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Meet Larry Sharpe, the Marine turned management consultant who is rising to the top of a leaderless Libertarian Party

Libertarians like Larry Sharpe.

It was nearly impossible to attend a state-level Libertarian Party (L.P.) convention in 2017 and not see the affable former Marine and 2018 candidate for governor of New York laying out his seven-year plan to transform the party from a distant third-place finisher to the country's decisive swing bloc at all levels of government. When I asked former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld how Libertarians could best build on their momentum, he began his reply with: "You want to get out more candidates like Larry Sharpe."

Of course, Bill Weld is the only reason a normal consumer of politics might have heard of Sharpe in the first place. Weld was the Libertarian vice presidential nominee in the 2016 race—by far the most famous and electorally successful candidate for that office since the party's founding in 1971. And in May 2016, at the Libertarian Party's national convention, Sharpe came this close to beating him. A measly 32 votes on a hotly contested second ballot separated Weld's 50.5 percent from Sharpe's 46.9, much to the bafflement of the assembled national press corps. At a raucous moment, the party's radicals and anarchists rallied behind Sharpe, even though he is decidedly not one of them.

So who is Larry Sharpe? Basically, everything your stereotypical L.P. member is not. A relentless communicator in a party represented in the last two elections by a man known for his rhetorical stumbles. A black face in a mostly white sea. An adoptee and poor kid from the Bronx whose father died when he was 11 and whose German-born mother became a convicted drug felon, in a political movement often unfairly maligned as a privileged few defending their spoils. A veteran in a party whose vice chair recently argued that joining the military to pay for college is like saying, "I agreed to kill innocent people because I wanted the money."

Zoe FisherZoe FisherAbove all, Sharpe is a fast-talking management consultant and sales trainer fond of saying things like, "culture change is the answer in any organization, period." Sharpe's "common-sense and empathetic communication style" is "opening up hearts and minds to a new kind of politics," national Libertarian Party chair Nicholas Sarwark enthuses. "His campaign is raising the bar for…candidates across the country."

In a decentralized party of disheveled dreamers, Sharpe's strategic patter can feel like a bracing shot of adrenaline. It also comes at a time when there are no other obvious new Libertarian frontmen, despite the party's record-shattering vote totals in 2016. Two-time presidential nominee Gary Johnson has declared that he's never running for office again. Nomination runner-up Austin Petersen has become a Republican. And Weld is even more controversial among L.P. members now than he was in May 2016.

In the matter of two short years, Sharpe has become the most effective fundraiser in the Libertarian Party. His particular specialty is raising money from the very people who complain they don't have enough of it. He'll grab anything—a "Johnson/Weld 2016" T-shirt, or some discarded campaign poster—and give it the cattle-auctioneer treatment. I've witnessed him take a book I co-wrote and, by virtue of me being in the room with 25 L.P. activists, squeeze out $200 for the damned thing. "I'm out there now because no one else is doing it," he explains.

"The Libertarian Party's been through three iterations," Sharpe tells me in late November in midtown Manhattan, not far from his office. "I'm the vanguard of 3.0, right? The end of 2.0 was Gary Johnson.…This is more of a universal phase. We're now open to the world."

If Sharpe pulls 10 percent of the vote in his gubernatorial run against incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo in an overwhelmingly blue state, that will be an early indicator of the position of the Libertarian Party in the next election cycle. If he ends up closer to the 0.4 percent his predecessor garnered in the 2014 race, the L.P. brass should be worried indeed.

'You Don't Have to Have a Rule for Everything'

Reason: How did you first get exposed or introduced to libertarianism, and did it take right away? What was that process like?

Larry Sharpe: I was raised in a complete Democratic New York City household. Politics, for my family, was very easy. If you had a D by your name, you're awesome; if you had an R, you're evil. Period, done deal.

But I was more interested in other things. So when I became 17, I joined the Marine Corps. My examples of leadership and manhood were mostly Republicans, and my first commander in chief was Ronald Reagan, so I think I became more of a Republican as an 18-, 19-, 20-year-old. The first time I voted, I voted for George H.W. Bush. But I was never part of a party.

Then, in '92, I heard Bill Clinton speak. I thought, "Wow, this guy's different. He's young, he's new," and I thought, maybe I'm a Democrat. Then I [realized] Clinton's the same as all the rest of them. So I kind of thought Perot was the guy. I didn't even know Perot's ideas, I just knew he wasn't them. Then I went from a Perot guy to a Nader guy.

Wow, you really checked all the boxes!

Well, if you would have asked me any of Nader's policies, I couldn't have answered; I wouldn't have known any of them. I knew he wasn't an R or a D, and that was good enough for me. I knew Perot wasn't an R or a D; that was good enough for me. I actually considered in 2000 joining the Green Party because it wasn't the R or the D, but if you'd have asked me what they stood for, I wouldn't have known. No idea. I saw that in a lot of the Bernie supporters last year—just like me, just wanted someone not in the mainstream, couldn't tell you what Bernie's policies were. A lot of the young Trump supporters, same thing. Just wanted an outsider.

In 2008, I heard Obama speak, and I thought, "All right, this guy's so different, he's got to be the real deal. I can get a winner and a change guy. Oh my God, Obama, what a homerun." But he's Bush Jr. No difference. He's the same as all the rest. My people are still going to jail, my friends are still being deported. You know what? I was pretty much done.

Then I heard Gary Johnson speak in 2012. And I thought, "Whoa, all right! Maybe this!" This sounded like me, because he's an entrepreneur like I am. He thought the same way I thought. He was the veto guy—he was the guy who said, "No, this [law] isn't going to help." That's what I had been teaching in my leadership and sales for eight years by then. Look, you don't have to have a rule for everything. Rules aren't the answer. Culture change is the answer in any organization, period. In your family, in the country. That's what matters.

But I'd been burned so many times. I did not become a Libertarian right away. I thought this guy might just be another Obama, he might be another Perot, he might be another Clinton, might be another Bush. So I actually went to the Libertarian Party, and I met Libertarians. And I thought, "Oh, most of these people are just like me." Then I went to Gary Johnson events and I met Gary Johnson. I will always be loyal to Gary Johnson. Without him I'm not a Libertarian.

What I noticed clearly in the party was what I was teaching as part of my executive coaching, my training in colleges, my training in schools and organizations—it was the idea that good leaders want to get buy-in from the people around them. Which means volunteerism, right?

The libertarian mindset works in business. We are in a post-industrial economy and post-industrial culture. Leadership has to be post-industrial, which is not about arms and legs—I can buy arms and legs anywhere. In fact, [artificial intelligence] can do most of the jobs that arms and legs do anyway. What do people need to do well? Lead well. That is, communicate, communicate, communicate.

It's getting buy-in. Things change so fast now, I don't need you to do what I tell you to do, I need you to know what the goal is, and adapt when you're there. People wonder why I can so easily espouse and talk about the principles of libertarianism. I've been teaching it for 13 years!

"I started reading Bastiat's The Law, and I loved that. He's still my favorite. I couldn't read Adam Smith's actual books; they just weren't for me. So I read the CliffNotes instead. Then I went to Hayek."

So did you at some point start going back to the classics and cracking open your Milton Friedmans, your—

I had never read any of those. The only people I ever read who were close to libertarianism were Ayn Rand and Robert Ringer. A lot of people don't know Robert Ringer—

I don't.

Robert Ringer wrote Looking Out for #1 and To Be or Not to Be Intimidated? He's a big Ayn Rand fan, and he talks about sales, and business, and branding, and leadership, which was my world. I read Ayn Rand because he was an Ayn Rander.

When I became a libertarian, I moved away from Objectivism. I still liked the Ayn Rand ideas, I like the libertarian ideals that come from it, but I'm not an Objectivist. So then I started reading Bastiat's The Law, and I loved that. He's still my favorite. I couldn't read Adam Smith's actual books; they just weren't for me. So I read the CliffsNotes instead. Then I went to Hayek, Road to Serfdom. I began to read each and every book and move on from there.

'I Don't Care About Ballot Access'

Reason: I imagine your business life kicks in when you look at the Libertarian Party's current organization. Your work is not exactly a takeover-artist situation. It's like, "Hey, these assets are underperforming, and if we just visualize and act in a different way, we can go from four to 10 pretty quickly."

Sharpe: Yes. I tell people all the time, I love going into organizations that are totally broken and on fire. I love that. Why? So easy to fix. Hey boss, this week nobody died! Oh my God, Larry, you're a genius!

From that analytical perspective, looking at the party, what has jumped out at you, besides the fact that no one comes to a follow-up meeting after the election is over?

I'm a long-term thinker, right? Again, I'm a business guy. I don't think next quarter, I think how to build my business the next three, five years. I want sustainability. I want long-term growth. The party has not had a vision for growth at all. It's been a purist party, or a let's-get-ballot-access party. People get mad at me, but I don't care about ballot access.

Really?

Don't care at all. It is useless.

Really?!

You know why? It's a means, not an end. I don't ever want to focus on the means.

Easy to say now that the means are there!

They're not there in New York! I don't have ballot access.

Victory's the panacea. That's the cure-all: Win. Everything else is secondary. Win, and you get ballot access. That's how it works. You want to get into debates? Win.

The debates aren't about the lawsuits. I support Gary Johnson, went raising money for him because I love him, and if he wants me to go down and raise money for the lawsuit I will do it every single day of the week, because he asked me to do so. Here's what I know: If we become popular, we're in the debates, period. If we had won the lawsuit last year, if we had won and they had to put us in, Donald Trump would have said, "If Gary Johnson's there, I'm not showing up." He actually did say that. If he's not showing up, there's no debate.

We get into debates if people want to see us. If we have someone who's popular, who people want to see. We get a good celebrity in 2020, we're in the debates. We get someone like, I don't know, people talk about Mark Cuban, I don't know if he's a libertarian. But whatever, someone like him, or Vince Vaughn, Kurt Russell, The Rock.

Penn Jillette.

Penn Jillette. Any of those guys, we're in the debates, period. Regardless of lawsuit, regardless of whatever. Regardless of polling. Doesn't matter. You don't put Penn Jillette in every poll. He's still popular. He's on.

'I Don't Want an Amash or Massie Right Now'

Reason: Walk us through your seven-year plan, just in terms of milestones. What do you think is achievable?

Sharpe: We are already winning city councils. We have a couple hundred already in the nation itself. It's not a lot—there are over half a million total seats that we could have. We only have several hundred of them, but we only had a hundred a couple years ago, so we're doubling and tripling. It's working. Why is that valuable? Because people will realize that if Libertarians run a city, it doesn't go under. It's not the zombie apocalypse, or The Walking Dead.

As that begins to happen, now we can move to the next level, which is the state level. We can become actual executives.

Now, in my perfect world, we have a nice celebrity on top of the ticket in 2020. That top-of-the-ticket 2020 celeb spends a lot of time talking about the people running locally. It's not just "me, super-celeb guy," it's also these people and these people. When there's a big event in Iowa or wherever he goes, everyone else on the ticket also speaks and gets up there, and we'll see them. We didn't do that well in 2016 at all. We do it well in 2020.

Zoe FisherZoe FisherThat will get us, hopefully, some state seats. You have to remember: In many states, if we just have three state senators, we'll run the Senate. We'll actually be a real swing bloc.

Here's the best part: When the liberty-minded people on the left and the right see that as an actual power bloc, they'll come to us. But they'll come to us three, four, five years from now when we've built up their trust. I don't want them to rush to us now, or they'll take over our party. We'll become Republican lite or Democrat lite. But if we build up an infrastructure, we won't. That's three or four years.

You don't want Jeff Flake coming to the party right now?

No, not at all.

Interesting.

I don't want [a Michigan Rep. Justin] Amash or [Kentucky Rep. Thomas] Massie either right now. I want them, but not now. They come now, we will rally around them, do whatever they say, however they say it. I don't want that.

Look, the reality of it is, a lot of more radical and more anarchist people in the party are afraid they're going to be thrown out. That's why many of them become audacious and angry. I get it. They're right; it's a valid fear. Guys like Massie or Amash come over, that might happen. We'll become Republican lite, and those guys will be like, "You aren't us." Boom, they'll be gone. It could happen. I don't want it to happen.

To be clear, if that happens, you think that's bad for the party?

Yes.

2020, it's an Amash-Massie ticket?

Bad idea.

Bad idea?

Bad idea. Bad idea.

The problem is, look, right now the Republicans and Democrats are basically just tribes. They've been tribes about 30 years. I mean that, they're just tribes. They don't have an ideology. It's rule of the king. You can't tell me a Trump Republican is the same as a Bush Republican is the same as a Reagan Republican. They're different Republicans, because the king is different. As the king changes, the party changes. There's no ideology. They're only concerned about winning and beating the other guy. Nothing else matters.

"People will realize that if Libertarians run a city, it doesn't go under. It's not the zombie apocalypse, or The Walking Dead."

We in the Libertarian Party, we fight all the time. Why? We have an ideology. If we bring them over now, and the radicals and the anarchists leave our party, we will become a tribe. I don't want to be a tribe. As much as radicals and anarchists sometimes drive me crazy—and they do, when they attack me with vitriol because I'm not libertarian enough—I need them. Even though they think I'm the enemy, I'm the only guy saying, "Don't leave."

I know when I bring people into the party, they're not going to be real Libertarians. They're going to be, this kind of sounds cool. I need these guys to turn them into real Libertarians. I wish they would stop fighting me, and start teaching the people I bring in. Show them. They haven't read Bastiat. They have no idea what an anarcho-capitalist is. They don't know what cryptocurrency is. Show them. I've opened their minds. Take advantage of it. Put some good stuff in those brains. Do it. Make them all anarchists. That'd be awesome. I'd love it.

'When You're a Radical, People Become Afraid'

Reason: So what's your pitch to our anarcho-capitalist friends?

Sharpe: In my perfect world, in my heart, I'm an anarchist. But in reality, right now, I'm a minarchist. I want to go as close as I can to that. But I am absolutely not a radical. Why? I know that when you're radical, people become afraid. When they become afraid, they make bad decisions. That's human nature. When it comes to politics, they beg for a strongman.

Government almost never just takes your rights away. Almost always we legally vote them away, because we're scared. So if I become radical, people get scared; they beg for Donald Trump. The reason we have Donald Trump now is because people are scared. "The world's ending, what are we doing, we have debt, we don't know what we're doing. Strongman, help me." Right?

Strongman's either a dictator or a socialist. That's how it works, and that's been repeated how many times for a thousand years. That's why I'm not a radical. But in my heart I am an anarchist. I would love to have a society that is based only on volunteer associations. That would be amazing. I don't think I'll see that in my lifetime. So the closest I can get to that, that's what I want.

You said earlier that you think at least the near-term future of the party is people coming from the left. Why is that?

No, no, no, no. No, no. That's not what I meant. Near-term is right. Long-term is left.

How does that break down?

The Republican Party is breaking in half. It's obvious they're breaking in half. There's the Trump side, which is just "We're mad at the world!" And there's the actual people who think the Republican Party should be about small government. Those people are coming to us fastest now. But once that break is clear, people are going to have to pick sides. In the next three to four years, give or take, in that area, they're going to pick sides. They're going to come to us.

The left is slower to come to us. But here's the difference: If I can get 10 Republicans to come to us, five will go back. Or go alt-right. When Democrats come, less of them come, but they stay. They don't go anywhere.

In the short run, Republicans will break, we'll get a bunch. In the long run, we'll absorb the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party will go away in 30 years. It won't exist. It'll be the Libertarian Party.

The most radical leftists will actually go to the Republican Party, because they're all actually autocrats. It's just my autocrat vs. your autocrat. They'll go there and they'll change the name of the party.

'The Biggest Nazi? Come On In, I'm Happy to Talk to You'

Reason: This year there has been a lot of discussion about whether there's a pipeline between libertarians and the alt-right.

Sharpe: Yup.

Libertarian Party Chair Nicholas Sarwark has been drawing some bright lines.

It's a really bad idea. It's a really bad idea. Why would I tell anyone to leave my party? How can I turn you if I can't talk to you? Come, even white nationalists, come. If I can turn you, I'll turn you. My hero is that guy Daryl Davis. You know that guy? He's one of my brothers who was out there trying to get KKK members to turn. And he keeps their hoods as a trophy. He's turned like 44 of them in 30 years. That's my hero.

The vast majority of those guys are not Nazis. They're guys who are lost. There's a couple guys who are Nazis; there's always a couple of ringleaders. Those guys are never going to change, no matter what you do. But the big chunk of people who just think this is the right answer now? Turn them. That may take a month. That may take a year. It might take a hundred years. I don't care.

You want to stop racism? Let people be racist. You want to stop sexism? Let them be sexist. Let it out in the sunlight. Let people see it. Let them understand it and get it. You can turn them. I want them all to come to me, every one of them. The biggest Nazi? Come on in, I'm happy to talk to you. I will never stop that conversation, ever.

When 10 come, eight leave, two stay. I want those two. I'll take those two, because those two would have been Nazis. They're not. They're now Libertarians. Because you're free to be who you want to be in our party; just don't force it on others. You renounce the use of force.

So if someone says, "Hey, you know what? My version of libertarianism is I think people should be free to cluster, and I'm going to join a white nationalist community, and I'm going to be a member of the L.P. executive board"?

Good luck. If you win the election, I'm fine with it. Look, remember something—in a libertarian society, you can have enclaves of socialists, enclaves of communists, as long as it's voluntary when people try to leave.

Are there lessons that Libertarians, in particular, need to learn from the electoral success of Donald Trump?

Stop worrying so much about policy. The people with the clearest policies always lose. Hillary Clinton had a clear policy, and lost twice. Bernie Sanders had no policy, neither did Donald Trump. Not that we shouldn't have policies; it's just secondary. Libertarians have been been winning arguments and losing elections for 45 years.

This interview was edited for length, style, and clarity.

Photo Credit: Zoe Fisher

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  • BigT||

    Angelina Jolie would be a great 2020 Libertarian candidate.

  • BigT||

    Kmele Foster VP.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Interesting ideas. Not sure how silly his prognostications are for the Republican and Democrat parties; seems weird to even make such predictions. I like his summary of the two as tribes who rally behind their current kings, but I wonder if it's any different from 50 years ago. Nixon went to China; Carter deregulated trucking and the airlines. LBJ was a tribal king, so was Goldwater. JFK a king; his princelings still aspire to be kings in their own right. Dewey, FDR, Wilson, Teddy, Taft, Bryan, keep going back, they were all tribal kings. The parties might have been more distinct, but each king changed them.

    And as for distinctness, I don't think they really were more distinct back then, I think it was just different matters. Democrats were populists when Republicans/Whigs/Federalists were more constitutionalists, then Democrats changed their populism for the new Jim Crow Progressive era while Republicans switched to their own populism because slavery had been conquered, doncha know. Then Republicans were against war and expansive government only because Democrats were for war and expansive government.

    Just tribes with different kings pushing and pulling. That will never change as long as government holds so much power; and as long as government has any power, the kings will push for more power, and the tribes will push for more power, and government will expand. Same old same old.

  • JoeBlow123||

    The Democrat and Republican stuff is a tough sell, but it is hard not to argue they are both not teetering. All it would take is a few changes and one or both could topple which would be good for America, finally inject some change.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The Democratic Party is going to be the first to fall. They are losing blue collar American workers. The Democratic Party is heavily lefties like socialists and progressives who just cannot get enough votes to stave off their demise. You see this with the GOP controlling almost enough state Legislatures to hold and Article V Constitutional Convention.

    Republicans will need to change or they will just be the big spenders with a religious nut flavor. Even the Mormons are not able to hang on to the tell you what to do faction of the GOP.

    Luckily, this means that Libertarians can slip in there and get a national platform to get the USA back toward Classical Liberalism. Even if the American workers cannot fully support the LP because Libertarians wont endorse massive union protectionism, these workers have a better chance to do well under a Libertarian supported free market system as opposed to the GOP and Democrats.

  • Trollificus||

    Too bad the statement "We will fight to get you money you don't really earn and protect you from the consequences of doing your job poorly" is so much easier to understand than "you'll have a better chance to do well under a Libertarian supported free market system"

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Ballot access laws make it far easier to steer the D or R party in a different direction than to replace either of them with a third party.

    I'm pretty confident these are the two major parties we will have as long as this political system endures.

  • JoeBlow123||

    I very much agree ballot access and changing laws to do away with first pass the post would be tremendously helpful. Hopefully in the future!

  • JFree||

    Ballot access laws are actually what prevent the D's and R's from changing or 'growing'. That election day monopoly encourages them to do all their decision-making in the primaries where activists and status-quo types and small turnout dominates.

    LP's big mistake (at Prez level) has been nominating their candidate in the summer of election year - after D's and R's have sucked up all the oxygen and forced all the decisions during their own primaries. LP needs to go back to what they stopped doing in 1991 - hold the nominating convention the year before the Prez election. That would give the L candidate speaking/media/fundraising opportunities DURING the D/R primaries when the D's/R's are at their most petty/vindictive/vicious/stupid. Combine that window with candidates who know how to take advantage of it = win.

  • DenverJ||

    I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to sign up for your newsletter.

  • Trollificus||

    LOL. It would also give the LP somebody out there explaining things during the ONLY TIME EACH QUADRENNIAL PERIOD that D & R pols are actually talking about policies and the only time each election cycle that journalists (and the electorate) are actually listening to policy ideas.

    After the nominations, it's all lies, promises of free shit, lies, attack ads. lies. and lies. Or, put another way, "lies".

    Having a (non-Gary Johnson) candidate during that period and in the debates would allow the LP candidate to hammer home the contrast between promises/policies and delivered results over the last oh, 100+ years of Demopublican (Repubmocrat? both portmanteaux suck, but then, that works, on a definitional level) rule.

  • CE||

    What election day monopoly? I've seen LP alternatives on almost every ballot (until California went to the stupid and tyrannical "top 2" system). Ballot access is a problem, but it hasn't been the problem.

  • JFree||

    Ballot access is a problem, but it hasn't been the problem.

    Yeah it's a bug meet steamroller (collect more signatures than you will get votes - ok now collect even more) problem but I agree - its not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the lesser evil cognitive dissonance (20x more people can call themselves l than can vote l) problem. And the D/R's spend most of the primary season 'innoculating' voters/media using forced compliance techniques so that becomes a problem for l's - but that process is also highly vulnerable to outsider bugs pointing out look the emperor has no clothes.

    So the question is - what's the bug's best strategy knowing that it's a bug. Sabotage the parts early before its a steamroller? Or meekly play the well-oiled and operating steamrollers game?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Mouse is right, as long as the Nixon Anti-Libertarian Law endures. But spoiler votes earned by a small-but-determined party have always worked in the past. The communists (by all their names) made Manifesto plank 2 the 16th Amendment and injected it into most states. Comstock-law prohibitionists made the Kleptocracy adopt Blue laws, ban condoms, diaphragms and pills, and put the 18th Amendment into the Constitution.
    Then again, Sharpe, with his econazi and Republican and democrat background claims he can attract us some racial Nazis to make us more popular with voters, and Matt seems excited about this being a good idea. So who knows? Maybe those vacuous anti-conceptual prophesies are a better idea than the lessons of history...

  • Ron||

    I've often felt that the whole democrat republican parties are really just theater and what gets done gets done by the theater of hate between them except that since Obama I believe the democrats no longer want to play and just want to eliminate the theater all together since the GOP is the only thing between them and total socialism which is the only left form complete power since neither party is willing to give up power

  • LarryWilson||

    Tribes, eh?

    Well, that explains all the body art.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Sharpe could bring back the child molesting plank, and attract more anarchists, nationalsocialists AND pederasts. If the idea is to become what both breeds of looters say we are, instead of caricatures, we'd be proving them right. Sound like a plan?

  • Anastasia Beaverhausen||

    Matt Welch didn't know of Robert Ringer? That's appalling.

    What's even more appalling? A guy who says "I will always be loyal to Gary Johnson. Without him I'm not a Libertarian" without adding "...because thanks to Gary Johnson, I know what *isn't* Libertarian".

  • El Oso||

    so who is a 'Libertarian' for you - Mother Teresa?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I'm the only true libertarian.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Good to see faux libertarians are still so confused they can't recognize that I am the true libertarian. Get the fuck out of here.

  • Agammamon||

    No! *I'm* the only true libertarian.

  • CE||

    I thought I was, but maybe I'm just a bot. I forget sometimes.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    A-hem!

  • JoeBlow123||

    I feel like this guy, Mr. Sharpe. Would say to you to stop obsessing on orthodoxy in the Libertarian Party. If you want to ensure the party remains insignificant then keep telling people who is libertarian and who is not, great way to sow division and kill the party.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    But if you don't tell people who is libertarian and who is not, then it gets overrun by non-libertarians.

    It's the old trade-off. If you insist on political purity your agenda won't get implemented because you won't win elections. But if you throw purity out the window and accept all comers as candidates, your agenda won't get implemented even if you win.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I believe what he said was bring them in and teach them.

    Get them interested in liberty, and then, when they are open to something other than the status quo, teach them to be principled.

  • DenverJ||

    Purity? Like Gary Johnson is pure? Or Weld? It's the true Scotsman that is the cutest of the LP; just support anybody who had a chance of winning and is more pro-freedom than any of the other candidates. Use the party structure to make sure that there LP candidate is the most pro freedom choice we've got, and then put that person against the statists from the two main parties.

  • DenverJ||

    Curse of the LP, not cutest, Stoopid phone

  • Qsl||

    But if you don't tell people who is libertarian and who is not, then it gets overrun by non-libertarians.

    And eventually you can get to the point of feminist deciding whether it's okay to wear lipstick. Joy!

    Surprisingly the Democratic Party didn't collapse by having bluedogs. Even the evangelicals failed at having the GOP become the Party of God.

    Fact of the matter almost no one is pure in their libertarianism. Even Munger catches heat for his support of basic income, even though his bonafides are on point more than some keyboard philosophers and he has an argument inline with libertarian orthodoxy.

    Agree-with-us-on-everything or we-won't-help-you-with-anything only gets you a cool kid's club, not a viable political party.

  • CE||

    Unless "getting overrun" means "achieving critical mass".

  • Hank Phillips||

    I like the way Matt pinned him down on specifics from the party platform planks. That Sharpe guy really seems to have skimmed and glanced at the whole platform, all 2700 words, and could explain it to voters with no arm waving, right? Good luck fast-talking and flim-flamming old Matt!

  • Robert||

    So you scoffed/chortled/dropped your jaw at the same statements I did. Surprising sometimes what lacunae there are in the analysts' background. I could've easily understood that of Mr. Gillespie, but Mr. Welch's not knowing of Ringer was disturbing.

    And yeah, someone w some following in the movement taking Gary Johnson as gnomon of libertarian is laughable.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Purity tests are silly. Who cares if someone doesn't know some author or never read something? You need more than purists to make a party.

  • Robert||

    I care if analysts are not familiar with other prominent ones on the same topic! It's not about the product's purity, it's about its quality.

  • Trollificus||

    I got the impression Sharpes' comments were more to his personal admiration of GJ as a human being, not as a paragon of libertarian bona fides.

  • ||

    As long as Libertarians are this contentious and purity oriented, we'll be stuck fighting ourselves like the Scots and never get the boots of the English off of our necks. Is that what you want? For the English to live and oppress you?:!!?

    Necessary plank for LP platform: Any Englishman must die.

  • Trollificus||

    Wouldn't that make us Irish then?

    (great comedic line in someones' standup routine: "Love Ireland. History everywhere! And at every site, you'll find a historical plaque saying "And then the English came and screwed it all up.")

  • GILMORE™||

    this is so funny

    exhibit A

    Robby Soave @robbysoave
    Jan 12

    I was on this panel w/ @sapinker, Brendan, and Wendy. None of us were anything other than stridently critical of the alt-right.

    As tho that were the point.

    the moment i enjoyed most is when brendan basically said, "your entire journalistic subject matter is juvenile gibberish". You can see self-awareness circling robby's head, but never quite landing.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    You're a Soaveflake.

  • GILMORE™||

    i am imagining Robby in one of those Selsun Blue Denorex commercials, where one half of his head is covered in lather, and he's going, "Its tingling on this side, which means its working!" (or that they put battery acid in the shampoo)

    i just think it was funny that O'Neill was like, "everything you've ever written about is useless garbage and missing the point" and he had to sit there and look serious and interested.

  • SIV||

  • GILMORE™||

    yeah, i grasped that it was this "omg pinker et all said nice things about alt-righties"-thing that Soave was responding to.

    i just think it continues to be hilarious that he (or anyone) thinks that's the point of their discussion, or possibly could be the worst thing said. They could have called for the assassination of the president or the jailing of heretics or the end of all monogamous relationships and everyone would have yawned. Oh, but "normalize the dreaded *alt right*?" Horrorshow. Its this retarded one-dimensional thinking that prevails and people are completely unable to distance themselves from the idiocy and see it for the charade it is.

    O'neill's comment was perfect because he basically clarified that the hullabaloo about Kampus Krazies misses the point: its not about dumb kids. kids are always dumb. its far more about the environment in which this particular kind of dumb kid becomes possible.

    iow, its not the SJW's, its the administrations of universities that fear and tolerate them.

    the "anti-enlightenment" has been in the works for decades. people like Soave completely miss the point while spending tons of time hemming and hawing about the ephemera.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Well, if you would have asked me any of Nader's policies, I couldn't have answered; I wouldn't have known any of them. I knew he wasn't an R or a D, and that was good enough for me. I knew Perot wasn't an R or a D; that was good enough for me. I actually considered in 2000 joining the Green Party because it wasn't the R or the D, but if you'd have asked me what they stood for, I wouldn't have known. No idea. I saw that in a lot of the Bernie supporters last year—just like me, just wanted someone not in the mainstream, couldn't tell you what Bernie's policies were. A lot of the young Trump supporters, same thing. Just wanted an outsider.


    So ... um. Almost half a century of negative campaigning brought the Libertarian Party a rising star whose main concern is not being a Republican or Democrat.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Sad to say, the LP's "greatest success" in presidential election history came purely as a result of not being Trump or Hillary.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Sharpe: We are already winning city councils. We have a couple hundred already in the nation itself. It's not a lot—there are over half a million total seats that we could have. We only have several hundred of them, but we only had a hundred a couple years ago, so we're doubling and tripling. It's working. Why is that valuable? Because people will realize that if Libertarians run a city, it doesn't go under. It's not the zombie apocalypse, or The Walking Dead.

    As that begins to happen, now we can move to the next level, which is the state level. We can become actual executives.


    Now, in my perfect world, we have a nice celebrity on top of the ticket in 2020. That top-of-the-ticket 2020 celeb spends a lot of time talking about the people running locally. It's not just "me, super-celeb guy," it's also these people and these people. When there's a big event in Iowa or wherever he goes, everyone else on the ticket also speaks and gets up there, and we'll see them. We didn't do that well in 2016 at all. We do it well in 2020.


    Maybe members don't show up to followup meetings after the elections, because they see leadership recruiting famous non-members for our top nominations instead of recruiting members who have held appointed office as Libertarians.

  • JoeBlow123||

    You seriously think this is why? Rather ridiculous argument.

    Mr. Sharpe has a practical plan, a pretty good one in my estimation. The reality is nowadays celebrity wins election. Not a perfect system but it is reality. So he is playing to reality, not some fantasy where some ideologically pure non-celebrity will sweep he polls enroute to some "libertarian moment." Not gonna happen.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Agree, although whether the plan is good or sucks is pure speculation. I'd say what they've been doing hasn't worked, so this approach sounds as good as anything else, and is certainly plausible.

  • JFree||

    If elected/appointed L officials are viewing higher level offices as some party-loyalist entitlement, then that's just the same tribal problem as the D/R's but even more constipated. The R's themselves nominated someone who isn't really an R and the D's almost nominated someone who isn't a D.

    WIN offices at lower levels using the celebrity/attention of higher-level candidates - who more than likely won't win but who can get attention and is mandated to get that attention for lower-level candidates too (which is what he's getting at re the 2016 and previous years failures).

    Lower-level successes can also then solve the name-recognition problem which is the ONLY important thing in the Prez race. It may be sad but its true and probably inevitable in a huge country where that election involves 100 million + voters to decide.

  • CE||

    The LP isn't winning city councils or any other government seats of power. A few LP members are getting elected to non-partisan offices and pushing things in the right direction, with varying results. Let's not call a sparrow an eagle.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Hmmm. Last paragraph. I am pretty sure Trump campaigned on some very specific policy proposals. Same for Sanders.

  • gormadoc||

    Policy directions and general goals were clear. Specific policy proposals were absent.

    For Trump, we still don't know what the wall is supposed to be, we didn't know what would replace Obamacare until almost the vote, and his position on ISIS was to bomb the living bejeebers out of those forces.

    For Sanders, we were supposed to get free shit but he gave us no idea of how it would be paid for or what would happen to the systems already in place, no specific idea of how justice reform would work, and he wanted to tax rich people more without giving a method.

  • gormadoc||

    And Sanders wanted less deodorant, but I don't know how he wanted to do that.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Judging by some Sanders supporters I have met, it appears to be some kind of grass-roots action.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Well, that seems like splitting hairs. In the article, he seems to be saying Trump campaigned without even policy direction or goals. The contrast he makes with Clinton seems incorrect, as the average voter likely felt it was easy to tell them apart by what they proposed to do. The belief that she lost by being too specific on policy seems not just far fetched but comical.

  • JFree||

    The belief that she lost by being too specific on policy seems not just far fetched but comical.

    I think that's very much why she lost. Not because of specific policy itself (no one on Earth outside the wonk/apparatchik class actually cares about that) but because elevation of 'policy is all-important' strategy REQUIRES diminution of 'this person understands (and therefore trusts) me' strategy.

    'Policy' is part of the planning/ideas-above-everything sphere of things. The we-know-better-than-you sphere. Even if the 'idea' is libertarian - elevating that idea above the personal screwy confusing conflicted individual will lead to the same place as if the 'idea' is socialist. A top-down rigid centralized imposition of a 'great idea' - and if you screwy conflicted individuals don't understand why this is good for you then we will have to send you off to re-education/brainwashing camp teach you about 'real liberty' for your own good.

    She lost because she couldn't connect with the personal. Period. Trump won because he hammered on that connection at a very lizard-brain hate-filled level. Every election in my life has been won by the candidate who better 'connects with the personal'.

    Imo even libertarians who think they deplore that as emoting/feelz are often conflating policy (give free shit or don't give a shit at all) with connection (someone in the Oval Office will think like me when they have to make decisions).

  • JFree||

    Put another way

    Policy is what a voter expects the candidate to do
    Connection is what a voter expects to be more able to do if their candidate wins.

    The winner is whoever connects with the most voters (with the EC distribution stuff)

  • Iheartskeet||

    I have no idea what you are talking about, and a sneaking suspicion you don't either.

    Being specific on policy doesn't preclude a connection with voters.

    Agree 100% Trump connected on a personal level, and Hillary didn't. I doubt it was because she was belaboring page 186 of her detailed Title IX expansion policy. Rather, she ran a lazy campaign, thought being a woman was enough, and exudes the personal warmth of a pocket calculator, among a million other things.

    Anyway, if the argument is the LP would do better with a candidate that connects with people, I agree, but that has limits. Like Trump, part of that connection will be forged with policy ideas that resonate.

  • JFree||

    Like Trump, part of that connection will be forged with policy ideas that resonate.

    You mean like 'build the wall and have Mexico pay'? How's that going? Do you think he will lose a single one of his supporters if not one inch of wall is built or if Mexico pays nothing?

    You're missing what that really is. It wasn't policy. It was - I hate Mexicans too just like you. It ain't the rational idea that resonates, it's the emotional lizard-brain stuff.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Yep, I mean exactly that. I think most recognize the Mexico pays part as a rhetorical flourish. He will indeed lose some support if he doesn't build a wall, though his voters have few realistic alternatives, other than staying home. In any case, it was a simplistic policy goal that addressed perceived illegal immigrant crime, gang violence, repeated deportations, and perceived economic harm. To this day, it galvanizes many, right or wrong.

    Interpreting this as Mexico hatred, well, knock yourself out. I think that's a charicature of Trump voters, and a profound misunderstanding of their motivations. I think many more viewed it as "finally someone is going to fix this problem" and "he puts America first".

    What exact lizard brain messages are you suggesting for the LP ?

  • JFree||

    I'll go further - If someone had proposed building a wall with lots of gates and easy but controlled access and short lines so everyone gets documents, they would have attracted precisely zero Trump supporters.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Agree. A wall that failed to address any of the issues that a wall is supposed to fix would not be compelling. A WINO would have done as well as RINOs did.

  • Paper Wasp||

    Why does the 'policy wonk' strategy win any votes, anyway? Does it really? I can't recall the last time a candidate's detailed policy goals were actually carried out per his/her plans. It never happens. The voters who insist on this remind me of the voters who say they want a well-liked candidate to fold and serve as the VP on the ticket of a better-liked candidate: they're morons.

    Hillary's "detailed policy goals" were the ill-fitting progressive plumage she ripped off the rival platform (Sanders) that threatened to sink her in spite of her campaign's ubiquitous and bald-faced cheating. Figuring out that this race would be about winning the butthurt prog flank she'd just cheated like a feckin' gypsy, instead of trying to pretend she's a centrist and going after the undecided voter like she clumsily did in 2008, her policy platform became nothing but a series of empty, craven bribes for various identity politics factions.

    she ran a lazy campaign, thought being a woman was enough, and exudes the personal warmth of a pocket calculator

    Yeah, pretty much.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Sanders lost.

    And if you think Trump campaigned on "very specific policy proposals" you stopped listening after five minutes, because that's about how long it takes for him to reverse himself on any given topic.

  • Iheartskeet||

    On Sanders, I was responding to another message. It was simply to point out he did indeed have policy points.

    On Trump, yes he can be inconsistent, but ask anyone about what specifics a candidate promised to do, and I suspect most will recall Trumps pretty well, and better than most other candidates. Indeed they still drive polarizing views. Build a wall. Replace Scalia from this list. Lower taxes. Get rid of Obamacare. No gun control. Call them promises instead of policies if you want, but he campaigned on pretty clear items, or as specific as is reasonable, given a lot of this is up to the legislature.

  • H-daddy||

    I enjoy Sharpe's stimulating ideas. Great interview. As for 2020 I think Andrew Napolitano is the best choice. I hope he considers it.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Andrew Napolitano is the best choice

    So he can travel the country telling everyone Trump's lastest crazy conspiracy theory?

  • DenverJ||

    The Judge (tm) is way too smart to run for president. That's the problem: to run for president means you've spent your whole life, at least since college, aiming for the brass ring. I'm too drunk to get my point across, but think Kennedy, or Clinton, or Bush. A whole life watching every utterance for future recall, aw hell I've lost it... INFLATABLE CRAZY FLAILING ARMS GUY! INFLATABLE CRAZY FLAILING ARMS GUY! DOES NOT COMPUTE DOES NOT COMMUTE WORKS FROM HOME INFLATABLE CRAZY FLAILING ARMS GUY... I SMELL SMOKE!... BOOM!

  • SIV||

    Two-time presidential nominee Gary Johnson has declared that he's never running for office again.

    Thank God!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Libertarianism might have a chance from now on.

    Gary Johnson was good for New Mexico and that was about it.

    There is more to Libertarianism than gaysex.

  • DenverJ||

    He is also a pot entrepreneur.

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • Mark22||

    You won't believe what happens next!

    (The claws and teeth come out.)

  • Stormy Dragon||

    He pretty much lost me as soon as he said "management consultant and sales trainer". And the fact he went that entire interview without saying what he actually wants to do about anything is why he lost me as soon as he said "management consultant and sales trainer".

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • MarkLastname||

    Another candidate awhile back lost me at 'community organizer.'

  • Mark22||

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Meet Larry Sharpe, the Marine turned management consultant who is rising to the top of a leaderless Libertarian Party

    Wait a minute, I thought the LP just had the greatest electoral success in history, following Gary Johnson's well-run campaign? Are you saying the libertarian moment has already passed?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    There are Cuck operatives trying to sabotage Libertarianism at every turn.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Matt and the Green Republican Nader Perot Larouche Democrat are saying that--and saying that Sarwark is both enthusiastic (abt the Prophet of Sales Training) and wrong about the value of integrity.
    If the idea is to recycle, then why not get Trump, who likes libertarianism, to run on our platform as he did on the Comstock Prohibitionist Republican platform he memorized for the job? The LP may be the reason Trump got the nomination in the first place, and so far the guy has been out-performing Bob Barr, Marron, Russell Means and other less-than-competent volunteers.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Biggest problem with Libertarians winning New York is New York City.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    This guy is exciting.

    There will only be liberty when the majority of the people living here actually want liberty. They obviously don't, currently, so the only way to obtain Libertopia is to convince people that liberty is in their best interests.

    I agree with damn near everything he said here, which almost never happens...well...Stossel ;-)

    I hope we see more of Mr Sharpe.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    "wanting liberty" is any interesting clause. I think most people may gossip about others, may wish that others would do things differently, and push mighty hard to change people's behavior ... but I do not think they actually want to use the power of the State to coerce other people into changing. Sure, some do, but most don't, I believe.

    What has happened is enough people have gotten the State to do things in their favor that most everybody realizes it is impossible to escape the grasp of the State, and rather than be the chump everyone else picks on, they fight back in the only plausible way, by trying to get the State on their side in some different fashion; to game it, to lie and cheat if necessary, because why should everybody else get the goodies?

    I believe most people would give up their goodies, even if grudgingly, if everybody else gave up theirs too. But that's the catch -- everybody can always think of someone who is deserving of State largesse -- the iron lung residents, the senile, the orphans of a car wreck. And while most people would agree to some extent, involving the State means taxes, and coercion, and favors, and corruption, and the end of liberty/

  • Vernon Depner||

    That's why it's too late to take liberty back from the State through democratic action. At this point, the State will be toppled only by some external catastrophe severe enough to make the goodies wagons stop running. An asteroid strike, a Black Death level pandemic, a nuclear war—something bad will have to happen that disrupts the operation of the State for long enough that people give up on waiting for the gravy trains to return, and are forced to reorganize in a new way.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Ehh... that's a rather negative outlook. I do not share it. Fortune can always change.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    There's an alternative -- move society out from under government control. By which I mean digital currencies and the dark web. I already know a few people who operate as much as possible in the shadow economy, using cash as much as possible, and doing just enough work on the books to provide plausible means of support.

    Manufacturing employs fewer and fewer people. Physical goods are not as important as they used to be. Service industries and software are worth a bigger and bigger part of the economy. There are also a lot of black market physical goods which are just as invisible to the government.

    I think it possible that within 100 years, government will be as powerful as ever, but only in the surface economy, which will be too small apart of daily life for the government to have any practical power. They will still arrest people for bullshit reasons, but not as amny in absolute terms.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    The answer to "free shit" is to phase it out over time, so you aren't pulling the rug out from under people. You can do it, but first you need to convince people it's in their best interest to do so.

  • Vernon Depner||

    But that's the problem—it's not in anyone's individual best interest to say no to free shit.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Sure it is. A system based on free shit can only collapse. The educated already know this. The uneducated will get educated...one way or the other.

  • Vernon Depner||

    Yes, it will collapse, but only because of a disruption beyond the control of our rulers. What will not happen is our current regime surrendering power simply because we have voted them out.

  • DenverJ||

    So, let's assume that the US government is completely bankrupt: they issue checks for worthless dollars. So what, so the people who use that check to survive just what? Wake up and become entrepreneurs? The entrepreneurs in that community are slinging drugs. It would be chaos.

  • Vernon Depner||

    "Chaos"? You're thinking small. It could be a mass extinction event.

  • CE||

    The answer to "free shit" is to phase it out over time, so you aren't pulling the rug out from under people...

    Gradual reductions in government spending never work, because someone's ox is getting gored and they squeal loudly. The large majority gaining from the cuts don't gain enough to care.

    Harry Browne had the right idea -- cut government spending enough right away to repeal the income tax, so the majority have a big reason to support the cuts. They might lose their favorite subsidy, but they gain a lot more by not being taxed.

  • JFree||

    This 100%. Only thing I disagree with is that the L's grow by attracting D's (cholera) and R's (plague). Most people I know hate committed D's and R's on like a personal level. Even D's and R's hate themselves and each other and their own tribe and everyone else and the only pleasant ones are the ones who want to leave their tent but haven't yet.

    Non-voters and registered independents/unaffiliated are almost as big as both the D's and R's combined. And they already have the libertarian seed-kernel that they ain't very interested in the D/R tribe game and ain't very interested in coercing others through politics. May be a bit tougher one-on-one to get them in the tent - but hey the celebrity and the hairy three-legged dwarf lady has worked for carnivals for years. And everyone does love a winner.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Non-voters and registered independents/unaffiliated are almost as big as both the D's and R's combined. And they already have the libertarian seed-kernel that they ain't very interested in the D/R tribe game and ain't very interested in coercing others through politics.

    I've been a libertarian most of my adult life. Thing of it was, I didn't know it till I was 40 something. I voted R. Had no idea what libertarianism was or that it was even an option. Since, I've personally "converted" roughly 7 people simply by having rational political discussions with them. When I say converted, I mean they formerly identified as liberal or conservative and would now claim to be libertarians. Six were Rs and one was a D.

    The point is, I think there are a fuck-ton of people out there like me. People who fundamentally don't want to be told what to do and see that for that to be the case they need to refrain from telling others what to do. These people can be reached. When they realize there are enough others like them to make a difference, they will abandon their former voting tribes. And the final step is to educate them in libertarian principle so they live their lives based on it and will eventually demand it in those they vote for.

    So while I agree with you about the independents, I think there are lots of uninformed libertarians (or near libertarians) lurking in the Teams.

  • JoeBlow123||

    I had this same discussion with my parents. They don't like Republicans but they see nothing else. I try to tell if you want things to change, it can start with you by convincing people around you to change, to vote L. They want something already done, some other choice, and all I try and tell them is why can't you help create that other choice instead of waiting for someone else to do it for you?

  • JFree||

    I've been looking at the registered voter stats in my county. The L's (and inds) were the only one that's rising. For registered L's - fully 50% are now in the 24-35 age demographic. Talking with some of them, the common thing I found with them is that a)they spent their entire childhoods listening to the family political BS
    b)they want none of that and most just want to be left alone
    c)they still thought it was important to register to vote (and L at that)

    I just see this challenge as the same as mass branding/advertising - who have the same obsession about the 18-35 demographic. Focus entirely on the group that hasn't yet made their own 'choice'. Because once someone has made a choice, they are gonna find reasons to justify their choice, resist change, resist dissonance, avoid making a second choice.

    No party is going to win elections with the 18-35's (or the apathetic). But 3 of the 4 'surprising' candidates of recent have surprised because of that age group - Obama2008 (rhetoric/organization), Paul2008(honest outsider), Sanders 2012(honest outsider/pandering). And only surprises - Obama and Trump - have actually won.

    It's also one reason I think the L's should choose their 2020 nominee in 2019 - so the L can be an alternate 'surprise' option while the D/R's are arguing in primaries. And THEN the bandwagon effect can take hold.

  • JoeBlow123||

    I think it's a good idea.

  • Hank Phillips||

    We convince looter politicians to steal planks from our platform. Every successful party in America has done that, and when they fail the test, no more Federalists, no more Whigs.

  • JuanQPublic||

    We in the Libertarian Party, we fight all the time. Why? We have an ideology. If we bring them over now, and the radicals and the anarchists leave our party, we will become a tribe.

    This seems self-contradictory, because ideology is tribal in nature. Ideology is commonly considered synonymous to principles, but adhering to principles can and should limit ideals in some cases. For example, ideally there would be no speech that generalizes and attacks broad groups of people on basis of ethnicity or gender, but in principle, we should defend those people's right to exercise that speech.

    Personal ideals from issue to issue should not be the adhesive that holds together and turns the Libertarian party into a formidable political party. Varied opinions are a strength of libertarians as a whole. Rather, a set of principles should hold it together, such as principles consistent with the enlightenment and Constitution. There are no demographics
    to pander to here - everyone is an individual whose liberties should be defended.

  • silver.||

    I agree. There are commenters here that are both more liberal and more conservative than me on many issues, but I have enormous respect for them nonetheless. I think we all agree that it's good that we have discourse. So many of the heated discusses between libertarians are simply about where to draw the line in the infinite area of greys, and that's a question that'll never have a "right" answer.

    If the founders didn't vehemently disagree, they probably never would've felt the need to develop checks, balances, and plenty of opportunities to change the folks in power.

    I don't know about Mr. Sharpe's strange predictions about winning some of the former-conservatives first but keeping the former-liberals forever? but he has a pretty pragmatic idea here. Certainly, people see us as ideologically pure and non-pragmatic. Probably also aloof. One person I talked to, a self-styled anarchist, said that "all libertarians just want to smoke weed and rape people legally." These stereotypes are unfortunately common.

  • gormadoc||

    On how long people stay in the party, I believe him. Many of the conservatives are just temporarily dissatisfied Republicans. Eventually a candidate will come around to their button issue. For the liberals, the become disillusioned with the Democrats as a whole or never really fit in with the Republicans anyway.

  • The Last American Hero||

    I disagree. Team Red has a lot of folks that are at least Libertarian-curious or sympathetic to many Libertarian positions. Team Blue members can't conceive of cutting a dollar off the federal budget, or of devolving power to the states, or of scaling back regulatory burdens. It's just all government all the time, and endless shrieking if you so much as suggest that maybe it has gone too far.

    My hawkish Team Red friends will argue in good faith about why our constant military interventions are needed, and they don't result to personal attacks when I disagree.

    My Team Blue friends think that any cutbacks to Fedgov mean people will be raping mother gaia, old people dying in the streets, and will use pretty hateful language to describe political opposition, such as Teabagger, KKKocksucker, Teathuglican, etc. They get really mad when I suggest that 2 of those monikers reek of homophobia. Not sure how you ever convince such people that freedom and liberty are ideals.

  • gormadoc||

    He's not saying that we'll convert everyone to Libertarianism but that the people who come to the party are more likely to stay if they left the Democrats. You're only looking at the Democrats who won't ever come to the party. A lot of the Republicans-turned-Libertarian over the last couple decades have just been Republicans that were dissatisfied with the presidential candidates or lack of action on certain big issues. Once the Republican pendulum swings back to their brand of conservatism a lot will leave, unless we get a huge number of them.

    I don't think he's right that the Democrat party will collapse, but it will become more left-wing as we peel away the freedom-minded.

  • JuanQPublic||

    Agreed!

  • Robert||

    Mr. Welch didn't know of Robert Ringer?!

  • Matt Welch||

    You could fill, well, books with all the stuff & people I don't know.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Don't sell yourself short...

    ...libraries.

    ;-)

  • Robert||

    It's not like he made any great theoretic contributions to the movement or ideology. He has some great insights to happiness & human nature, though, and he just happened to be a popular author who was avowedly libertarian, hence hard for people in the milieu not to know about him unless they're too young or too new to it.

    The Ice Ball Theory in Winning Through Intimidation is the most important thing in it, and he knows it. I'll lay it on you here for nothing. He was looking at an artist's conception of the world after the Sun went out, and shuddered. But then he laughed, because he realized that nothing he could ever do would affect that outcome in the slightest. No matter how badly you screw up or how great you do, that ice ball is coming. So don't sweat it.

  • Robert||

    That was the conclusion shown in the movie Gangs of New York too, except w/o the actual ice ball. That would've been a great concluding shot, though, showing how NYC was built up & then ends as an ice ball—just to drive home the point, i.e., you, too.

  • Hattori Hanzo||

    Bill Weld supports gun control, The Patriot Act and eminent domain. He's also on record stating Hillary is a "good kid". That's why a then unknown Sharpe was able to keep things close. The actual libertarians in the LP made a valiant stand against another GOP coup attempt.

  • SIV||

    You don't want Jeff Flake coming to the party right now?

    No, not at all.

    Thank God !

  • Trollificus||

    Sold me.

  • SIV||

    The Republican Party is breaking in half. It's obvious they're breaking in half. There's the Trump side, which is just "We're mad at the world!" And there's the actual people who think the Republican Party should be about small government.

    Lol!

    They're the ones who get angry if you say anything disparaging about the Bush family and claimed Mitt Romney was the most conservative nominee since Reagan. They're not "small government", they're NEVER TRUMP.

  • CE||

    The Never Trump Republicans are the ones who want to rule the world, not the ones who want smaller government.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Nominees since Reagan:

    George HW Bush
    Bob Dole
    George W. Bush
    Mitt Romney
    Donald Trump

    I think you could make a case for Romney being the most conservative of the bunch, but which of the others (excluding Trump) is the clear cut winner? You say it like the answer is obvious.

  • Nuwanda||

    Sounded like a mess of contradictions to me.

    He thinks the LP will get a few Republicans but most of the Dems? I guess that explains why so many libertarians would have preferred Clinton despite the enormous damage she'd have done.

  • The Last American Hero||

    The Dems are currently divided between those who love Communism (oops, I mean Socialism) and those who are in love with Communism/Socialism.

    I don't see much room for liberty lovers over there.

  • Nuwanda||

    You might be missing my point. Many libertarians define themselves purely in terms of "social rights", atheism and lately, open borders. Hence the oft-seen admonition that libertarians should vote Dem since they are inherently less dangerous than the bible-thumping, immigrant-vetting Republicans.

    Larry Sharpe reflects this conceit.

  • Nuwanda||

    Did that whole thing actually avoid mentioning the defining mantra of many modern Libertarians, open borders? How interesting.

  • vek||

    Seems like a well intentioned guy, but I don't buy into many of his predictions/ideas.

    I think anybody who would align with the Democratic party of today (not that of 20-30 years ago when they were more sane) is 95% likely to be a lost cause for anything resembling libertarianism. As are many sub sets of the Republicans who have the strong authoritarian streak, I'm looking at you hardcore Bible thumpers! But a good percentage of Republicans TRULY believe in the small government stuff, the politicians just sell them out and never follow through. Many/most independent voters are up for grabs too.

    Dems of today are 100% authoritarian and dogmatic. They want to decree every aspect of life from what you are paid at work, to your health care, to what you're allowed to say or even think! People like that will not be converted, unless the whole country collapses because of government debt or something clearly souring them on the gov in general.

  • vek||

    As far as things go I still say the only way the Libertarian Party is going everywhere is to become libertarian, but more squishy and pragmatic.

    IMO L politicians when asked "the tough questions" need to just say "Well, the principle behind this is blah blah blah, and in a perfect world I'd like it to be like XYZ. That said, I think we can start to move towards that better world by something far more mild like ABC." And that's it. Give a short reason for why state control is BS in a certain instance, and then give a mild, but in the right direction current policy position. Legalize weed is better for elections than legalize heroin, but you also need to mention that it's peoples right to do WTF ever they want, which is why weed needs to be legalized NOW.

    It's not hard. That's how I win over people IRL all the time. Not the perfect world libertarian approach, just something a little more towards the goal.

  • JuanQPublic||

    Dems of today are 100% authoritarian and dogmatic. They want to decree every aspect of life from what you are paid at work, to your health care, to what you're allowed to say or even think!

    This would have been hyperbole in the distant past, but it actually does ring true in 2018.

    The general demeanor of the Democratic Party today, like the Republican Party, is a growing obsession and opposition to people doing and saying what they want. The new litmus test of both parties is not defense of civil liberties, but rather how impulsive one is in reaction to a prescribed list of issues and people. Both parties operate largely the same in this regard, but have different prescriptions from issue to issue. Of course, its easy to see there is no principle involved whatsoever with and endless list of condemnations and exceptions based on identity.

    And that's really the cancer of the public consciousness: the notion of identity. An unchanging, static classification that identifies the individual, and has no regard for the nuances and changing nature of the individual. Essentially, it's a wholesale rejection of humanism by the current political class, with an obsession over identity and how that identity validates/invalidates the individual.

  • vek||

    Pretty much. When talking to people out and about in The People's Republic Of Seattle I will frequently mention how Democrats are batshit crazy today, followed by "But they didn't used to be." to soften the blow. Looking back at Clinton, he TRIED to do some horrible things, but was put in check by the Republican congress, and actually signed off on a lot of decent laws. No Dem today would govern so sensibly. And people wonder why a Democrat like him had so much success, and the ones now are in full on collapse mode in most of the country. Even many that still vote Dem are horrified by how the craziest minority from the hyper progressive coasts has taken over the party.

    The left pushing identity politics to the forefront is not something I like, but it is a rather natural human behavior. It has made me myself become far more concerned about a lot of issues because they have made them issues. They're so clearly anti white and anti male that as a mostly white guy, I HAVE to be concerned. Their crazy ideas have had real world detrimental effects on many people, and must be stopped.

    It would be nice if we could take things down a few notches, but I think they will only ramp up. There are many honest discussions that could be had on racial/cultural issues, but until the shrieking of "Raaaaaacist!!!" stops they will never happen.

  • Nuwanda||

    Well said, Vek.

    He also contradicts himself with the idea that some people can't be allowed into the tent, but others need to be welcomed in, afraid the LP will become GOP Lite but seemingly unconcerned that an influx of Dems will not be just as problematic. But that fits with my suspicion that libertarians regard Dems as closer in ideology than Republicans. I further suspect they are distracted by religion and open borders issues without realising the Dems and Liberals in general will only be in favor of freedom of speech until the nationalise the last printing press. Rinse and repeat for other rights.

  • vek||

    More or less agree. It has become clear to me that Dems only pretend to care about issues until they have achieved their ends. Republicans, rank and file ones not the politicians, seem to actually believe in the things they preach.

    As far as the Libertarian party getting taken over, provided Republican Lite is the actual libertarian portions of the Republican party (small government, decentralization, deregulation, etc) transferring over, and leaving behind the horrible foreign policy etc, that wouldn't be the worst outcome.

    Democrat Lite however would be what? Forced gay wedding cakes and a belief in free speech... As long as it's not racist speech? I really just don't see how the issues libertarians agree on with Dems amount to anything too real or important. Gay marriage and legal pot are cool, but they're not major issues like the size/scope of government. Also the Dems don't care about the principle, just the particular line item that's en vogue today IMO.

    Hence the correct Republicans coming over seems far better to me.

  • Nuwanda||

    "Hence the correct Republicans coming over seems far better to me."

    Granted, but since even the "correct" Republicans are in favor of some kind of border control, I'm not surprised at Sharpe's attitude, especially since the interview seems to avoid the contentious issue of immigration policy which is a real split within libertarian ranks.

    Methinks that makes the interview a little disingenuous and self-serving.

  • vek||

    Yeah, it really is a major split. I think it boils down to this: Principles or practical real world outcomes.

    You can argue freedom of movement as an inherent right. I personally don't really think it is internationally, but some people do.

    The thing is this idea many libertarians have that the morally righteous position MUST ALSO be the best practical outcome. I totally disagree. Sometimes doing a morally wrong thing is simply best for an individual/nation. That's why people/nations do morally wrong things so often!

    I think with immigration it's obvious that true open borders would drag our standard of living down dramatically, destroy our uniquely freedom oriented culture, and completely obliterate the USA as it has been known up til now.

    So moralists fool themselves into thinking the above won't happen, when it's clear that 100 million illiterate people moving here would do just that. Practical people say, well fuck 'em because I don't want that to happen, right to travel be damned!

    I'm practical on this issue. People need to accept that sometimes the moral thing isn't going to deliver the practical outcomes they want. Sometimes it will, like with the drug war being ended being all positives IMO. But not always. So sometimes you have to make the choice to be immoral if the real world outcome is too bad.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    I'd say that after having lived 20 years in a 100% democratic neighborhood, the overwhelming number of people there were voting democratic because they thought the republicans were about to take away all the things they thought were important in life.

    As an aside, I had grown up in one of the first suburbs to rise up around the urban area I was in, and for whatever reason it was their goto for all that was wrong with non-urban areas. I was routinely told facts about the place I'd grown up in, and there wasn't even the remotest resemblance to the reality of the situation.

    The point of all that is that the vast majority of party oriented people are sheep, and they could very easily become libertarians. No one with any strong principles could have been for both Bill Clinton and Obama, and yet Democrats didn't hesitate to vote for both of them.

  • vek||

    Yes, people are sheep. And some sheep might switch sides for various reasons.

    I still think the best way to break down the parties is this:

    Dems care more about emotional/social issues. Gay this, pot that, etc. They are more emotional people on average, which is why most women are Dems. Feelz not thinkz.

    Republicans care more about big structural problems, like the math of how we're broke etc. More logical thinking in general, more apt to say "Fuck 'em" on some tear jerker issue.

    NOW both those are just the main cohorts. Both sides have other sub groups, like the emotional bible thumpers in the Republican party. But I think the above is broadly true.

    Hence, if you remove the social issues from being something to be scared away by, some Dems would be for more reasonable fiscal policy... BUT you can't be mean to The Gays or stoners or whatever. Problem is those same emotions make them hard to convince on cutting welfare etc as well.

    There are the people who just were raised a certain way and stuck with it for no particular reason too though. They might be Dems because their parents were Emo as fuck, and could be swayed easier.

    It's a winning idea, if a party can get over the hurdle of being seen as unelectable.

  • gormadoc||

    Reason needs more articles like this. With every news event, we get an influx of articles about it. California's pension problems, "shitholes", Oregon's minimum wage debacle, Trump bluster, systemic problems with various spending programs, feminism, and on and on. It really just comes across as whining or schadenfreude. We've already diagnosed the problems, and the authors give some prescriptions, but the only people reading them are libertarians and the libertarian-leaning. We need articles like this, of course, and the bulk should be these, but it comes at the expense of other articles.

    Articles like this (I don't mean interviews) actually give us an idea of what we're really doing, beyond whining. What ways forward are we finding and how have we achieved what we have? It's nice to know that we have a direction, but people need to know that we do in order to be directed.

  • JoeBlow123||

    100% agreed. The editors here need to add more articles like this, provide a vision and a goal. Perhaps start promoting events and other things to get people together.

  • Hank Phillips||

    There are qualified libertarians who run for office. In Austin we have a Gary Johnson (same name, added competence) who was active in 1980 and probably earlier and knows his stuff. Art Dibianca has a deep understanding of history, politics and law, answers well under pressure, and I am sure every county has some competent libertarians literate enough to have at least read the platform. With 4 million votes, the looters will stop at nothing to saddle us with Green-teeth econazis and rednecks, faith-based prohibitionists, nationalsocialists, anarchists, coathanger abortionists, pederasts, flimflam men and everything BUT libertarians. Now more than ever we need candidates able to READ the platform. If they understand more than half of it, so much the better! John Hopers and Toni Nathan enforced women's rights (Roe v. Wade) while on the ballot in sth like three states. Roger MacBride was another good choice.

  • Brandybuck||

    Having been an LP member for 25 years, attended numerous local, state, and national LP conventions, and even been on a state executive committee, I gotta say that the LP will continue to lose elections until such a time as I actually wants to win one. The very few local elections it wins are non-partisans. The only partisan offices it holds are because Republican or Democrat winners changed their party.

    That's probably number one. Many LP members don't want to win. They want to proselytize instead. The purity of the candidate is far more important than getting a votes. Better to lose with an impossible standard than to win with an imperfect human being. I'm not just ruminating here, I've seem LP members actively work to prevent a win. The reason is tied into the next problem:

    The next problem is that LP is an ideological party, and every winning party in this country's history has been a coalition party. In a winner-take-all system, no ideological party, regardless of ideology, will ever get 51% of the vote. Maybe in a parliamentary system, but we don't have that system. The LP can't win until it compromises and becomes a "libertarian lite" party. I can't see it do that. And frankly, I won't want it to become that. There is a value in an ideological LP but that means not being able to win.

    (Wait, 1500 character limit on posts now? I'll have to continue my novel elsewhere...)

  • CE||

    34 percent baby. Thread the needle.

  • Brandybuck||

    Nope. We don't have a system that tolerates more than two parties. It's the result of the first-past-the-goal electoral system. It would be possible in a more parliamentary system, or ranked voting, or others, but not in our current state and national electoral systems,.

  • JFree||

    Our system doesn't even have two parties in most places. Politics is local - not national. Other first-past-post system have multiple parties - because politics is local not national. Canada has 5 parties in its legislature. UK has 8 parties represented. India has 30+. Mexico has 8.

    All this stuff about changing the way we vote or the way we district or the way we count votes or weight this or that is just diversion and excuses.

    The things that are uniquely punitive in the US are:
    Legislature with huge districts - ie too few legislators that requires big money and mass advertising to win
    Strong incumbent protections - ie too few legislators means easy to buy a majority and fund their campaigns
    Very high bar at the local level means duopoly can cartelize the whole - ie you don't contest here and we won't contest there
    Strong party/committee system within the legislature

    The notion that they will just be technotricked/fooled into giving that up is silly. They know what they've got. And the only way to take it is from their cold dead hands. Doesn't mean violence - but it will require anger/rebellion (like a specific Article 5 threat that goes way beyond the ability of even state legislators to control) or FYTW competition (which blockchain might enable - you have your congress - well here's our citizens assembly and you can't shut it down).

  • CE||

    Selling freedom is easy. Everyone wants to be free.
    The problem is very few people want other people to be free.

  • JuanQPublic||

    And that problem is self-contradictory in nature, because liberty of oneself is directly dependent on the liberty of others.

    There is certainly a growing obsession of wanting to identify others based on an ideologically-prescribed set of metrics, and then to control them. Or, make them an exception based on the same prescription.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Larry Sharpe is an anarchist but that is great for the Libertarian Party.

    Matt Welsh, you and your wacky ideas of who is good for Libertarianism.

  • EscherEnigma||

    So I actually went to the Libertarian Party, and I met Libertarians. And I thought, "Oh, most of these people are just like me."


    Funny. It's Libertarians that keep me from even considering changing my registration from "I" to "L", even as I continue to vote "L" in elections. He must have found very different Libertarians then I did.

  • vek||

    That... Or he's another one of the goobers you don't like ;)

  • jm15xy||

    This guy is one bromide after another. "Want a marketing hack, I'm your guy."

  • jm15xy||

    "Not smart enough to finish reading a book"

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