone else becomes poorer! Libertarians want a feudal system where the corporations own everything and the rest of us are serfs!

            Aaauuugghh! All this economic ignorance is going to make my head explode!

            1. I’m sure you enjoyed the commenter ProgressiveLiberal repeating “bad econ” over and over like a robot and claiming “government helps remove inefficiencies in a market” lol

              I still suspect it was Pro Lib trolling.

              1. Nah, that’s not my schtick. I think reality trolls we poor libertarians quite adequately without additional help.

                1. Good point. That it does.

      2. I’ve never quite understood how free marketers are supposed to be destroying the economy.

        Selfishness, mannnn! You got away with it for a while. But it came back on you like the God of Wrath in a Woodie Guthrie tune and spilled over to harm a lot of innocents.

        1. Lack of control. That is what they fear. They are terrified of uncontrolled change. They all want stasis with carefully planned and controlled change.

          1. Freedom means asking permission and taking orders when you are the one giving permission and issuing orders.

          2. They are terrified that someone might make a choice that they don’t agree with, therefore a law or regulation is required to protect people from making those wrong choices.

          3. Lack of control. That is what they fear. They are terrified of uncontrolled change.

            That’s pretty much it. Fear of change. Unfortunately, this is probably true of the great majority of people.

      3. Let’s see, what other group of people have been both world-controlling human-race raping conspiracists and venal subhuman scum at the same time? And I’m not talking about the Irish.

        1. The Mongols?

          And the Irish have never been world-controlling. Maybe vomit-encrusted-alley-controlling.

          1. And the Irish have never been world-controlling. Maybe vomit-encrusted-alley-controlling.

            That’s just what they want you to think. I’m sure you’ve heard the old joke about liquor being invented so the Irish wouldn’t conquer the world. WELL IT DIDN’T WORK.

        2. And I’m not talking about the Irish.

          Then you’re either a fool or being paid off.

  21. “laissez-faire bontemps roulez” makes no sense. It should be the infinitive “rouler”. Laissez faire le bon temps rouler!

    1. Laissez que les bon temps roulent!

  22. There has never been and there will never be a “Libertarian Moment” in America. Americans are as violent, warlike, jingoistic and authoritarian as they have ever been.

    1. The murder rate has fallen by something like half since 1991.

      1. That’s only because violent video games and online porn allow them to vent their proclivities in other directions….

        (see what I did there?)

      2. But we continue to initiate wars and murder people abroad.

  23. California, the shitter just got another flush.

    California Wants Small-Business Owners To Pay Back $120 Million In Tax Breaks…

    1. You’d think at some point the bowl would be empty.

    2. But liberals love small business!

  24. “If you read the weekend papers,” writes Nick Gillespie, “you already know this much: Libertarians are the new black.”

    And they will soon be be wearing orange if trends continue.

    1. Exactly in keeping with being the new black.

    2. I’ll have you know Epi never drops the soap, so we might have to be a little more creative.

      1. You could just offer a reach around, that’ll loosen up the old sphincter.

  25. “The growing libertarian wing of the Republican Party surely does have some core principles on which they will not (and should not) compromise.”

    The “libertarian wing” of the GOP needs to wake up and realize that the people who really run the GOP really are not into them. They will allow some lipservice to libertarian ideas, but only if it does not cross certain boundaries, particularly boundaries regarding the use of military force.

    Wake up and look at who actually runs the GOP. Quit deluding yourselves. Look at how the GOP treated Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012.

    1. They just didn’t vote for him. Paul didn’t win all of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. And yeah, the establishment hates them. But so what? Generally when you plan to take over something the people who are already running it are not going to like you. They need to stop caring what the establishment thinks and let the establishment start worrying about why everyone hates them.

      1. Ron Paul is a hard sell. That I freely admit even though I agree with him more than any other politician in my life time. Well, I’m holding out hope those photos of Mises, Hayek and Rothbard on Justin Amash’s walls really mean something.

        1. Ron Paul is a hard sell. But Rand won’t be. I don’t think Ted Cruz is either. But both of those guys are willing to make allowances to the bulk of the GOP base. And people like Nick will never forgive them for that.

          1. And people like Nick will never forgive them for that.

            While he isn’t shilling for RP, where do you see Nick criticizing his political strategy?

            1. Give it time. I am skeptical.

          2. Yeah I think Rand could actually win the nomination.

            His father said too many crazy things, particularly in regards to foreign policy, and thats what hurt him. It wasn’t his libertarianism or the establishment republicans being mean to him.

            You can’t get on national TV and tell Americans that Jihadism is all their fault, and expect to be taken seriously on that issue. Nor can you tweet that those who live by the sword will die by the sword after an American sniper is murdered.

            1. tell Americans that Jihadism is all their fault

              John, is that you?

              He never said any such thing.

              Blowback is not about fault.

              1. You know if it was just the U.S. that Jihadis had an issue with you might actually have a point here, but there doesn’t seem to be any group on non-muslims that they seem capable of of getting along with.

                Look at how many conflicts around the world are between Muslims and some other group. The Yugoslavian conflict, Chechnya, Kashmir, South Sudan, etc.

                So it seems to be either blowback has nothing to do with it, or the entire world just likes to pick of Muslims.

                1. In what way aren’t all of those conflicts blowback against some real or imagined slight to or attack on Muslims?

                  1. or imagined

                    This is the operative part of that sentence. You can’t legitimately call it “blowback” when a bunch of batshit crazy neanderthals decide to blow shit up and murder people because somewhere, someone in the word is, say, flashing her tits. Every reason or no reason at all, their behavior doesn’t change.

                2. Look at how many conflicts around the world are between the united states government and some other group. Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, Syria, Palestine, etc.

                  1. Huh? That list doesn’t really make sense.

            2. Rand Paul is too inexperienced. Better to have an experienced governor. My preferred ticket: Scott Walker/Rand Paul.

          3. I don’t know. Ron Paul was a hard sell to the neocon-led Republican Party, but he had strong appeal to independents and some liberals. Rand Paul seems like he will do much better with the Republican base, but won’t have the same crossover chances or independent votes.

    2. Indeed. I get RLC e-mails occasionally, and I find there’s a distinct lack of adversarial content against the party leadership, by and large. Individual members and even chapters do freak out on the RNC or state party chairs, but, by and large, they are often trying to play the party first, liberty second game. Which fails if you actually want change.

    3. Wake up and look at who actually runs the GOP. Quit deluding yourselves. Look at how the GOP treated Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012.


  26. Really? Seems to me that 99% of the country still doesn’t care about liberty. The NSA and IRS scandals didn’t seem to bother anyone. The gun grabbers keep grabbing. The vast majority of people refuse to accept the debt is a nuclear time bomb etc.

    Safe prediction: Libertarian party continues to average 1% in Presidential elections.

    1. I know a lot of people that are pissed about the NSA, I know even more people that are fed up with the drug war.

      The problem is a lot of people just don’t know what to do about it.

      1. I mean look at the last election, and tell me we had a choice on the NSA or gun issues.

        The choice was what color you want your progressive dipshit to be.

        1. True enough but most people use the MSM as their core source of news – NBC/ABC etc and they are being told that everything is right with the world. Which is a comforting thought.

          And there exist a large number of useful idiots out there whose reaction to the NSA thing was “So what? I’m not doing anything wrong. And if it keeps us safe, then I don’t mind”.

      2. I know a lot of people

        This is the classic “But everybody I know voted for McGovern!” fallacy. You’re using too small a sample size. By and large, people don’t give a shit about any of that. Nick Gillespie is either a drooling moron, or his publisher over-ran the printing on his last book. Just because more people want to smoke pot without getting hassled and think it’s cool for gay people to get married doesn’t mean they are “libertarian” in any meaningful sense of the word.

  27. my best friend’s mom makes $87/hour on the internet. She has been fired from work for five months but last month her paycheck was $18889 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more here..

  28. I’m forty-one now…but I was an Independent all my voting life until this past election cycle when I came out of the closet as a Libertarian. Twenty-two years of voting life and finally a different strand of government is on the horizon and is a viable option…and is gaining momentum. I couldn’t be more pleased.

  29. The growing libertarian wing of the Republican Party surely does have some core principles on which they will not (and should not) compromise.

    I notice many (if not most) of the posters at the Atlantic have a very distorted view of what libertarianism is. Some were merely ignorant. Some outright lied. It was often hard to tell the difference. There are different flavors of libertarianism and ‘core principles’ can vary. I’m sure the author of this piece would agree, though he (and others here) would simultaneously stereotype conservatives (liberals not quite so much).

  30. like Thelma responded I am startled that a mother can make $6821 in a few weeks on the computer. did you look at this web sitego to this site home tab for more detail—

  31. In breaking news, Nick Gillespie is still delusional. And really wants you to buy his book.

    Shreek is joining an emerging consensus declaring the era of big government over based on a projected 650 billion dollar deficit for the current fiscal year, the NSA is snooping on everyone, the IRS is snooping on and abusing the president’s political enemies, Edward Snowden is in hiding in Russia and could, at this point, be assassinated at any moment without a single American statute being violated, the individual mandate and accompanying penaltaxes begin next year, there is a completely serious ongoing debate about the wisdom of raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hr, the regulatory state continues to expand apace, we can’t decide which proxy wars we are and aren’t fighting in the middle east, indiscriminately sprinkling America dust and crates full of cash wherever strikes our whimsy that particular week… but hey, pot is legal in 2 states now, and the federal courts are on the verge of vastly expanding the role of the federal government in marriage! It r teh libertarian era!

    Seriously, could anyone actually be that self-deluded? I would way rather believe Nick is an opportunistic hack trying to sell books, but I mean, could this actually be what he believes?

  32. I guess Gillespie’s optimism will keep him alive a long time.

  33. There is no Libertarian era coming because there are actually very few true Libertarians.

  34. Only seriously intrested people will be warmly welcomed,Thanks,,you have to work and use the computer and internet, and if you can do that and dedicate some time each day then you can do this with no problem.
    I have been working with this for a month and have made over 2,000 dollars already. let me know if you need go for home site then tab for detail “~ BAR17.?O?

  35. If you think Charlotte`s story is flabbergasting,, a month back my doughter earned $4324 workin a ninteen hour week from there house and their neighbor’s mother-in-law`s neighbour did this for 4 months and made over $4324 part time on their pc. follow the guide from this address… http://www.w?rk25.??m

  36. “Libertarians are the new black.” No, smokers are the new black and they don’t even get the separate but equal routine.

  37. Be not overconfident; fight on. I push the libertarian story (at least my version) every day in The Great Silent Majority blog. I have a few supporters and at least have made it the focus of many discussions, Maybe even a few converts. As we often say in there, 🙂

  38. KRoyall, how many “true Republicans”, or “true Democrats” are there? Libertarians better not get hung up on purity. We can’t win them all, but we sure could stand to win some sometimes.

  39. I’ve become much more sympathetic to the libertarian position the last few years, but I don’t think those Independents are libertarians. At all. Yes, they bemoan “partisanship,” our “Coke or Pepsi” political choices and the like. But they really aren’t passionate about decentralized federal power when it comes to social security checks, Medicare benefits, and even scaling back the military within its constitutional limits.

    But that objection aside, I think the overall point of this article is well taken. I don’t think I’ve ever seen libertarians with as much political influence as they have today.

  40. Hopefully this will be the Libertarian era.

    “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” – Winston Churchill

    Have enough people decided we tried everything else?

  41. Not gonna happen. I wrote an open letter to the LP and it resulted in one of their campaign coordinators requesting to talk to me personally. After close to an hour on the phone, I’m convinced they are clueless and couldn’t run a winning campaign if they had the only candidate in the race.
    The Libertarian Party is too interested in trying to play the game the same as the Repulicrats and Democans, courting big pocket corporatist sponsors rather than stirring up the grass roots. They’re destined to be a footnote in election history.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.