"When it comes to the issues that the liberals are best on, we're better than them on those issues," says comedian and podcaster Dave Smith. "And when it comes to the issues that the conservatives are best on, we're better than them at those issues. And so I just think that if [libertarianism] is presented the right way and articulated the right way, you can generate a lot of interest."
Smith is a rising presence in Libertarian Party (L.P.) circles and he tells Reason that he's considering running for the party's presidential nomination in 2024. He says a major reason he expects to run is that even though the 2020 nominee, Jo Jorgensen, got the second-highest vote total in L.P. history, he thinks she didn't push back hard enough on government lockdowns and overreach in its fight against COVID-19, which he sees as a missed opportunity to build a bigger libertarian movement.
A vocal opponent of wokeness and political correctness, Smith is quick to attack fellow libertarians whom he thinks are naive about how the state maintains its power. He's said that he'd "take a red-pilled leftie over a blue-pilled libertarian any day." After the Biden administration revealed it was pushing Facebook to restrict accounts it says are spreading misinformation about COVID-19, Smith tweeted, "This administration has exposed the useful idiots who call themselves libertarians. Saying 'it's a private company' for the last few years, ignoring what is obviously the biggest threat to liberty. They unwittingly support the largest government in human history."
When that take was discussed on a recent Reason Roundtable podcast, Smith tweeted that my fellow panelists and I had misrepresented his views. So I reached out to him so he could clarify his ideas about the intersection of big government and big tech, discuss the future of the L.P., why he has no plans to vaccinate himself or his young daughter, and why he believes libertarians should be more engaged in the culture war.
Narrated by Nick Gillespie; Edited by Ian Keyser and John Osterhoudt
Photo: Dave Smith photos by Brett Raney; Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Sipa/Newscom; Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images/Sipa/Newscom; Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/CNP/SplashNews/Newscom