Veronique de Rugy on the Fight for the Millennial Voter


For many libertarians, it's a recurring frustration: Why do candidates who seem attractive before the race begins suddenly sound so much squishier once they hit the campaign trail? Take Rand Paul, the Kentucky senator with high hopes of becoming the Republican presidential nominee in 2016. He's far more libertarian on foreign policy and the surveillance state than most members of his party. But in recent weeks, he has taken a harder-line stance on using military force, even calling for an increase in overall military spending.

A concept from economics called the median voter theorem provides one explanation for this wobbliness. In short, our majority-rule system means candidates are forced to position themselves strategically to try to win more than 50 percent of the vote. Since a Democrat in a two-party race knows she can more or less count on the support of everyone to her left, for example, it behooves her to put as many people as possible to the left of her.

Libertarians' goal, then, should be to make the median voter more like them: that is, more inclined to vote for people who want to get government out of the way. The great news, reports Veronique de Rugy, is that this is already happening.