Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Is the Libertarian Party a "Mistake"?

What I find the most interesting part of the argument is that the LP has been counterproductive by drawing activists with libertarian leanings from both major parties (and perhaps, in particular, from what is perceived as the major right-leaning party, the GOP), leaving the major parties less libertarian than they would otherwise be if they felt the influence of a major libertarian faction from within.

The LP was founded in 1972, forty years ago, and hasn't made any real progress in those 40 years. Is working within a major party the best alternative for those politically inclined? Ron Paul ran for president in 1988 as the LP nominee. Since then, he has worked within the GOP and undoubtedly had more of an effect than he ever would have in a nearly ignored by the mainstream LP.

Some in the LP will argue for its educational benefit, but if that's the case, it shouldn't be a political party at all, but an advocacy organization working to influence the major parties. Perhaps it still does some of that, but its major lesson for outside observers is more along the lines of "libertarianism can't win elections" and that can't be the message libertarians want to sent. Besides, Ron Paul (and to some extent, his son, Rand) has achieved exactly the goal of educating on and spreading libertarian ideas from within the Republican party.

Libertarian activists should choose whichever party they feel more comfortable working within. That's what Ron Paul did. Likewise, Rand Paul has brought his libertarianism inside the GOP tent. The small-"l" libertarians in the tea party movement identified the Republican Party as the coalition closest to their concerns about fiscal responsibility and the growth of government power, and they have gone about making the GOP more libertarian from the grass-roots up. They have moved the party in a libertarian direction, as has the Republican Liberty Caucus.-Randy Barnett: The Mistake That Is the Libertarian Party


  1. Interesting article, however.....I might find serious disagreement with the notion that the GOP is 'less hostile to liberty' than the Democrats.


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