Election 2014

Relax! Even if You Lose Big Today, Both Parties Are Going Extinct!


Chill out, America. Whether the Republicans win big or the Dems hold the line, both major parties are on the path to extinction, at least in their current forms.

Whichever side emerges victorious, both Republicans and Democrats should face up to a much bigger truth: Neither party as currently constituted has a real future. Fewer and fewer Americans identify as either Republican or Democratic according to Gallup, and both parties are at recent or all-time lows when it comes to approval ratings. Just 39 percent give Democrats a favorable rating and just 33 percent do the same for Republicans. Not coincidentally, each party has also recently had a clear shot at implementing its vision of the good society. If you want to drive down your adversary's approval rating, just give him the reins of power for a few years.

What's going on? The short version is that political, cultural, and even economic power has been decentralizing and unraveling for a long time. Whether you like it or not, The Libertarian Moment is here, a technologically driven individualization of experience and a breakdown of the large institutions—governments, corporations, churches, you name it—that used to govern and structure our lives. The result is that top-down systems, whether public or private, right wing or left wing, have less and less ability to organize our lives. That's true whether you're talking about the workplace, the bedroom, or the bar down the street (that may now be serving legal pot). This is mostly good, though it's also profoundly disruptive too.

That's from my new column at The Daily Beast, which argues that the future belongs to

…politicians and parties who champion policies that embrace economic and social decentralization will own the future, even as they wield less power by letting people discover how they actually want to live. Whoever wins tonight would do well to remember that. Because if they don't, they'll be losers again, and sooner than you think.

Conservatives/Republicans can live with some decentralization in economic issues and education policy, but they really can't abide by rapidly proliferating lifestyle choice. Liberals/Democrats are desperately trying to structure commercial life and restrict choices when it comes to health care, school lunches, and more. If both sides don't realize the impossibility of their positions, they will become even less representative of contemporary America. If that's the case, it was nice knowing them.

More here.

NEXT: U.K.'s David Cameron Comes Under Fire For Supporting Drug Prohibition

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  1. I think so, Brain, but this time, you put the trousers on the chimp. Narf!

  2. Nothing lasts forever, so yes both parties are going extinct eventually. I think Nick is kidding himself if he thinks that is any time soon. To think it is is to assume that all trends continue indefinitely and the parties have no ability to correct themselves in order to better reflect the views of the public. Neither of those things are true. The beat down the Democrats are likely to take today and again in two years will cause them to moderate and get a little smarter just like the beat down they got in 1980 did.

    The entire “the parties are going to die soon” is just a Libertarian revenge fantasy and a way of avoiding the unpleasant reality that the majority of the country while supportive of many Libertarian ideas is not generally Libertarian and is unlikely to be anytime soon.

    1. What circumstances would create the dissolution of the two parties we have now? The only one I can think of is a rural/urban divide – which is strong and growing. Even then, who is to say that wouldn’t be coopted by the current two parties for their own benefit? Aside from that – the two parties we have will be the two parties we have for a long, long time. There is too much entrenched power and interest for it to ever change dramatically.

      1. Even if you dissolved them, you would just get one or two new parties to replace them. And neither of the new parties would be Libertarian.

        The parties are not alien entities foisted on an otherwise Libertarian public. They do to a large degree represent the interests and opinions of the people who vote for them.

        1. In the end, ~53% (- libertarian votes) of the people want to mail fists through the government. The particulars slosh around a little bit, but the grand total is pretty much the same. What is alarming, is they’ve wanted to do this during relative peace and prosperity, electing soft fascists to do their bidding. I can’t imagine when the policies installed under this process inevitably crash. What type of people these people will then elect when their stomachs and bank accounts are emptier? That’s when things are really going to change.

          1. The country suffered through horrific depressions in 1836, 1873 and again in the 1890s. It also suffered an economic meltdown and inflation under Wilson so sever that all of the gains in real wages achieved since the end of the civil war evaporated. Go look it up. It is why Cooledge won the biggest landslide in American history in 1920. And yet, the country never went fascist.

            Even Roosevelt’s depression did not cause the country to do so, though Libertarians like to think it did. Libertarians have a bad habit of believing the liberal bullshit about FDR. The New Deal fell apart. Other than social security, there isn’t a single aspect of the New Deal that is in effect today. Even the NLRA got completely rewritten in the 1950s. Roosevelt back off from the New Deal in the late 30s and the rest of it was repealed under the Republican Majority of 1947.

            Maybe we will go full fascists. But if we do, it will be the first time. Every other time the country has reacted to a economic collapse by rejecting government not demanding more.

            1. Every other time the country has reacted to a economic collapse by rejecting government not demanding more.

              Not during the most recent financial collapse, they didn’t. One point is not a trend, but if the country is going to reject big government any time soon, it will need one of the major parties to do so.

              And that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

              1. Then go kill yourself or move to another country I guess. I don’t know what to tell you.

                1. *Then go kill yourself or move to another country I guess.*

                  Lead by example, tovarisch.

                2. The game, John, isn’t “go die in a fire”.

                  Its “How do I make money off of this?”

    2. A beat down for two election cycles in a row is relatively rare in American politics.

      Assuming the Republicans take the Senate, they could very easily mistake their victory due to Obama’s unpopularity as a mandate of their popularity…and then do something stupid which makes the Dems look good again in 2016.

      Or 2014/16 for the Reps could be like 2006/08 for the Dems. Time will tell…

      1. A beat down for two election cycles in a row is relatively rare in American politics.

        Not really. The Republicans took two in a row in 58 and 60. The Democrats too two in a row in 50 and 52. The Republicans took an epic one in 74 and did little better in 76 and more recently took two in a row in 06 and 08. A faltering second term has almost always led to another beat down in the following presidential elections. The only exception is Reagan, who lost the Senate in 86 but saw his VP win the White House in 88. Every other big beat down in a second presidential term has translated into another beat down in the following election.

        The elections following a two term President are always a mandate on the outgoing President. And that doesn’t bode well for the Democrats.

        1. The Republicans took an epic one in 74 and did little better in 76 and more recently took two in a row in 06 and 08.

          Not sure how you can call ’08 an epic beatdown for the Dems. The Dems picked up Senate seats, House Seats and the Presidency.

          1. John did not claim that any of the dates you quote above were beatdowns for the Dems.

            1. I can’t read that sentence any other way than that “The Republicans . . . and more recently took two in a row in 06 and 08.”

  3. An independent winning the KS Senate seat would bode well for the future.

    Parties should be properly labeled. The LP would dominate among the SoCons, Socialist, and Labor parties.

    1. If he were an actual independent or even a fake Democrat who wasn’t retarded and just planned to lie and then vote the way Harry Reid told him, sure. The Libertarian cause would be furthered more by putting a sane Democrat in the Senate to counteract the retards that currently are there as Democrats than it would by putting Pat Roberts back in the Senate. The problem is that it is unlikely that this guy is either sane or not retarded.

    2. This might be the first reasonable thing I’ve ever seen you say.

      1. He hasn’t said anything reasonable. He’s a Democrat wanting the Democrat Orman to win. Don’t be fooled by the Democrats.

  4. The result is that top-down systems, whether public or private, right wing or left wing, have less and less ability to organize our lives. That’s true whether you’re talking about the workplace, the bedroom, or the bar down the street (that may now be serving legal pot). This is mostly good, though it’s also profoundly disruptive too.

    Even if that is true, what does it have to do with political parties? Political parties don’t organize our lives. They are the way in which people organize to increase their effect on the political system. So if this decentralization trend extends to political parties, it would mean people will be less able to organize into large groups for political purposes. That may be true. The results of it, however, would hardly be very Libertarian. If people become so decentralized and divided that they are no longer able to organize mass political movements, the field will be left to whatever small groups are powerful enough and fanatical enough to fill that void and enforce their political will on a now divided and defenseless population.

  5. I was told Obama was the Democrat version of Reagan. That he’d re-energize and philosophically focus them for two generations.

    Nick, you be cray-cray.

    1. The problem is that to have a “philosophical focus” you have to have a philosophy that consists of something more than buzz words and the conviction your opponents are evil.

      1. “Don’t do stupid shit” is actually effective in contrast to the Bushpig debacle.

        1. BUSHPIG!!!

          Its all you have left I guess.

        2. Except that, a lot of stupid shit has in fact been done.

        3. Re: Peter Caca,

          “Don’t do stupid shit” is actually effective

          Indeed. It is unfortunate that doing stupid shit is current national policy, unless you think that focusing on “Climate Change” makes sense when more than 1/3 of the able-bodied are not working.

          1. Maybe it was, “Don’t do stupid, ahh Shit!”

          2. You mean like $75 crude and a market shift away from filthy coal to cleaner natural gas?

            1. Well crude was $60 per barrel and we burnt less coal than we do now when BushPig was running for re-election, but at least the Obamessiah is headed in the right direction.

            2. I didn’t realize that happened because of the left’s obsession with AGW rather than because of technological change and supply and demand.

            3. Poor Shreeky. This might be a tough time for him. We can expect a lot of screaming and crying about BUSHPIGS!! during the next few weeks.

              1. Hopefully Weigel will be so depressed that he kills himself later tonight, or maybe Yglesias will auto-erotic asphyxiate him in a fit of rage.

                1. Is it auto-erotic asphyxiation if someone else does it to you?

                  1. It is if they run a hose from the tailpipe of their car to the orifice of your choice.

            4. So supply side economics work?

            5. I see you’ve returned to idiocy. Obama has shot his load in your eyes so often that now you are blind enough to think he has anything to do with falling crude prices?

        4. Don’t do stupid shit has led to Russia occupying parts of Ukraine and to the creation of the Islamic State.

          1. Pretty sure that “Don’t do stupid shit” references non-interventionism. That would be the polar opposite of what has happened so far….

            1. Yes, I know. Non-interventionism is an act of stupidity.

              1. Yea, cause intervening all over the fucking planet works out so well. By all means, poke the thermonuclear armed bear. You are either an economic dumbfuck, since we cannot afford it, or a sociopathic asshole since intervention tends to breed a never-ending hydra of pissed off brown people ready to pick up a Kalashnikov and shoot US soldier.

        5. “Don’t do stupid shit” is actually effective in contrast to the Bushpig debacle.

          Well, it would be in an alternate universe where the Dems hadn’t spent the 6 years since Bush left office doing epically stupid shit.

  6. The short version is that political, cultural, and even economic power has been decentralizing and unraveling for a long time.

    Haha, good one, Nick.

    1. Cultural? Maybe.

      Political and economic? You have to be kidding me.

  7. and again in two years

    You are much more hopeful than I am. I think in two years the media will have doubled down on the “racism-war-on-wimmenz-die-rich-peoplz” narrative and have persuaded all our fellow asshole American voters that only the Democrats can save them.

    1. I think Obama may have managed to actually max out the race card. Seventy eight percent of the public now say politicians just use the race card to get elected.


      The Democrats spent six years claiming the only reason anyone disagreed with Obama was because they were racist. Despite that, sixty percent of the country still disapprove of Obama as President. The fact that very few of that sixty percent consider themselves racist makes playing the race card in the future much harder.

      1. Last I looked a healthy 43% approved of the President. And this despite the fact the economy is moribund and national debt continues to spiral out of control, our international standing is no better than when Bush left office, and individual liberty continues to take a beating.

        Maybe it’s just who I happen to know, but every time I go on Facebook I get discouraged. How do otherwise very intelligent people believe such retarded shit?

        1. Around 40% of the country will approve of virtually any President. That is the floor. And if the race card worked, the Democrats wouldn’t be losing today so badly.

          1. Like I said, maybe I am just surrounded by those 4 out of 10 people who are politically retarded, because I haven’t seen any support for Libertarians or even Republicans in my neck of the woods.

            1. You can go to places where you won’t see any support for Democrats either. I look at it this way, a black Democratic Candidate for governor of Maryland might lose today. Even if he wins, it will be barely and probably within the margin of fraud. If a black liberal Democrat can’t cruise to election in Maryland, the race card ain’t what it used to be.

              1. “the race card ain’t what it used to be.”

                Obama has debased the Donkey currency now?? Will wonders never cease!

                But they still have the rape card!

                1. But they still have the rape card!

                  You jest, but I think that’s a big part of the reason why you see so much more “WAR ON WYMENZ” rhetoric now. They’re trying to get the female portion of their base that votes solely on abortionz “ready for Hillary.” That and deep down in places they don’t talk about at parties they know the race card isn’t as effective as it used to be.

        2. “Last I looked a healthy 43% approved of the President. ”

          43% approval is not healthy. Sub 40% is basically kick the bum out of office territory.

          1. Maybe you’re right. To me it seems like an incredibly high number for such a clusterfuck of an administration.

      2. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of black voters believe those who oppose Obama’s policies do so because of racism.

        Jesus, that’s depressing. Does he have to pull his dick out in public before they realize he’s a petulant, incompetent moron?

        1. At this point, I imagine he could behead some poor slob in The Rose Garden live on national television and sumbitches would be jizzing all over themselves to tell us how wonderful he is….you know, morons like Palin’s Buttplug….

        2. Blacks are only 12% of the population. The race card isn’t about them. It is about convincing white that not voting Democrat is racist.

    2. Yeah, unfortunately, John is kidding himself with that. Hillary Clinton is going to win easily, and the democrats will be almost guaranteed to retake the senate because the republicans will be defending about three times as many seats.

      Though it will be tougher, it’s possible they could even retake the House as well and we could end up with a repeat of the nightmare years of ’09-’10.

      The biggest reason why the republicans are going to do so well today is because most of the illiterate inner city high school dropout welfare rats who vote for the likes of Obama and Hillary don’t even know there’s an election taking place today, and the ones who actually do know don’t care because Obama isn’t running.

      In two years, every moron who can’t vote without being told which button to push will be back in there again.

      1. Mike,

        The Republicans only picked up three seats in the Senate in 2010. And most of their seats up in 16 are in very red states. Unless the Democrats figure out a way to start winning in Red states, which seems unlikely, I can’t see them retaking the Senate.

        It is not about numbers. It is about where those elections are being held. That is what is killing the Democrats this year. If they had people up for re-election in states like California or New York rather than North Carolina, and Arkansas and Colorado, they wouldn’t be in so much trouble.

        And it is not even clear Hillary is going to win the nomination. A large portion of the Democratic base loathes her. And it may make you feel smug to think that only criminal hood rats vote for the Democrats, it is not true. A lot of people who are not that and are not just looking for free shit vote Democrat too. And those people have abandoned the party in droves the last two years. That is why they are losing today and it will happen again in two years if they don’t give them a reason to come back.

        1. I certainly wouldn’t call the nomination for Hillary. The recent Democratic nominees are almost always someone who pops out of left field, that had a minimal national profile prior to the election (Bill Clinton, Mike Dukakis, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter). Al Gore and Walter Mondale were the exceptions, although Mondale was VP to a terrible President, so his national profile wasn’t good (evidenced by the election outcome).

        2. Basically, Hillary is just the candidate whose name we happen to recognize now. That’s only a good thing for her if people recognize her name and associate it with something positive. She’s given them nothing positive to build on, except for constantly name-dropping her husband. That didn’t impress voters in 2008 and it’s unlikely to impress voters after her disastrous turn as Secretary of State.

      2. It’ll be interesting if the markets tank before 2016. That would make it harder for all these Fed bootlicking Dems to run on the economy.

        1. The economy is terrible for most people right now. And no amount of “but look at the Dow” is going to convince people otherwise when the job market is so lousy and prices for the things people actually buy like food and energy keep going up.

          The question becomes what does Hillary or any other Democrat run on in 2016? The Obama record of success? All they have to run on is bullshit like “its a woman’s turn” and abortion and shit. That is it. And that barely worked for them in 2012. They got a draw in Congress and Obama is the first President ever to be re-elected with a significantly smaller minority than elected him. The culture war bullshit was less effective in 2012 than it was in 08 and it seems to be totally ineffective this year. Why is it going to work in 2016?

          1. True. The big question is how is the treasury supposed to fund a third of the govt w/o QE? Make it up by taxing Romney? What we couldn’t get through the ballot we may get out of necessity. That or fascism.

            1. The federal government is today collecting more taxes than it ever has before. Whatever the solution to t he problem, it won’t be taxes since I doubt there is anymore taxes to be collected.

              What is going to happen is the fed will have to choose between raising interest rates and forcing government austerity, or doing more QE and igniting inflation. It will be one or the other.

              1. Austerity forces itself eventually. Just a matter of how much liberty it takes with it.

              2. Whatever the solution to t he problem, it won’t be taxes since I doubt there is anymore taxes to be collected.

                Total tax collections by the feds are amazingly static as a percentage of GDP. Tax revenue will grow only as fast as the economy grows, at this point.

          2. The economy is terrible for most people right now. And no amount of “but look at the Dow” is going to convince people otherwise when the job market is so lousy and prices for the things people actually buy like food and energy keep going up.

            Some people’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, the recent complete disconnect of the historic correlations between headline index growth, GDP growth, and total employment is evidence that all of the worst impulses behind QE are accurate. People aren’t getting the warm fuzzies about the economy because unless you’re working for a big player in a couple of specific industries the expansion has left you in the same place you started. Oh well, at least the housing bubble is getting reinflated.

            Energy is currently on its way down due to a huge glut in supply (particularly domestic supply), but not nearly to the extent it should be. It’s one of the things doves like to point to when yammering about how we’re not at risk of inflation because price inflation has thus far been tame.

            1. Where I’m sitting price inflation is getting pretty bad. Sure gas is going down for the time being just because of geopolitics, but everything else is steadily climbing. Everywhere I turn people are raising their prices just a tad and then a few months later raising them again just a tad. It’s getting really lame, especially at the grocery store.

      3. the nightmare years of ’09-’10.

        What about the nightmare years of ’01 – ’09 and ’11 – ’14? New laws, agencies, regulations and deficits are not exclusive to those two years.

  8. This morning, Scarborough (you know, the “conservative” thought leader from MSNBC) held the Chamber of Commerce up as the model for responsible moderate Republicanism. Cronyist rent-seeking central planners from the left and the right, building a brighter future for America!
    Decentralizers need not apply.

  9. What people basically want is the “parent as friend” version of government. Much like cool parents encourage their kids do basically whatever they want, people want government that lets them make whatever choices they want while still protecting them from bad choices. So, social liberalism along with financial paternalism. The Democrats aren’t as good at this as they believe because the paternalism relies on their ability at some level to pay the bills. If your economy sucks then you won’t have the revenue available to pay for shit. A parent that encourages irresponsible behavior but then cannot pay to dig you out of a hole is a real asshole. Ask the Europeans and Japanese about that.

    Whichever party figures this out and markets it best will “win”.

    Real libertarianism will never really “win” because it requires too much individual responsibility. People who are personally responsible and expect the same of others love libertarianism. People who are irresponsible fucks or like it when others are irresponsible fucks (for some f’ed up psychological reason) will never accept libertarianism unless it’s forced on them by circumstance.

    1. I’m not a history buff, but it seems to me that humans have shown a strong desire to be led and protected throughout the millenia

    2. I think the parent analogy is unfair to people and not true. What people want is to feel like they are doing something to solve the country’s problems. People have an instinctive desire to help out the less fortunate and to feel like they are rising above their base instincts and acting on their higher nature.

      So they don’t vote thinking “I want a new daddy to take care of me”. That is just horseshit conservatives and Libertarians tell themselves to feel smug. People vote thinking “how can my vote make a difference and make the country better”. This is why government action appeals to so many people. The media and the democrats do a tremendous job of selling government action as “the right and caring thing to do”. And this causes a lot of people to vote for it because they want to do the right thing.

      The problem for Libertarians is to sell their policies not because they are right because of principle or because God Damn it people need to grow up but because their policies help people and make the country better.

      1. If these people think pulling the lever suddenly makes the world a better place and thats all the effort required of them, then they are beyond help.

        They’re simply signaling they care.

        1. Yes, they are signaling they care. And no they are not beyond help. They grew up in a world where the entire mass culture and education system is set up to tell them that government can solve problems and the way to show you care is to support government solutions. The left has managed to replace our national myth from one of Horatio Alger coming to America making good in the business world to one of the fucking community organizer going into government and solving the country’s problems. Time and again college kids say they want to go into the non profit sector or government because “they want to make a difference in the world” as if you could never do that in the evil business world.

          That is the world and the ethos the left has created in this country. And this is why Obama being just a miserable fuck up is so damaging to them. It has made people start to realize that government is a shame and not what makes the country work or better.

          1. Awesomeness. Good insight.

            1. Yeah, sometimes I wonder why I don’t make fun of John more, and then he comes up with stuff like this that reminds me.

          2. And the next generation will either forget or ignore the current lesson and vote for ever increasing government to solve problems often caused by previous government intervention.

            And people believe this because they don;t put the effort into thinking through the issues. They do truly seem to prefer the parent-child relationship LB suggested. Vote to show you care and let the government solve all our problems.

            1. If that were true RB, all countries would end up with totalitarian communism and never leave such. That is just not what happens. People don’t endless pine for more government. If they did, every country in the world with Democratic rule would devolve into totalitarianism. And worse still, they would do so without ever having to fix elections or take away political rights. Why bother with that when the people will demand total government on their own?

              Instead, socialists always fail and turn the population against government. The only way the stay in power is by using the gun to keep the people from throwing them out once they get there.

              1. Well, totalitarian communism causes a lot of suffering. So after they end up there, the mentality changes, but only briefly.

      2. What people want is to feel like they are doing something to solve the country’s problems.

        I guess it’s just an odd coincidence then that the average voter’s needs, whether financial or psychological, corresponds so closely to their voting choices. Hmmmmm

        Look, the parties remain relatively successful because they package up the base instincts and needs of votes into a larger narrative that makes those voters feel morally superior in their choice.

        The media and the democrats do a tremendous job of selling government action as “the right and caring thing to do”.

        That’s only half of their success. The other part is they tie government action to the “right thing to do” to self interest. It’s easy to do the right think if you think it’s in your own self-interest to do so.

        1. I guess it’s just an odd coincidence then that the average voter’s needs, whether financial or psychological, corresponds so closely to their voting choices. Hmmmmm

          Maybe you don’t get out a lot but people are masters of rationalization. Of course people rationalize how things are in their interests are also for the common good. That is human nature. That fact, however, does not mean people are voting for a parent. And indeed, the same criticism could be made of and often is of Libertarians. You think every Democrat voter is a bum who wants to government to pay their way. They think every Libertarian is just an asshole who thinks they won’t ever need any help and thus votes against providing any help to people because he or she is selfish and doesn’t want to pay for it. All you are doing Lady is giving the mirror image argument against Progs that they give against Libertarians. Neither version is particularly helpful or persuasive.

          That’s only half of their success. The other part is they tie government action to the “right thing to do” to self interest.

          It is exactly the opposite. They convince people that doing so is selfless and a way to show they care. That is the genius of progressivism. It gives people an easy way to feel like they are sacrificing for the common good.

          You are showing a terrible understanding what motivates people. People don’t support these ideas because they are just selfish lazy bums. That is not how most people think.

          1. Of course that is not how they think. But actions speak louder than words. So all they do is vote and then feel smugly superior because they did the “right thing”.

            They don’t see themselves as lazy, but it seems liek a pretty lazy mentality to beleive that you can simply vote for a better future without actually putting forth real effort.

            1. People want to have an easy way to feel like they are helping things. That is human nature. So if Libertarians want to appeal to anyone outside their core group of supporters, they need to figure out how to convince people that supporting their policies is a way to help people and make the world better. Sitting around calling everyone who disagrees with you a lazy bum looking for daddy or wanting to suck off the government tit may make you and Lady Bartrum feel good about yourselves but it doesn’t help your cause.

              1. “People want to have an easy way to feel like they are helping things”

                And that’s why I call them lazy. They don;t actually want to help, they just want to appear to be helping. There’s a big, benevolent government out there just waiting to solve all our problems if we just elect the right people.

                1. Well RG, that is how people are. Indeed, it is recognizing that people are not usually noble that causes Libertarians to be so skeptical of government and with good reason. So again, Libertarians can’t expect to appeal to people without understanding their nature. It is just the way life is.

                  1. And there’s the rub. There’s no sense in appealing to them because of their nature.

                    I’m certainly not going to be able to convince someone that paying off their student loans is the way to go if big guv is out there waiving around loan forgiveness or bailouts. I can’t convince min wage workers that a min wage hike is bad, because they are only concerned about the short term implications to themselves.

                    There’s a flip side to the libs taking over media, et al. It’s due to demand. People want to hear and believe that stuff, otherwise they might have to deal with the fact that life is unfair. The libs didn;t take control overnight, they did it gradually and with acceptance.

                    That’s why libertarian solutions get nowhere. It puts the responsibility back on individuals.

                    1. And yet, RG somehow civilization got built and things are on the whole better today than they were a thousand or five hundred years ago.

                      Really what you are saying is that Libertarian arguments are such that only a noble few will understand them. And that is just smug horseshit. Libertarians are not special or made up of any different human nature than anyone else. The arguments somehow managed to appeal to you didn’t they? Well why do you think they can never appeal to other people if not because you think you are somehow a member of a special elite that is different and better than them?

                      I hate that kind of thinking.

                    2. I hate the kind of thinking that everyone is the same. No. People are different in various ways. What convinces me may not convince others.

                      Go convince someone with tons of student debt that the government shouldn’t forgive it. Or a woman that their employer shouldn’t cover birth control. You may get a few, but you certainly won’t get all, and likely won’t get the majority. Because people are different.

                    3. RG,

                      I don’t think that people are the same. But I also don’t think everyone is different such that everyone but me and a select group who agree with me are somehow smarter and more noble than everyone else.

                      I don’t think that people are as a general rule consciously stupid or lazy. Hell a lot of Progressives are hard working, smart and successful people. They support that ideology because they have convinced themselves it is the right thing to do. The challenge is to show them how it is not. And claiming they only think the way they do because they are stupid and lazy and just want a new daddy is not the way to do that. It is not true and even if it were informing them of it isn’t going to change them.

                    4. But you do seem to believe yourself smarter, as you haven’t been influeced by the liberal media and academia.

                      You’ve spent a lot of time blaming the media and Democrats sales pitch, but not enough time thinking of why it doesn’t appeal to you and yet appeals to tons of others.

                      Call it intelligence, work ethics, noblility, or whatever. You still need to explain why so many people fall for it.

                    5. That is a fair point. I don’t consider myself smarter or more noble. I just consider myself lucky and a bit more aware. If I had had different parents and grown up in a different place, I probably would think differently about things.

                      And my complaints about media and cultural bias is not an indictment of people’s intelligence. In fact is it the opposite. I think people are plenty smart and reasonable. It is just they don’t know any better because the media and culture does such a great job of preventing arguments counter to the liberal narrative from getting a fair hearing.

                    6. If they were truly smart and reasonable, they would search out the truth on their own. They are willing to believe it because they want to. And they want to, because for a bunch of them, it absolves them of responsibility. As for the smart, successful ones, they’re the busybody authoritarians.

                      Its why there’s such support for socialism amongst millenials. Why bother learning about it’s history(much of which recent) when its ethos tells you to each according to need.

                    7. If they were truly smart and reasonable, they would search out the truth on their own.

                      And they do. It is just that not everyone is a dork or obsesses about politics the way we do. Most people could give a shit less about politics and have better things to do. So they don’t do a lot of searching for truth about politics and instead generally think whatever is easiest and most culturally acceptable.

                      Honestly, I would prefer the country to be that way. I think politics is poison and the people who obsess about it generally at least defective and often evil. A good and free society should not be that concerned with politics. Sadly, the Progs have taken one of the best features of our formally free society and used it against us by it allowing them to more easily foist their lies on the public.

                    8. I can’t argue with that.

      3. “People vote thinking “how can my vote make a difference and make the country better”. This is why government action appeals to so many people. ”

        Hmmm, this rings a bell:

        “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

        You know, it’s really hard to imagine a prominent Democrat genuinely saying those words today. I can see them quoting JFK as a throw away line, as a prelude to introducing a new entitlement. But not just saying it stand alone and meaning it.

        1. That is because the “common good” has changed from a patriotic version of the country to a Progressive version of the “people”.

          1. Exactly.

            The common good is everybody.

            The people is everybody but you.

      4. Totally agree with the idea that people just want to help others and then vote for government action which purports to solve the problem.

        The problem for Libertarians is to sell their policies not because they are right because of principle or because God Damn it people need to grow up but because their policies help people and make the country better.

        That’s why libertarian ideas face an immediate obstacle. Many people aren’t really interested in taking the time to understand the argument why the minimum wage actually hurts people who are poor, for example. Hell, ask any person on the street about something like “inflation” and they have no idea.

        1. It is that the Progs own the entire media and entertainment culture. It is not difficult to understand why the minimum wage is bad, if you think about it in the right way. It is just as easy to think the minimum wage is telling people they don’t get a chance to work as it is to think of it telling employers they must pay everyone a good wage. People only think of it in the latter way because Progs have succeeded in ruling the culture to such a degree they have banished the first way of thinking completely out of the public sphere.

          1. I would say a large part of the problem (perhaps the fundamental problem) is that the thinking process for many people is along the lines of the following for issues such as the minimum wage:

            1) Poor people at the bottom don’t earn enough money.
            2) They wouldn’t be poor if they had higher wages.
            3) If the government mandates higher minimum wages, poor people at the bottom will have enough money.
            4) Those people won’t be poor anymore.

            Understanding why the minimum wage is harmful involves understanding the ceiling put in place by productivity, which is the problem with the ideas above in the third step. However, a ceiling put in place by productivity is deeper and more complex than what I outlined above, which is why people are predisposed to think like I outlined above, and then are more easily predisposed to buy into prog slogans for higher minimum wages. When people look deeper and think critically, such as “Why don’t shelf-stackers earn as much as engineers?” or “Why shouldn’t there be a min. wage of $50/hour?” then they may begin to realize problems with the minimum wage. But people aren’t interested in looking deeper because they think they’ve solved the problem and/or aren’t interested in exercising the cerebral effort to go deeper. If they are confronted by such questions, they most likely brush them off and save themselves the tough thinking it would involve.

    3. To be fair, Europe and Japan have both suffered from terrible monetary policy. That has a lot to do with their woes. Japan did pursue a crazy amount of fiscal stimulus as well in the past few decades that didn’t really pan out, so it likely plays some role too.

      1. And Japan just announced new rounds of QE. Good luck with that!

        1. But diddin ya see the Nikkei! Japan has been trying to reach escape velocity for 2 decades and their shoelaces are still scraping the ground.

      2. Both Europe and Japan need a constant increase in credit expansion to fuel revenue and government expenditure. As soon as credit contracts, revenues fall, service on debt increases (or should do), causing an inability to sustain social expenditures. Their current monetary policy is the only way to intercept that cycle. Debt service via government bonds haven’t increased (as percent of budget) because FED, BOJ and Chinese central bank easing (QE) has prevented it (to a certain degree). That is unsustainable long term.

        All this to say, the monetary policy is a consequence of prior government policies (a cooperative action) not a stand alone result.

        1. Europe, as a whole, is obviously suffering from the structure/nature of its monetary union.

          As Milton Friedman observed:

          “There is no historical precedent for such an arrangement. It involves each country’s giving up power over its internal monetary policy to an entity not under its political control. Such a system has economic advantages and disadvantages, but I believe that its real Achilles heel will prove to be political; that a system under which the political and currency boundaries do not match is bound to prove unstable.”

          Certain countries like Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland have been able to largely avoid the disaster.

    4. People who are irresponsible fucks or like it when others are irresponsible fucks (for some f’ed up psychological reason) will never accept libertarianism unless it’s forced on them by circumstance.

      Even then they still won’t accept it. They’ll just demand that we go full fascist (or communist) and demand a dictator to make all their decisions for them.

  10. I have a very good friend from high school who has risen very high up through the ranks of the GOP.

    He complains about the decentralization all the time. When he started the path to success was to get in on the ground floor and do your time door knocking and mailing out lit. Gradually rising through the ranks. You supported the party and all its planks.

    Now kids would rather go work for a group that focuses on a single issue. Instead of having to work within the party system, they can drum up enough pressure for their issue to get the party to take notice. I think MJ legalization is a great example of this. Under the old party controlled system, this never would have gotten the time of day. Now though, with so many groups advocating it, even the GOP has softened its stance. They are now open to medical MJ.

    The kids are also using technology to get their message out in ways that the old party never could. You don’t need thousands of dollars to fund a phone bank and print literature anymore. Now you post on social media and put up web sites.

    1. I could see the the two current parties losing a lot of their power should the current concept of the state start to fall apart.

    2. There is a lot of truth to that. But what it means is that the parties are not suicidal and will respond to the political realities. Nick assumes they won’t do that and he is I think wrong.

      1. I think you are correct. It will be a good thing if we have more smaller government Democrats and more socially liberal conservative.

        It probably won’t result in the “Libertarian Movement”, but who really gives a rats ass, as long as the results are a more libertarian and better society.

        1. What needs to happen in this country is for the Democrats to get more sane. For example, when I lived in Oklahoma I voted for David Boren twice for the senate. I did this not because I liked him better than his opponent. I didn’t. But my thinking was that my cause was helped more by Boren pulling the Democratic caucus to the right than it was by sending another conservative Republican to the Senate.

          The problem is that the Democrats don’t have any politicians who are actual centrists. They are all either full retards like Schummer or Boxer or just empty suit morons like Kay Hagan or Mark Pryor who do nothing but mouth a few talking points every six years to get elected and then proceed to vote exactly as the hard left tells them in between.

  11. The short version is that political, cultural, and even economic power has been decentralizing and unraveling for a long time.

    How so?

    1. Seriously? Look at what government is worried about to see what is gaining power. They’re trying to kill Bitcoin and strangle regulate the internet. Decentralized currency and communication.

  12. “For conservatives, it’s always 1980 and the next tax cut will solve all problems forever.”

    So wait, Tax cuts are no longer supported by Libertarians?

    1. I don’t think that’s what he’s arguing. Rather, it’s that the “tax cuts” platform may have been oversold, despite its still being a good idea.

      1. I think Nick considers them pretty far down on the list of good ideas. He would be pretty happy with high taxes if he got things he wanted on social issues and the drug war. Whether that is a good trade or not depends on what you value.

        1. Wouldn’t it be nice to have both? Why can’t we have nice things?!

          1. Because you can’t afford them after you pay your taxes. Duh.

    2. His point is that tax cuts don’t create jobs or stop runaway spending. See 2001-2009.

      1. Cutting government spending certainly stops runaway spending. And I’m perfectly happy with cutting spending and the cutting taxes afterwards, as long as the spending gets cut.

        I do agree with the Republican tax cuts to “starve the beast” was a complete failure. The Fed’s ability to sell massive amounts of bonds keeps the Federal government awash in cash.

        1. The Fed’s ability to sell buy massive amounts of bonds


          1. Right. Cheney told us remember, “Deficits don’t matter!”

            Just a side note, a mistake I frequently make as well, but Treasury issues bonds – not the FED, the FED just buys them.

    3. Tax cuts have to be coupled with spending cuts to be worth anything. Otherwise they are just offset by the stealth tax of debt.

      1. This.

        So it sure would be nice if on those extremely rare occasions when the republicans actually try to rein in spending, the D.C. Obama-loving fake libertarians didn’t scream bloody murder and howl about how stupid and awful the republicans are because the Barrycades are up in front of the World War II Memorial.

  13. The parties may go extinct, but statism will never die so long as there are statists presented with a clear path to power. If the current flavors of authoritarian shithead go away, I can guarantee new ones take their place.

    1. The feudal system of long ago consisted of a political class who ruled by the divine right of the king, their armed enforcers who were above the law, and everyone else.


      Now we’ve got a political class who rules by the divine right of the people, their armed enforcers who are above the law, and everyone else.

      The costumes and mythical source of their power has changed, but that’s about it.

      1. If you haven’t read The Magic Mountain sometime. The character of Naphta is a totalitarian Jew who joins the society of Jesuits. He looks at medieval society as the ideal. His arguments and world view perfectly mirror those of the modern left just with God added in.

  14. The major parties have never been popular. It’s rare when even a plurality approves of one of them.

    The problem is that the election process has essentially been rigged to quash any movement to get rid of them through Constitutional quirks (geographic congressional districts as opposed to proportional representation, for example) or statutory difficulties in getting new parties or independents on the ballot which both parties use to strengthen themselves and keep minor parties weak. By all rights, at least 10% of Congress should be independents, Libertarians, Greens, etc.; instead, it’s

    1. The winner-take-all/FPTP system we have is definitely not conducive to strong third parties.

  15. “Whether you like it or not, The Libertarian Moment is here, a technologically driven individualization of experience and a breakdown of the large institutions?governments, corporations, churches, you name it?that used to govern and structure our lives.”

    Isn’t it pretty to think so?

  16. This is consistently Reason’s most depressing shtick – the Libertarian Moment is Nigh. No. It isn’t. People did not wake up and become more ideologically motivated. There aren’t that many liberals or conservatives even, and far fewer libertarians. There are political coalitions of interests that have become tribes.

    The technological individualization of experience is a thing, but it is not a thing that meaningfully insulates from government power. It functions in the space of broad consensus, where the issues aren’t the essentially questions of power. “What are the things you might want to do that I want to forbid?” Those questions have winners and losers, they are expressions of tribe membership, and lots and lots of people are willing advance whatever psychopath best allows them to dictate terms.

    1. Pretty much this. Most people are not libertarians. Even if they think the drug war is out of control they are not keen of legalizing all drugs. Even if they think Obamacare is a disaster they are not going to support ending medicare.

      There is not and probably never will be a “libertarian majority”. There is and will continue to be various ad hoc majorities that support Libertarian issues. And those majorities are going to draw from both major parties. The challenge for Libertarians is to figure out how to build those majorities and more importantly get them to translate into one or both parties changing on the issue.

      I have yet to figure out how Nick’s mental masturbation about the “Libertarian moment” helps meet that challenge.

  17. Nothing will destroy the parties as long as they retain procedural and self-perpetuating advantages in ballot access.

    There is absolutely no justification for automatic party access to the ballot, or for the printing of party affiliation on ballots. The Constitution makes it pretty clear that individuals, and individuals only, run for federal offices. Giving any party apparatus preferential access to the ballot is a straight up 14th Amendment violation, and printing party affiliation on the ballot is unconstitutional forced speech (my tax dollars are being spent to help candidates electioneer right in the voting booth).

    The parties would pretty much already be done if:

    1. All candidates seeking access to the ballot must gain access by the same, single process;

    2. All candidates on the ballot must be responsible for their own election communications (i.e. if you want voters to know you’re the Democrat in the race, it’s your fucking job to educate them on that and not your secretary of state, or mine, via my tax dollars).

    1. I think getting rid of party identification on all ballots would be a good idea. You are right. Individuals run for office not parties. And the individual should be on the ballot.

      I don’t think that would do much to weaken the parties however.

  18. I think the real divide in libertarian circles may not be paleo vs. cosmo, but liberoptimists vs. liberpessimists.

    1. Probably. I just can’t be a pessimist. I think society if left to its own devices will figure things out. People don’t just mindlessly follow an ideology forever. If they did, the eastern block never would have fell.

    2. If I may comment as an outsider, this seems exactly correct.

      One group finds validation that libertarianism is gaining force in every single random event.

      Food Trucks= libertopia is nigh

      The other are waiting with anticipation for the moment when they sit on their front porch with their shotgun after the government has collapsed.

      1. I guess I am of neither group. I don’t expect society to collapse and if it doesn’t it won’t be because of food trucks and uber.

        The thing about Reason is that the entire staff is made up of twenty and thirty something urban hipsters of varying degrees. This uniformity influences their choice of stories. If you are an urban hipster, food trucks and uber are a really big fucking deal. So those things get more coverage than their actual importance justifies.

  19. But in more pleasant news:

    Can I assume that all the usual suspects will be around this evening so that we can partake in the tasting of salty ham tears?

    Whose shall be the saltiest, I wonder?

    Grimes? Davis?

    Dare we hope…Shaheen?

    1. Speaking of salty ham tears, in the best of all possible worlds the GOP would take the
      Senate while McConnell loses his own race.

    2. I think Shaheen may be done. Did you see where they released the memo showing she was working with the IRS and Lerner to target conservatives? Why on earth would the White House have let that out right before the election?

      My theory is that they figure she is a goner and the memo is going to come out anyway. So they released it now so they can use it as evidence of their being transparent and are cooperating. If she is going to lose anyway, pinning some of the IRS scandal on her doesn’t hurt.

    3. And there are really only two elections tonight that really matter; the Wisconsin and Massachusetts governor’s races. If Scott Walker wins, the public sector unions might actually be in a lot of trouble. And justice demands that Coakley be remembered as the Democrat who was so loathsome she couldn’t even win in Massachusetts. The Amiralts have suffered enough. They don’t deserve the state of Massachusetts kicking them in the head one more time by electing that evil bitch governor.

      1. Last stuff I saw indicated that she was in serious trouble in that race.

        Good…she’s a loathsome piece of shit. The Amiraults were just a few of many whom she railroaded to advance her political career. Watching her get beat twice by Republicans in one of the most Democrat states in the union would be absolutely hilarious.

      2. I logged in just to agree with this comment. There isn’t a punishment medieval enough for Coakley.

        Walker…god i hope he prevails. The one race I find myself emotionally invested in.

  20. If Coakley wins, Massholia should be forcibly expelled from the Union.

    1. I don’t think she’s going to win. Like Hillary, Coakley’s snide, condescending demeanor doesn’t play well at all on the campaign trail. Also like Hillary, Coakley has shown no indication that she’s smart enough to figure that out.

    2. Just everything inside of I-495. The rest of the state is ok.

  21. If both sides don’t realize the impossibility of their positions, they will become even less representative of contemporary America. If that’s the case, it was nice knowing them.

    No, it wasn’t.

  22. If I look back two, four, six, or eight years will I see the same predictions? I think Mr. Gillespie is right but I don’t know if at age 60 I’ll see this change in my lifetime. Kevin Williamson over at National Review has written along the same lines but also of the danger of the death throes of the dying leviathan. Those I’m afraid I will see…

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