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Free Minds & Free Markets

The Libertarian Moment Is So Over That Libertarians Are Now The Single Largest Group: Gallup

Don't mistake presidential races for broad-based changes in attitudes that will ultimately shape public policy.

Yeah, yeah, with the rise of Der Trumper and the ascendance of Ted Cruz to serious candidacy, the Libertarian Moment is deader than Nancy Reagan's dream of a drug-free America. Right?

Um, no.

In fact, as Cato's David Boaz has pointed out recently, the libertarian electorate is on the rise, according to Gallup's annual Governance survey from last fall. Gallup uses two questions to separate respondents into one of four categories: conservative, liberal, libertarian, and populist. The two questions are:

  • Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country's problems. Which comes closer to your own view?
  • Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?

Gallup finds that libertarian voters (those who think the government is doing too much and should NOT favor any particular set of values) account for 27 percent of respondents, followed by conservatives (26 percent), liberals (23 percent), and populists (15 percent).

Boaz notes that 27 percent is the highest percentage recorded for libertarian sensibilities. In 2000, for instance, the figure was just 18 percent. So if libertarian sentiments are on the rise, then why are characters such as Trump, Cruz, and even Bernie Sanders doing so well? Boaz runs through various reasons, many of which involve the simple fact that neither the Republican nor Democratic Party does a decent job of representing libertarian values. If you take the two questions above equally serious, for instance, you couldn't in good conscience vote for any of the candidates running for president. And so we find ourselves in a situation where across many policy questions that define libertarianism—increasing immigration, say, or legalizing pot and gay marriage, deregulating business, and liberalizing gun laws—the country is becoming more and more libertarian even as the major political parties get more and more reactionary in their views.

As the Republican Party begins its great implosion (thank you for that, at least, Donald Trump), the question in front of us isn't why hasn't the GOP ever been as libertarian as its rhetoric (40 years ago, for god's sake, Ronald Reagan famously told Reason, "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism"). It's whether the Republican Party will reconstitute itself along libertarian lines. If the party elders are serious about taking the party into the future, or even dragging it in the near-present, they should be breaking toward what Reason, founded in 1968, was calling "Free Minds and Free Markets" back when Reagan was still in his first term as governor of California.

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  • R C Dean||

    Stated preferences v revealed preferences. Learn what it means, look at how people vote, and get back to me on whether a majority are libertarians.

  • Hugh Akston||

    So you're saying their stated preference is whoever they vote for, while their revealed preference is how they act and what they buy and where they go?

  • R C Dean||

    For our dimmer commenters, I'll clarify.

    Stated political preference is how you answer polls.

    Revealed political preference is how you vote.

  • Hugh Akston||

    So what do actions count as? Like when you vote for Hillary but you own a gun, or you vote for Trump but decline to push disabled people down a flight of stairs? Or when you vote libertarian but take welfare like social security and mortgage interest deductions?

  • R C Dean||

    Disconnects between your stated political preferences and your other life decisions?!?! Well, I never.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    So what do actions count as?

    Serious question which I don't expect you can truly know or answer, but when does perpetuating the system which results in our civil liberties getting stomped count as an action?

  • kbolino||

    Mortgage interest deductions are not refundable.

  • R C Dean||

    It is a little odd that Hugh believes that minimizing your tax payments is unlibertarian, but whatever.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Jump through the hoop Fifi, Jump!

  • Vapourwear||

    0_o

  • Vapourwear||

    Wait, keeping more of my money is welfare?

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    Quiet, he's on a roll!

  • Suell||

    Not giving is the same as taking...

  • drrich||

    So owning a house is taking that house? Owning a car is taking that car? What you already own is not taken whether you worked for it (your pay) or you bought it with money you alreadyt earned. Keeping what you already own is not taking. Getting something from someone else that you did not already own or work for is taking. See the difference? No where will you find the definition of taking as keeping what is already yours. That is a construct that you have but not provable anywhere.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Only on Hit 'n Run would would there be a bare-knuckle brawl over the finer points of a Neo-Keynesian axiom.

  • R C Dean||

    I didn't know it was neo-keynesian.

    I always figured it was a truism in the polling biz.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • robc||

    Wouldnt that be foundational to Austrian School too?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Read the first link to see where Rothbard and Samuelson diverge.

  • Brandybuck||

    But what if voting doesn't matter? What if you vote is a meaningless ritual? What if Candidate A is polling at 75% on election day, Candidate B is only polling at 25%, can we infer any individual's preferences by his voting?

  • Hank Phillips||

    1. Communist and prohibition party votes produced the 16th and 18th Amendments.
    2. The increase Nick noted amounts to 33%. Were it not for government school inumeracy and Nixon-era campaign subsidies, the LP would get 33% percent of the vote and really spoil .
    3. Try shutting off the teevee when running the numbers... Too many cooks spoil the broth and too many looters spoil the spoils system. It's just addition and subtraction, with the occasional fraction.

  • The Last American Hero||

    He's saying there is a reason that Rand Paul didn't set the polls on fire this year.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The House and Senate are already full of angry white fetus-fetishists. One black face on teevee told them Abe Lincoln was history and Lord Dunmore's Proclamation now back in style. They are panicked. A Brazilian writer foretold America's Black President back in 1927. Based on population biology equations and different fertility rates the projection was for about the year 2228: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED392061

  • DevilDocNowCiv||

    R C,

    Yes, and for instance while I am moved to consider his point when Milty Friedman explains to Donahue on YouTube why it actually makes sense, even in the case of kids, to deregulate all - all - drug laws. Meth, Rock, etc. Go nuts! Milty sells it with reason, but are the masses on the right who are lapping up Trump brand populism going to sit back, listen to Milty and consider? Or will they howl righteously at the idea of exposing kids to the horrors of (name horror drug here)? Correct answer is B.

    Also, we be a country with a stream of culture that's pretty broad and deep that is fairly easy to move to war. In most communities our populace is not being taught rational discourse, Socratic dialog or basic rules of logic as it applies to very commonly invalid arguments found today. So Ron has to paint himself Blue and zip up his Repub suit to maintain a good, long congressional career. And Rand transitions to libertarian tinged actual Repub, with actual non libertarian repub positions. The Pauls tell the tale for the dreamers among us how unlikely it is that we will turn libertarian in a big way.

  • Jonrichter||

    Sorry, but how people vote often has nothing to do with their "preferences". They vote within the context of our rigged duopoly political system, as influenced by the media and the duopoly controlled debates procedures. As someone who has run for office as a Libertarian I can tell you first hand about the "wasted vote" syndrome. After I debated Republican candidates, dozens of people would come up and tell me how I gave the best answers, but they couldn't vote for me out of fear it would result in the Democrat winning. Combine that with the lack of press coverage and our exclusion from presidential debates because the Commission on Presidential Debates is controlled by the Ds and Rs, and you have people voting for the lesser of two evils, either because they don't know any better, or because they are afraid of electing the greater of two evils.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I guess it's too bad libertarians are too cool for school on Election Day.

  • brokencycle||

    I think the bigger problem is that we let perfection be the enemy of good. While a lot of people on this site and other libertarian pages supported Rand Paul, there were plenty of articles and comments about how he wasn't libertarian enough. While I agree that he wasn't ideal, except for Gary Johnson I can't remember someone better running as a Republican (let's face it the Libertarian party isn't going to win).

    At some point we have to accept some incremental change back in the right direction or we'll keep watching the pendulum swing in the wrong way.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    The bigger yet problem is that monopolistic coercive government inevitably leads to government expansion and less liberty, and people spending increasingly more time pushing government to help them instead of minding their own business, because everybody knows that everybody else is doing the same thing. If you don't try to co-opt government for yourself, others will co-opt government for themselves, which means against you in the zero-sum-game of government benefits.

  • Hank Phillips||

    We WIN with every law we change and every tax we repeal. Losing is Winning!

  • Sevo||

    And yet, election results return the 'free shit' parties to power on a regular basis...
    I guess the elections must be rigged?

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    Well, if we accept the polling as accurate:

    1) Twenty-seven percent is not a majority.

    2) People vote for candidates, not issues. See 'the libertarian case for Sanders.' A voter may not want free shit, but prefer that candidate's other policies over those of the not-as-much-free-shit / other-kinds-of-free-shit candidate.

  • Hank Phillips||

    2% was a 2/3 majority when it came to the 16th and 18th Amendments!

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    Stated preferences v revealed preferences.

    RCD goes all Red Pill on us.

  • GILMORE™||

    Nick has no right using Mr T's image after the awful disrespectful things he said about Hulk Hogan.

    If that makes no sense to you, it is your fault.

  • Pan Zagloba||

    No Michael Hinh hat-tip? For shame!

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Nick showing us all he is pro-cankle.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Also, Nick obviously reads the comments and wants to drive MSimon insane. Way to go, Nick! His crazy blood will be on your hands.

  • MSimon||

    Yeah. I figured that. See below.

  • GILMORE™||

    i bet cannabis oil can cure that

    but only if used in the proper manner

  • MSimon||

  • GILMORE™||

    Wow mind blown

  • JWatts||

    "Nick showing us all he is pro-cankle."

    Yes. "So if libertarian sentiments are on the rise, then why are characters such as Trump, Cruz, and even Bernie Sanders doing so well?"

    This comment has a glaring omission. Oh I grant you it's clear that Nick is openly advocating for Hillary Clinton, but it's a little baffling to me that he thinks that Ted Cruz is significantly worse than Hillary Clinton.

    Ted Cruz isn't Libertarian, but at least he's aware of the concept. Hillary's just a pragmatic statist.

  • Cyto||

    That sentence really jumped out at me. Ted Cruz isn't the Libertarian Party standard-bearer, but he's the closest thing to libertarian remaining in the race.

    I suppose the religious theming so prevalent in his speechmaking is what grabs the attention of the "theocrat" dogwhistle, but he's pretty much a libertarian-ish conservative with a strong sprinkling of religious right on top. That religious right stuff seems to be mostly set-dressing for the masses, not really a part of his policy directive. He seems to deem strict constitutionalism as the highest ideal. Which, while not libertarian per-se, is something we can certainly work with.

  • Squinja||

    Yes. Plus he seems to actually do what he says. I think the next president is going to be eating the world's biggest crap sandwich and I'd like somebody with at least a hint of having principles. Plus if we get another liberal justice on the supreme court is there any doubt the progs will basically run the country via the court?

  • Mustang||

    Based on my completely anecdotal evidence of 98% of the people I interact with daily, this is utter horseshit.

  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    That does jibe with our electoral success...

    We are the 2%!

  • CE||

    Except half of those don't vote.

  • Curt||

    IANAS (statistician), but it seems that 1,000 people is a silly sample size to determine the opinions of ~320 million people (or 250 million adults).

    Regardless, I think the problem is that people may be able to look at those two questions and answer them in a non-partisan manner. But, if Gallup followed up with representative questions based on actual issues, those people would quickly sort themselves into TeamBlue/TeamRed based on their tribal identity.

    Suddenly those people who said the government is trying to do too much would start demanding that the government needs to do something about drugs, saggy pants, and unequal florist/baker access. The people who said the government should not promote any specific set of values would demand that the government be more vigilant in enforcing their deeply-held beliefs concerning religion, climate, and sex.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Keep government out of my dungeon!

  • Careless||

    Jebus, you're fucking delusional

  • GILMORE™||

    libertarian voters (those who think the government is doing too much and should NOT favor any particular set of values) account for 27 percent of respondents, followed by conservatives (26 percent), liberals (23 percent), and populists (15 percent).

    I see nothing here about medicaid funded abortions, or hugging Mexicans

  • Notorious UGCC||

    "Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?"

    That question leaves out the obvious third option - having the government promote *non-traditional* values. You know, forced gay cakes, subsidies for Planned Parenthood, that sort of thing.

    The phrasing leaves the implication that if you don't want to impose *traditional* values, you're an open-minded advocate of tolerance, not matter how much of an authoritarian you are when it comes to forcing unconventional values on others.

  • R C Dean||

    Well caught, Eddie.

    The implication I take is that "progressive" values just go without saying. Pushing those values isn't pushing an agenda, its just plain ol' common sense.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Ding

  • EscherEnigma||

    I'll take complaints about "forced gay cakes" seriously when religion is taken out of the CRA (1964). But interestingly, not a single legislative response to "forced gay cakes" is to do away with non-discrimination law, but to enshrine carve-outs for discriminating against gay people.

  • Social Contractor||

    Because you're not going to sell removing the race in a country obsessed with sex and race. Also the CRA doesn't include gays so what is you're point?

  • Notorious UGCC||

    "If only the people who demanded [politically achievable goal] would fight for [politically unachievable goal] instead, they'd have more credibility!"

  • EscherEnigma||

    And yet I was constantly told that the reason more libertarians/Libertarians didn't support marriage equality (and, indeed, voted *for* amendments banning it) was that we should be abolishing marriage all-together.

    And hell, it's not like libertarians/Libertarians are even *trying*. Blanket laws about how businesses below a certain size are exempt from non-discrimination laws? Several states already have those. That *is* achievable. It would protect both the florist/baker from serving gay people, and protect my (hypothetical) comic book shop from serving people who think their god wants me dead.

    And it's not like non-libertarians/Libertarians aren't trying things that are probably unconstitutional. Republicans/conservatives keep pushing laws that are very likely to run afoul of Romer v. Evans.

    And of course, everything gay people have been pushing for and asking for, for decades, was at one point "politically unachievable".

    So yeah. Lots of people are at least *trying* to push their agendas, even when it's probably "politically unachievable". What are libertarians/Libertarians doing? They're not even trying. They stand on the sides, go with their ideal position ("no non-discrimination laws"), only advocate it narrowly ("no non-discrimination laws for gay people"), and don't bother trying to find a 90% solution.

    So your complaint? Sounds like an excuse, not a reason.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    I sure hope Gillespie never calls me naive for looking forward to the Second Coming.

  • Hugh Akston||

    He probably won't, and naive certainly isn't the word I would use.

  • Microaggressor||

    Nancy Reagan's dream of a drug-free America

    To others, a nightmare.

  • CE||

    A drug-free America would have been a big improvement. Instead we got government run amok and still had the drugs.

  • colorblindkid||

    The beginning of the drug war was not some nefarious plan, but a legitimate attempt to fix a problem at a time when crime was 3X higher than today and drugs were ravaging communities. Apparently they just never read the history chapter on prohibition. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I don't fault the Reagans too much for trying, but after the disastrous first decade anybody who thought the solution was to expand it should be kicked out of the country.

  • gaoxiaen||

    It was a distraction from Iran-Contra.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    So if libertarian sentiments are on the rise, then why are characters such as Trump, Cruz, and even Bernie Sanders doing so well?

    We presume that these sentiments are wholly libertarian based on two broadly worded questions.
    As the Republican Party begins its great implosion (thank you for that, at least, Donald Trump), the question in front of us isn't why hasn't the GOP ever been as libertarian as its rhetoric (40 years ago, for god's sake, Ronald Reagan famously told Reason, "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism"). It's whether the Republican Party will reconstitute itself along libertarian lines.

    If we consider democratic politics as a kind of marketplace of American ideals, then this 'largest group' libertarian audience seems ripe for the picking. It sure feels like we're having a market failure.

  • Nativist, Racist & Xenophobe||

  • ||

    My fiance who is a Northeast Ohio liberal was appalled when we looked at our Chicago-Cook County property tax bill and saw how much we had to pay and what it went to. Half of our taxes goes to pension funds (which are basically insolvent) and the city schools. She looked at me and said, "Why do we have to pay for this shit that we don't even use and that's providing shit services?"

    As a libertarian, this warmed my heart. So perhaps I had a minor Libertarian moment in my household.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Did you direct her to the EdWuncler voting guide, 'No' Is Your Best Friend? Or is it still too early for that kind of shock to her system?

  • ||

    She's slowly but surely starting to hate the system. The turning point was when the teachers in Chicago went on strike a couple of years ago. As a librarian in a small suburb she makes beans compared to the teachers in Chicago, so you can understand how unsympathetic she was to their complaint that they aren't being paid well.

    Every couple of years they vote on a levy and usually if a library is doing a shit job, the levy gets defeated. She pointed out that no matter how shitty the schools or the teachers were, they will still get raises which doesn't give a lot of incentive to be the best.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    As a librarian in a small suburb she makes beans compared to the teachers in Chicago, so you can understand how unsympathetic she was to their complaint that they aren't being paid well.

    This one fact has been singular in at least getting people to look at the whole traditional Teacher Union talking points. When NPR interviews a teacher earning $86,000 a year who's spitting-nails-angry that she has to now contribute to her own retirement which totally threw off her plans to retire at age 46... I think some of the fence-sitters began to take notice.

  • ||

    Exactly. Oddly enough, the municipal pension fund she has is fully employee funded, so the state can't fuck with it. It's 90 percent funded while the ones that has small employee contributions but mostly depend on the state stealing from people are damned near insolvent. The amount they take out of her check for the fund compared to the amount a teacher contributes is ridiculous.

  • Bubba Jones||

    How much did that cost,and was it worth it?

  • R C Dean||

    Scott Adams had an interesting piece up about how the labels "conservative" and "progressive" are essentially content-free, which makes them very useful to candidates and others trying to bend people's thinking via "identity" appeals.

    I suspect the same is true of "libertarian". It sounds cool, but beyond that people don't really understand what its supposed to mean.

  • CE||

    Not exactly content free. "Conservative" means "pro military" and "progressive" means "tax the rich."

  • Mad Girl Disease||

    And "libertarian" is starting to mean "be as nasty and as kneejerk thoughtless as you want because fuck political correctness, amiright?"

  • VartAndelay||

    Mad Girl Disease means ''spoiled cunt,'' correct?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    There has to be a place, eventually, for a pro-sharing economy, pro-drug legalization, pro-privacy party, right?

    "What about guns and abortion, Big Juggs?"

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Uh, the Union Style Guide now calls it the "Gig-economy" and it will be crushed at every turn.

  • MSimon||

    Some one is baiting me.

    ===========================

    On the main question - who do these libertarians want to be ruled by?

    The desire to be ruled is an inherent part of humanity. My general formula:

    90% want to be ruled
    9% want to rule
    1% want to be left alone.

    ============

    I'd say we are at about:

    80% want to be ruled
    10% want to rule
    10% want to be left alone.

    ============

    We need vagina police to stop all the murders. And surveillance. Yeah. I know. No one is asking for that now. But the zealots come out when a policy doesn't work. MORE is not an unusual response.But that is how drug prohibition "evolved".

    There are all kinds of authoritarians among the "libertarians". Yeah I know, "But murder."

  • Notorious UGCC||

    What a coherent, well-thought-out and logical post that was!

  • CE||

    The questions are too broad. Lots of people think the government is doing too much, but want the government to do just a few key things really well to reduce our freedoms even more.

    And everyone wants to be left alone, but very few want to leave everyone else alone.

  • Silverleaf||

    Very true. "I want everyone to leave me alone (and give me free sh!t), but we need to DO SOMETHING about those people over there!"

  • Thisisalongname||

    Neither of those questions asked about immigration or pot, so how can we know if they are real libertarians or Ted Cruz and Rand Paul style fake libertarians?

  • CE||

    Add a question about carpet bombing.

  • MSimon||

    Couldn't we just call a rug cleaner?

  • Thisisalongname||

    That won't get rid of roaches.

  • josh||

    i'm starting to view 'reason' as a little like 'fridays'....in that "it's always friday" and "it's always a libertarian moment". i bet when they write it up they even have a little song they sing around the office. i'm not knocking it. it's cute.

  • Thomas O.||

    It's Libertarian-o'clock Somewhere!

    (At first I thought you meant the show, and Fox News was SNL or something.)

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    Sorry, but Tribe is more important to people than what they actually believe. The fact is you have more people identifying by tribe than by belief, and identifying with the Republican and Democrat tribes. Until people vote on their beliefs and not on their tribe, these statistics mean absolutely nothing.

  • MSimon||

    Bbbbbut, but, Cruz. And don't forget the 1%

  • MSimon||

    This man is selling snake oil.

    It is so sad that so many people are buying it.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Are they Glenn Beck libertarians or Bill Maher libertarians? Freedom for me but not for thee is not libertarianism.

  • R C Dean||

    Indeed many Reason goobers ridicule the entire concept of plans and programs

    Imagine. Libertarians opposed to central planning and government expansion! Why, if we could only get libertarians to support bigger government, they'd start winning elections!

    I'll pass, thanks. What's the saying?

    Better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.

  • R C Dean||

    Anti-gummint types snarl that passing laws to shrink taxes and government, and to re-privatize the "safety net" is ... big government!

    That would be stupid. Who is arguing that?

    You mean, the commentariat which objects to the "middle ground" of opposing government shutdowns, because the alternative is increased spending? Or the folks who think that repealing ObamaCare, without replacing it with yet another odious central planning bureaucracy, are being unrealistic?

    Both of those polled very respectably, if you are arguing about electoral politics. The alternatives are the kind of salami slice accommodation that has brought us to this point.

    If you want to be an errand boy for an ever-bigger state by "compromising"/caving to the totalitarians, go right ahead.

  • IceTrey||

    "Umm, what would Obamacare be replaced with?"

    Nothing.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Deregulation of the medical profession and abolition of prohibition! Go to Shaffer Drug Library where a physician explains how the Harrison Act enslaved doctors and turned them against health.

  • IceTrey||

    Do you understand the concept of the separation of Economy and State? If Obamacare was repealed amd not replaced with any other government program the free market would work and health insurance and health care would be cheap and plentiful. I really question your libertarian bona fides.

  • IceTrey||

    "Why are you so totally clueless on how to DO ... anything?"

    Why are you so totally clueless of the concept that libertarians don't want the government to DO anything when it concerns the economy? In other words when it comes to the economy we want the government to DO NOTHING!

    If you have a link to any Republican saying that they want to repeal Obamacare and not replace it with another government program please post it because I haven't seen it.

  • Bruce D||

    "If Obamacare was repealed amd not replaced with any other government program the free market would work and health insurance and health care would be cheap and plentiful. "

    Would it? And even if it would, could you convince the voting public that it would? Some things are never cheap. Anything dear is rarely cheap. But people want things for cheap if they don't want things for free.

    There are things in the health insurance market that "ObamaCare" has actually fixed, of which most libertarians and conservatives are unaware or deny - the "spiral of death" of individual health insurance policies.

    Basically, before Obama Care, one's individual health insurance policy premiums were actuarialy rigged to skyrocket. Unless one periodically reapplied for a new policy, one's premiums for one's current policy would increase in an accelerating fashion as people subscribed to the policy acquired medical conditions and costs increased. One could not in the former "free" market for health insurance insure against skyrocketing premiums. Now, there are libertarian solutions if one is willing to enact legislation against fraud.

    There is a strain of libertarianism that I call "stupid-ass libertarianism". They refuse to recognize that there could be any problems in the market, even fraud which libertarians oppose, that can be legitimately addressed by legislation. But the collectivists are more than willing to address those problems. So, the collectivists win and the libertarians lose.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Nobody is defending liberty, or promoting liberty.

    That's not entirely true. They're just defending a properly licensed and regulated liberty.

  • R C Dean||

    Thousands of Nolan libertarians are expanding liberty in public office and in their communities.

    Really? They are doing an excellent job of keeping it secret, then. A few examples?

  • See Double You||

    Ummm, majority acceptance of marriage equality is the most obvious. Tolerance overall. The Gallup Poll listed here. Majority rejection of Trump, even by Republicans.

    Hardly examples of the rise of libertarianism. Socialists could hold all those positions, too.

    I've worked with dozens. But like I said, they're all local.

    Very unspecific. Sorry if we don't just take your word for it.

  • Robert||

    So socialists could hold all those positions. But what's important here is not particular individuals who align by ideology, but the popularity of those positions whether individuals hold all of them or not. Liberty can advance without there being many more libertarians.

  • IceTrey||

    "It's an entire philosophy of principles."

    No it's not. It's one principle, to not have force initiated against any human or their property.

  • IceTrey||

    Saying liberty is an entire philosophy of principles is a generalization which in no way relies on the context of pot legalization.

  • IceTrey||

    You're still wrong.

  • MSimon||

    What we need is a march through the institutions plan.

    Political planning is anathema to libertarians. It sounds so much - like...

  • MSimon||

    In general people don't vote for policies. They only matter at the margin. What people vote for is personalities. Who do I want in my living room for the next 4 years?

    Generally libertarians are not known for their charisma.

    Libertarians hate feelz. Feelz is where the majority of votes come from.

    And then you have, "They ALL lie. I hope he is lying to them."

  • MSimon||

    Well it is good to hear that swing voters are TOTES rational. I'll have to tell my wife.

    And all those swing voters who voted for Obama - a totally rational decision. I liked his rallies though. Especially all his fans taking notes. Just like they do at rock concerts.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The spoiler votes are the votes that count.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Spoken like a teevee vidiot. I've read close to a thousand extra books since I gave up freebasing telescreen documendacities back in 1974. There are NO looter politicians disgracing my living room.

  • MSimon||

    Well there you have it. Rand Paul is winning the nomination among those who don't watch TV.

    I wonder why he still isn't in the race?

  • mfckr||

    I think this sort of polling, e.g. "Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal?" fails due to the stated vs. revealed preferences issue stated earlier in thread.

    Yes, people entertain open-ended ideas about what it means to be 'fiscally conservative' or 'socially liberal' and find these notions agreeable. But what they do in actual practice (and how they vote) reveals something quite different.

  • mfckr||

    You're pissed off at the results.

    Not pissed, only skeptical. Why would I be pissed? I like what the results portend to, but don't want to fall into confirmation bias.

    Like the supporters of Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Huckabee, Santorum and Carson?

    And Hillary, and Bernie. I suspect many people go through life with badly conflated and contradicting ideas about what it means to be 'fiscally conservative' or 'socially liberal'. They're blank canvas terms, free for the mind to imagineer whatever.

    With no identity those moral connections never get made.

    You make a fair point here.

  • IceTrey||

    Is that negative or positive liberty?

    "No plans for the economy, or healthcare, or restructuring government. Nothing."

    Exactly. The proper function of government is to defend individual negative liberty with the retaliatory use of force, period. It's not to plan the economy or healthcare or anything else. It's to stop the initiatory use of force and that's all.

  • IceTrey||

    Because libertarians don't want the government to DO ANYTHING except defend individual negative liberty.

    1. Our policy is all actions are allowed except those involving the initiatory use of force, threats of force or fraud.

    2.We won't pass legislation we will repeal legislation.

    3. Trump is doing nothing but sloganeering and look where he is. Sanders won Michigan with the most ridiculous impossible sloganeering yet.

  • IceTrey||

    You're conflating policy and the procedure of passing legislation. For example the policy is to bring home the troops. The procedure is how many planes, ships, cargo containers, etc. it's going to take to accomplish that. I'm talking big picture while you're mired in the details.

  • IceTrey||

    Policy
    a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by a government, party, business, or individual.

    You're an idiot.

  • ||

    Unfortunately, it's a lot lower among non-whites, and they are the only growing population

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Well, it's not our fault. Increase your MLG 360 noscope Fedora-wearing skills and attract some bitches to make white babies with.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    If we'd come correct, we might get laid.

  • MSimon||

    I made 4 - brought them up libertarian. What have you done?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Are you seriously asking me how many white children I have produced?

  • John Titor||

    Get with the program, old man. This is 2016, your race has nothing to do with your ability to produce white babies.

  • MSimon||

    Are you seriously asking me how many libertarian children I have produced?

    Yes

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Well, in that case, I can't give you a summative assessment yet. Get back to me in 9 years, when she's old enough to vote.

  • Nativist, Racist & Xenophobe||

  • See Double You||

    Whoa. Deep.

  • See Double You||

    Wake me when the legal landscape becomes more libertarian.

  • John Titor||

    Nick Gillespie could be burning at the stake for witchcraft in a horrible post-apocalypse future and he'd still scream 'LIBERTARIAN MOMENT' because he saw someone light a joint in the cheering crowd.

  • MSimon||

    Actually we are Trump smokers.

    Trumps. Outstanding and they are wild.

  • MSimon||

    I have an even better one.

    Smoking Trumps gives you cancer.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Dammit. Nick finally does something spot on and the creeps with negative feedback come out of the woodwork! You should try explaining libertarian politics to people in countries where such parties are not legal, in languages bereft of common law background and individualist concepts. "Why do the gringos call communists liberals?" Try answering THAT one a hundred times... The whole Western World is beginning to wake up to some alternative to Hitler and Stalin's sacrificial altruistic collectivism and Bush dynasty guillotine prohibitionism. It's a new dawn! (Cue Jefferson Airplane Volunteers of America, Steppenwolf's Monster...)

  • MSimon||

    I'm a Blows Against The Empire fan.

  • John Titor||

    What Western World do you live in, and do they accept immigrants from this reality's Western World?

  • Kenneth Cochran||

    ...or we could all just stop paying taxes.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    Whoa! A short Michael Hihn post with no bolding!

    I'm taking a screen shot for posterity.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Damn fine article. Um... did you guys hire another writer also named Nick Gillespie?
    That line in Reason back then caused me to send Reagan some money and vote for him... that and a few tens of thousands of Soviet H-Bombs. If we'd had Youtube, with his gubernatorial speech equating acid and Satanic Possession, I would not even have voted Republican that one time. Google "Ronald Reagan talks about dangers of LSD"

  • EscherEnigma||

    "Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?

    Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?"

    It's easy to answer these such that you're sorted as "libertarian" without *actually* being libertarian. Heck, you can probably swing being libertarian and answer such that you're sorted as "populist". Too open ended to make such a bold claim. Admittedly, I'm not sure I could do better, especially with how people are notoriously inconsistent between their stated ideals and their realized actions, but what you gonna do?

    So I think I'll stick to only using "libertarian" to describe self-identified libertarians.

  • EscherEnigma||

    In the last presidential election, what percent of the vote did Gary Johnson get? About 1%? So given the choice between the two of them, I think that "5%" is much more useful then the "59%".

  • EscherEnigma||

    People choose, of their own volition, to disassociate from other libertarians/Libertarians. And you want to deny them that.

    Why do you hate the Freedom of Association?

  • ||

    Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?

    The Government should shrink itself, repeal 90+% of the laws and actually provide neutral arbiters of contract disputes, police who protect lives and property at risk of their own, and defend the country from invasion. This would do more to solve our problems so I want the Government to do more to solve our problems.

    Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?

    The Government should promote the values of individual liberty and responsibility by ceasing to undermine them.

    There I answered the poll opposite to the 'libertarian' answers but as a libertarian. On a more serious note. I think the devil in these situations is in the details. Many people in the abstract favor libertarian positions. The difficulty is that people tend to get much more outraged when a program or policy they like gets cut than they get happy when a program they don't care about is cut. In other words, when you get to the specifics of legislating you lose more votes by cutting a program than you gain.

  • Robert||

    Are there not people who are the other way around, who favor authoritarianism in the abstract but are more libertarian when it gets down to the details?

    Your "do more" response is (& this is serious) a way many people would think to answer. Many people think of gov't "doing stuff" as change, usu. via legisl'n, not the day-to-day same-old of gov't employees doing their jobs. That can result in such sentiments as, "Keep gov't's hands off Medicare!"

  • ||

    Your "do more" response is (& this is serious) a way many people would think to answer. Many people think of gov't "doing stuff" as change, usu. via legisl'n, not the day-to-day same-old of gov't employees doing their jobs. That can result in such sentiments as, "Keep gov't's hands off Medicare!"

    Absolutely true and I believe this is a big part of our problem. Getting to where we want is an active task, requiring substantial changes in the law and the size and composition of the bureaucracy. The problem is that any particular law or program we would target has beneficiaries and sympathizers who will loudly oppose any attempt to shrink it. Since the media is generally unsympathetic to the idea of shrinking government the story will be cast in terms of an attack on those beneficiaries rather than an attempt to restore fiscal responsibility or liberty.

    To win this war I think we need to start outside government and do what the left was so successful at doing. Get libertarians into the entertainment and news media, the schools as teachers, and into academia. That is how the narrative gets shaped, not by politicians. The politicians come along later and reap the benefits. Little things matter as humans are bad at distinguishing reality from compelling narratives. I don't think it is an accident that villains in the entertainment media are largely businessmen.

  • Suell||

    + 1

    Exactamundo. The chance that libertáriaism becomes widespread will happen more through cultural change rather than political change.

  • IceTrey||

    No, there's only one way to structure a free society, all actions are allowed except those involving the initiatory use of force, threats of force or fraud.

  • IceTrey||

    It's not a slogan, it's the very definition of libertarianism. How else can that be structured? The initiatory use of force IS allowed? There goes your free society. Millions of words have been written and spoken about the HOW and WHY of libertarianism. It's not the message it's the listener. People like to be told what to do. It's easier for them than to think on their own. If libertarianism ever gains a hold it will be because a few heroic figures force it down their throat. Who is John Galt?

  • ||

    Mike,

    Please share your detailed proposals for these things. I was making a semi humorous point about the argument that answers to such generally worded either or questions really indicates libertarian sentiment. But you obviously have policy proposals in mind, lay them on me.

  • MHaber||

    Stop lying to yourself and/or us, Nick.

    Q: "Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses."

    Hypothetical Answer: "Yes, the government is doing too many things, like foreign wars and the Drug War. But, you know, we need way more spending on welfare, because only the government can support everyone in need. We can take the money on unnecessary spending on spend it on things we need (and raise taxes if necessary)."

  • Charlotte Falcon||

    Ted Cruz is much, much better than Trump and Sanders.

  • ||

    and this exchange is why I sometimes question whether there is any such thing a s a libertarian. Charlotte seems to be right leaning (as I am) and therefore prioritizes reductions in bureaucracy over peace and social liberty (note I said prioritizes NOT does not value!) Michael seems to come from our atheist section and (in this comment) prioritizes keeping religion out of politics. Others are left leaning and prioritize gay rights or free immigration. Still others are hippie leaning and prioritize drug legalization.

    That leads to a situation where 27% fall in the libertarian set but are NOT a voting block. That 27% are roughly equally divided between people who won't vote, people who vote capital L libertarian, people voting Trump for the lolz, people voting Sanders because he's least likely to invade Erewhon, people voting Cruz as the only candidate giving lip service to smaller government, and probably a few voting Hillary because she is a woman. Why would anyone court us? The collective noun for libertarians should be a Squabble.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    I like it.

    The other factor is that social liberalization that nick conflates with libertarianism is equally at home in libertinism or liberalism (and for you 'classical liberals' out there, get over it. You've lost your word. Move on.). All of the fears of some new theocratic state are a convenient distraction from the hard reality of the welfare state which is only growing. The same applies to military spending. It's a shiny distraction for the useful idiots.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Oh i think you're fairly obvious and typically incoherent. Pro tip: just saying you're fiscally conservative doesn't make you (or nick) so.

    Serisouly? You have no idea how a growing welfare state bears on fiscal conservatism?? Get help, dude.

    Where did i call for increased spending? Just because the voices in your head are whispering words while you read doesn't mean they're actually there.

  • ||

    Did you read my post or just jump on the 27% number? I am not a BIG GOVERNMENT anything, and if you somehow took the idea that I want to use force to impose any values on anyone from my post you have misunderstood it on a fundamental level. I was making a point much like, but building on the point you make in your paragraph

    Libertarians come in from the left and the right, rejecting what you defend.
    Where they come from, left or right, usually remains the issues they're most passionate about.
    Fiscal conservatives adopt social tolerance because they make a make a moral commitment to liberty, but social issues rarely become passion for them. THAT is what right-leaning means to libertarians.

    The point is that libertarianism is not monolithic, and those varying passions for issues lead us to act politically in divergent ways. Meaning, that we are NOT a block of 27% or 51% we are a spectrum, and we do not vote together, which dilutes that number whether it is 27 or 51 down to a meaningless number of votes.

  • ||

    To clarify so that you cannot possibly misunderstand:

    I support no law or governmental policy designed to force or even encourage a person to conform to any limitations on their consensual sexual conduct or voluntary consumption of any substance. But I think fiscal responsibility is a more crucial issue.

  • ||

    Ok so you are in fact insane.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Yes.

  • ||

    *crouches behind underbrush eyeing the elusive Hihn.

  • ||

    I'm stalking, of course I have to hide... OR DO I?

  • ||

    Where do I do this? But it is fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Which you explicitly reject.

    I said right leaning libertarians, which I am, prioritize fiscal conservatism and deliberately added a parenthesis to emphasize that I prioritize the fiscal side NOT that I did not value social liberty.

    I never said I was voting for Cruz or even supported him, Charlotte Falcon said Cruz was better than Trump and Sanders.

  • ||

    *creeps a bit closer to the prey

  • ||

    * carefully observes the rare and delicate Hihn flower, then stalks closer

  • Mauser||

    If libertarians comprise 27% of the electorate then why aren't there more libertarians holding state seats or federal seats? Even if the 27% is scattered amongst the various districts, we should have more libertarians in political positions.
    Run the numbers-322,000,000 Americans out of which 225,000,000 are adults and which on average 60% of eligible voters vote-27% should come out to around 39,690,000 of voters that identify as libertarians.

    Even though there are some positive changes regarding pot legalization and gay marriage rights etc there should be more if the hard numbers of this study are true.

  • JPyrate||

    "Our Establishment" ??

    "Our Majority" ??

    Nikki you are the worst.

  • Eeyore||

    Enough with the 2 dimensional political spectrum.
    Democrats are babies that want government to be their mommy.
    Republicans are babies want government to be their daddy.
    Libertarians are adults.

  • Mauser||

    That pretty much sums it up.

  • Eeyore||

    Practicing adults?

  • Business Broker Baltimore||

    The whole Western World is beginning to wake up to some alternative to Hitler and Stalin's sacrificial altruistic collectivism and Bush dynasty guillotine prohibitionism.

  • Bob Meyer||

    The problem is that the people who say that "the government is doing too much" actually mean "the government is doing too much for other people and not enough for me". If you ask the people who work for and/or benefit from the Export-Import Bank I'm sure they will say that the government does too much.

    There is no libertarian moment, there never was and from all that can be seen now, there never will be. The culture is virulently anti-liberty. How does legalizing marijuana compare against speech codes? Shut up and go smoke a joint?

    How does legalizing gay marriage compare against increased business regulation? "I now pronounce you husband and husband, and by the way, we're closing your jointly owned flower shop because you don't have a flower arranger's license."

  • Ron||

    the problem is that the libertarian party itself is to small so people vote for the closest thing a republican. Of course we know how well that has worked. So my hope is that the GOP screws over Trump thus pissing off enough people that the GOP will literally split and maybe the splintered group will create a to be named party that can also attract many democrats away from the democrat party. with that we would have a real three party system instead of the two we have now or maybe more parties. I know its a pipe dream.

  • Kroneborge||

    Those questions really aren't that telling

  • Alex N||

    everyone's a Libertarian when polled, but when it matters we get Trump or Hillary. So, whatever

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    I feel like if I say anything Mr. Hihn is just going to quote my words back to me and make me look like a horse's ass. :P

  • Jonrichter||

    How can there be 10% "others"? If you have 2 questions and two possible answers you must end up with 4 groups.

  • Arthur45||

    Yeah, right. Libertarians are at the gate. Another boneheaded article from the pen of Nick the Fool .

  • dpbisme||

    Ya, sure.... this assumes if you put three Libertarians in a room they will agree on anything... I mean really.... Sanders and Clinton have half the electorate between them and there is not one little bit of Free-Market in either of them...

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: The Libertarian Moment Is So Over That Libertarians Are Now The Single Largest Group: Gallup

    We can only speculate.
    However, as more jobs go overseas in order to escape the world's largest corporate tax rate, perhaps then the populace will realize that unemployment is not as cracked up to be.
    But then it will be too late.
    The United States' debt will probably create an economic disaster ala the old Soviet Union, and we will have to start over.
    The question becomes how people will be stupid enough to believe that the same government that created this debt should be given more power over us.
    I'll wager more people will look to aggrandize the power to the ruling elitist filth who enslave us all and their big government trappings.
    Hopefully, I'm wrong, but I doubt it.
    Only the economic and politically educated (and not indoctrinated) will recognize the folly of socialism and/or big government as the problem and not the solution.

  • Crazyotto||

    The sad thing is Gary Johnson is a fantastic alternative. Solid leadership credentials and great experience. A successful businessman, he really did a yeoman's job when he was Governor. Instead we will have a megalomaniac carnival barking progressive and a possible Socialist or at worse a pathological liar who is quite possibly criminally insane.

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