The Libertarian Party’s nominating convention, held last weekend in Orlando, Florida, was typical of its gatherings. One of its more popular presidential candidates, software magnate John McAfee, is wanted for questioning by the police in Belize as a “person of interest” in connection with his neighbor’s murder. Another candidate, who goes by the name of Vermin Supreme, wore a rubber boot on his head while explaining his platform of time travel, self-defense against zombies, and free ponies for all.
Libertarians are blowing a huge opportunity in 2016.
It is all good fun, if observed from a safe distance. But, unlike in previous elections, the Libertarians do not have to be a total joke this time around—they have an unprecedented opportunity to play an actual role. Republicans with any moral sense are desperate for a supportable alternative to Donald Trump.
Libertarianism, the political philosophy of rugged individualism, ought to hold a natural appeal to tolerant, anti-statist, free-trade conservatives who deplore the turn taken by the party of Abraham Lincoln toward racial prejudice, authoritarianism, and mercantilism.
Libertarians also happen to have crucial infrastructure in place for the “never Trump” crowd: probable ballot placement in all 50 states, alongside Democrats and Republicans.~~~
The problem starts, of course, with the Libertarians themselves—a Halloween parade of cryptocurrency enthusiasts and conspiracy nuts of every permutation. These eccentrics regard their party not as an expanding tent but as a private playground for diffuse forms of self-expression.
People who devote their greatest passion to the cause of legalizing drugs, challenging the age of consent, and removing limitations on the ownership of fully automatic weaponry are not really in the business of attracting a broader following. As a political party, the Libertarians have always been more party than political.
Beyond the adolescent antics, their difficulty is at the level of ideas. Today’s Libertarians are not so much extreme left or extreme right as they are lost in the clouds of utopian anarchism. Their platform calls for the abolition of government-funded schools and state-sanctioned marriage. During their nominating debate, delegates booed Johnson for endorsing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Like academic Marxists, who are their sisters under the skin, libertarians are far more interested in an ideal world than in the one where ordinary humans live. They regard the failure of policies they support, such as the self-regulation of financial markets in the 2008 crisis, as evidence that government still managed to play some corrupting role. When facts come into conflict with theory, they reject the facts.
The failure of any libertarian state to ever actually exist anywhere in the world supports their faith that it would all work only if it could be tried. To a country beset by rising inequality, stagnant wages and the hollowing out of the middle class, libertarians have literally nothing to say.
Oh, therein lies the rub.
Trying to do this would be SO MUCH WORK.
Look at those guys.
They are all, all of them, not much for hard work.
Sitting under their individual trees and quietly getting stoned is more their speed.
Thus their hoped for Utopia will never happen.
They’ve got more free time now, under their hated capitalist democratic republic than they ever could if they had to actually run a government!
Perhaps Wordsmith is upset that the Libertarian party will pull “Bernie!” supporting Democrats away from Hillary. Thus helping Trump.
@Ditto: Libertarians and some Indies are voting for their nominee Gary Johnson—he’s pulling a very respectable 12%. Bernie voters will vote overwhelmingly for HRC
That’s your opinion. I’ve seen a good many Bernie folks around the web say they will not vote For Hillary. I think I’ll take their own words for how they personally will vote over yours.