Rand Paul

Rand Paul Is Out—But Libertarianism Is Finally Mainstream

The candidate seeded a generation of liberty-minded young people.

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Rand Paul is out. Donald Trump just schlonged the Grand Old Party in New Hampshire. And Bernie Sanders is setting dumpster fires in the hearts and minds of America's youth.

Borrowing the sage words of moral philosopher (and round robin bowler) Walter Sobchak, I have to ask: Has the whole world gone fucking crazy?

I am hoping to convince you that the answer is no. Despite ominous signs that the End Times near, everything's going to be all right. As someone who left a perfectly respectable day job last year to help elect Rand Paul president, I need to find the upside. I have finally emerged from my post-Iowa fetal position to offer some observations on what liberty voters, and libertarians generally, should make of it all.

First off, I endorse the view, ably represented by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, that Rand's failure to win the Republican nomination in no way signals the end of the "libertarian moment." Politics is a lagging indicator of social change, and the measure of a social movement is better taken upstream from voter turnout.

As for Iowa, let's at least hat tip the effort. Rand Paul bested four establishment Republican Governors including Jeb Bush, placing a respectable fifth place with 4.5 percent of the vote. Once upon a time, Jeb was the Chosen One, but he ended up spending about $2,800 per vote to win just 2.8 percent. Carly Fiorina and John Kasich got 1.9 percent each, and Chris Christie received just 1.8 percent. 

Rand Paul beat them all after being excluded from the Fox Business debate just a few weeks earlier. I'm going to call that a comeback—one small step for mankind, another bigger step for the future of liberty.

Why? Because Rand has seeded another generation of liberty-minded young people, much like his father did in 2008 and 2012. When I was a kid, there was no broad social movement for liberty like we see today. Rand juiced the build-out of this community simply by being on the presidential stage, by offering a compelling alternative to the establishment's failed foreign policies, and by speaking about civil liberties and the failures of mass incarceration to new audiences that few Republicans have been willing to engage with.

Of course, Rand's venture in 2016 was very different from his father's. He was in it to win it, and pre-Trump, Rand's prospects looked promising. The goal, it seemed, was to sell a broad swath of Republican primary voters on a more libertarian vision of America's future. This vision was against the Washington machine and all of its abuses. It was a vision of opportunity and self-determination for all Americans, "with tattoos and without tattoos."

In perfect hindsight a few things happened that undermined Rand's strategic position in the 2016 field. The first was a crowd of credible anti-establishment candidates, a very different field than Ron Paul faced in 2012. The second was an anti-establishment mood fueled by the break-up of the old political class. In this environment, Rand's even-handed demeanor didn't connect well with people looking to hurl flaming pots of pitch over the walls of King's Landing. The Donald and his socialist alter ego adeptly filled this void. 

Turnout in Iowa was insanely high. In 2012, 121,354 people caucused for Republicans. This year, we saw a 48 percent increase with more than 180,000 voters participating. I'm no political scientist, but my read is that voters are royally pissed. The "anti-establishment" vote dominated, getting over 66 percent of the votes cast, if you exclude Marco Rubio. But that crowded field has split hard-core liberty voters from a much bigger anti-establishment block. That made 2016 fundamentally different from 2012, when Ron Paul stood almost alone as the authentic "outsider."

I spent time on the ground talking to voters at events across Iowa, and I spoke on Rand's behalf at the Marion County Republican Caucus. It was clear to me before a single vote was cast that Trump had poached key parts of the broader Ron Paul coalition of 2012. More disconcerting, a number of Rand's student activists were telling me stories about young people, energized by Rand's "libertarianish" message at university campus rallies, ultimately caucusing for Bernie Sanders.

All of this makes more sense than you might first think. It's good to be fundamentally skeptical of Washington insiders, to have a deep distrust of politicians and their motives. Say what you will about it, a self-avowed crony capitalist and a white male septuagenarian career politician have best tapped into this ethos.

Exit polling in New Hampshire reaffirms what constitutes the new normal in American politics. Fifty percent of Republican voters said they felt "betrayed" by their own party. Not surprisingly, a full half of voters in the GOP primary wanted an "outsider," and an overwhelming 57 percent of those votes went to Trump. (Ted Cruz, by comparison, only received 12 percent of those votes). Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton—92 percent to her 6 percent—among Democratic voters looking for honesty and trustworthiness, the top issue for 33 percent of those who showed up in the Granite State. 89 percent of Democratic voters wanting an "outsider" went with Sanders. Bern victims were disproportionately young, with 84 percent of voters under 30 going with the cranky class warrior. Ironically, implausibly, Bernie Sanders has become the "new" Ron Paul.

All of this rage against the machine is a healthy awakening against the injustices of "the system." We (Paulites, libertarians, tea partiers and the occasional neck-tattooed anarcho-capitalist) helped create this new awareness in voters. But being anti-establishment isn't nearly good enough. Trump's self-absorbed vision of untethered presidential power is not a step up from Barack Obama. And socialism, even of the "democratic" variety, is still all about concentrating power (and the implied threat of violence) with Washington elites.

We are in the midst of a fundamental paradigm shift that has broken the singular power of the two-party duopoly. Party bosses used to choose for you, creating a shopping experience not unlike what it must feel like today shopping in a downtown Caracas mall. There are, at best, only several products on the shelf, and the quality is crap. Think Richard Nixon, or Hubert Humphrey. Or John McCain, versus Barack Obama.

Welcome to the big leagues. Libertarians are now mainstream, no longer relegated to basement book club arguments about the moral failings of "minarchism." Our values offer a serious alternative to both right wing and left wing statism. Liberty creates robust communities with an upward potential far greater than any one of us could have consciously designed. Government coercion undermines this organic sense of social responsibility and community, pitting us one group against another. Rand, of course, made real inroads on the right and the left with these principles, applied to real-world problems.

Outside Venezuela, everything is different today. People, particularly young people, now live in a radically disintermediated world where we curate virtually everything for ourselves; new music, news sources, better ideas, and even spontaneously-emerging communities built on free association and shared values. Top-down political institutions, like almost everything else in our post-internet society, are bleeding power and control. Information, knowledge and power are shifting back to the end user. This disruption is an opportunity, a window to connect with a burgeoning generation of freer people who take self-determination as a given. We no longer accept authority as is—we Google it, using information and facts to challenge the status quo. Empowered consumers have broken the backs of record company moguls, mainstream media monopolists, taxi medallion hoarders, and even the Bush Family dynasty.

The hearts and minds of young, socially connected Americans are very much up for grabs. Registered independents have become the fastest growing political block, making up a larger plurality than either Democrats or Republicans in 44 out of 50 states. Talk about a libertarian moment. The individuals that comprise this Á La Carte Generation are environmentally programmed from birth to curate their very own reality, one that is more personal, and more free.

That's why I am calmer than you are. As Rand himself said in what turned out to be his concession speech in De Moines, "liberty is alive and well."

Matt Kibbe most recently worked for a SuperPAC supporting Rand Paul for president. He is the author of Don't Hurt People And Don't Take Their Stuff (HarperCollins 2013).

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144 responses to “Rand Paul Is Out—But Libertarianism Is Finally Mainstream

  1. WTF? The Reason staff have apparently all gone barking mad.

    1. That dead horse won’t flog itself

      1. I was suprised there was enough left to flog.

        1. The fact they can say this

          “But Libertarianism Is Finally Mainstream”

          right after trump and sanders took the lead, shows the editors at Reason are as stark raving insane as the editors at Slate, yes I went there….

          1. Libertarianism will never be “mainstream” as long as their planks include open borders and unlimited immigration.

            Insanity at its worst.

            And yet I’ll bet each and every member of Reason’s staff lock their doors at night.

            Hypocrisy at its best!

            1. Sadly I agree with you. Milton Friedman in his treatise against the welfare state said that you cannot have open borders in a welfare state. I don’t understand how fellow libertarians can’t see this. Restrict the borders, close the welfare state, open the borders.

              “Immigration is a particularly difficult subject. There is no doubt that free and open immigration is the right policy in a libertarian state, but in a welfare state it is a different story: the supply of immigrants will become infinite. Your proposal that someone only be able to come for employment is a good one but it would not solve the problem completely. The real hitch is in denying social benefits to the immigrants who are here. That is very hard to do, much harder than you would think as we have found out in California. But nonetheless, we clearly want to move in the direction that you are talking about so this is a question of nitpicking, not of serious objection.”

    2. Well, this is Kibbe. What else is he going to say?

        1. Stuffed with tahini sauce?

      1. He is not thinking clearly from all the milque and toast he ate in Rand’s campaign headquarters.

    3. I think those weird mutton chops on Kibbe’s face are dendrites looking for nutrition.

  2. hahahahahahahahhahahahahha.

    whoa, stop. OK.

    1. No, really, hahahahahhahahahahahahhahahahahahahaha.

      1. [tickle’s Hero’s ribs] Oooooh, is he a giggly boy?

  3. “I’m getting better!”

    1. Alternate Monty Python reference: “Stop, you statists, or I’ll chew your legs off!”

      1. +1 just a flesh wound

  4. Would that it were so.

  5. … Rand’s even-handed demeanor didn’t connect well with people looking to hurl flaming pots of pitch over the walls of King’s Landing.

    NO SPOILERS

    I appreciate the optimism, I even occasionally find some myself, but rights ceded to the state seldom if ever come back, and the people accustomed to goods and services delivered freely by the government are never the ones in a position to see firsthand that those benefits aren’t free. Same-sex marriage recognition is the highest point the libertarian moment will plant its flag so enjoy it.

    1. I really and truly don’t even see recognition of same sex marriage as a Libertarian victory. “Now gay people have a right and obligation to register their relationships with the State too!”

      Oh yes, cue the victory parade.

      1. THEN YOU GOT NO TALLIES IN THE W COLUMN.

        1. Amen brother. We have nothing.

          “But!” you say, “Marijuana legalization is gaining traction!” to which I sigh, Are you seeing pot legalization supporters say “hey, it’s really each person’s business what they put in their bodies so it’s not the State’s place to interfere with that decision”?

          No, you are not. You’re seeing people who are saying “I want to get high when i watch tv and eat microwave burritos.”

          (Full Disclosure: In my youth I experimented with pot, tv and [most shamingly] microwave burritos)

          1. What I thought you were going to say was that we are seeing pot legalization supporters saying, ” Look at all the tax dollars we can raise from legalized pot.”

            1. hmmmm. Good point. That may be an even more damning statement.

            2. “Look at all the tax dollars we can raise from legalized pot.”

              I got into a discussion with my Bern victim sister once about drug legalization. We were both for it, until she had to go and ruin it by suggesting that the government should legalize it and “tax the shit out of it” to “offset the societal costs” of drug use.

              I, as calmly as I could, pointed out to her that 1) “taxing the shit out of it” would mean that the price after tax of legal drugs would most likely still be higher than the black market price, which would mean you’d still have the violence and corruption of the WoD, and therefore wouldn’t change a damn thing on that front, and 2) “offsetting the societal costs” would entail channeling money to drug treatment programs, leading to cronyism and special interests. In the end, you’d have the smug satisfaction of knowing that drugs are nominally legal and the government’s getting a shiny new revenue stream to funnel right back out to cronies without actually doing a damn thing about the current status quo wrt the WoD or the prison industrial complex.

              It blew her mind that I was actually to “the left” of her (she still thought I was a conservative). I told her I wasn’t really to her left or right, but “somewhere else on the Y-axis than her because I’m not a conservative, I’m far worse: a libertarian.”

              1. I guess that really depends on how high taxing the shit out of it is.

                For the record though I’m not against taxes that make sure people are paying for the consequences of their own behavior.

                1. What are the consequences of smoking pot that pot smokers should be paying for?

              2. Your first point, tax the shit out of it, is what those who are really against it want to do so they can “prove” that legalization doesn’t work. Lack of incarceration, increased pressure on the court system, federal funding of prisons for drug users/dealers (which is a case against that is used so those prison cartels can continue to gain money), ruined lives of those who lose their jobs and have a hard time getting jobs after incarceration are just a few of the benefits that are gained monetarily with legalization. So a normal tax, which I’m also against, would still be better in the long run. On a societal level, those who need and want help can come forward without worry of being arrested or losing their job. Then we eliminate knockoffs which are more harmful than the actual drug they are trying to copy. Makes me think oxy and other prescription abuse, theft and addictions will also go down.

          2. (“Full Disclosure: In my youth I experimented with pot, tv and [most shamingly] microwave burritos)”
            you have your priorities in order, sir

          3. Are you seeing pot legalization supporters say “hey, it’s really each person’s business what they put in their bodies so it’s not the State’s place to interfere with that decision”?

            Many do. They reject the mindless conformity you promote … and are thus far more effective than you people will ever be.

            No, you are not.

            Many do. Largely because they’re smarter than you on governing toward liberty. Cultists have difficulty with expanding freedom … which CANNOT occur unless we are also chanting words which are Holy Writ to your cult.

            How many voters have been persuaded your way? And why should we follow so obvious a failure?

      2. . “Now gay people have a right and obligation to register their relationships with the State too!”
        Oh yes, cue the victory parade.

        And FUCK EQUAL RIGHTS, he says. I’M TOO PURE TO EVEN KNOW WHAT EQUAL RIGHTS MEANS. Still a tiny minority (whew)

        P.S. It’s a victory for gays. Why do you people HATE the expansion of liberty?

        1. Wait a minute…am I the “he” in your strawman stew?

          I didn’t say or imply or, of course, mean any of the things you’re ranting.

          I’m saying it was not a Libertarian victory, since, you see, an actual Libertarian victory would be getting government sanctification out of marriage all together.

          Was it a victory for “gays”? Very possibly. I did congratulate a few homies on being recognized as fully human by the court and requiring the full bureaucratic treatment from those who permit and oversee our lives.

          In what world can you possibly justify implying that I’m cartoonishly relieved that gay people are a tiny minority?

          P.S. If you don’t mind a mild criticism, your SELF-RIGHTEOUS SHOUTING isn’t conducive to the exchange of ideas and makes you sound like a tool.

          1. Don’t mind Hihn, he’s a dick.

            1. Dangerous Buffoon:
              Don’t mind Hihn, he’s a dick.

              ,…. says the self-proclaimed Dangerous Buffoon!
              Do you have anything other than name calling like a 12-year-old kid?
              I didn’t think so.

          2. Wait a minute…am I the “he” in your strawman stew?

            Yes, and you confirm it here.

            I didn’t say or imply or, of course, mean any of the things you’re ranting.

            (snicker)

            I’m saying it was not a Libertarian victory, since, you see, an actual Libertarian victory would be getting government sanctification out of marriage all together.

            Again, why would libertarians oppose the expansion of equal rights to everyone? Granted, some, like the Paulista Cult, confuse individual liberty with libertarian dogma, but that’s a small minority.

            In what world can you possibly justify implying that I’m cartoonishly relieved that gay people are a tiny minority?

            HUH? Clearly, you’re also illiterate! And next, a LIAR ….

            I did congratulate a few homies on being recognized as fully human by the court…

            (laughing harder) Your cult ALWAYS goes psycho liar when called out.

            NO ADVANCES IN LIBERTY (for anyone) UNLESS WE ARE CREATING A PURELY LIBERTARIAN SOCIETY (for you)!

            For bonus points, what’s the difference between a libertarian society and a free society?

            1. Oh good heavens. I recognize your snicker.

              Foolish me for falling for it.

              1. Oh good heavens. I recognize your snicker.

                Only because your lie was so fucking outrageous,

                foolish me for falling for it.

                Umm, your lies came first. (snicker)

                Repeat: What’s the difference between a libertarian society and a free society?

        2. 9 – 9 – 69 plan.

      3. I don’t see it as a libertarian/Libertarian victory either, but for different reasons.

        Namely, that while the Libertarian party has been (nominally) for marriage equality for a while, their actual involvement (or rather, their lack thereof) in any of the marriage equality wins means that it’s not “their” win.

        Throw in that I’ve had plenty of libertarians/Libertarians (including on this site) tell me that the “real” libertarian/Libertarian choice was to vote for marriage bans and then fail to advocate for government withdrawal from marriage.

        And yeah. I have no problem saying marriage equality isn’t a libertarian/Libertarian win.

        1. Two things happened:

          1) A new group of people get to join a government privileged class.

          Yay? Boo? I think it’s basically a wash on the outcome.

          2) Supreme Court pretends gay marriage has been hiding in the Constitution for 150 years, but no one noticed til now.

          A big knee in the groin to the little that remained of the rule of law. Basically, The Supremes just said “Fuck you, we want it this way.”

          Rule of the Top Men, pissing in faces of the peasants.

          Definitely *not* good for Liberty.

          1. buybuydandavis
            Two things happened:

            Before or after your brain died?

            1) A new group of people get to join a government privileged class.

            Marriage is a privileged class … to the Paulista cult. (gasp)

            2) Supreme Court pretends gay marriage has been hiding in the Constitution for 150 years, but no one noticed til now.

            TRUE! The Paulista Cult STILL can’t see the 9th and 14th Amendments. Just like the KKK they emulate.

            A big knee in the groin to the little that remained of the rule of law. Basically, The Supremes just said “Fuck you, we want it this way.”

            (lol) That’s their job, since the day before the constitution was sent to the states for ratification. Were you attracted to Ron Paul because of your mental retardation …. or did his cult cause it in you?

            Rule of the Top Men, pissing in faces of the peasants.

            Ron and Rand just THINK they’re pissing from the top

            Definitely *not* good for Liberty.

            Only to those pitiful wretches who confuse “the liberty movement” with liberty (or libertarianism).

            Ron, when asked about marriage equality, waves and arms and whines, “I want government OUT of marriage!” and starts running away. By the time anyone with a MIND asks, “What should we do in the meantime?” Ron is 50 yards away and still running.

            Kinda pathetic, but all cults are.

        2. , their actual involvement (or rather, their lack thereof) in any of the marriage equality wins means that it’s not “their” win.

          “Movement” libertarians (6% of Americans) have never achieved a fucking thing. And never will.
          “Nolan” libertarians (58% of Americans per Cato), have created the growing tolerance in American culture for decades, as millions of activists and tens of thousands of elected local officials.

          Essentially, Reason reports, to movement libertarians, the advances made by Nolan libertarians, as proof … PROOF … that movement libertarians have created what the Nolan libertarians are creating all around us, It can get confusing at times.

  6. “In perfect hindsight a few things happened that undermined Rand’s strategic position in the 2016 field.”

    In perfect hindsight a few things happened which undermined the Titanic’s voyage.

  7. All those NH libertarians really made a statement yesterday.

    1. Oh yeah! Well, Kasich was 2nd place! And… oh ok, never mind.

    2. As I understand it the “free state” project people stepped away from the national politics to focus on local and state. If so they’ve got the right idea.

  8. I would have voted for Rand Paul, but I wouldn’t say he sowed the seeds of liberty in a generation of young people. More like kicked up some of the seeds Ron Paul planted. The younger generation is so libertarian, they’re flocking to an avowed socialist who wants to jack up spending by 50 percent per year, with taxes to match. And the lame duck president just proposed the biggest government budget in human history, at 4.15 trillion dollars.

    1. If anyone deserves credit for doing that, it would be Ron Paul, not Rand. And the seeds didn’t sprout anyway. The same libertarian minded millenials are now voting for a communist. Nuff said.

      1. (laughing) Rand tried to increase Ron’s “movement” but showed why that’s impossible. (Too many Americans are too libertarian — fiscally conservative and socially liberal — to be statist bigots)

        To this day (and probably forever), the cult cannot grasp how Rand’s “outreach” of talking civil liberties to students to Berkeley is totally destroyed by babbling about religious tent revivals. duh.

    2. I wouldn’t say he sowed the seeds of liberty in a generation of young people.

      No, that was STEVE SMITH!

      1. Pardon my ignorance but what’s the STEVE SMITH meme floating around here?

          1. I am entirely uncertain of how to respond to that.

            I hope drinking helps.

            My life might have just been negatively altered.

            1. Congratulations, on your first SugarFree blog reading experience. The first time I was exposed to SF’s writing I ended up vomiting in my mouth for a solid week every time I thought about the horrors I had just been introduced to.

              And no, drinking doesn’t help. Your only hope is to hit yourself in the head with a tack hammer hoping that you’ll either forget what you read, or for the sweet release of death.

            2. Quick, get to your SAFE SPACE!!

          2. Learned a new word “rapeating”

  9. The rationalization, it burns!

  10. But Libertarianism Is Finally Mainstream

    Yeah right, just because 5% of the population now have heard the word libertarian and .0000000000000000000000000001% of the population can tell you what that actually means, that does not mean we are mainstream. Just stop it already, Reason. We’re never going to be mainstream because the majority of people are ignorant assholes, and they have children who they send to public schools.

    Libertarian monent, Bernie is bae, blah blah blah. STFU.

    1. It became mainstream at a time when the voters are rejecting mainstream candidates

      1. “It became mainstream at a time when the voters are rejecting mainstream candidates”

        LOL, that reminds me of a Science fiction book I just re-read (Steve White’s The Disinherited). A very minor plot point was that a Libertarian administration had finally won The White House and was shoveling money to fund a Mars Terraforming project. That seems a very big government form of libertarianism. Though, to be fair they did portray it as the government hiring private contractors to do the work. But in any event, the Social Justice party won the next election, ended all frivolous space projects, redirected the funds to “social redistribution” and cancelled future elections till social equality could be achieved.

        1. That seems a very big government form of libertarianism.

          But arguably Libertarian. Another habitable world is reasonably considered a public good.

  11. The libertarian moment starts……NOW! No, wait……NOW! No, wait for it…wait for it…..waaaaiiit fooooooor it…..NOW!!

    1. The libertarian moment is apparently a lot like climate change doom.

    2. By this time, William Miller is making fun of Reason writers’ credulity.

  12. *facepalm*

    We’re headed to a banana republic but the libertarian moment is nigh.

    Instead we will see more blackmarket activity, more cronyism, and less rule-of-law. This is what a dying Republic looks like, not a flourishing movement toward more freedom.

    1. We’re headed to a banana republic but the libertarian moment is nigh.

      Headed?

      The IRS spent an election cycle targeting enemies of the regime in power, and then when caught lied about it, destroyed evidence, and pissed in the faces of the elected representatives of the people.
      The NSA built the Panopticon, and then when caught lied about it to the country and our elected “representatives”.
      The President has been busy with unconstitutional Imperial Decrees.
      The Supremes have been busy just making shit up.
      The Secretary of State was busy hiding her activities from government and citizen oversight, while simultaneously exposing every State Department secret to our enemies.
      The Office of Personnel Management was busy giving all the investigative information it had collected for every security cleared position in the government to our enemies.

      Lawless. Corrupt. Incompetent.

      Only the bananas are missing.

  13. Two party systems are built on coalitions. It is absolutely clear that we are in a major shift where those coalitions are being challenged.

    However if you think that socially liberal, fiscally conservative people in any way representative of the factions currently in play, you are 100% deluding yourself.

    This always pisses me off about Reason. They look at a poll of social attitudes and see growing levels of social liberalism. Hooray. They look at polls of people angry about the direction of government and say, “Wooohooo!” But this is silliness. Set aside the fact that many of the people angry of the direction of government often are angry that it isn’t big enough. The real sad fact is that there is very, very little overlap between people with permissive social values and people who want to decrease the scope and size of government.

    Reason likes to add up the two factions, when in fact they are mutually exclusive among a broad swath of our government. For fucks sake, that’s why Bernie is doing so well.

    1. “…Set aside the fact that many of the people angry of the direction of government often are angry that it isn’t big enough….”

      Not sure there is the consistency you posit.
      Seems to me that quite a few want a smaller government *there* and more free shit for themselves *here*.
      So, they’ll agree in the abstract that ‘government is too big’, but vote in the particular to fund their fave program, since ‘it’s only a little bit’…

      1. Yep. This is why every politician who promises to “cut the deficit without affecting Social Security” is always lying.

    2. “The real sad fact is that there is very, very little overlap between people with permissive social values and people who want to decrease the scope and size of government.”

      It’s not nearly quite that bad. Gun rights, property rights, free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship, freedom of the press are all permissive social values and a good chunk of those people want to minimize the growth of government.

      If you are only considering gay sex, pot and Mexicans, as permissive social values, you are creating a false dichotomy.

      1. If you are only considering gay sex, pot and Mexicans, as permissive social values, you are creating a false dichotomy.

        Says the retard who thinks “permissive” refers to permitting only HIS values.

    3. They look at a poll of social attitudes and see growing levels of social liberalism.

      Do they see liberalism or libertinism? There’s no liberalism involved in people saying “the government should permit activities I enjoy/support”, and not very much in “government should permit activities I don’t give a shit about”*.

      When you see people say, “I may disapprove of your cultural preferences, but I will fight to the death for your right to exercise them”, there’s your social liberalism.

      *That said, if people broaden the scope of what they don’t give a shit about, rather than swapping out taboos, the result could end up close to actual social liberalism.

    4. To be fair, “people who want to decrease the scope and size of government” isn’t actually a very large group. Oh, don’t get me wrong, lots of people *say* they’re for that, but when you start talking about what that means, it becomes obvious that what most really want is bigger government, just not the *same* bigger government as the other guy.

      Just like if you talk broadly about “Freedom of Religion” you get lots of support. When you start saying “okay, Freedom of Religion is good. Now, what about Christians, should they have Freedom of Religion? how about Jews? Mormons? Muslims? Buddhist? Atheists?” What you very consistently see is that when you spell out what their broad/abstract ideal realistically means, that support for that ideal drops.

    5. Reason: How many parties am I holding up, Winston?
      Three.
      And if the party says that it is not three but two–then how many?
      Three.
      The word ended in a gasp of pain.

  14. Really? Nobody’s gonna tell Donnie to shut the fuck up? You people disgust me.

    1. Shut the fuck up, Donny.

  15. Hows the Kool Aid taste?

    1. Like cyanide.

      1. You should have said “Like cyan….”

    2. It was Flavor Aid!

  16. As someone who left a perfectly respectable day job last year to help elect Rand Paul president, I need to find the upside.

    This was the precise moment I realized I didn’t need to read an article by a delusional neurotic.

  17. well… that’s an optimistic way to look at things…..

    i do think libertarian beliefs are more common than people think… (due, in no small part, to the fact that most are only exposed to the libertarian light version seen in some republicans). but when a loud mouth authoritarian and a self described socialist are the front runners… i don’t think that’s a reason for celebration. sure, it does expose the breakdown of the two parties as we know them, but what remains in that rubble looks like it might be worse. the only way this situation could herald the rise of libertarian rule, is if the breakdown leaves enough people horrified enough to vote for the actual libertarian candidate. (and i just don’t see the media letting that guy get enough air time to make it plausible)

    1. “… is if the breakdown leaves enough people horrified enough to vote for the actual libertarian candidate..”

      That never happens historically. Social/political breakdowns result in tyrants, not libertarians. The American Revolution wasn’t a break down. It was a rejection of foreign, non-representative rule.

      1. But it raises an interesting question — is the collapse of trust and competence/integrity at the federal/globalist level also leading to a collapse at the state or local level?

        Is it possible that the final “catastrophic” result is just dissolving the USA and building some new polity up from the same state building blocks?

        If so, we’re more likely to get cold war than tyranny.

      2. just pointing out how far we actually are from being able to celebrate the rise of libertarians. we are still going to end up choosing someone with a R or D after their name…. even the specific candidates represent a collapse of those very parties.

    2. I do think libertarian beliefs are more common than people think

      58% of Americans would describe themselves as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, in one of VERY few surveys conducted by a professional pollster (Zogby, by Cato). But the libertarian BRAND (label) was rejected by 91% of libertarians. So “libertarian” surveys are now done internally (to promote the Paulista Cult and a “libertarian moment.”).

  18. It was clear to me before a single vote was cast that Trump had poached key parts of the broader Ron Paul coalition of 2012. More disconcerting, a number of Rand’s student activists were telling me stories about young people, energized by Rand’s “libertarianish” message at university campus rallies, ultimately caucusing for Bernie Sanders.

    Sounds like a lot of those Ron Paul supporters in 2012 weren’t really all that interested in liberty, but “sticking it to the man.” And a lot of those kids seem to be more interested in free shit over freedom.

    1. Sounds like a lot of those Ron Paul supporters in 2012 weren’t really all that interested in liberty, but “sticking it to the man.

      The predictable outcome of being “anti-gummint” instead of “pro-liberty” … as so many of us knew 35-40 years ago. Since then, the Paul Cult has added Faux Federalism (the States Rights of southern racists).

  19. Disintermediated through… Google. How does that work?

  20. Trump’s self-absorbed vision of untethered presidential power is not a step up from Barack Obama. And socialism, even of the “democratic” variety, is still all about concentrating power (and the implied threat of violence) with Washington elites.

    This cannot be said enough. It’s quite discouraging to see Ron Paul supporters and “student activists… energized by Rand’s “libertarianish” message” break for either of these two shitheads. It tells me that either they don’t really care about liberty, or they’re too stupid to realize that Trump and/ or Sanders will be big government disasters the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

    As for “democratic socialism,” it may be even worse for liberty than the old Soviet style of socialism/ communism. Because it’s “democratic” they can even more easily to claim to be working on the behalf of “the people” and pat themselves on the back.

    1. false dichotomy

  21. Seems like Libertarianism becomes mainstream every week or so round these here parts.

  22. Historical Observation seems to show that most true “Libertarian Movements” happen under oppressive monarchies.

    Conclusion: Vote Clinton.

  23. Been lurking here for a while, mostly to try and understand the hatred pushed by Chuckie and Davie Koch.

    Many here are proving this famous observation to be true:

    “There are two novels that can transform a bookish 14-year-kid’s life:
    The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged.
    One is a childish daydream that can lead to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood in which large chunks of the day are spent inventing ways to make real life more like a fantasy novel.

    The other is a book about orcs.”

    1. I know I’m wasting my time on a troll, but I just have to say that when I read Atlas Shrugged in my early 50’s, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was struck by how true to life it was. It is very much grounded in a relatable reality of then-contemporary America. Sure there are some larger than life characters (in a novel ?!), and that pirate (Dagmar ? Ragnar?) was a little silly, but the villians seem very true to life. I think the “famous observation” must have been made by someone who read about the book, not the book itself.

    2. What a dumbass. There are no orcs in Atlas Shrugged.

      1. No wonder I couldn’t finish the first chapter.

    3. Thanks for the “It Takes a Village” and “Dreams from My Father” book reviews.

    4. I didn’t care for Atlas Shrugged. It was too preachy for my tastes, and repeatedly monologued about the value of greed and selfishness while all the truly greedy characters in the book were the ones working WITH the government, and the heroes actually lose out because of their unselfish adherence to their principles.

      But from that description I think you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged.

      But MORE IMPORTANTLY, you appear to not have read Lord of the Rings EITHER.

      Lord of the Rings is not “a book about orcs”. It is a series of books, none of which are individually called “Lord of the Rings”, and while the book contains orcs, it isn’t /about/ them.

      Pick up a book and turn off the TV, sir.

  24. Dear Reason Staff and Matt Kibbe:
    Optimism has its place and is generally a good quality but not when it’s based on fantasy and/or it hurts your credibility. Please, PLEASE, just stop.

  25. More Reason delusions. “Liberty-minded” voters have been ignored by the libertarian establishment for decades.
    This American majority, fiscally conservative and socially liberal, will never support a libertarianish extreme social conservative. Those independents who abandoned the GOP ain’t coming back for the same social fascism that drove them out of the GOP. duh

    So we’re still stuck with Cato’s Zogby poll. The libertarian brand is rejected by 91% if libertarians. Oh wait, that’s just reality. And reality is not for those profit by manipulating others.

    1. If you think Rand Paul is an extreme social conservative, that says a lot more about you than it says about him. With the exception of abortion, how, exactly, is he an “extreme social conservative?”

      1. Umm, it’s not just abortion and gay rights. it’s the way they promote them, lying about the Constitution parroting Orval Faubus, George Wallace and the KKK. States Rights masquerading as Federalism

        With the exception of abortion, how, exactly, is he an “extreme social conservative?”

        With the exception of healthcare and redistribution, , how, exactly, is Barack Obama a socialist?
        Do you know what socially liberal means? More than half the electorate being fiscally conservative and socially liberal? … and THEY are leading the expansion of liberty in America. Like I said, ignored by the libertarian establishment for decades.

      2. The two big issues for social conservatives these days are same-sex marriage and abortion, so it isn’t fair to discount one of those.

        I mean really, personhood beginning at conception? That’s a pretty extreme position.

        And for gay rights… while in 2010 he was for a federal ammendment to ban same-sex marriage, his stance changed over the years to supporting state-wide bans, calling it offensive, and insisting that gay people should be happy with marriage-equivalent civil unions (which were banned in over 20 of those state-wide bans he supported). Oh, and he doesn’t even acknowledge that gay rights are a thing because he doesn’t believe in “rights based on behavior”. Which, if you’ve actually been paying attention to gay rights cases, is a dog whistle back to Lawrence v. Texas and sodomy laws.

        Then there’s the CRA and similar non-discrimination laws. I think he acknowledged, once, that he was against all non-discrimination laws. But only once. More often, he talks about how gay people shouldn’t force Christian bakers to bake them a cake, but doesn’t actually care about Christians forcing gay people to bake them a cake. (Relevant: there are hundreds of non-discrimination lawsuits every year. Over the last decade there have been maybe a half-dozen involving gay people. So singling out non-discrimination suits that feature anti-gay discrimination? Not principled.)

        You can decide if that makes him extreme. But per his own statements, he is a social conservative.

        1. Extreme for folks that support the aggression of abortion on fetuses. Maybe personhood begins when you can no longer force your parent’s employer to provide you with health insurance per the ACA.

        2. Anti-gay, in the political context, means rejecting the founding concept of equal, unalienable and/or God-given rights, as enshrined in the 9th Amendment.

    2. Were communist minded voters ignored by the Bolsheviki before or after plank 2 became the 16th Amendment? Who’d they elect to accomplish that?

      1. Does the Paulista cult ALWAYS say things so totally stoopid?
        That Cato Institute was doing polls in 1909?
        AND that everyone knew what “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” meant … a hundred years ago?
        PLUS (even wackier) that those questions have anything to do with the thread? Anything at all?
        (For those who may need proof that Birthers ain’t the only ones!)

  26. Probably the biggest issue is that the vast majority of libertarians don’t pay attention to politics, don’t vote, and don’t know they’re libertarians. They just don’t care.

    1. Bingo!
      NOBODY speaks to them, or for them. (Above the local level)

  27. people voting for Trump or Sanders are not supporters of liberty or the liberty movement.

    Yes they might realize that the game has been rigged, but they don’t mind the rigging, they just want it done in their favior

  28. I object. I’m an ancap and I don’t have *any* tattoos, much less neck tattoos! 😉

    But seriously, I’m convinced that something weird is going on this election cycle, but I can only hope that it is a good and positive sign of change at this point.

  29. Antiabortion republicans only make the LP look guilty by association. The NAP was written by Ayn Rand, who valued individual rights for everyone, not just male christianofascists. As Republicans go, young Paul is better than most. I only wish he could think his own thoughts instead of aping televangelists.

    1. The NAP was written by Ayn Rand, who valued individual rights for everyone,

      And nearly two centuries earlier, the Constitution was created and ratified by — we call them “Founders” — who assured that all fundamental individual rights were equal to each other, the right to Life being equally unalienable as the right to Liberty (and all the others). Founders who, in the midst of the (un)Holy Inquisition, created a wall of separation between Church and State.

      The Wall of Separation is confirmed by Jefferson, Washington, Adams and the entire US Senate at the time. And denied by NOBODY of any stature at all.

  30. I can appreciate this point of view. But I have to somewhat disagree. Even if Chump was out of the equation, I think the black cloud of ISIS would’ve doomed Rand. Look, even though he dropped out, I still voted for him because I didn’t have the time to take a shower if I had chosen an alternate, so I’m like you Matt – drunk on the Paul-aid. I think we made progress but I think between anger and ISIS fear mongering, Rand wouldn’t have had a chance. Looking ahead, the best thing to happen is for Chump or Hillary to win. Hopefully the former to help cut government down (wishful but still better than Hillary). Either of these guys will get us into another war, send our kids to the slaughter, and drive up debt. Only then we may see people wake up and the conversation may shift away from wedge issues to fundamental ones like debt, foreign policy, and expanding role of government. A Paulite would then rise, focus on just these three things, discount the fringes – important things that our electorate ignores – of nsa spying, drone assassinations, flat taxes, criminal reform, war on drugs, etc… IMO only then we could have someone explain libertarian positions and get through to our brethren. My 2 cents.

  31. Libertarian? Looks more like the Ottoman Empire strikes back moment…

  32. Goldwater is out, but libertarianism with conservative characteristics is finally mainstream. Hoo-rah!

    1. This can only mean Nixon 2020!

  33. Shhh, don’t interrupt the fund-raising.
    Or the grazing unicorns.

    1. Nikki. You are the worst…

      1. (laughing) EVERYTHING is one dark conspiracy or another to these people. Only a handful of people in the entire universe disagree with their insufferable arrogance, all posting under assumed names. (gasp)

  34. Things were never as good as many libertarians hoped, and they aren’t as bad as many libertarians fear.

    A lot of voters are just angry at the system, broadly defined, without any sort of guiding ideology. Some of them flocked to Ron Paul, without being true libertarians, or to the Tea Party, without being true conservatives. Now, a lot of them are flocking to Trump or Sanders, but that doesn’t mean they’re socialists or whatever-the-hell-Trump-is.

    Trump vs. Sanders is still a nightmare scenario, but not necessarily a permanent nightmare.

    1. Mostly because libertarians have no fucking solutions for anything. Not a one.
      Except, “Git gummint out of it!”

      1. Why are you even here?

        1. Why are you even here?

          I’ve been here for over 40 years.
          And you cannot challenge my statement of fact.

  35. Who the hell are you kidding. The Libertarian movement is on life support. This whole generation feels entitled. They think they should go to college and study whatever nonsense they want and someone else should pay for it. They think they have the right not to ever be offended and then chose who and what offends them. You have Hollywood glorifing war and crooks. You have the Media right and left telling lie after lie. You have the Industrial /Military complex banks buying politicians. This whole country has turned into the laughing stock of the world. And for all you love it or leave it idiots out there I would if you would only donate 1 dollars to the Get that crazy Libertarian out of here fund.

    1. The movement has always been on life support. But the “movement” is less than 10% of libertarians.

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  41. Too bad intelligence isn’t becoming mainstream.

  42. Why not at least acknowledge that Rand’s unprincipled pandering (e.g.signing the wretched letter that Bibi/AIPAC paid Tom Cotton $100m to gin [pun intended] up) turned off people (like me) who gave time, money and enthusiasm to Ron Paul. I realize the perfect is the enemy of the good, but signing that Cotton letter was too vile to overlook.

    1. But Ron’s pandering to bigots and the Christian Caliphate is okay?

  43. Our “libertarian moment” turned out to be tantamount to the mediocre orgasm acquired through a furtive masturbation session, deftly secured in a community park bathroom in the midst of a terribly repressive family reunion. Wipe your tears before you pull up your pants. This is as good as it gets, fuckers.

  44. Enjoyed the article and hope he is right. For what it’s worth, this ‘young at heart’ (so I’m not a teenager anymore) Midwesterner was absolutely on board with Rand and his messages.

    So far Trump has mostly delivered insults with little details on how he would do any of the crazy thing he is proposing. Per factcheck.org 70% of what Trump says is either a Lie or made up? Seriously, folks are voting for a guy who lies to them most the time???

    I know, all politicians lie, we have Ms. “no top secret emails” Clinton, and “If you like you doctor you can keep him” Obama, but still.

    Then we have Bernie “free stuff for everybody, so my numbers don’t add up and who cares about adding to the $58,000 a new American baby owes the day they are born, but more free stuff for everyone” Sanders.

    Rand although not perfect was a refreshing does of common sense with a message that might actually help improve this country.

    Keep up the good work.

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  46. Libertarianism is dead. Ron Paul supporters are voting Trump, including me.
    Globalism is corporate slavery. No boarders = no community. The editors @ Reason are too autistic. Free market religion. My neighborhood isn’t save when neighbors don’t speak English. Islam is a terrorist group. Keep our enemies out. Nationalism is rising!

    1. Is English your first language? It doesn’t appear to be, from the way you write.
      -a libertarian immigrant

    2. Libertarianism is dead. Ron Paul supporters are voting Trump, including me

      Thanks for confirming that Ron Paul has nothing to do with libertarianism. Anti-gummint conspiracies are NOT pro-liberty, Read the Quran, if you dare.

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