WHY THE LIBERTARIANS FAIL
Reacting to an e-mail from a reader that reports an increased influence of the Glenn Reynolds-Stephen Green-Neil Boortz types in the party, Stephen Green remarks,
That’s heartening to hear, especially from an insider. I’m curious to see if the capital-L Libertarian movement can be captured by the small-l newcomers.
Honestly, I don’t see how that happens. The Libertarian Party is by its nature an ideological party, built around a theory of government subscribed to by many in rhetoric but few in action. The number of Americans who truly want small government–which means giving up their own pet programs, not just calling for cutting of those that benefit others–is small indeed.
The only way to matter–other than as a spoiler–in a winner-take-all system such as ours is to build a plurality coaltion, which requires compromise. The big-L Libertarians seem content to be a fringe party by remaining “pure.” Those willing to compromise do what everyone else does: pick one of the two major parties and try to influence them from within. Indeed, there are small-l libertarians in both parties, with those concerned mainly with laissez faire economics (low taxes, few regulations) allied with the Republicans and those concerned mainly with personal freedom (abortion, marijuana, and reining in the police) mostly Democrats.