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We're fond of talking about "the Libertarian Moment" at Reason. Back in 2008, Matt Welch and I defined it roughly like this:
We are in fact living at the cusp of what should be called the Libertarian Moment, the dawning not of some fabled, clichéd, and loosey-goosey Age of Aquarius but a time of increasingly hyper-individualized, hyper-expanded choice over every aspect of our lives, from 401(k)s to hot and cold running coffee drinks, from life-saving pharmaceuticals to online dating services. This is now a world where it's more possible than ever to live your life on your own terms; it's an early rough draft version of the libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick's glimmering "utopia of utopias." Due to exponential advances in technology, broad-based increases in wealth, the ongoing networking of the world via trade and culture, and the decline of both state and private institutions of repression, never before has it been easier for more individuals to chart their own course and steer their lives by the stars as they see the sky. If you don't believe it, ask your gay friends, or simply look who's running for the White House in 2008.
Over the past six years, things have simultaneously gotten so much better and so much worse. Yes, every day seems to bring new adventures in terror (literal and figurative), governmental overreach, and miscalculation. We've got tons more debt and regulation than when Barack Obama was a minor-tier presidential wannabe and his health-care reform plan was barely a twinkle in his eye. Today's release of the Senate torture report is a reminder of just how low the U.S. government can stoop in the name of righteous defense of the homeland.
But things are better, too: From Uber to Airbnb to Tesla to Bitcoin to 3D printing to the rise of school choice, gay marriage, and pot legalization, to all sorts of glorious new experiments in living all over the globe. To the extent the Republican Party has a future, it's not due to backward-looking hawks such as Sen. John McCain, social cons such as Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, or establishmentarians such as Chris Christie and Mitt Romney. It's due to the rise of libertarianish pols such as Reps. Justin Amash and Thomas Massie and Sen. Rand Paul, whom the Washington Post says is most likely to snag the 2016 presidential nominee. And to the extent that the Democratic Party and the worn-out liberalism for which it stands has any chance of surviving, it will be by re-engaging with its free-trade and lifestyle-liberation roots.
Make no mistake: The Libertarian Moment is not about politics per se. It's about the radical decentralization of information, power, and autonomy that is leeching authority out of all the old established places (goodbye, New Republic) and into the hands of people who are ready, willing, able to grab it with both hands and innovate and live their lives without asking permission. As Matt Welch and I argued in The Declaration of Independents (2011), politics is a lagging indicator of American society and it's no coincidence that the places where your life is mostly likely to suck—education, health care, and retirement—are mostly or wholly run and regulated by the government.
Which is a long-winded way of saying yet again: Thank you for supporting our work at Reason magazine, Reason.com, and Reason TV.
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