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Libertarians against Libertarians

For many years, I've considered myself a small-l libertarian. I used to believe I was in a distinct minority, but with the explosion of the internet and the growth of the blogosphere, I'm learning there are a hell of a lot more people like me out there than I once realized.

But if there are so damn many of us, why are we not better represented by politicians? Randy Barnett blames the Libertarian Party, at least in part. His argument is that the creation of the LP has siphoned off libertarian influences from both major parties, and that the Democrats and Republicans are decidedly less libertarian as a result.

I tend to agree, but I'd add another point as well. I frankly believe the Libertarian Party has saddled us libertarians with a bit of an image problem. Despite the widespread popularity of libertarian principles, the LP leadership itself has a tendency to attract people whom many would consider extremists and fanatics. In this respect, it functions a bit more like a single-issue special interest group than a viable political party.

They also tend to be a fractious and contentious lot. As the saying goes, get 10 Libertarians together in a room, and you'll have 17 different opinions. Moreover, as a practical matter, they seem to be completely lacking any ability to prioritize. For example, in the face of a $2.5 trillion federal budget, I'd just as soon table the adademic debates on, say, legalizing blackmail or child pornography until we get the overall size of the federal spending a bit more under control. That's just me.

Hat tip to Dean Esmay, who also points out the existence of the Democratic Freedom Caucus and the Republican Liberty Caucus, both of which seek to worth within the respective parties to forward libertarian goals and ideas. I decided some time back that (while still an uphill battle) it would be easier to move the Republican Party back to a more libertarian conservativism than to rescue the LP from the ideological wilderness. That's why I've included a link to the RLC over on the left-hand side of this site.