With all of the problems the Libertarian Party have suffered over the past few years, and especially the past few months, I thought it might be a good time to offer some constructive criticism rather than to simply pile on. I am a long time fan of the LP. I realize that there are a few principled libertarians and anarchists who view the party as a statist enterprise and there is some merit to this argument, especially in the past few election cycles. But I also believe that the LP could repair some of the damage its current and recent past leadership has wrought on the party.
The LP has lately been over-run with people who are just not libertarian yet argue that the LP has for too long stressed ideological purity. There are many valid criticisms that can be brought to bear against the LP. However, to suggest that sticking to principle is bad for the party is a self-refuting claim. This is no solution to the LP's problems. The LP was created not as a true political challenge to the Republicans or Democrats. The party was created to protest the boondoggle that the two-party system had become while educating the electorate on libertarianism. To suggest now that adherence to principle turns off the electorate is an intellectually bankrupt argument. It is a preposterous claim and is more indicative of the claimant's frame of mind than those he or she is suggesting be appeased.
Unfortunately, there are certain people of prominence within the LP and in the libertarian punditry who are quite squeamish about taking the Non-Aggression Principle to its logical conclusion. The implications are too uncomfortable to bear it would seem. I'm not quite sure why this is the case but it most certainly is the case. The most obvious example of this can be seen in those who continue to suggest that our military response to terrorism is indeed libertarian and necessary.
How absurd. Those who suggest this should be ashamed of themselves. Rather than shame, they have been proud to proclaim their support of a policy which sets aside libertarianism's most fundamental principle and have even managed to turn the LP platform (at least for a time) into a statist manifesto for pseudo-libertarians with regards to “national defense”. In spite of this terrible setback, one can't place the blame solely on the party's leadership for this turn of events. The party membership has to accept some responsibility since it was they who allowed their platform to be co-opted, in effect rendering the LP an unlibertarian enterprise (if it wasn't already). Shame on us. Truly.
This isn't to say that there weren't some influential and outspoken libertarians who voiced an opposing view. However, if the pro-war “libertarians” are not fully repudiated and the LP does not revert back to a comprehensive and detailed platform reflecting the principles on which it was founded, I don't believe that it will attract any true libertarians into the next decade. It will probably just die from atrophy or become the Fascist-Lite Party since the only members it will attract are those who are that subset of the Republican party who want lower taxes. Why join an ineffectual little brother to the statist, fascist, Republican party when you can just become a member of the real thing?
So, what to do? The first and most obvious step is to restore the LP platform and leadership to represent true libertarian principles. The “Party of Principle” needs to return to its principles if it is to instill any trust in the bloc of voters that Ron Paul has managed to unite (no thanks to the Libertarian Party leadership).
The second thing, and I truly think this list can be limited to two things, is to elect just one (more), decent Libertarian to any national or state office.
The Libertarians need to examine Ron Paul's success and clone it. The main reason that politicians get re-elected is that their constituents get comfortable with them, flaws and all. There are some pretty corrupt politicians out there who get re-elected because their constituents trust them, whether or not this is warranted. They know them, they understand their accomplishments and are comfortable with them. Unless they pull something particularly egregious, they keep electing them until they stop running, generally speaking.
Ron Paul gained his constituent's trust and went far beyond just gaining familiarity. He vocally opposed anything that didn't conform to constitutional boundaries. He returned any unused funds allocated his congressional office back to the treasury each year. He even opposed a popular (at the time) President's foreign policy because it was not only unconstitutional but violated the NAP. And in response they have for each election cycle re-elected him by ever-growing margins. He's virtually untouchable in his district. Just ask the growing list of unfortunate and now deeply in-debt challengers who have sought to unseat him.
It has been said that the LP should just abandon its Presidential aspirations due to the lack of success it has had in fielding quality candidates. But the fact is, it is not the quality of the candidate that is the sole problem if it is even relevant. Look at the candidates fielded by the Democrats and Republicans. Both are utterly dismal examples of what one would consider decent candidates. Neither has ever advocated anything remotely resembling liberty for the people of this country and neither has the economic IQ of a lab rat.
Ron Paul's success over the past 18 months and the culmination of this into real political clout on a national scale, has been overlooked totally by the LP leadership. His example completely repudiates the current leadership view that libertarianism should be watered-down for the masses.
His success is due to his principled actions and his willingness to accept the responsibility to educate his constituents about libertarian principles in both word and deed. They do not deviate from the NAP. Not even a little bit. The electorate, being much smarter and educable than most people ever give them credit, responded. Many of Ron Paul's most vocal and dedicated volunteers were in fact Libertarian Party members. And the results were and are stunning. During this past GOP primary season, Ron Paul gained more votes than the past two Libertarian presidential candidates received in the past two national elections – combined.
The LP needs to concentrate its efforts on getting an LP candidate – one who actually espouses libertarian principles – elected to congress. Just one. The first one will be the hardest. However, every subsequent election for that candidate and others, will be exponentially easier if that candidate can just imitate the finest libertarian candidate holding national office, Ron Paul.
If the LP is to ever become the true “Party of Principle” and give its fans any hope at attaining a return to constitutional (libertarian) principles, it must earn some political capital. It cannot do this by waffling on its principles or running half-hearted attempts to get its candidates elected after having abandoned its core principles.
The good news about this list totaling two items, is that Libertarian Party members do not have to wait for the LP's clueless leadership to get on board. Of course, a third thing could be added to this list – elect clueful libertarians to the LP leadership – but it is not required in the short-term and the second on the list can be accomplished in this election cycle. The clock is ticking though. In 50 days or less, the community of libertarians has to come together and focus their efforts on one or more winnable districts. It's just a matter of getting the word out to the activists and pooling our resources and efforts.
If we can come together (again) and do what we did the past two summers, the groundwork will have been laid for the future sought by LP advocates.Tweet