GOP Schisms Followup

Randy Barnett muses that having a Libertarian Party might be a problem for libertarianism.

I think that the creation of the Libertarian Party has been very detrimental to the political influence of libertarians. Some voters (not many lately) and, more importantly, those libertarians who are interested in engaging in political activism (which does not include me) have been drained from both political parties, rendering both parties less libertarian at the margin.

I think I agree with him. The LP has been an escape valve for dissatisfied activists. However, since those who head for the LP are not necessarily coalition builders, the LP suffers from far worse factional infighting than the parties those individuals escaped!

Libertarians value principles quite highly, and many deride compromise. That makes it hard to build a power base.

While some libertarian political activists are certainly Republicans and Democrats, the existence of the Libertarian Party ensures that there are fewer activists and fewer voters in each major party coalition than would otherwise exist. Therefore, each party's coalition becomes less libertarian.

Has this marginalized position also led to the difficulty of selling limited government to the people? I'd like to think that it's large population clusters like the big cities that make people comfortable with a powerful government, and not the learned behavior of the voters after thirty years of being told not to “waste your vote.”

Perhaps it is time to dissolve the Libertarian Party and take the fight back into the organizations that spurned us.

I said something similar earlier today replying to Gideon Strauss at Pejmanesque.

Josh Poulson

Posted Wednesday, Feb 23 2005 01:03 PM

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