Libertarianism

Memo to Republicans: Go Libertarian…or Go Home!

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I've got a new column up at Time.com that looks at the brand-new American Values Survey, which is titled "In Search of Libertarians."

Here are some snippets:

The 22 percent of Americans who are consistent libertarians or lean libertarian are fully capable of throwing any election in their direction. That makes them the true wild cards of American politics. A majority of libertarians describe themselves as independent (35 percent), affiliated with a third party (15 percent), or as Democrats (5 percent), with the remaining 45 percent calling themselves Republicans….

[Sen. Rand] Paul's libertarian rhetoric suggests one path forward for the Republican Party, even if Paul himself is not a pitch-perfect spokesman. He is, after all, an outspoken opponent of abortion who believes life begins at conception and his views on pot legalization and same-sex marriage leave a lot to be desired from a minimal government perspective. As does his endorsement of and campaigning for Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who has called for reinstating sodomy laws struck down by the Supreme Court and is not simply against gay marriage but declared in 2009 that "homosexual acts are wrong and should not be accomodated in government policy." While evangelicals and even Tea Party types might rally around such notions, there's just no way to spin such positions as in any way, shape, or form libertarian….

If the Republicans can't figure out a way to accommodate broadly popular, socially tolerant libertarian policies on gay rights, drug legalization, and more, they will not just lose the race for the White House in 2016, but quite possibly their status as a major party.

After a dozen-plus years of government mismanagement of the economy, foreign policy, and basic civil liberties under Republicans and Democrats, a record number of Americans rightly believe that the government has too much power. Libertarians are young, intense, principled, and highly engaged in politics. They are going to be around for a long time to come, and in ever-larger numbers. The only question left unanswered is who they will vote for.

Read the whole thing here.

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  1. Excellent. I am putting the Republican party on notice. I have voted Republican for years believing it is the lesser of two evils. Attack the tea party, and I’m done. It’s time to clean up your act and move decisively right.

    1. I was exactly where you are after holding my nose to vote Romney last year.

      1. I quit after 2004. Sorry, guys. You can’t win. The entrenched interests are entrenched. Let them rot from within and vote against the incumbent (no matter their party) for a while if there’s no 3rd party candidate.

        1. What Brett said.

          1. I’d rather lose with a Goldwater (Rand Paul) than win with a Nixon (Chris Christy).

            Besides, I might enjoy Hillary as President. She’s got the charisma of an empty shoebox and the policy chops of my dog (his name is Lucky). It’ll be fun continuing on watching the slow motion Hindenburg.

            Was it Menken who said we deserve democracy and should get it good and hard?

            1. I’m tired of getting what other people voted for, good and hard.

              1. I’m tired of getting what other people voted for, good and hard.

                I’ve found I can predict the outcome of an election with about 75% accuracy by taking the inverse of my ballot.

                1. I’ve found I can predict the outcome of an election with about 75% accuracy by taking the inverse of my ballot.

                  I’m probably about that. I really do vote against the incumbent if there is no smaller-government choice than TEAM RED or TEAM BLUE. The less time-in-office, the less corrupt is a heuristic I use.

                  1. I’ve never voted for a winning presidential candidate – never, and I do vote.

                    I did vote for Christy for gov. in 2010 but won’t be voting for him in Nov.

                    1. I’ve never voted for a winning presidential candidate

                      I did, once. 1988. Since then, Ive never had my candidate finish in the top 2.

                  2. I really do vote against the incumbent if there is no smaller-government choice than TEAM RED or TEAM BLUE.

                    Same here. And as a matter of principle I vote against all bonds. They all always pass.

                2. I think the last time I voted every single person I voted for lost, with about half of my votes blank in lieu of “none of the above” being on the ballot.

                  Hell, even at the LP convention last year none of my votes were for the winning candidate.

              2. I’m tired of getting what other people voted for, good and hard.

                Oh, the humanity!

            2. If my choices are a Turd Sandwich, a Giant Douche or a libertarian, I’ll choose the libertarian every time. Yeah I know the libertarian has no chance of winning, but at least my conscience is clean.

              1. but at least my conscience is clean.

                Be happy being a loser, LOSER!

                Republicans have changed, baby. They won’t take you for granted any longer. Here’s some flowers.

                1. You left off “sorry about the black eye. This time I mean it when I say I won’t hit you again.”

                  1. Libertarians: The Tina Turner of American Politics

                    1. Libertarians: The Tina Turner of American Politics

                      What’s that got to do, got to do with it?

                    2. Break a deal, face the wheel!

                    3. 3 parties enter, 2 parties leave!!

    2. They’ve already attacked the tea party. Many times.

      -jcr

    3. Yeah, I’m kind of in that realm myself. I’ve pretty much always been a registered Republican. I was VP of the Young Republicans in Phila. and am a member of the local Republican club in NYC. But, at this point, too many in the party are saying the Tea Parties should just STFU and vote for them no matter what they do. Well, sorry, but I’m just not buying it anymore. The fact is that the libertarians pretty much pull the Republicans’ asses out of the sling every time their complete and utter derpitude drives them to electoral disaster. The response from the rest of the party is getting told that libertarians have to learn to compromise to maintain a coalition then getting told that they don’t see a reason to compromise with libertarians when it comes time to set the agenda.

      1. C’mon, Charlie Brown, I’ll let you kick the football this time.

        1. LOL. Point taken.

  2. I like Rand but he needs to do something about that hair. Also, a neck tattoo might help.

    1. And get off the SoCon issues.

    2. I like the Rand-do. He looks like a high school band teacher from the 90s.

  3. Why does Nick assume that 55% of libertarians agree with him on every social issue?

    1. Much less assuming that every repub affiliated libertarian agrees

    2. One of us has a serious misunderstanding of what “libertarian” means. If it’s me, let me know so I can figure out what to call myself.

    3. I often wonder why Nick thinks his pro-welfare-state blend of libertarianism is the only reasonable species of libertarianism.

    4. Especially in light of robc’s 2nd rule of libertarianism:

      No two libertarians agree on anything.

  4. …and same-sex marriage leave a lot to be desired from a minimal government perspective.

    State same-sex marriage recognition may very well be a generally desirable thing, but it’s not libertarian from a minimal government perspective.

    1. Rand is on record as being for outlawing abortion on the Federal level and forcing that ban on the states. It’s hard for him to take a strong federalist stance on anything else in light of that.

      1. Can’t the stupid fucking abortion issue wait for when everything else is libertarian?

        1. No, because it is too big of a selling point for the low information Republican base. They are 100% single issue voters, like their counterparts on the left screaming about the war on women.

          It might play to our advantage for Rand to coddle them, but I think the see-saw dynamics of the issue means he loses as many votes as he gains no matter what side he is on. But his father had a more sensible stance than he did that satisfied most of the sloping foreheads, so maybe it’s not a cynical triangulation for Rand.

          1. Oh FFS Bush had the same position and we still have abortion. Even I don’t care.

            1. It’s not about abortion, it’s about votes. A squishy position on abortion gets more votes than a hardline either way.

              1. OK, let’s talk votes.

                Does Rand have a reasonable possibility of winning over the Wendy-Davis-cheerleading, Keep-Your-Rosaries-Off-My- Ovaries chanting, make-employers-provide- contraception-and-sterilization-advocating, progressives? Because that’s the demographic which wants absolutely no change in the abortion status quo. The rest are at the very least troubled about children having abortions without parental consent, filthy uninspected abortion clinics, conducting abortions without affirmatively informing the mother of her options, late-term abortions, and other abuses which the mainstream prolifers are trying to address.

                If you think the mainstream is in favor of the (literally) poo-throwing Wendy Davis types, you’re out of touch.

                1. +1 back alley abortion clinic

                  1. Man, if they make abortion legal, I’m definitely opening my own. The ladies aren’t all concerned with stupid stuff like “credentials” and “licenses” when you’re in a back alley.

                    I’ll make a damn fortune.

      2. Things that matter to me:
        1. Economic liberty
        50. Foreign Policy
        25,0000. Abortion

        1. ^^This X100

          Abortion may be a little high.

        2. Abortion is only good for one thing: taking the opposite position of whomever’s around and trolling them hard.

          And getting rid of babies, so two things then.

          1. I believe life begins at conception (unless it’s a brown anchor fetus).

            1. I believe the opposite and am ashamed to share this comment sub-thread with a uterus murdering troglodyte like yourself.

              1. Ha! Fooled you. I stated an opposite opinion so that you would unknowingly agree with me. ANCHORBABIES RULE.

                1. You fucker. I wish you were aborted!

              2. ??

        3. If you’ll forgive a little trolling, where on your list do you put marijuana?

          To get closer to home, where on the list is the shooting of dogs?

          1. Do you have some? My streets is a bit dry lately…

          2. Seriously…
            2. Personal liberties (cannabis)
            3. Due process reform (includes police methods)

            1, 2, and 3 could be counted as 1.

      3. Rand is on record as being for outlawing abortion…

        Don’t put me in the middle of Senator Paul and your eugenics war. I just wanted to have my homophobic say and then get out.

      4. outlaw? or unconstitutionalize?

  5. I’ll still vote Elephant in the primaries – so I can vote AGAINST the Establican/Dust farting McCain types….but the Elephants have no claim on my general election vote unless the candidate is like unto J. Amash.

  6. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are Republican for a reason. They are Republican. They are religious right. They are not libertarian. They are in no way social libertarian. They both stand up for religion and not separation of church and state. They both do not try to encourage liberty for all, but liberty for some. Any that say, leave it to the state, is just pushing it off the federal plate to continue government backed bias in the states. He isn’t backing Sarvis in VA? He didn’t back his own father as a Republican. That is because he is GOP and won’t get rid of the bigotry from his politics. Also, though they are fiscal conservative, they align with Republican politics and more money for their programs, not libertarian who see that the huge bureaucracy needs cutting, not adding. They are willing to play in the Republican pig pen. Justin Amash is the only libertarian Republican that seems like he hasn’t been tainted by Republican politics. That is probably why he was kicked off any committees. He wouldn’t play well with GOP.

    1. I think you’re way over-selling Rand Pauls SoCon chops. Mostly what I get from him is pragmatism in getting some traction inside the Republican Tent.

      Something his Dad didn’t do very well.

      1. Overselling on their social conservatism? “They both do not try to encourage liberty for all, but liberty for some. Any that say, leave it to the state, is just pushing it off the federal plate to continue government backed bias in the states.” Can you give just one way that they are social libertarians?

    2. Concern troll is concerned.

      1. Not trolling. I’m Libertarian and look toward Reason and Nick Gillespie for sane articles. The best to hope for with Ted Cruz and Rand Paul is that they break apart the GOP, but they are still religious right and pushing funding for GOP programs, so they are still SSDD.

        1. Nick? is that you?

    3. Rand Paul has NEVER asked for more money for “his programs”. Just thought I’d point that out.

    4. He didn’t back his own father as a Republican.

      ???

      That makes no fucking sense, he was a huge supporter of his father.

  7. Voting is pointless. Your vote is statistically meaningless, and the thing is, everybody knows that deep down. That’s why people vote to signal to other people which TEAM they’re on. Voting at this point is entirely social. Hey, look, Jack voted for Obama! That means [insert TEAM BLUE talking points and bullshit here]! Hey look, Tulpa voted for Romney! That means [insert Tulparded TEAM RED talking points and bullshit here]!

    1. Have you ever voted? It’s anonymous. There’s no “signal.”

      1. It’s anonymous…unless you announce to the world who you voted for, like so many people do. Sure, you could have actually voted for someone other than you say (or not voted at all), but most people don’t do that. Because they know it makes no difference.

        You yourself above admit that your vote is meaningless, but you do it anyway, and you make sure you tell us about it, many times. How is that not 100% reinforcing my point? Are you really missing the point that much?

        1. I vote for the entertainment value. It’s like playing the lottery in that you’re always going to lose, but unlike the lottery, voting doesn’t cost money.

        2. As far as advertizing who I voted for, that’s not something I do in polite company.

          1. So here is fine.

      2. Yeah, you can tell people you voted for whomever you want to. GO TEAM FYTW!

      3. A small percentage of votes are actually anonymous. I think most people will tell you who they voted for. And even if they don’t, their two years of Facebook posts praising Obama should give you a pretty good idea.

    2. ^ What he said. For further proof of this, one merely has to look at how for PR, political campaigns increasingly take their cues from mass-market aspirational advertising campaigns. There’s a reason the Obama campaign won all those awards from admen. That, I think, is going to be the real legacy of the 2008-2012 elections–not demographic shifts or the “browning of America” (although of course that stuff is happening too) but the real story of the past couple election cycles is the success the Democrats had in getting millions of people to buy in to the Obama brand.

    3. Your vote is statistically meaningless

      Someone doesn’t understand how numbers work.

      1. Yup, and it isn’t Episiarch.

    4. And that’s why most people, including most Libertarians (team Gold?) vote. Nothing per se wrong with that. Politics is often a subset of philosophy. People look at their own politics as validating their sense of who they are.

    5. “Your vote is statistically meaningless…”

      You not voting is completely meaningless.

    6. How can you say voting is pointless? It has got me on jury duty several times.

  8. While evangelicals and even Tea Party types might rally around such notions, there’s just no way to spin such positions as in any way, shape, or form libertarian….

    Ummmmm, how about the “I disagree with what you say, but not your right to say it” kind of thing? I can hate homosexuality til I’m blue in the face, but as long as I don’t accept the notion of using government policy to force others to conform to my views, it’s not necessarily unlibertarian. In fact, having principles of liberty trump personal bias and bigotry might the mark of a good libertarian (not to say Rand Paul is that)

    Nor is anti-abortion necessarily unlibertarian. C’mon, Nick.

    1. Something something yokeltarians

  9. The GOP has a huge problem when all the Democrats have to do is rerun the same “war on women” ads time after time in order to have success.

    I understand the dynamics of having to rely on election turnout by SoCons, but my sense is that this is a shrinking part of the electorate, and libertarian-oriented Republicans need to find a way to get out of that trap without totally alienating the SoCons.

    It may come down to events rescuing the Republicans from their own ineptitude, since Obamacare looks to be one of the biggest policy disasters in American history.

    1. Surveys showed young people more sympathetic to big govt than their elders. This may be connected to obsessed hyperparenting which fails to show the benefits of self-reliance, or it may be to do with govt dependence by fatherless children, but whatever the cause, it ought to be reversed. There’s a social issue right there.

    2. I think this argument misses the possibility of a libertarian/Socon accommodation. Nothing in libertarianism mandates personal license or even public support of it. That is to say, one can easily believe that you should be a wholesome, upstanding, patriotic, Christian Captain America and still believe that the government shouldn’t be enforcing it. In fact, I’d posit that the most likely case is that a libertarian society, removing all the safety net for personal screw-ups, would likely incentivize such behavior than any authoritarian strong-arming ever could hope to. And I’m not at all convinced that many socons wouldn’t be receptive to this fact.

  10. Would a libertarian GOP actually win elections? The current GOP is supposedly “anti-government” and actual budget cuts are off the table.

  11. Um isn’t this sort of article rather disingenious since Reason editors called the shutdown stupid? You know the same things McCain and Peter King said?

    1. Not as disingenuous as yourself for mischaracterizing why each of the aforementioned groups are saying it’s stupid. McCain says it’s dumb because nothing is more important than government. Reason said it’s stupid because it wasn’t really a shutdown that was worth a pot of piss to any budget hawk that ever lived.

      1. Reason said it’s stupid because it wasn’t really a shutdown that was worth a pot of piss to any budget hawk that ever lived.

        It’s still pretty disingenuous to gloat over the unpopularity of the shutdown when your problem with it was that it wasn’t radical enough. Cause you know that if is raising spending by 9% instead of 10% is so unpopular than obviously a 50% budget cut should be easy right?

        Not to mention that is pretty disingenuous to call for a more libertarian GOP while saying the GOP should play more practical politics since libertarianism and practical politics are pretty much the opposite.

        1. It’s still pretty disingenuous to gloat over the unpopularity of the shutdown when your problem with it was that it wasn’t radical enough. Cause you know that if is raising spending by 9% instead of 10% is so unpopular than obviously a 50% budget cut should be easy right?

          How is that disingenuous? I’m not sure you know what the word means. Or maybe it’s just handy for you to use it as a rhetorical quip.

          If I gloat about the shutdown not being big enough, the only way to be disingenuous from that would be to concede that less government spending is somehow a bad thing.

          Not to mention that is pretty disingenuous to call for a more libertarian GOP while saying the GOP should play more practical politics since libertarianism and practical politics are pretty much the opposite.

          ? Who exactly is making these contradictory claims? Show me a libertarian calling for more political pragmatism and I’ll show you someone who isn’t a libertarian.

          1. Who exactly is making these contradictory claims? Show me a libertarian calling for more political pragmatism and I’ll show you someone who isn’t a libertarian.

            Anything by Suderman on the Obamacare repeal/defund and Suderman and Welch on the shutdown

            1. Well … If the shoe fits ….

    2. Nick, unlike some of the other Reason writers, supported the shut down. No one is harder on Nick than I am. But he supported Cruz and the Republicans on the shut down. He wasn’t the one concern trolling about how the House Republicans were embarrassing the beltway GOP.

      1. People need to stop reading Steve Chapman articles and pretend that the BS contained within it is a testament of libertarian orthodoxy.

  12. Going libertarian would require them giving up stealing. And no wants that. For all of the bitching and moaning about the dreaded SOCONs. it is not the SOCONS who are trying to launch primary challengers against Amish and the other libertarian leaning Rs in Congress. It is the Chamber of Commerce and the big business GOP establishment who are doing that. You see the Libertarians don’t understand that their primary duty in Congress is to steal. It is all fun and games to talk about small government right up until you start telling GOP welfare queens they can’t have their check. Then it gets personal.

    It won’t be hard for the GOP to give up on going after porn and gambling. As long as they don’t buy into abortion, most SOCONS will get over it. But giving up stealing? There is going to be a lot of people butt hurt over that.

    1. This is why I started off saying, give up and vote against the TEAM players. Because until the teat is dry, all lobbyists are fighting for, no matter which team gets elected, is not getting hind (or no) tit. However, non-incumbents usually are less beholden.

    2. I don’t expect libertarian-leaning politicians in either major party to adopt my philosophical positions. All they have to do is never vote to raise taxes or increase spending, or to give the government more power to regulate our lives, spy on us, or punish us for various lifestyle choices. In other words, don’t go along with the crowd pushing everything in the wrong direction.

  13. While evangelicals and even Tea Party types might rally around such notions, there’s just no way to spin such positions as in any way, shape, or form libertarian….

    Im confused, Nick. Where is there any contradiction between being an evangelical and being libertarian?

    1. Not all evangelicals are so-cons.

    2. Initially, I read that as mutually exclusive, but I think Nick is only talking about religious people that push for their beliefs to be crafted into law. I am quite religious (my wife is a pastor), but I am done demanding the government institute my interpretation of the Bible. I wish the religious left and right would keep their beliefs out of government.

  14. The 22 percent of Americans who are consistent libertarians or lean libertarian are fully capable of throwing any election in their direction.

    Citation needed. Why did we throw the last 4 elections to Bush, Bush, Obama and Obama?

    1. 1. We split our vote.

      2. See the other option on the ballot those years.

      1. 3. While there were real libertarian options on the ballot (except 2008, I guess), lots of those libertarian leaning people dont vote 3rd party. Yet.

        1. And a lot of them don’t vote at all. And almost none of them vote Libertarian.

  15. Why is being an opponent of abortion make him any less of a libertarian?

    1. Only when he starts supporting state sponsored solutions to the problem.

      So… NO

      1. but again, that’s not inherently anti-libertarian. Many libertarians believe one of the few jobs of the state is protection of a persons natural right to life. If he believes a fetus is a person then having a state solution is just an extention of that principle.

  16. A majority of libertarians describe themselves as independent (35 percent), affiliated with a third party (15 percent), or as Democrats (5 percent), with the remaining 45 percent calling themselves Republicans….

    So, of the 22% of the population that is libertarian in some fashion, Nick sees 35% of that as a ‘majority’……hmmmm…..I wonder why?

    Ah, here it is, 45% of that 22% call themselves Republicans.

    So the majority of libertarians are Republicans. Not ‘independants’. Throws a huge monkeywrench into that whole ‘left-libertarian’ thing now, don’t it?

    And look–only 5% of that 22% are Democrats. Makes you wonder what portion of ‘independant’ and ‘third party affiliated’ are on the leftish side of the spectrum.

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