Since a fall 2008 Nick Gillespie/Matt Welch essay under that headline, you've heard a lot around these parts about "The Libertarian Moment"; lately along the lines of rumors of its death are premature. With the early presidential exit of Rand Paul, the pre-written obituaries for libertarianism have been pouring forth from a gleeful commentariat. Are the naysayers right?
That's the backdrop to a debate this Wednesday night at the Cato Institute, titled "Was the 'Libertarian Moment' Wishful Thinking?" Starting at 6 p.m. ET, in Cato's Hayek Auditorium (1000 Massachusetts Ave, NW; Washington, D.C., 20001-5403), the debate features me, Cato Executive Vice President David Boaz, National Review Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru, and staff writer Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic. From the promotional materials:
Less than 18 months ago, a cover story for the New York Times Magazine asked, "Has the 'libertarian moment' finally arrived?" From public suspicion of the surveillance state, to increasing tolerance for marijuana legalization, to marriage equality, to weariness with war—the article argued that after years of intellectual work, "for perhaps the first time," libertarianism has "genuine political momentum on its side." However, the Rand Paul presidential campaign failed to catch fire. The two breakout candidates of the presidential campaign have been a socialist and an authoritarian. The idea of tolerance seems increasingly quaint, as Mexicans and Muslims have become the target of public frustrations. And the public seems to have forgotten its weariness with war, as the Islamic State continues its brutal terrorism. Was all this talk of the libertarian moment simply wishful thinking? Or was the libertarian moment never about politics in the first place? […]
If you would like to attend in person, please register at this link by 6 p.m. ET tomorrow.