Libertarians and Real Politics
Saturday, November 20, 2004
— benway @ 13:51
As a former registered Libertarian who now refers to himself as libertarian (small L), I’m constantly frustrated by the LP’s unwillingness to tone down its message for the sake of expediency.
The ship of state is sinking. The contemporary Democratic and Republican parties are tripping over each other to polish the brass. Meanwhile, the Libertarians are vigorously debating plans for a new spacecraft to replace the sinking ship.
It may be a fantastic idea, but at the root of “fantastic” is fantasy.
The LP dogmatically advocates its ideals. That’s laudable, but politically unrealistic. The nature of politics is compromise, and political change and progress take place in small increments. Massive, rapid change is the realm of armed revolution, and only the most fringe aspects of the LP would advocate that.
The LP is a party governed strictly by philosophy and ideology. The problem is that most Americans, even those with libertarian beliefs, are much more practical than ideological. It’s very difficult for most citizens to imagine a functioning federal government without federal income tax, as the LP advocates. It’s much easier for them to imagine a federal sales tax, or a flat tax, or reduced taxes. These are practical and doable in the pragmatic minds of citizens.
I don’t mean to advocate that the LP abandon its ideology. Quite the contrary. The LP needs to adopt realistic plans to move towards a country that fits its ideology. They need a realistic plan to realize their ideological goals rather than just talking about them.
Arizona is a great place to start this sort of shift. Arizonans are quite libertarian by nature. The LP does well (relatively at least) on the ballot, and Arizonans are very supportive of libertarian leaning Republicans. Given a realistic alternative to two party politics as usual, Arizonans will react positively. But the LP needs to take the first steps in legitimizing itself.
Tech Central Station carried a great article last week by Max Borders, Libertarianism’s Extreme Makeover. In the article, Max advocated a shift toward the practical in Libertarian practice and provides specific examples of this sort of shift. It’s a must read for those advocating libertarian policy.