Who is the most influential libertarian in the United States? Ron Paul, according to this fun top-100 list put together by the conservative outlet Newsmax, working from (and supplementing) a poll put together by our friends at FreedomFest, the annual liberty-movement/free-market gathering in Las Vegas. (See Reason's coverage of Ron Paul, read Senior Editor Brian Doherty's book on the man, and browse through Paul's archive in our pages.)
To compile this list, our editors defined a libertarian as a consistent advocate of free-market capitalism, minimal government, and social tolerance (thus distinguishing libertarians from conservatives). Their motto might be "Keep government out of the boardroom and the bedroom." […]
Still, a list like this is subjective at best, and should be viewed as interesting and informative, rather than definitive. We very likely missed people who should have been on the list, and we welcome your input and correction for future editions. Moreover, while selecting only 100 is difficult, coming up with a ranking is even more subjective. We tried to rank the entrants in what we believe is a somewhat logical order of influence, but we certainly recognize that many readers (and perhaps even some people whose names are on the list!) may take exception to the ranking.
Finally, it is important to note that we chose to leave out a few individuals whose credentials as libertarians might be less convincing, such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Howard Stern.
The list definitely tilts to the right, and some libertarian credentials have already been greeted with skepticism by the listees themselves, such as #75 Charles Gasparino of Fox News ("Ok I guess I'm a libertarian sort of"). But these things are fun, and, well, let's go ahead and get the most controversial sequence out of the way:
22) Nick Gillespie
24) Matt Welch
The Reason family overall is well represented on this list, which is as good a reminder as any to subscribe to the damn magazine, donate to the Foundation that makes it all possible, re-read Brian Doherty's great 2008 oral history of the magazine, and by all means come out to FreedomFest this year to see me and Nick and Katherine Mangu-Ward from the main stage, and also a whole universe of futuristic Reason Day goodness on Saturday, July 21.
After the jump, the rankings of our employees, donors, contributors, ex-staffers, and friends.
84) Veronique de Rugy (archive)
87) Deirdre Nansen McCloskey (archive)
Plenty of other friends, contributors, donors, and interview subjects on the list, including Penn Jillette (21), Matt and Terry Kibbe (28), Trey Parker and Matt Stone (43), Andrea and Howie Rich (53-54), Jeffrey Miron (76), Matt Ridley (83), and many more. Only non-Paul politicians on the list are Gary Johnson (7), Justin Amash (20), and Thomas Massie (55).
Am I giving away too much? Go read the full list! And then check out Reason's 35th anniversary "35 Heroes of Freedom" feature, which features several people from this list, and several others who no sane person would precisely describe as "libertarian." And though you need no urging from me, let's hear it in the comments: What's your own top 10? Greatest omission/worst inclusion? And who deserves the top slot on the "100 Most Influential Libertarian Commenters" list?