Election 2016

Was 2015 The Year Libertarianism Died?

The fall of Rand Paul and the rise of Donald Trump means the Libertarian Moment is dead. Also, I've a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.


The Daily Beast

I've got a column up at The Daily Beast that looks at the flagging presidential fortunes of Rand Paul and quickness with which some observers have moved to declare "the Libertarian Moment" deader than Bill Cosby's showbiz future.

Is this finally the year that belief in "Free Minds and Free Markets" finally came a cropper? No, of course not, and the people most interested in pushing such a line have been making similar predictions for years now.


There's a superficial plausibility to the charge, especially among those who confuse partisan politics with the real America. Among high-profile Democrats and Republicans, the constituency for more-open borders is zero and there's nothing like Islamic terrorism in France and California to rev up the war machine and ignite bipartisan calls for encryption backdoors or a ban on secret communications altogether. After a few years of an unintended pause, our elected officials have even managed to put aside their differences and are once again cranking up spending.

But the main case that libertarianism is finally, finally, finally dead this time is the zombie walkabout that has been Rand Paul's presidential campaign and the juggernaut that is Donald Trump's. I think it's a major category error to equate libertarianism with partisan politics, but for folks who believe the only important political question is who wins the presidency, the divergent fortunes of Trump and Paul tell the whole story.

At the heart of Paul's problems, I argue, is that he has shied away from his libertarian leanings at key moments. The reason that Time (and before that, Reason) anointed him the "most interesting man in politics" was precisely because at his best he scrambles existing categories. Here was a Republican who talked about actually cutting spending in serious, straightforward ways; assailed military interventionism, bloated Defense budgets, and surveillance-state hysteria; and talked seriously about reforming drug policy and criminal justice. Even more than that, he was willing call his own party "stale and moss-covered" while reaching out to new constituencies. Finally, a major-party figure who not only talked a different game but walked a different walk! However, "once he started aiming at the presidency, he's rarely missed an opportunity to jump on every conservative outrage of the day: Sanctuary cities, ebola quarantines, Planned Parenthood, the Iran deal, you name it." Whether his presidential campaign picks up steam, I'm confident that Paul will be a major force in turning the GOP in a more-libertarian direction in the coming years.


Most importantly, though, neither Rand Paul's nor Donald Trump's campaign spells the end of "the Libertarian Moment" which is all about

"comfort with and demand for increasingly individualized and personalized options and experiences in every aspect of our lives." As Matt Welch and I argued in our book, The Declaration of Independents, politics is a lagging indicator of where America is headed. It will be the last area of our lives to be transformed, but you can already see the old order breaking down.


Terrorism is currently freaking people out but confidence and trust in government, law enforcement, and virtually all other societal institutions is are at historic lows, a confluence which bodes well for libertarian ideals of autonomy and DIY community building. The embrace of gay marriage and pot legalization, criminal justice reform (something which, to his immense credit, Rand Paul has been leading on), and school choice are not slackening and the past year has seen the beginning of pushback on all sorts of political correctness.

Read the full article here.

NEXT: Chicago's Solution to Killings by Police? More Tasers! Which Also Result in Death.

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  1. Is this finally the year that belief in “Free Minds and Free Markets” finally came a cropper? No, of course not

    But how many millennials did you poll about it?

    1. “but for folks who believe the only important political question is who wins the presidency, the divergent fortunes of Trump and Paul tell the whole story.”

      Well of course the only important political question is who wins the presidency!

      What all of you dunderheads here at Reason fail to understand is if Hillary wins the presidency, she will probably bring the senate with her and maybe even the house. Then she will get to nominate 2 or 3 supreme court justices and capitalism is dead for the next 75 years minimum and Socialism wins. And Communism is just a short slide down that slippery slope away.

      Trump is the ONLY chance America has to beat Hillary.

      Can anyone refute me?

      I didn’t think so.

      1. Mr. EndGOP, I think you have scared away all of the readers. None of them appear to want to go up against you.

        My problem with Trump is he has to be the BIGGEST flip-flopper of all time. Doesn’t that bother you?

        1. The,

          Nah. Trump should put up a chart on a tweet, three columns, showing major flip flops of his, Obama’s and Hillary’s and how the press covered them. You’d see lots of bad comments on Trumps and evasive reporting or glowing reports for O and Hill. He could then say “yes, we all change. I admit it, and am willing to talk about my changing and give you an interview that real conversation. From them you’ll get talking points or “no comment.” He could do that honestly, and it would be another reason why Trump just could beat Her Majesty-I mean, Sec State Clinton.

  2. No, of course not, and the people most interested in pushing such a line have been making similar predictions for years now.

    The same apply to “Libertarian Moment”?

  3. Just browsing back over the morning’s posts, we have American spying, equal-pay-for-equal-ish work laws going into effect, a gajillion new anti-abortion laws, Chicago’s non-answer to police killings, the TSA poking us with sticks, Twitter bein’ Twitter. I’m not declaring the Glibertarian Moment dead or anything…

  4. I thought there was a libertarian moment, but then I realized it was just gas.

    1. “Look, it isn’t freedom…its lactose intolerance!”

      1. “Sprinkles are for #winners.”

  5. My objection to claims about a libertarian moment is that our government is increasingly ignoring constitutional limits. Heck, look at how well Clinton and Trump are polling, even if you believe (as I do), that neither as a chance in hell at winning.

    There are some hopeful signs–a couple of GOP candidates have serious commitments to limited government–but government control of so much and lack of checks seems to overwhelm many gains.

    1. even if you believe (as I do), that neither as a chance in hell at winning.

      What if they Team Up?

      1. I’m voting for “Team Up”. Works well with a half kilo of meth.

      2. What if they Team Up?

        Then we’ll be seeing that morphed image on currency one day.

        Srrsly, stop posting that effing abomination Reason.

        1. +1 acid reflux

    2. Oh, also, I forget where Nick lives, but some of us live in Bluer-than-blue-found-in-nature-Blue places where we have honest-to-god declared, out-and-proud socialists running the government.

      When you literally have agents of the state digging through your garbage looking for recyclables and handing out fines, you get a little fidgety when people start waving the rainbow flag of libertarianishmomentz.

  6. The likely GOP nominee is a candidate with a 20+ year history of publicly calling for the legalization of all drugs.

    1. The likely GOP nominee is a candidate

      In any other (read: previous) election, I’d know who you were talking about.

      1. Trump is the first frontrunning likely nominee to have publicly held that position.

        1. Which he changed to help him with Republicans.

          I think Rand has behaved similarly on some issues.

    2. He said it once, and he walked it back a bit lately. That’s not exactly a solid history.

      1. The significant bit is that other candidates aren’t attacking him on his hx of having held that position. They would if they thought voters would think it a big deal, regardless of any of his walking back. So that’s good nx.

        1. Your abbreviations make things harder to read.

          Considering that everything Trump has been attacked on so far has improved his poll numbers, I don’t think your argument carries much water.

    3. Well golly. Good to know that there is nothing more to modern libertarian thinking than gay marriage advocated by people who want to use the state to force you to celebrate and drug legalization advocated by a cronyist who wants state control of everything to make it GREAT again

    4. You are so FOS.

    5. “One step forward and two steps back, no one can get too far like that.
      One step forward and too steps back, this kind of dance can never last.”

  7. It’s finally dawned on me that the so-called libertarian moment is simply continuing the decentralization trend “started” by Gutenberg’s printing press. Previous boosts were railroads, the telegraph, telephones, radio, TV, and currently the internet.

    There is some slight carry over into politics. More and more of the economy is outside the government’s clutches. But government and politics will not become more libertarian. Instead, that part of society which is amenable to government control will diminish relative to the shadow economy, perhaps bitcoin, perhaps not.

    It happens because government is never as nimble as markets, and the more government stomps around in existing markets, the more people want to dabble in new markets without heavy-handed government interference.

    Government cannot move fast, in fact grows slower as it embiggens itself. But progress makes markets faster and faster. That is the libertarian moment.

    1. Technology also undermines many of the stated reasons for Government action that have persisted for centuries. For example, when it comes to regulation people say “How would you know if that product/service was safe unless government tested it?”. Well, I’d check the reviews on Amazon/Yelp/Facebook and get a lot more information than any government agency could tell me.

      Ok, actually that is just one example of markets being nimbler, like you mention above…

      1. Yes, I think that’s part of it. The new shadow society will gradually weaken various government claims on legitimacy, like the FTC, FDA, etc. Look at how many new companies voluntarily fix problems before the government even starts investigations, because they fear the public backlash. Then compare government-ridden companies, like car manufacturers, who wait until the government steps in before doing anything. I am certain much of that is because there are so many conflicting government regulations that the companies are paralyzed in fear and want the government to provide the path through the mine fields.

      2. People still demand ‘shovel ready jobs’ from politicians, piss and moan about technology rendering labor obsolete at every turn. Considering that, I don’t think technology will help so long as people remain incapable of using basic logic.

        I recently listened to a Trump-loving relative bitch about how the US doesn’t manufacture anything anymore; he, an ostensibly educated, middle glass guy, wants us to go back the the 19th century and ban cheap goods from China so we can get our jobz back.

        If anything, it seems technological advancement has (not to its own fault, but the imbecility of the public) ironically led to a resurgence in 18th century style industrial mercantilism.

    2. Meh, I’ll accept there’s a “libertarian moment” when I can buy a pack of cigarettes without the 800% markup or a chokehold.

    3. Previous boosts were railroads, the telegraph, telephones, radio, TV,

      Bullshit. Hitler, Stalin and Mao anyone?

    4. You mean to say the push toward individual liberty will happen outside the current political shitshow? Like, people just exercising freedoms as communication and commerce are wrested from the hands of the too-slow apparatus, unable to make and enforce the laws necessary to prevent it, fast enough?

      I like that. But…

      …Star Wars does come to mind, here (bear with me): Princess Leia gave this logic to Tarkin in Ep. IV. The reply (some Top Men blow up a planet) was pretty brutal, but it did push the issue to a head. Processing this against a backdrop of our own government, facing a similarly vast increase in its self-imposed burden to control everything, yet grasping at the futility of it all in a world that can end-run it, economically…would they be as apt, facing dissolution of much of their agency, to strike out with increasing violence against the populace? Should I be preparing to defend myself against tyranny? I mean, it seems reasonable, right?

  8. Funny how when you move to pander to the lowest common denominator, you lose people’s trust, eh?

  9. Face it Nick, the libertarian moment didn’t die in 2015 because it was stillborn back in ’08. And really, why do you keep it’s rotting corpse propped up at the table? Don’t you think at long last it’s time to bury the body.

    1. With this I can agree.

      1. We’re just seeing the birth pangs of the libertarian moment, I’m sure.

    2. He’s trying to pimp his book.

      1. Now in paperback!

    3. The growth of libertarianism certainly won’t happen in a moment. It will be a long, slow plod (full of fits and stars) over several generations.

      1. ^This. Remember that the whole vast apparatus of the state and it’s dependents, including both major parties, are against us. Remember that people hate change and will often continue doing the same thing, even if they know that thing doesn’t work very well.

      2. Even that’s a little optimistic to me.

        1. And it omits the full-on, fascist police state that we’ll enjoy on the way there.

    4. Will it be locked in the trunk of a car?


  10. The GOP front runner has repudiated and attacked the previous Republican president.

    1. He’s also a big Proponent of Eminent Domain and he thought the Kelo decision was “wonderful.” And he promotes himself as an American Strong Man who will make “America Great Again!” He’s not the worst candidate in the field (Christie, Rubio, Carson, and Kasich are the worst candidates) but he’s far from the best.

      Ted Cruz leading in Iowa and having a chance in New Hampshire is good news. Trump being the GOP front runner is bad old news that is slightly better than other “news worthy” candidates.

      1. Huckabee and Santorum might be worst, if you consider them in the field.

  11. There was a Libertarian Moment. It passed. And was flushed or dissipated. Depending.

  12. Trump is a media induced phenomenon . If he were not covered 24/7 he would have high poll numbers. He is being treated sort of like big media treated Obama, the coverage is not fawning as it was for Obama, but it is non-stop coverage . Why big media/big money/big business is pushing trump is an interesting question.

    1. Why big media/big money/big business is pushing trump is an interesting question.

      With a not particularly interesting answer. Trump makes them money. The people who love him and the people who hate him both like to watch the news talk about him.

    2. “Why big media/big money/big business is pushing trump is an interesting question.”

      I personally think the idea that Trump is being “pushed” is stupid… at best, he’s simply an opportunistic distraction from having to talk about Hillary. At all. No one else provides endless lulz.

      But if you really wanted to run with your media-conspiracy theory, it would obviously be motivated by the desire to get the GOP to nominate someone Hillary can beat.

    3. It’s not that hard of a question to answer though. Let’s face it, most of politics is pretty boring to people that aren’t political junkies. Actual, thoughtful, discussions of policies put most people people to sleep faster than a handful of Xanax washed down with a glass of warm milk.

      So the media likes to run with whatever outrageous thing Trump said today. It’s easier to get clicks from ‘OMG Trump said schlonged, can you believe it?’ Rather than discussing whether the proposed 3.5% tax on titanium goes too far or doesn’t go far enough.

      1. Damn, i could go for a handful of Xanax and a glass of milk right about now.

      2. True but I don’t think it’s much different for ‘political junkies.’ Actual debates and discussions have at least two sides, usually more, bringing hypotheses and data and statistics to the table. “Political junkies” mainly seem to discuss new convoluted ways to say my side is right and good, yours wrong and evil. Bitching about the Koch brothers and the 1% and the end of the gold standard are more exciting to them than, say, having an honest debate about the efficacy of monetary policy during a recession.

      3. He should have said, “shtupped”.

  13. After the Great Disappointment, some Millerites abandoned the faith and moved on. Others only redoubled their faith..

  14. I remember Joss Wedon giving an interview about the Firefly universe, and discussing the “federal government”. He talked about it being very modern, people having a lot of consumer choices, very modern, great healthcare… but something very wrong underneath it all.

    I believe we’re conflating freedom of consumer choice and easy access to modern technology with libertarian moment.

    Leviathan is bigger and more intrusive than ever, and you now have to register with the government to do hundreds of activities people couldn’t imagine requiring such paperwork a couple of decades ago.

    For instance, I need a permit to take a walk in the woods where I live.

    1. “Leviathan is bigger and more intrusive than ever”

      No it isn’t this is a crock. The USG used to draft people to die in Vietnam and before that it put Japanese citizens in camps.

      1. The Selective Service still exists and Korematsu is still the law of the land.

        1. So it doesn’t make a difference to you that the camps & draft no longer exist, because they’re still legal? I guess as long as there are nuclear weapons, you don’t care whether they’re being used or not, either.

          1. Of course it’s better that they’re not doing those things. There’s just no reason to believe they won’t do them again. They didn’t establish precedent by simply ceasing to do.

      2. Y’all best listen to this sheltered Canadian child, he gonna TELL you some things about living in the United States.

      3. There is no reason the USG can’t do it again.

        1. There’s “no reason” cannibalism can’t make a comeback either.

        2. Well, since it’s demonstrably bigger than ever, it’ll be even easier.

  15. Rand Paul’s failing campaign is not a result of him not being libertarian enough.

    He’s running a principled libertarian campaign which would do well in the general election (see head-to-head Hillary polls), but there’s no appetite for it in the paleocon Republican primary electorate.

  16. Rand Paul’s failing campaign is not a result of him not being libertarian enough.

    He’s running a principled libertarian campaign which would do well in the general election (see head-to-head Hillary polls), but there’s no appetite for it in the paleocon Republican primary electorate.

    1. Looks like the paleosquirrelz want their say too!

    2. It would be nice if there was an actual libertarian alternative to Clinton/Trump/Cruz/Sanders, so that the libertarian ideas would stand as a stark contrast to the heap of dung that is currently out there.

      Rand’s stance against “boots on the ground” in Syria stood out, and I wish there was more of that.

      1. There’s always the Rent-is-Too-Damn-High Party!

  17. You can’t fool me, Gillespie. You want America to be part of the hipster caliphate. Go swill your Kool-Aid and smoke your Turkish cigarettes somewhere else.

        1. UBL’s grandson.

  18. “the Libertarian Moment” which is all about…”comfort with and demand for increasingly individualized and personalized options and experiences in every aspect of our lives.”

    Except that doesn’t seem a meaningful definition of libertarianism. I can pretty much guarantee you that even the most hardline communistwants their options to be individualized and personalized. The question is whether one extends that same comfort and demand for the options of others.

    Also, I think that definition drops one of, if not the, most important context for libertarianism, ownership of consequences of choices. To say, “I want to be able to make my own decisions” is cheap. Just about anybody can do it and just about everybody does. The thing that differentiates libertarianism from other ideologies, what libertarianism simply wouldn’t work without, is the follow up of “and I’m willing to live with the consequences”.

    On both grounds, the idea of a libertarian moment is grossly overstated. Millennials aren’t willing to let other people make their own decisions. We see that in college students’ contempt for free speech and in the rise of the Social Justice Cadres. Nor are they particularly keen on the idea of living with the consequences of their decisions. Probably the most popular candidate on college campuses right now is Bernie Sanders, a living renunciation of the idea of owning the results of your decisions.

    1. We see that in college students’ contempt for free speech and in the rise of the Social Justice Cadres.

      This movement will quickly eat itself out of necessity. Their absurdity, obvious to anyone with forethought, will become obvious to everyone in fairly short order.

      1. I suspect it will. But, the complete lack of comfort with the ability of others to make choices of which it is an indicator will likely remain.

  19. A libertarian society will not arise because a libertarian is elected president. It will come from people like us, rationally convincing thinking people (the few left) that it is the current system causing the problems (which really shouldn’t be that difficult) and that liberty, not government, is the solution to those problems. Grassroots movements are infectious. If you can get them started, they spread on their own. It’s happened before, there is no reason it cannot happen again.

    The right thing to do now, is to present the people with better options and force the change from below. As Nick said:

    politics is a lagging indicator of where America is headed. It will be the last area of our lives to be transformed

    Ron Paul understood and was good at this. Rand, in his fervor to get elected, has been disappointing.

    1. Even if Rand’s bid for the presidency fails, as it is almost certain to do, the campaign will at least have gotten libertarian positions aired nationally. Perhaps that was his real endgame. And hopefully he will be re-elected to the Senate where he will continue doing good things and hopefully growing the congressional liberty caucus.

    2. Ron created a personality cult and suspended his principles whenever there was cash to shovel at his district. Rand ran a bad campaign during a campaign where things beyond his control were already hurting him but he’s already more effective than his nutjob dad.

      1. Yeah I can understand criticism of Rand, but it’s pretty crazy when libertarians pretend that he’s more pro-life than his Dad (nope), or act like anything Rand has ever done when running is as nuts as the Ron Paul newsletters, which were filled with some real Trumpism. (Reason even wrote about it.)

        Much of Ron’s support came from Trump-style voters, like it or not. I don’t really like it, I wish that there were more libertarians like me. But the simplest and truest explanation for Rand’s decline in the polls is the rise in Trump voters (combined with, yes, events making the American people be somewhat more hawkish and the short attention span of everyone, including libertarian pundits).

        Trump stole the populist part of Ron’s base, and yet folks with views similar to mine object that Rand, having moved away from it, hasn’t moved away fast enough, because what they were willing to excuse in Ron they won’t in the less charismatic Rand.

      2. and suspended his principles whenever there was cash to shovel at his district.

        Citation please

  20. More and more of the economy is outside the government’s clutches


    1. Yeah, that sentence is completely and totally false.

    2. BTC?
      Tax evasion.
      This doesn’t make sense.

  21. I think Nick’s editorial strategy is to troll John.

    It’s so crazy it just might work!

  22. The signs are so mixed. It’s impossible to tell one way or another whether the LM is there or dead. Maybe we’re in the Empire Strikes Back phase. Either way, it’s clear Nick does not know what Libertarianism is or means. It’s not ‘consumer choices’ it’s a political position.

  23. Ok, I just have to ask – what the fuck is that weird Rand Paul picture from? It has some odd sci-fi feeling about it. Who are all those other people? Why are they all dressed identically? Why is that woman staring at him like that?

    1. Divergent

      1. Specifically, the first Divergent movie – before the main character hacked off 97% of her hair.

    2. Shailene has the lady boner for freedom.

  24. I’ll add that, to the extent that there has actually been an “Libertarian Moment”, it’s been a phenomenon within a relatively small subset of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. You’ve seen an increase in libertarian thinking among conservative thinkers and GOP voters.

    There was a time, probably around 2009 or so, where an enterprising libertarian movement could have made a much more dramatic shift within Republican party politics by bringing the Tea Parties up to speed on libertarian thinking. If anyone remembers, at the time, the Tea Parties were strictly about one thing, runaway government spending. At the time, the movement largely rejected the imposition of any other conservative issue within its agenda. And you had a large part of the movement beginning to talk about thinkers like Bastiat, Hayek, and Mises. It was ripe for a broadening of the libertarian coalition.

    Unfortunately, a certain segment of the libertarian movement decided that the Tea Partiers were, like, squaresville, man. And they decided that it was a lot more useful to join their erstwhile “liberaltarian” allies in sneering that the Tea Partiers as a bunch of yokels. Because, maybe, if they were really nice and made sure to fit in, the progressives wouldn’t beat the shit out of them this time.

  25. it’s been a phenomenon within a relatively small subset of the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

    I think this is true. A small but growing segment of the “conservative movement” is coming to the realization that many of their preferred policy prescriptions are irrefutable failures.

    1. A small but growing segment of the “conservative movement” is coming to the realization that many of their preferred policy prescriptions are irrefutable failures.

      In part. I think there’s also a growing realization that a lot of the policy prescriptions they’ve been signing off on aren’t particularly in line with the values they claim to hold as conservatives. If you’re the kind of guy who says “I’m a conservative, and I believe in limited, constitutional, government, free markets, personal responsibility, and the values of this country’s founding fathers.”, it gets a little hard to not step back and ask yourself why you’re signing off on TARP, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, the Patriot Act, countless foreign entanglements, the Drug War, an unlimited standing army, etc. You wind up having to ask yourself whether you believe the things you say you do. If you answer yes, some sort of libertarianism becomes the only logical conclusion.

      1. I’m not sure if I should admit this or not, but this is pretty much me.

        What did Ron Paul call it, starting brushfires of the mind? The key is getting people to understand their views are intellectually dishonest, and that they actually are signing off on things they say they oppose. That is hard to do. A big influence on waking me up was Tom Woods talking about desert storm, he’s a good speaker. Ron Paul, as mentioned already, was pretty good too.

        It also helped that I was in Grad school at the time, so I had ample time to sit around and watch these talks/think about them.

        1. I’m not sure if I should admit this or not, but this is pretty much me.

          Yeah, well, admit away, because I was able to describe the phenomenon from personal experience. For me, the Paul-on-the-way-to-Damascus moment was hearing Judge Napolitano give a speech on the Patriot Act at my club. It was just about the same time that I’d kind of decided that, if for no other reason than budgetary considerations, our defense and foreign policy was going to have to take a turn in the Ron Paul direction. the combination of influences sort of jarred me into the realization that I really had to decide whether I meant what I was talking about or not.

          But, that kind of gets to my earlier point. I really don’t understand why libertarians don’t make more of an effort to “bring along” conservatives. It really does seem as if it’s just plain snobbery.

          1. Reason is more delusional than the German Communists thinking they could get Goebbels and Rohm to join them by promising more socialism.

  26. At the heart of Paul’s problems, I argue, is that he has shied away from his libertarian leanings at key moments.

    Perhaps, but in pretty much all the ways you list, he’s actually more libertarian or no different than his father. Ron Paul is definitely at least as anti-abortion / pro-life. (For that matter, it’s entirely unclear why defending direct government grants to Planned Parenthood is a libertarian priority at all, even among those who oppose other restrictions on abortion.) Regarding immigrants, certainly those “Ron Paul Report” letters didn’t write themselves, and it’s certainly true that Ron Paul’s “principled” stance of voting against every trade deal ever while claiming to support unilateral free trade that will never come has only resulted in some trade deals being slight worse. (Such as extra textile tariffs to get one more vote in CAFTA from Robin Hayes (R-NC).)

    1. What’s worth noting about Rand’s campaign– and yet completely omitted from too many reflections from libertarians, Nick’s included– are two things:

      1) Many of Ron Paul’s supporters in previous campaigns are people who support populism and outsider candidates in general, or “paleolibertarianism” among the few with some kind of relatively coherent philosophy; many of them (such as Justin Raimondo) have turned to Trump (as well as other being Sanders fans.)
      2) Many non paleolibertarians who were willing to turn a blind eye to Ron Paul’s views on certain issues or bend over backwards to excuse them have been unwilling to do so for Rand, acting extraordinarily surprised that, e.g,. he shares his father’s views on abortion. They act, without a shred of evidence, as though he’s behaving in a way that’s remarkably different than his father, rather than being his father’s son.

      1. As a result, Rand’s campaign has been more libertarian than his father’s, yet he’s bled support from multiple factions, both from outsider/populist/paleo types who have been attracted to Trump (and Sanders, and perhaps Cruz), as well as libertarians who proclaim themselves less motivated and disappointed by Rand for being only slightly less socially conservative than his father (though they pretend that Ron Paul was the Ron Paul of their dreams, not his actual positions). At the same time, his attempt to position himself as a dove on foreign policy who yet does not want to “blame America” has again cost him votes from extremists while not winning votes from others who favor a moderate foreign policy, because most of them are moderates or liberals on spending and consider that more important.

        Some of this, no doubt, is down to a lack of charisma, something that is always far, far more important than actual policy positions, to libertarians and libertarian columnists as well as to the average voter.

        1. I thought I was the only 1 to notice those things. The only way Rand may seem less libertarian than Ron is that Rand’s not the Rothbard blame-America na?ve-re-everyone-else prot?g? (see also for example Sheldon Richman) that his father is re foreign affairs.

  27. Here we come,
    walkin’down the street.
    We get the funniest looks
    from ev’ry one we meet.

  28. What Nick perceives was a “libertarian” a moment was a few banner causes (SSM, legal pot) going their way and the red wave which swept the house and the senate. A few libertarian candidates made a bit of noise in some elections.

    There was a 2,3 year period in which the surveillance state, right to work policies, and government spending was a hot and motivating issue for the center right. But the big midterm election wins were offset by high profile ACA and sequestration battle losses. The GOP went all in and shut down the government but the American people did not come to their side to decrease spending.

    The nation’s attention has since shifted to foreign policy and immigration (or migration), and Americans in general became slightly more hawkish and protectionist. Rand was never a dynamic personality to begin with, and many of his signature issues that one inspired the likes of the tea party are taking a back seat to new agendas.

  29. Nick Gillespie: more delusional than Ernst Thalmann.

  30. Also it seems more likely that the public wants a Strongman who will Get Things Done. I’m sure 1917 Russia, 1922 Italy and 1932 Germany and America had a large amount of anti-government sentiment.

  31. Also Weimar Germany was in many ways more free than Imperial Germany. Female suffrage, parliamentary government, drugs, gays, TV, Radio, Talkies, Bauhaus, cabarets, reduction of Junker influence, etc.

    Oh and from 1930-32 the economy collapsed and the President began ruling by decree with the consent of the Reichstag as they worried if they opposed it Hitler or the Communists would to power. And once Hitler did come to power Hindenburg decreed away civil liberties and one opposition party was convince to vote for the Enabling Act with the promise of some grievances being addressed which Hitler then ignored. Don’t see American politicians acting that way today, no sir.

  32. Someone tweeted that Paul has suggested there should be a law against corporate executives romancing company subordinates. If that is true then Paul has yet to be introduced to libertarianism, much less the constitution that he and his daddy are always squawking about.

  33. Libertarianism is just resting.


  35. As entrepreneurs give us more choices, government is working overtime to slow them down. Most people take it for granted that if there is a problem government should “solve” it. College students believe the first amendment should be repealed. If a progressive or moderate picks the next couple of Supreme Court justices the 1st and 2nd amendments are toast. Libertarian moment?

  36. Rand Paul’s campaign is not failing. He was 6th in the last CNN poll, ahead of Bush III.

    Paul is now consistently ahead of Fiorina, Kasich, Huckabee, Santorum, etc. Ben Carson is clearly fading.

    Cruz is still as unlikable and creepy as he ever was. Rubio, Christie and Cruz are tearing eachother down to be the Trump alternative.

    Paul is in a great position for a surprise surge when voting starts.

    Why are libertarians now joining in calls to declare Paul’s campaign dead? You really think McAfee can be the next president?

    Please stop treating this as if it is a game, as if you are discussing plot lines in the latest HBO tv show. Our lives depend on this election.

  37. Trump 2016

  38. Turning back the tide of the socialist state will take time.

    Look at the victories – the erosion of the drug war, the right to marry who you choose, and Uber.

    The LP convention isn’t until May and if 3rd party candidates are included in the debates, it may further erode the membership of the 2 party statists.

    All the best and Happy Nude Year.

  39. Libertarians shouldn’t be seeking political office in the first place.

    Huuuge contradiction. “Let’s join the government to stop the government!”

  40. Only the right takes libertarians seriously…sorta. The truth is that libertarians are not even on the radar screen of the major political players, the republicrats. The myth of the demise of the libertarian moment is just as mythological as the beginning of the libertarian moment. The fact is, libertarians are spectators only. Doesn’t mean they’re not right a lot of the time, but it doesn’t matter, or at least it matters just about as much as when they’re wrong wrong wrong.

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