Election 2020

Where Do Libertarians Go From Here?

Libertarians would have a more promising future if they spent less time worrying about national elections and more time working politically at the local level.


At a Libertarian convention years ago, one of the party's candidates started saying, "When I'm president of the United States." I chuckled and responded: "Well, that isn't going to happen." We all knew then—and know now—that the Libertarian Party (L.P.) candidate has zero chance of ever sitting behind the Resolute Desk.

After former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson won the L.P. nomination in 2016, libertarian activists thought it was their year to put the party on the map. Well, that was the view of those who weren't mad about Johnson's lack of ideological purity and his not-particularly-libertarian running mate, former Republican Bill Weld.

At the time, some optimism seemed warranted. The race pitted an enormously unpopular Democratic candidate against a vulgar Republican one, which—in theory, anyway—should have created a hunger for an experienced ticket offering sensible limited-government solutions.

After the ticket garnered 3.27 percent of the vote, I received a press release celebrating that accomplishment, which was a record-setting vote haul for the Libertarian Party. That was perhaps 47 percent and 270 electors short of making any difference, but such are the small victories that keep libertarians going. I remember when state party leaders celebrated their elected officials, with a member of a water board leading the show.

After Tuesday's vote, Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen drew around 1 percent of the vote. It has nothing to do with her personality, which is pleasant, or her campaign, which seemed fine. This year's election was a referendum on Donald Trump. The major parties have convinced the nation that this was the Most Important Election Ever—and the wrong outcome would lead America into (pick one) socialism or fascism. Why "waste" a vote?

My goal isn't to dump on the L.P., even though it wouldn't take much research to chronicle its long-running failures. The two major parties dominate the national discussion. They have put impediments in the way of third-party ballot and debate access. Although libertarianism has deep roots within the nation's history, most Americans are not libertarians. That makes party building a tough row to hoe.

Democrats and Republicans have evolved largely into warring cultural tribes rather than vessels of ideological consistency. As government grows and both parties fight over who controls the levers of power, it's harder to stay relevant with our less-is-more approach toward governance. It's difficult even to get our policy ideas onto the national stage.

To make matters worse, libertarians have irreconcilable disagreements. Many libertarian colleagues despise the president and view him as a wannabe authoritarian, while others are convinced that he's the most libertarian president in ages. In 2014, Jeffrey Tucker wrote about two main libertarian camps, which he termed "humanitarians" and "brutalists."

The humanitarians believe in liberty because it "allows peaceful human cooperation" and "keeps violence at bay," he argued. "It allows for capital formation and prosperity. It protects human rights of all against invasion. It allows human associations of all sorts to flourish on their own terms."

By contrast, brutalists like liberty because "it allows people to assert their individual preferences, to form homogeneous tribes, to work out their biases in action, to ostracize people based on 'politically incorrect' standards." It allows them "to hate to their heart's content so long as no violence is used as a means, to shout down people based on their demographics or political opinions." I call them "get off my lawn" libertarians.

I count myself among the humanitarians, but my point is the chasm between these self-identified libertarian groups is as deep as the one separating progressive Democrats from nationalist conservatives. It's hard to build a national movement that resonates with the public when our own movement is bitterly divided.

The Orange County Register recently interviewed Jorgensen and came away impressed. In a pre-election editorial, the newspaper argued that she "deserves to be heard." While her overall ideas were worthy of discussion, she had nothing illuminating to say in response to my question about how we, as libertarians, should proceed in our increasingly non-libertarian world.

I've long argued that libertarians should focus their politicking on the local level, at building a bottom-up rather than top-down movement. California's city council and supervisor races are nonpartisan, which gives third-party candidates real opportunities to actually win office. We shouldn't underestimate how much we can achieve at that level.

For instance, former Calimesa Mayor Jeff Hewitt, now a Riverside County supervisor, led the reform of his city's fire department to reduce pension liabilities—something officials in the Orange County city of Placentia officials echoed. The legislature then passed a law halting such reforms out of fear that it would spread (and endanger union pay packages), but this was a testament to how much change one elected libertarian can accomplish.

A libertarian has again failed to become president or to even seriously be in the running. Perhaps libertarians have a more promising future if we spend less time worrying about national elections and more time championing our good ideas—and working politically at the local level.

This column was first published in The Orange County Register.

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  1. Where do libertarians go from here?
    Presumably to the neo-Gulags, along with all conservatives and wrong-thinkers of course. That is, if they get away with the most blatant election fraud in the history of this country to install President Biden Harris.

    1. What “blatant” election fraud do you speak of? Evidence or STFU please.

      1. There’s evidence everywhere documented and censored by Twitter. Exit the propaganda machine and be enlightened.

        1. I asked for evidence not conjecture.

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      2. If it isn’t sufficiently blatant for you to see through this fraud, then there’s not enough evidence in this world for me to prove it to you.

        1. Negative. It’s your job to provide evidence to back up your accusations, not mine. Do you have any? Or just logical fallacies?

          1. It is absolutely not my job to prove them, sorry. Although I don’t want to disclose my profession, I can assure you, that it is not my task to prove election fraud in the relevant states.

            You’re the one making logical fallacies. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Not having proven, that fraud has been taken place does not mean that fraud had not taken place.

            And if you knew history, you’d be aware that the topic is very complicated indeed:
            Wikipedia: Box 13 Scandal
            After the election, some thought consequences would be inevitable.[3] Despite this, there would be no charges, because nothing could be proven. Pulitzer Prize winning author Robert A. Caro covered the Box 13 scandal in detail. About one quarter of Caro’s 500-page book, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent, was devoted to the 1948 Texas Senatorial election.[4] The book does not cover Johnson’s entire life, however it does cover his rise in the U. S. Congress.
            So even without proof, it was blatantly obvious to all, just like the current one is. This election will not be legitimate for almost half of the country, since almost half of the country concluded that Biden couldn’t possibly have defeated President Trump in a fair election.

            1. Good luck in court.
              Oh BTW. Trump is about to be defeated by a senile old man. Lol.

              1. And the nation is about to be controlled by a party dedicated to degrading personal liberty. Do you LOL about that?

                1. Nope. I’m fucking thrilled that we have divided government.

                  1. Not divided when they cheat in the Georgia Senate…..it’s systemic, folks.

                    1. Only time will tell. If Libertarians want to be relevant, the two Libertarian “spoiler” candidates should get some kind of political favors from the majors in return for an endorsement.

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                2. When was the US ever NOT controlled by a party dedicated to degrading personal liberty? 1789?

            2. Uh, yeah. Logic–like mathematics–has rules. I know… shocking stuff. If one makes an assertion, one is responsible for providing the evidence supporting the assertion. Really, not about anyone’s occupation, just how logic works.

          2. It’s not his job to convince you of what you do not want to be convinced.

            Is it your fault if you can’t convince a flat-earther that the world is round, or can’t convince a creationist that the earth is more than 6000 years old?

            1. Fortunately you don’t have to convince a flat-earther that it’s round. You just have to give them directions they can understand that get them to the next town. The creationist similarly doesn’t need to know how old the earth is, just instructions on how to dig a well.

              1. True enough. But what about people who hold racist or sexist beliefs?

                1. You can get their help too. Most matters aren’t about race or sex.

            2. So you’re saying that it’s so obvious that the election is being stolen from Trump that it’s silly to even question the assertion? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Giuliani tries that tactic in front of SCOTUS.

              1. No, jack, I’m saying that you are so sold on your position that you refuse to even consider that there might be any evidence of fraud, let alone have a looksee.

                1. I asked for evidence and was met with a wall of logical fallacy.

                  1. No, you were met with evidence, good or bad, which you refused to consider evidence, good or bad.

                    1. Which is proof that I’m the one with my mind made up? As opposed to the one making the unfounded assertion of “blatant election fraud” whom I challenged. OK.

              2. >>So you’re saying that it’s so obvious that the election is being stolen from Trump that it’s silly to even question the assertion?

                the seriousness of the charge …

            3. True it had a birthday it is now 6001 years old

        2. I could go give a list of citations, take an hour to vet them, but what’s the point? This worthless troll won’t bother reading them.

          For those who will consider additional evidence, I do think Larry Correia’s latest blog post lays out the cases of fraud rather succinctly: https://monsterhunternation.com/2020/11/05/the-2020-election-fuckery-is-afoot

          I do not know why people think that wholesale election fraud is funny. Elections are what we use in place of naked force, to peacefully transition between leadership groups. If elections can no longer be trusted, people will put their faith in bombs and bullets.

          1. Or put their trust in surrender, which is usually pretty reliable. Give them what they want, usually they won’t hurt you.

          2. A failed science fiction writer’s blog is all you have?

            1. What a retarded comment. He linked to it for summary. God chipper, how do you even put pants on in the morning? Feel free to investigate any of the points in the summary you wish.

          3. Wow. A blog post with no citations. You sure convinced me.

            Actually, there was one interesting link of a guy entering in his dad’s voter information and “finding” that his absentee ballot had been received, but noting that his dad died in 1984. Of course, he only shows that the ballot was received, not that it was accepted. Every state rejects ballots from dead people.

        3. I skimmed through your link. Almost all of it was conjecture, heresay and where links were offered it was mostly to social media accounts offering….more heresay and conjecture. Good luck in the courts guys.

          1. Nobody believes you.

            1. Nobody who matters cares about Trump Litigation, which is likely to be as successful as Trump Steaks, Trump Casino, Trump Shuttle, and Trump University.

              Disaffected clingers get to mutter and sputter inconsequentially as much as they like, though.

          2. Yeah, Trump supporters will believe anything. They are very gullible. Show them some video on twitter about some guy hauling a briefcase in a pushcart and they’ll be convinced it’s ballots in the briefcase.

            1. It’s fucking ridiculous how much of their own egos they’ve vested to Trump. I hope these idiots disappear from these pages if Biden wins…just like they magically appeared after 2016.

        4. This is what we Boomers call a “cop out”.

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  2. The perennial post-election piece since the high-water Electoral College mark of 1972.

    1. At least you can go back to your chickens now, and isn’t that what you really wanted all along?

  3. “spent less time worrying about national elections”

    I disagree.

    The fundamental, non-negotiable principle of Koch / Reason libertarianism is open borders. And we’re not going to get open borders with an occasional Libertarian Party victory in a state legislature race.


  4. “The legislature then passed a law halting such reforms out of fear that it would spread…”

    This is of course the argument against *solely* focusing at the local level, embedded right there in the author’s article.

    I think the ‘why not both?’ response is the right one. Yes, there are tradeoffs, because money is finite, but running a presidential candidate forces the party to establish ballot access, and while i’m not expert, i think that spills down the ballot – ie, the presidential candidate enables (potentially) a lot of other candidates to get on the ballot, and where it might be more expensive to establish ballot access for them otherwise.

    But so why don’t we have more libertarians running in local and state elections? Money is probably one reason. But a bigger reason is its probably hard to find candidates who actually want to run. Most libertarians probably don’t want to be in government office. (We want less government for lots of reasons – who wants to do a job that they view as unnecessary, inefficient, wasteful, or counter-productive?)

    1. That’s always been the paradox of the LP – why should I run for office in order to leave people alone when I can more easily just leave them alone by leaving them alone?

      1. Yes, the paradox of the Apathy Club. No one ever shows up for meetings.

        More seriously though, it does mean that government will always be dominated by people who want to Do Something! Maybe a truly representative government would consist of randomly recruited citizens, like juries.

        1. government will always be dominated by people who want to Do Something
          Power attracts those who wish to use it. Combine that with an electorate that wants to use power to reward friends and punish enemies.

          1. In other words, most humans since forever.

            1. I think misanthropes are on to something.

        2. I voted for a Libertarian Tax Collector in Harris County, TX. I found it ironic but glad I could do it. I also voted Libertarian for Railroad commissioner. The ironic one in that race was the Green party candidate because in Texas the Railroad Commissioner oversees Texas’ oil and gas industry along with the state-owned mineral holdings.

        3. Overall govt may well be dominated by those who want to do something – because that;s the way one makes a career out of govt

          But in my experience, a LOT of people go into govt to reform something. Which yes is DOING something. But if a libertarian can’t actually think of a real-world libertarian reform, then they are nothing but a blowhard sitting on a bar stool. Which is fine but is hardly a working definition of libertarian.

          And random selection – sortition – is exactly the sort of governance mechanism that can help create libertarianism. Far more effective than the silliness of the best ever technical voting system that ensures perfection and requires at least fifteen years of deep research to figure out why. Random sortition works because
          a)if the assembly is large enough, it will gather all the different perspectives that prove why Hayek was right about knowledge (iow it will be much more difficult to agree on something and much easier to agree to disagree) and
          b)the selected will be more likely to realize that whatever they do during their term is much less important than what they have to live with after their term is over.

          1. As an aside – LP could easily implement sortition as a way to hash out governance stuff. And wouldn’t need to win elections in order to do that.

            eg – we are about to enter the reapportionment and redistricting of everything window that will in truth drive all elections for the next ten years. As long as we let D’s and R’s drive all the options and say nothing because L’s want to sit on the sidelines – well we’ll get what we’ve seen for 100+ years.

            But technically redistricting options are easy to come up with now that we have computers. So have the L’s randomly select 1000 different voters in your state and have them pick the basic criteria of it (keep counties together? how important is compact? etc) and come up with two or three residtricting choices. That can be done – transparent and online – long before the D’s and R’s come up with the ‘best’ rigged choice done behind closed doors by party poobahs – and have the L’s sell their models to the mass media so that it becomes the first one out there in public view.

            1. It’s absurd to believe that sortition orifices particularly attractive redistricting.

              The best way of dealing with redistricting is to let people themselves choose which district they want to be part of

          2. Ah, another fan of demarchy.

            Adding- random selection tends towards the lessened corruption. Fewer choke points and too broad a selection to effectively bribe. Not to mention without the promise of influence to bestow, committees tend towards “let’s get this over and done with so I can get back to fishing” affairs.

            The only problem is you also get government by committee.

          3. Sortition is just a different way of exercising state power. You can have a totalitarian socialist state and run it using sortition.

            Sortition can be a useful way of running a minarchy, but there is nothing intrinsically libertarian about it.

      2. Boom.

        My goal is to be left alone.

        That’s really not that hard to achieve.

        If other people wanted to be left alone, they too could achieve this.

        But they DON’T want to be left alone, so it’s a bit arrogant to try to force it upon them…

  5. As a libbertarion I will NEVER vote for anyone else outside the party until WEED IS LEGAL IN EVERY STATE.

    1. Pot in a every chicken!

      1. Pot in every brownie

        1. Juts because we want to legalize pot, that doesn’t mean we approve of giving pot to under age girl scouts.

          1. Hunter Biden does. Especially if they’re his underage niece.

  6. Perhaps libertarians have a more promising future if we spend less time worrying about Libertarians and more time worrying about libertarians.
    The Libertarian Party has been a clusterfuck for a long time.

    1. Nah, a clusterfuck is more organized.

      1. It certainly has a better sense of purpose.

  7. I hope the journalists, historians, and political analysts at Reason will look back at how the Socialist Partie(s) never won the presidency but have, 100 years later, had many of their ideas installed by the Republicans and Democrats. Would Fabian Libertarianism succeed? Would today’s Libertarians even consider the idea of incremental, issue by issue, change?

    1. And the way they did that was by being Republicans, Democrats, and independents, and also activists who weren’t even directly involved in politics.

      Fabian everything succeeds, it’s how everything we have now got that way.

    2. The main impediment I see to libertarians’ success in that regard is, paradoxically, an inordinate desire to be the boss, and only the boss, rather than ascending thru the ranks slowly by starting as one following the boss rather than being hir. The existing successful political organizations want volunteers very badly, they’re just not looking for a newbie coming in and trying to tell them what to do. It’s the same even in volunteer organizations that have absolutely nothing to do with government, but in which people have different ideas of directions to go in, such as when it comes to coaching children in sports. You earn trust and eventually authority by going along with the existing leadership for several years.

      1. I think there is a paucity of principled libertarians who want to work their way up by supporting such cretins as Rick Santorum and Kamala Harris. You don’t move very far up any ladder by being a reluctant team member.

        1. But that’s how they got to be Rick Santorum and Kamala Harris. If they had any influence at all, it was in that they were at one time a reluctant team member. Maybe those individuals never were, and only had people above them who positively motivated them, but then those individuals had no influence and you’re looking at the wrong example.

          The world has not always been the way it is now, it’s always changing. It got to be the way it is now by the actions of people, whether they were working with pre-existing cretins or not.

          And besides, how many of the people you’re going to encounter at first are Rick Santorum or Kamala Harris? You’re going to start out by working with people who are much less prominent, and among them people who are more susceptible to influence by you.

          1. Kamala got ahead by fucking Willie Brown.

            So, maybe that’s not the best example?

            1. Sometimes to get ahead you have to give a little.

            2. How did she get into position to be able to fuck Willie Brown? It’s not like she was born into that position.

          2. Massie has commented extensively on what it takes to maintain office and the Santorums are little more than placeholders for those who funded their campaigns. You don’t work your way up the political ranks, you get owned either by favors or money.

            But hey, money is speech and all that.

            So unless there is some serious money backing (and a serious flexibility in policy positions), you don’t raise ranks in any party unless you have something to offer.

        2. Did you ever try asking one of them, or somebody like them, how they got to be the Rick Santorum or the Kamala Harris we know? They’ll tell you, and I’m sure they won’t lie. They’ll regale you with long stories both about how/why they became activists and how they came to the ideas they have now. They’ll talk about the difficulties they had to overcome, and how they did so.

          A lot of the answers usually turn out to be influential people (or even deities!) in their past. Well, there’s one approach you can take even if you don’t want to be a politician: Be one of those individuals who turns out to be an influence on them. And if they say some of it came from God, then be an individual who influences God, because men made gods in their own image.

          1. “After graduating, Santorum was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar and practiced law for four years at the Pittsburgh law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, a firm known for raising political candidates and lobbyists (later named K&L Gates). ”

            Senators do not follow paths that can be replicated by most people.

            A Georgia Senator married well and bought an appointment.

            Alaska Senator was the daughter of the prior Senator and nominated to her position when he became governor.

            State legislatures are much more attainable by people with real jobs.

            1. Most people don’t need to be US senators, but the point is someone will be that. A very high proportion of legislators, especially in Congress, were lawyers, and lawyering is a very competitive field whose internal “politics” matters a lot. The point is, he really had to want to do that, and had to be pretty good to do that.

              As for marrying well, again, somebody will do that. Marriage is a competitive field too, and if you don’t try you don’t win.

              As to being the daughter of a US senator, the question then is, how did her father get to be a US senator?

              And though state legislators are more easily attainable — basically because there are more of them — membership of both houses of Congress has a high proportion of former state legislators.

              1. But why are we even discussing state legislative seats as if that’s a place to start a political career? Most of those people were already important figures in local politics or in leadership of non-political positions like chambers of commerce, PTA, business and civic associations, etc. See if you’re successful at those first and then see if you’re cut out for something higher up.

                I’m not saying you even have to be that person, but you should encourage others to be.

    3. Seems like the problem with getting the “viable” parties to incorporate parts of the libertarian agenda is that, with a few notable exceptions, those parties are made up of authoritarians.

      Even with cannabis legalization having strong nationwide support across the spectrum, both the Dems and the Repubs ran candidates who personally oppose it. When Mississippi and South Dakota are going ahead with some level of decriminalization, at least that level of policy has to be long overdue at the national level; I get that there are more important issues to be dealt with than a slight rollback of the “war on drugs” and all that entails, but it also shouldn’t have taken much time to at least get cannabis off of the “Schedule 1” list

  8. The author never addresses the basic question: Why should libertarians have a political party of our own? And the evidence it gives in favor of running for any office is success in a nonpartisan election.

    The two largest political parties in the USA have proven their success in getting candidates elected, about equally to each other, and in being able to adapt to changing circumstances by adopting whatever interests and ideologies enable them to win about half the time. Why look to buck their proven success instead of getting in on their action?

    1. The concept of liberty has to begin with a lesson on the nature of rights. Neither conservatives nor especially progressives understand the concepts of positive vs negative rights. When a person is taught from a young age that their rights are “granted” by higher authorities it’s understandable that they fall prey to one of the two political factions. That, as well as indifference and especially tribalism is why libertarian-thought can’t gain traction in our society.
      Even here, in this “libertarian” comment section tribalism dominates everything. If the majority of so called libertarians fall prey to one party, what chance does the rest of society have?

      1. People don’t have to understand any such thing. Everybody can understand concepts the way they’re comfortable with, and they needn’t even understand the concepts you think it’s important for them to understand in order to do your bidding.

        That’s one problem with many libertarian activists: thinking they need to turn people into philosophers.

        1. You can’t trust the jeffys like Eric to argue honestly. They start from the hidden fallacy that being a realist is tribalism.

        2. What your missing is that the commonly accepted version of libertarian thought is completely wrong:
          “Libertarians are conservative on economics and liberal on social issues”
          While this once might have aligned with political factions beliefs it missed the mark. Libertarians consider all rights as negative. They may align with liberals on drugs, but liberals would pass a law that grants the positive right to do drugs. They believe the authority comes from the state. And conservatives would subject society to biblical law, creating positive rights where they don’t belong. This crucial schism between libertarians and everyone else is why it’s difficult to sell. It requires more processing power than most in our lazy society will ever dedicate to the issue.

          1. Bingo. Tell someone that you believe the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional and watch the fireworks.

            1. Exactly. Or the looks of horror I got from my uber-progressive family when I stated that I didn’t support a gay marriage law. Half of them had already disowned me as I quickly tried to explain that the state shouldn’t be granting marriages at all.

              1. If that’s an undesired result, why are you talking to them about that at all?

                1. My family talks politics a lot. And they know I’m not a progressive or Democrat and want to know what I think on issues. That day I’d had a few too many and just blurted out my opinion without my usual prefaces as to “why” I was about to disagree with them.

              2. The position that gov’t shouldn’t be sanctioning marriage isn’t incompatible with the caveat that if they’re going to be doing it then any two consenting adults should be allowed to enter into such an arrangement.

      2. When people look for advice on how to do something, usually they’re not looking for a long explanation as to why your way works. I’ve turned off a lot of people by giving them too much information.

        1. Yep. It’s why most partisans on both sides dismiss libertarians as philosophers or utopians.

          1. One of the key concepts in marketing is the 30 second elevator speech. If you can’t sum up your product in 30 seconds you will likely not sell it as well.

      3. Contrarians are another tribe just like atheists are. You aren’t special and you’re not a unicorn fucktard. You just pretend you are and dismiss any countering evidence of you not being so. You and chipper fall for the same sophist bullshit.

  9. Where Do Libertarians Go From Here?

    Gun range
    Their place of employment
    Favorite watering hole
    You know go about our daily lives.

    1. “Gun range
      Their place of employment
      Favorite watering hole”

      Soon to be illegal, or burdened with sufficient regulation that it may as well be.
      Closed due to COVID. May be reopened, if the congregation is sufficiently woke for the Party.
      Went bankrupt because of energy restrictions, oh and because of COVID.
      See churches.

      The group behind Biden hasn’t promised business as usual after he’s elected. Why do people think it will nevertheless happen?

      1. You are listing a bunch of sectors that are much more affected by state law than Federal.

      2. Just because they’re illegal doesn’t mean you have to stop. Just continue doing whatever it is in secret.

        Business may not be as usual again — things are always changing — but it’ll be business of some kind. People still need to get things done.

  10. Where do Libertarians go from here? They should go to Biden’s campaign HQ to collect their reward for handing Biden the election. If Libertarians in WI and GA had voted for Trump, he would have won those states. If Libertarians in NC had voted for Trump, he would be far enough ahead that they would have called the state for him yesterday. If Libertarians in PA had voted for Trump, he would be slightly ahead instead of slightly behind.

    I hope you folks are proud of yourselves, and I hope you enjoy four years of Biden-Harris.

    1. We don’t owe Trump/GOP shit.

      1. Enjoy Biden/Harris.

        Remember, no complaints. Enjoy it.

      2. Yes, but you get credit for biden.

      3. You might get what you want, but you might not want what you get.

    2. If Republicans hadn’t treated Ron Paul like dog crap on their shoe, maybe libertarians would have stuck around the GOP.

      1. Maybe libertarians shouldn’t take politics personally. Don’t look at who treated whom like what, look at the big picture. Ron Paul himself would tell you that.

    3. Give up our principles, so your candidate can win? No thanks. I AM proud of the way I voted.

      1. Ok.

        Enjoy Biden/Harris.

        Be proud.

        No complaints.

    4. Every election for every office, a new crop has to learn new lessons from the results.

    5. Just a couple thoughts:
      1. We cannot tell others whom they must vote for, nor can we ostracize them for voting someone else, even if by doing so, they become unwitting ‘kingmakers’ for another candidate.
      2. We cannot know the amount of LP voters who would have voted for President Trump in a situation where there’s no LP candidate on the ballot. This is purely speculation, since we could only ascertain about that if could see alternate realities.
      3. It however can be argued, that some/many LP voters would have voted for President Trump if things had been different. We can and should have tried to convince them (better), that this was preferable to the alternatives.
      4. Though the Dems managed to foil the GP candidate in many states, this was not an ethical deed, and therefore it should not be envied. It can be argued that the competition became ‘unfair’ though, since the GP should foil the Dems the same way the LP foils the GOP. That is, if we want to utilize that line of thought.
      5. Since fraudulent behavior is obviously present in this election, it is possible that Biden would have ‘won’ even with some additional LP votes for Trump, after all, if someone has the willingness and capabilities to cheat, they can certainly take it even further.

      But yes, I agree with you that those who stuck by their ideologies, and not their principles, have made a mistake. I believe that the threat of a Biden/Harris reign was far too serious compared to any other outcome. And if someone understand how election math works, then it should have been imperative of them to try and help President Trump ward off a catastrophe. Failing to do that, is cutting off the nose to spite the face. It’s an ethical dilemma, but the thing with ethical dilemmas, is that they are only dilemmas in theory. Saving one person as opposed to saving a hundred person should be an obvious choice in practice. Ethically, one should never be force to make that choice, since we are not G-d to rule over life and death, but then again, there are doctors who are doing just that, and there were paramedics/medics, who did just that e.g. during wartime too. It is basic triage, that may prompt sad and difficult choices, but these choices aren’t difficult because they’re hard to pick, they’re difficult because it’s hard to accept them.

      1. 1. We cannot tell others whom they must vote for, nor can we ostracize them for voting someone else, even if by doing so, they become unwitting ‘kingmakers’ for another candidate.

        Exactly! We can’t dictate to libertarians any more than we can dictate to authoritarians. People don’t react well to being told, “You were stupid, listen to me next time, I’m smarter.”

        1. “We can’t dictate to libertarians any more than we can dictate to authoritarians. People don’t react well to being told, “You were stupid, listen to me next time, I’m smarter.”

          Funny, considering that’s how a lot of Big L Libertarians argue. Along with the de rigueur No True Libertarian…

          1. Of course that’s the point.

        2. Enjoy President Harris.

          I mean it.

          I hope you enjoy it.

          You got exactly what you wanted, and deserved. No complaints on what may come.

          Nobody will ever listen to libertarians caterwauling ever again.

          1. The idea of what a President Harris would want to do scares me considerably (and full disclosure, I voted for her twice in lower-level elections). However without the “blue wave” hitting the legislature, and a non-leftist majority on the USSC, she’ll have a very hard time actually accomplishing anything of real significance.

            1. The Democratic party still has a majority of the House, and which way the Senate goes is yet uncertain.

              The Supreme Court is reliably expected to restrict any truly crazy plans from President Harris. For now. If the Senate does not stop it, the Court will be expanded, and that will no longer be the case.

              Faith in gridlock is likely misplaced.

            2. There is a level of innocence youre going to lose in the next 4 years. People were saying just 5 years ago woke nation would stay on campus. Good luck

        3. True. But doing anything they want is equally foolish and a waste of time.

          If people wanted what they were selling, they wouldn’t celebrate getting 1% of the vote.

          So leave them be and ignore the caterwauling. The Left does and Libertarians beg them for approval still.

          There are ways to change the system that don’t require votes. They are just less clean and pleasant. But tend to be more effective.

    6. Or maybe if Trump and the GOP had not staked a position against voting by mail, and instead figured out how to get more votes from people not inclined to go to the polls, they might have won. I will bet the spread from that beats any vote loss to Libertarian candidates.

      1. You may be wrong though due to the frauds. If anything, it was projected, modeled and counted beforehand, that not only did registered republicans opted to vote by mail in vast numbers, but in certain states e.g. Michigan, they have even outdid democrats. Plus, the percentage of returned ballots were roughly equal between the two parties, in fact, democrats returned a greater portion of their requested ballots. So, dare I ask, how is it possible that Biden had received ballots in enormous numbers, when the ratio should have been 2:1 at best? There were instances, when the received dumps were 80-90% Biden.

        So I don’t believe that President Trump’s rhetoric was a problem. If anything, the problems began when the dems came up with the mail-in-fraud scheme. It shouldn’t have been allowed for them to change the rules and pace of the election less than 2 months prior to ED. Nor was it okay for them to scrap certain anti-fraud stopgaps such as signature and postmark requirements. Not to mention the ballots received past ED. The whole thing was a scam, even without dead and out-of-state voters. It was never meant to be an ‘anti-virus’ act, it was always meant to tilt the balance into their favor. A balance, that had always been in their favor for various other reasons. No wonder that a supposedly right-leaning country had just elected (or so they claim) the most left-leaning candidate in the history of the country. It’s not real, because it’s not possible, since it doesn’t make any sense.

    7. If Republicans had voted for Jo, she’d be president instead of Biden.

    8. Ranked Choice or Approval voting systems should, in theory, have mitigated the spoiler effect. Third party and independent voters would be acting in their own best interest to support adoption of those voting systems.

  11. In 2014, Jeffrey Tucker wrote about two main libertarian camps, which he termed “humanitarians” and “brutalists.”

    Or you can say the “cosmo” or “paleo” factions instead.

    The brutalist/paleo faction desires a separate tribal/religious identity and are comfortable throwing around religious dogma. “Liberty” to them is confined to operation within their dogma. They need an authoritarian like Trump to police this division and keep the undesirables out.

    I guess us classic liberals will always be at odds with the paleo/brutalist faction.

    1. Cosmotarian = liberty only for the nice people (and they get to decide who is nice, and what nice is)

    2. Jeffrey Tucker may as well have named them “saints” and “sinners” for all the categorization accomplishes.

    3. I just wonder how the libertarian movement hasn’t lost a lot of the paleo/bruatalists to the Dems now that the “woke” movement has made shouting down others because of their identity or their ideas differeing from one’s own not only permissable but encouraged.

      1. Why would Paleolibertarians vote Dem?

    4. Humanitarians want a bigger power than the individual to take care of people. They are liberals.

  12. Ideas have consequences, but ideas don’t produce them by themselves. You don’t get to get the consequences you want by having the best ideas, because best is always a matter of opinion, and everybody thinks the ideas they already have are the best or they wouldn’t have them.

    You don’t get to talk down to the people who are, or whose ideas are, currently in charge, by telling them your ideas are better, listen to you! Usually the acquisition of ideas is very path-dependent. They say you can’t reason out of a certain idea those who weren’t reasoned into it, but a more complete description is that you don’t get to influence things according to whatever you think is the best means of influence at the time you come along; you catch them in the condition they’re already in, with all their history of getting there. You weren’t the important person in this person’s life who had inordinate influence in hir thinking thenceforth, you’re where you are with them right now.

  13. Until you come to terms with Duverger’s Law, you’re a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there.


    In short, because of single member districts, the Libertarian Party will never be more than a spoiler. Our only real hope is to infiltrate one of the two major parties–which has been done successfully in the past. FDR lifted the platform of the Socialist Party of America and implemented it as the New Deal (link below). Having someone do that with our “platform” is the best argument for the Libertarian Party.

    Our mission as libertarians is to persuade enough of our fellow Americans to want a more libertarian world. The Libertarian Party is useful in that regard because it gives us an opportunity to engage average Americans when they’re thinking about politics during the election cycle. The Libertarian Party is like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. It gives us an opportunity to sell ourselves to the general public during the election cycle when they’re thinking about what to buy their relatives for Christmas.

    Don’t get confused and think that the Libertarian Party parade will ever actually take over the government as a third party. Ross Perot’s Reform Party won 19% of the popular vote in 1992–and not a single electoral vote. The Republicans largely absorbed his message into the Contract with American two years later, and the Republicans took the House with it for the first time in decades in 1994.

    That is a textbook example of Duverger’s Law in action. The libertarian road to influence and power is indirect–and that’s okay! If you still don’t understand Duverger’s Law, read it over and over again until you get it. We’re in a rip tide. The solution is not to try to swim straight back to the beach. We need to make a 90 degree turn and swim parallel to the beach–until we get out of the current pulling us out to sea. Otherwise, we’ll exhaust ourselves and never make it to the beach.

    Our mission as libertarians is to persuade people and to infiltrate the Republican party–because the Republican party isn’t fundamentally opposed to capitalism like the Democrats. Someday, when we manage to persuade enough of our fellow Americans to want libertarian and capitalist policies, more and more Republicans will start piling onto the libertarian bandwagon. That’s how the socialists made FDR implement the New Deal, and that’s the way we’ll make America libertarian–by having our “platform” adopted by one of the two major parties, one that benefits rather than suffers at the hands of Duverger’s Law.

    1. Doesn’t the Ross Perot platform absorption by the Repubs damage your point of taking over by within. Put enough outside pressure on the Repubs and they’ll be forced to give the LP a bone.

      Better example might be the Tea Party pressure within the Repubs base. Of course that had some failings of its own but did get the sequester passed.

      1. The Reform Party was mostly centered about the figure of Ross Perot. When he left politics, the party died–and Duverger’s Law meant that they left without achieving anything by way of an election victory. The point was that they were able to influence policy even without winning the White House or a lot of seats in Congress. However, because they were mostly centered around a charismatic figure, rather than a foundation of ideas, their opinions didn’t really survive the party.

        Libertarianism is more of a bottom up values approach. We’ve had our charismatic Ron Pauls in the past, but underneath that is a foundation of ideas. By instilling those ideas in society, we can have a much more profound and sustained impact on America than the Reform Party. The point is that we don’t want to be like the Reform Party–and even if we won as many votes as Ross Perot did, we would still fail to have a long term impact unless we persuaded our fellow Americans to want liberty and capitalism.

        P.S. See my post below regarding the Socialist Party of America circa 1928. They’re in contrast to the flash in the pan Reform Party. There were probably plenty in the Socialist Party of America who thought they failed, too–but they couldn’t have been more successful in changing society if they’d won the White House themselves.

        1. The Reform Party pre-existed Perot’s first candidacy, and was called variously “Reform”, “Independence”, and some other things in various states, and was oriented much more around reforming government procedure than policy. What Perot brought to the party was a policy or value orientation, and that was what mostly influenced the major parties. Practically speaking, his influence was on the Republicans to get them to adopt mercantilist values — that it’s better for a country to export goods and import money than vice versa, regardless of prices — more than previously. I consider this a malign influence, but that’s immaterial, the point is that it was influence, and it seems to have lasted. The GOP, from grass roots to leadership, was far more oriented toward free international trade 30 years ago than it is now.

        2. “However, because they were mostly centered around a charismatic figure, rather than a foundation of ideas, their opinions didn’t really survive the party.”

          Keep this very much in mind when predicting the course of the Republican Party post-Trump.

          1. I would be tempted to think that the Trump Democrats who flooded into the Republican party to support Trump would go back the way they came once Trump was gone–much like the Reagan Democrats went back to being Democrats and started supporting Clinton and Obama. However, the Trump Democrats were chased out of the Democratic party by identity politics and elitism from the progressive leadership–and I don’t see any reason to think that the progressive leadership of the Democratic party is about to turn its back on identity politics and elitism.

            The reason the white, blue collar middle class thinks that the leadership of the Democratic party hates them is largely because the leadership of the Democratic party hates them. Until that changes, those Trump Democrats will be a force for economic nationalism in the Republican party. This happened with Southern Democrats, as well, and solidified during Reagan’s terms. If the Democrats don’t figure it out sooner rather than later, they may lose Midwest for generations like they lost the South.

            1. I am confident in the GOPe’s ability, exemplified by someone like Kevin Williamson, to go right back to shitting all over blue color whites and other races. Maybe those blue color voters form a 3rd party?

              I truthfully don’t think there are enough leaders in the Republican Party who want to try and keep that block of voters. I hope I’m wrong. You’re right: the Democrats don’t want them.

          2. I’ve very much had that idea, and have been wondering who the next Trump might be in either major party. The point is, we won’t know until it’s practically on top of us.

        3. This election was entirely about the figure of Donald Trump.

          My very smart Democrat friends couldn’t tell me two things about either party’s platform.

          The arguments began and ended with “pussy grabbing.”

          1. The percentages of people who voted for Trump in many states largely exceeded people’s approval of him personally. That means people who can’t stand him personally voted for him anyway. I’m sure there were plenty of people who voted against him because they didn’t like him personally, but those who voted for him largely did so in spite of not liking him–for two reasons: 1) They like him on the issues and/or 2) They hate the Democrats on the issues.

    2. Here’s the Socialist Party of America’s platform from 1928 (with notes about what was done in reality on each plank courtesy of Milton Friedman):


      FDR pretty much lifted it in its entirety, and it became the central blueprint of the Democratic Party from that point in time up to and including now. Even Johnson’s Great Society finds its foundation in that platform and FDR’s implementation.

      If we ever achieved as much influence and long term policy changes as the Socialist Party of America did by way of the Democrats, we will have had a lasting and meaningful impact on America and will have made our world significantly more libertarian and capitalist.

      It isn’t necessary for the Libertarian Party to win elections and seize power. It is only necessary for us to persuade our friends and family to want freedom and capitalism. Persuasion is hard. You generally need to care about the people you want to persuade. You need to ground your arguments in facts and intellectual honesty. These things don’t come easy. They require effort and practice, and the impact sometimes takes years to come to fruition. The strategy of persuading our fellow Americans to want more liberty, however, has the advantage of being the only thing that will work–and that’s one hell of an advantage.

      1. But how to persuade people who are both naturally inclined and conditioned to prefer safety (or at least the feeling of safety) over freedom, and see the democratic process as a means to material benefits that they have been taught have nothing to do with capitalism? You describe liberty as a self-evident advantage. Some people might be tempted to agree, at least in limited contexts, but I think human nature, even predating the earliest Homo sapiens, has always been inclined towards anti-liberty behavior, whether rejection of risk, tribalism and conformity, and desire for faith in omnipotent leaders. The exceptions might be just that.

        1. It needs to happen on a personal level.

          People you know and care about. You’re spreading the libertarian gospel to people you know and care about, and we don’t need all of them to believe. Just enough of them to make a difference.

        2. What if we simply put a floor on risk, thus increasing liberty for everyone? Maximum liberty is not synonymous with maximum risk. Quite the contrary. Liberty has to mean something. It can’t just mean “no government.” That’s dumb.

      2. Even though FDR supported most of the socialist agenda, his support for repealing alcohol prohibition earned him lots of libertarian leaning votes in 1932.

        Had Trump similarly campaigned to end federal marijuana prohibition this year, he would have won in a landslide (perhaps even the liberaltarians at Reason would have supported him).

        1. Libritarian at reason? Apart from nick, and kmw who doesn’t vote who are you referring to?

    3. I’m not sure your contention quite holds up under the glare of reality, Ken = Our mission as libertarians is to persuade people and to infiltrate the Republican party–because the Republican party isn’t fundamentally opposed to capitalism like the Democrats.

      The real action is local. That is where the most direct change happens. The Libertarian Party should focus on local elections: School boards, Town Councils, Mayoralties, state legislatures. We can only effect change at the local level; Team L is shut out of the national races.

      Besides, Teams R and D are not all that different: Both will expand the size and scope of government. You know that. I know that. It is merely a question of degree.

      I think you misread what is happening.

      1. “The real action is local. That is where the most direct change happens. The Libertarian Party should focus on local elections: School boards, Town Councils, Mayoralties, state legislatures. We can only effect change at the local level; Team L is shut out of the national races.”

        The problem with representative democracy is that it’s insufficiently democratic compared to markets, in which we can all represent ourselves.

        One of the problems with focusing on local government is that it’s insufficiently local compared to conquering friends and family. That’s where the real action is, and they’re voting in both local and national elections.

        The other problem is that even local government is subject to Duverger’s Law. I appreciate that someone just won local office in rural Wyoming, where it may have been possible to physically meet everyone who was voting in that election. I’m not sure that is possible or will work in suburban Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, or Tampa Bay. One of things that reinforces Duverger’s Law is that parties are really good at raising money, which is necessary in suburban areas and with the emergence of mass media and advertising.

        You’re not breaking the advantage of being in one of the major parties by changing the scope to local government, and even if you were, when it came to state wide offices, you’d run into the same problem all over again–unless you change people’s hearts and minds anyway. So long as we have single member districts, the Libertarian Party will always be relegated to a distant third place–with an odd victory here or there. If you want to have a profound and long-lasting impact on society, you need a different approach.

    4. Ken, I appreciate the cite for Duverger’s Law, and at first read it makes sense to me.

      But while we are wishing to change the definition of representative government in the US, what about something truly revolutionary?

      What if instead of voting for people, we voted for policies? What if the ballots contained lists of issues and actions, more general at the federal level, more specific at the local level, and people could vote for how important they thought each issue might be, and what form or direction of action they support?

      My early morning brain can’t solve how to map the resulting policy preferences onto actual representatives, but they would function more like brokers or agents than like leaders.

      1. It will be significantly easier to co-opt the Republican Party than to change the electoral structure of this country. Especially in such a radical fashion.

  14. The race pitted an enormously unpopular Democratic candidate against a vulgar Republican one,

    We get it, you sit at the table with the cool kids. I am not sure in which universe Hillary is a less vulgar human than Trump but it is not the one I reside in. It takes every fiber of Hillary’s existence to try to hide the fact she is:

    a: lacking in cultivation, perception, or taste : COARSE
    b: morally crude, undeveloped, or unregenerate : GROSS
    c: ostentatious or excessive in expenditure or display

    It helps to have an obsequious press whose fulltime job is to strap on their Clinton kneepads and auger the illusion she is not purebred white trash.

    Trump embellishes his vulgarity.

    1. Her classic “We came, we saw, he died” illustrates all 3 bullet points– err, bayonet tips.

      Solid comment.

  15. Can I be a humanitarian brutalist libertarian? I love the human flourishing aspect but also like to scream, “get off my lawn”. Call me greedy but I want it all in life.

    1. Fine. Everybody hates you.

      1. Mission Accomplished!

  16. Where do all the parties go from here?

    Democrats will no longer be the #Resistance party. They don’t have their own messianic figure to define the agenda this time around, and McConnell is the only Republican leader left to villainize, rally forces against, and accuse of partisan obstructionism. Republicans will cannibalize each other, as some try to return to pre-Trump GOP life (“Show’s over.”), and others in beet red states and districts continue to promote Trumpist populism as the new conservatism and only defense against Deep State corruption.

  17. Where do libertarians go from here?
    Where are they in California right now?
    Because I think that the plan is to make the entire nation California politically-a one party state where the bureaucracy does all that it can to stifle the middle and working classes via taxation and regulation.
    I expect that NC and GA will be reliably blue at the state level from now on (and eventually TX) and that will sink any future GOP presidential bid and so I think that we will have Dem Presidents for at least the next 20 years.

  18. Excellent article. Thanks for the info on “Humanitarian” and “Brutalist” Libertarians. As a Libertarian, I’ve always known of the divide within the party, but could never put my finger on it.
    I would only add one note to the article and that would be around the idea of growing the Libertarian brand. We Libertarians struggle to present a cohesive plan on issues such as: abortion, vaccination, and even immigration. I contend that the Libertarian party should embrace an idea I call “localizing effects”.
    The concept is simple, instead of fighting these issues out at the national level, Libertarians should believe them to be local government responsibilities. This maintains the individuals right to choice, while minimizing exit costs (i.e. if they don’t like a law they can leave the county, not the country). I’ll concede that this will not please all Libertarians, but I believe it does give Libertarians a chance to actually get elected.

    1. That’s your trouble, thinking you need to present a cohesive plan.

  19. In 2014, Jeffrey Tucker wrote about two main libertarian camps, which he termed “humanitarians” and “brutalists.”

    So what. Liberty is only desirable as long as people are “nice”? And what kind of liberty-oriented society establishes societal guidelines on niceness?

    Besides, when groups arise that actually seek to degrade liberty, who will push back? Hand-holding (or wringing) humanitarians or those nasty (deplorable?) brutes?

  20. Did Greenhut say anything similar four years ago? that it was time to tune out national politics?

    If not then I question the timing.

  21. Where Do Libertarians Go From Here?

    Same place the rest of the country is going: to hell in a handcart.

  22. As has been pointed out, our current constitution prevents the rise of any third party (except in the event one of the two major parties self destructs).
    Perhaps Libertarians should be calling for a parliamentarian system?

    ps. Libertarians will never corral all the “liberty” supporters until they agree on the need to keep the government’s hands off women’s bodies.

    1. Because infanticide is liberty.

    2. The irony of this comment…

      1. It’s not irony, but illogic predicated upon ignorance.

        Why even make such a Utilitarian argument about “corralling” support? To what end would any support – thus gained – then be employed?

  23. ITT people who haven’t read the recent articles ON THIS SITE about why Libertarian voters aren’t the spoilers you think they are, and on the success of grass roots referenda at the state level.

  24. Here is the ultimate conundrum for the Libertarian Party:

    Real libertarians, people who truly believe in minimalist government, aren’t the sort of people who are interested in political power or in running other people’s lives, so they aren’t interested in running for political office.

    For the Presidential race, the LP party attracts Democrat and Republican carpetbaggers who wan’t a shot at the brass ring but can’t make the cut in their own party, and of course the nut cases like Vermin Supreme.

    There aren’t enough real libertarians willing to run for office at the local level to give the LP a significant local presence, and the carpetbaggers and the nutcases aren’t interested in local politics.

    If the LP really wants to get into local politics and build up to the national level, they need to get out of the primary system and institute a draft process.

    Our condolences to Bob who has been selected to run for Mayor on the LP ticket.

    1. It’s a lot cheaper and easier to build a libertarian life for myself and my family than to try to build one for you.

      And part of being libertarian is respecting your choice to live differently.

      My personal observation is that the primary “victims” of Dem policy are the Dem voters. So I don’t see that as an injustice. They’re just wrong. And it’s not my life work to save people from themselves.

      1. “My personal observation is that the primary “victims” of Dem policy are the Dem voters. ”

        The ghost of William Graham Sumner would like a word with you.

      2. And you illustrate my point for me.

    2. So, as I posted above, how about instead of voting for the subset of citizens who want power (for whatever reasons), we randomly draft people to serve as representatives, or at least as candidates? Let’s have a government that truly reflects the society, including people who don’t want more government, and people who just don’t care.

  25. “Many libertarian colleagues despise the president and view him as a wannabe authoritarian, while others are convinced that he’s the most libertarian president in ages. ”

    That’s two people talking past each other. Both are true. He’s an authoritarian asshole. The results have been libertarianish. Primarily in the areas that he doesn’t interfere.

    Perhaps the lesson is that the GOP policy wonks are our true allies. It’s the GOP voters and leaders we can’t trust?

    1. Great truthiness in that. To get a president elected, we needed him to be a Trump. Then he appointed the GOP policy wonks as judges, bureaucrats, and advisers, because they came with the territory since he ran in the GOP. (He might easily have decided to run as a Democrat instead, and then they’d be Democrat wonks.) He turned out to be the most libertarian president in ages, because once you get past points one can be bombastic about, the GOP is pretty darn libertarian these days. Trump had only a few things he was going to be bombastic about, and these were things not particularly helpful to individual liberty or even inimical to it. But the unsexy stuff is quite libertarian. And when it came to foreign affairs, because Trump had no particular asses to kiss, he made the rational decisions that most people without political connections would’ve made!

      We can’t trust the GOP voters, but sometimes they’ll do our bidding. We can’t trust foreign policy leaders, because they’re invested. Many domestic policy leaders are also invested in things can can either bombast about or have been quietly bought off on, but in general in the GOP the wonks are good. Pretty much everyone affiliated with either (or no) party who knows economics and doesn’t have much in the way of political aspiration is good.

  26. Where do libertarians go from here? To the gulag, with their principles.

  27. Where you’ve always gone – back home to wait other four years to get a small percentage of the vote and no electoral college votes at all.

  28. The Libertarian party needs to come together as a singe cohesive party. The purity tests need to stop, if we want real change.

    If we agree with the Libertarian candidate more than the Republicrat candidates, then we should vote for the Libertarian candidate even if your less favored Republicrat ends up winning.

    It would be one thing if the Republicrat was libertarian leaning, but those are few and far between.

    The Libertarian party should have a national ticket each year and fully support even if it is a losing proposition. There does need to be more focus on local races and state races.

    However the largest impediment to the Libertarian party is the division of it’s members. We need to come together to achieve a percentage of what we want.

    We will never effect change if we expect instantaneous change. Smaller changes in the right direction is the only way we will achieve our goals.

  29. The biggest issue libertarians have is they can’t get out of their own way. You have those who insist on purity and those who insist on abandoning the LP and electing Republican and Democratic libertarians. I think both schools of thought have value, but getting libertarians in local governments will ultimately lead to winning national elections. Secondly, most change occurs at the local level. Work to get libertarians elected to city councils, mayors, state reps and ultimately governors. Don’t abandon national ambitions. Just more more energy into local ambitions. Hell, look what Oregon did!

  30. The problem is that Libertarians, like Greenhut himself, assume that the entire point of a party is to run one race and then go to sleep for four years.

    But you’re never going to get to the presidency without a farm team. You need libertarians in non-partisan offices at the extremely local level. Water boards, mosquito abatement boards, school boards, city councils, etc. Then you get the statewide races. Get into the state legislature before you aim for president of the nation. Jeepers cripes! Get a farm team! Get into the state legislature before you get into congress where you actually have a chance of building a record the voting public can actually see. From there you need governors and senators. Get a farm team!

    But the Libertarian Party won’t do that. Every four years they try to do a Hail Mary and pray for a miracle, even though they missed four years of field practice.

    I was on the team of one of those minor races, where I helped get an LP into city council of a quite significant city. We won! Amazing! And he went on to win two subsequent raices. He did it because he didn’t aim for the POTUS. He was on a local parks board first, then headed the parks board. He was involved. And we also worked our asses off on the campaign, and walked every precinct and contacted every residence in the city.

    The major parties know this. I attended a state-wide GOP candidate training school. They know about farm teams. They know about having to work to get votes.

    The LP won’t even support their won local candidates, choosing to blow their few bucks and man hours on impossible races for president.

    Both the Democrat and Republican parties need to dissolve so better coalition parties can emerge. But the Libertarian Party needs to dissolve to, to make way for a libertarian party that’s actually serious about winning elections.

    1. The trouble with libertarians having their own political party is that they’re thinking about a model that doesn’t exist in the United States but does in many other countries, wherein government is organized on an even more partisan, and more national, basis than in the USA. In many other countries, first of all, the country itself is smaller and therefore has more centralized government. Voters there think of themselves as partisans more than most voters do in most of the US. They think first of organizing a party and having its leadership ready to step into government if elected. In some of those countries party lists of candidates are voted for, and most of those governments have parliamentary systems in which executive offices are selected by the government from among its parliament (legislative) members. A voter might be presented with only two offices to vote for: the national parliament and a similarly organized local council, whether it’s party-list or individual-office-endorsee voting.

      In such a milieu an ideologic political party such as LP fits right in. (So do pure interest group parties; blocs of different interests are formed between the parties, not within them.) People still might vote for a charismatic party leader, but they also have the idea more than in the USA of voting for what the party stands for.

      Not only that, but in many of those countries elections can be called at any time, and often are so as a result of (and in anticipation of more of) certain issues that’ve been voted on by the legislature and hence are fresh in people’s minds.

      Somehow even though no jurisdiction within the USA operates like that, and never has, the existence of such foreign government operations has swayed thinking in small parties within the USA, to their detriment. In particular it has made the Libertarian Party look inappropriately attractive as an organizing model for libertarians seeking to be politically active.

  31. The “brutalist” vs “humanitarian” libertarian (ie: the “who would you vote for as your 2nd and 3rd choice if we had a ranked choice election” question).

    So, brutalist means 1st choice, the LP, 2nd choice the GOP, 3rd choice = Dems, 4th choice the Greens.

    Humanitarian means 1st choice LP, 2nd choice Green, 3rd choice Dems, 4th choice the TOP.

    If you’re somewhere between the two camps, your results may vary.

    You’d also get people who have the Dems at their 4th place, toggling between the GOP and Greens (kind of like how ice can sublimate directly to gas) if they’re ideologically consistent enough, with the Dems being too much in the middle in both civil rights and economic issues.

    1. Greens over Democrats, because Greens actually have principles. Not my principles, but still principles.

      Plus I doubt I would ever go down more than three slots on a ranked presidential or congressional ballot. I’ve had city council races that said “pick five” where I couldn’t manage to pick more than three.

  32. “Where Do Libertarians Go From Here?”

    The majority of libertarians who voted for Trump (because his policies have been more libertarian than any president in my lifetime) will likely vote for Republicans in the future, and will disdain the Libertarian Party, Jorgensen and Reason for helping Biden get elected.

    The minority of libertarians who suffer from TDS and voted for Biden (especially in the swing states where Jorgensen helped Biden get elected) will regret their vote for the next four years.

    And after playing the role of spoiler in multiple states to help Biden (worse than Ralph Nadar in 2000), it appears the Libertarian Party’s future is now in jeopardy.

    1. Had Democrats not sued in a dozen states to block the Green Party candidate from being placed on the ballot, Biden would be trailing Trump in votes in several key states (including PA and WI).

      Then again, the same Democrats in a half dozen Democrat controlled cities/counties in swing states would likely have manufactured just enough votes to help Biden win after election day (even if the Green Party had been on the ballot) just as they’ve been doing since Tuesday.

    2. Nader is the reason Gore went on his “inconvenient truth” campaign to bring greens into the democratic party. the green new deal, the increased socialism, the hard lurch to the left….. all of this was the end result of Nader being perceived as a spoiler and the democratic party surrendering to the will of the green party. the democrats effectively became the green party. Nader’s impact in 2000 reshaped American politics probably more than anything since Lincoln was elected. (as a third party, BTW.)

      of course, Trump is a petulant child who will throw a tantrum instead of any attempt to significantly reshape the republican party into something more libertarian… (as demonstrated by the supporters using words like “disdain.”) so we probably have to do this again in 4 yrs.

      1. > all of this was the end result of Nader being perceived as a spoiler

        Which is why the Green Party gets fewer votes than actual dues paying Green Party members. They Democrats tell them how to vote and they answer “yassah!”

        1. and all they get in return are elected officials exclusively pushing the agenda and policy proposals they want…… the democratic party is now the democratic party in name only. the green party is a shell of remnants. the reality is that the green party won and is now the democratic party.

      2. of course, Trump is a petulant child who will throw a tantrum instead of any attempt to significantly reshape the republican party into something more libertarian

        Trump massively reshaped the Republican party to make it more libertarian: regulations, originalist judges, foreign policy.

        What he didn’t do is adopt the absurd open borders ideas of libertarians, and like petulant children, people like you throw tantrums over it: you want a pink unicorn, and if you don’t get it, you hide in your room in a huff. And you’re pretty typical for the LP.

      3. so we probably have to do this again in 4 yrs.

        Republicans didn’t change because of Jo Jorgensen or because of LP propaganda. Republicans changed because a lot of non-libertarians did a lot of hard work to change the party.

    3. > (because his policies have been more libertarian than any president in my lifetime)

      Thanks, I needed a good laugh today.

      1. they keep saying that….. as if repetition will turn fantasy into reality.

      2. Care to refute the claim or just make an ass of yourself?

  33. i always have a hard time understanding why people pretend there is an either/or conundrum….. why trying to get elected in local races means abandoning national ones. if there is one thing we know from the legacy parties, it is that strong candidates help pull support both up and down ballot. the best way to expose people to libertarian principles in practice is with a strong candidate with principled policy proposals, and the best way to have our candidates taken seriously is to have our principles more widely accepted……

    there is always hand wringing about should we focus on one thing or the other, but the choices are intertwined. if we are not running candidates people have no reason to look at our principles….. if we can not get people to look at our principles people have no reason to look at our candidates. there is no either/or, they are integral components of what we want to accomplish.

    1. i always have a hard time understanding why people pretend there is an either/or conundrum….. why trying to get elected in local races means abandoning national ones.

      That’s the wrong question to ask. The right questions to ask is: what best promotes libertarian objectives.

      the best way to expose people to libertarian principles in practice is with a strong candidate with principled policy proposals

      Unfortunately, the LP is not “principled”. The LP platform is simply a grabbag of mildly popular socially liberal and fiscally conservative policies. That does not amount to libertarianism.

      And the candidates the LP is running are hopeless. Running one loser after another is not going to advance the standing of the LP, let alone libertarian principles.

  34. The humanitarians believe in liberty because it “allows peaceful human cooperation” and “keeps violence at bay,” he argued. “It allows for capital formation and prosperity. It protects human rights of all against invasion. It allows human associations of all sorts to flourish on their own terms.”

    By contrast, brutalists like liberty because “it allows people to assert their individual preferences, to form homogeneous tribes, to work out their biases in action, to ostracize people based on ‘politically incorrect’ standards.”

    An interesting observation. I’d say all the reasons listed for why the “humanitarians” believe in liberty are good ones, but so is “it allows people to assert their individual preferences”.

  35. By contrast, brutalists like liberty because “it allows people to assert their individual preferences, to form homogeneous tribes, to work out their biases in action, to ostracize people based on ‘politically incorrect’ standards.” It allows them “to hate to their heart’s content so long as no violence is used as a means, to shout down people based on their demographics or political opinions.” I call them “get off my lawn” libertarians.

    form homogeneous tribes – SJW leftist
    to work out their biases in action – SJW leftist
    to ostracize people based on ‘politically incorrect’ standards – SJW leftist
    It allows them “to hate to their heart’s content so long as no violence is used as a means – SJW leftist
    to shout down people based on their demographics or political opinions. – SJW leftist.

    1. Gosh, four out of five of those can apply to the Trumpista Right.

    2. you are kind of making his point for him…….

  36. People like to tell other people what to do, how to live, etc. Everyone thinks they have noble motives and intents. And the vast majority are willing to prove it, at the end of gun if necessary. The libertarian project is attempting to to take a species hardwired for tribalism and have them sustain a culture of tolerance and pluralism. The counterweight to our worst impulses is education, critical thinking, and I don’t think some classic liberalism would hurt… but honestly, I think it’s too late for the American the experiment. America is like the third or fourth generation of a wealthy family that lacks any of the genius, work ethic, or grit of the first two. America isn’t Donald Trump… it’s Eric.

  37. Where do Libertarians go from here

    Increasingly, towards socialism and a modern, racialized America where everyone is segregated by ‘lived experience’.

  38. grouping individuals into a Party is the opposite of individualism.

  39. Where Do Libertarians Go From Here? Libertarians would have a more promising future if they spent less time worrying about national elections and more time working politically at the local level.

    That’s what actual libertarians do. Actual libertarians also make compromises when it advances the cause of liberty.

    Big-L Libertarians are like other political party members: driven by ideology, partisanship, and a desire to use political power for their own ends.

    You want to promote libertarianism? Leave the LP and start thinking for yourself.

    1. You seem to have done all of our thinking for us.

      1. I didn’t accuse you of not thinking. I’m just observing what the LP actually is.

  40. We should be investigating fraud allegations with the same vigor we investigated the Steele Dossier.

  41. People have been giving libertarians this same free advice for decades, and it’s worth the price.

    Libertarians don’t win local races either, except non-partisan low power low visibility races. People just vote the D or R label for state assembly, state senate, and Congress.

    But an LP presidential campaign gets national visibility for the LP platform, and reminds voters of how far the Dem and Rep candidates are from the American ideals of liberty and limited government. (At least in most years. This year the media never mentioned third parties.)

  42. its getting Complicated Day By day

  43. Three words for you, sir: “Down ballot access” – and two more: “free media.” Both are vital to the ‘local effort’ that you’re talking about – which the party’s already doing to the best of its ability; but an LP presidential campaign is needed for them. Jorgensen’s success in achieving those this year are the benchmarks to measure her campaign by; not whether or not she “won the presidency.” That’s setting the bar way too high: it allows you to assume the LP is failing because you’ve ruled any possibility of success out a priori.

  44. Libertarians should always vote Libertarian. It’s just that simple. Just stick to your guns (See what I did there?) and vote for your party. I voted for Jo this election and I always vote the Libertarian ticket. Our votes won’t make a god damn difference if we vote Republican, Democrat or Independent. But if others who don’t quite care for being a Republican or Democrat will see that the Libertarian party is big enough to vote Libertarian, that will only make the party bigger and better.

    From what I’ve seen especially in the the last four years is that more Libertarians than ever have voted for a Republican, namely Donald Chump. You made no difference in the outcome of the vote, so why did you all do that? That’s crazy. If you really feel the need to vote Republican or Democrat, you should probably join that party. It makes absolutely no sense to belong to a party that you won’t vote for.

    1. Isn’t part of the point of being libertarian telling anyone who tells you how you should vote to fuck off?

      1. Sure, you can do that if you like. But if you voted for Trump, You’re just fucked.

        1. I don’t think for whom a single vote is cast makes one iota of difference in the degree to which I’m fucked.

          1. I guess you’re not the only one unhappy with the current election outcome.


  45. Can we do anything about Blue’s Fraud or Red’s Malfeasance or whatever? No.

    If libertarians are going to actually make a difference, we need to focus on What We Can Do, rather than remaining perennially trapped inside the other two parties’ narrative-space. And this article is a really salutary wake-up that there are things that matter that we can be active about. Well done.

  46. Lose some of the dumbass principles and double down on the good ones.

    Or do the same thing and expect a different result as usual.

    1. Yeah, I agree. I, a lowly average rank and file guy, considers the LP to be the lessor of 4 evils (Dems, GOP, the Greens being the other 3). Let’s be honest, a lot of the ideas the LP is pushing for are a bit insane (ie: let’s abolish the IRS, things like that).

  47. “Where do libertarians go from here?”

    The same place as last time, and the time before: nowhere.

  48. The only thing the LP has ever accomplished is to help elect left-wing Democrats. Now the LP has helped to elect Joe Biden. I hope the LP is happy with its latest non-achievement.

  49. Maybe Doherty or someone could find out how Rand Paul, Massie, Amash managed to get through their primaries and then win seats in Congress. That could be instructive for libertarians who think the way to win is running for office through the GOP.

  50. By contrast, brutalists like liberty because “it allows people to assert their individual preferences, to form homogeneous tribes, to work out their biases in action, to ostracize people based on ‘politically incorrect’ standards.” It allows them “to hate to their heart’s content so long as no violence is used as a means, to shout down people based on their demographics or political opinions.” I call them “get off my lawn” libertarians.

    As always, left-libertarians are constitutionally incapable of understanding the other side, whatever you choose to call them: right-libertarian, paleo, brutalist, etc.

    “The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”
    – H. L. Mencken

    We don’t defend that stuff because we like it, we defend it because it must be defended. I don’t hate anyone unless they want to use violence to achieve their ends, I oppose cancel culture in any form, and I certainly don’t want to live in a homogeneous tribe. Nevertheless, you can count me among the “brutalists” because I believe in liberty as an end in itself, not as a means to an end.

    1. I suspect you haven’t defined liberty very rigorously at all.

      One surely requires food and medicine to properly experience liberty. Should this be supplied even to those born of poor or negligent parents, or only to those lucky enough to succeed in the marketplace? A difficult feat for a starving infant, I hope we agree.

      Extrapolate to infrastructure and scientific research and whatever else that is most efficiently done on a mass collective scale. Modernity delivers plenty of liberty, but you have to stop being so stubborn and actually want it. Modern government is just another innovation. There is no conflict with the principle of delivering liberty as the final goal, unless you define liberty specifically as the banishment of any collective action at large scales. Which I find dumb.

      1. You’re the one not defining liberty rigorously. What can liberty possibly mean if it’s not universalizable, applicable to all people in the same manner and at the same time? If liberty means being handed everything you need to survive, then that means some people have a greater claim to labor and resources than the people who produced them, based on nothing more than the lack thereof. This sets groups of people as morally unequal, some privileged to take what they need or want by force, and others denied the rights of property and self-ownership. It is an incoherent and arbitrary view of rights.

  51. Pretty hopeless locally where I live. Solid blue, no chance for libertarian or conservative voice. Just ask Andy Caldwell, a good man, who was roundly beaten by Salud Carbajal for House seat. I don’t know how long the very thin veneer of civility will last before this thing blows. And maybe it should. Too bad we can’t sail to the New Country, The United States c 1750.

    1. If you want people to stop talking about identity politics you have to stop pining for the good old days when half the population was tantamount to property and a big chunk was literally property.

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  53. Jorgensen’s problem is exactly *because* she was pleasant and her campaign was *just* fine. This was NOT the year for pleasant and fine! We needed a bomb-thrower to elbow our way into the fight. This would have been the year for an Arvin Vohra type, to BE controversial, to SAY controversial things. Jorgensen was running as the candidate of the Librarian Party, not the Libertarian Party.

    1. Ideology or style don’t matter: Jorgensen was simply not capable of being president.

      1. That didn’t stop Trump!

  54. Finally, some common sense. scrap the presidential nominations (which look kind of silly anyway). and concentrate resources on maybe fifty state conventions or even smaller. Eventually a cadre of state-wide elected officials can launch a credible presidential campaign.

  55. Maybe, after this electoral foul up, the LP should focus on picking off state level Secretary of State positions….

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