The ugly truth

Radley Balko stages his own sort of intervention, laying down the ugly truth to political Libertarians:

We may one day get a libertarian president, but it won't be from the LP. It'll happen one of three ways. We'll either get a GOPer who understands that economic freedom without personal freedom isn't really freedom, or we'll get a market-oriented Democrat who pays more than lip service to civil liberties. The third (and most likely, I think) way it could happen is we get a charismatic libertarian celebrity (a Schwarzenegger type -- though he's not all that libertarian) or a multimillionaire who can bypass the two-party system and command legitimacy based on his success or celebrity alone.

I think the odds of the LP ever getting 10% of the presidential vote in our lifetime are near infinitismal. The odds of them ever electing a president are worse.

What the LP can do, however, is win enough votes to get some attention from the media. And all that really does is make it more difficult for the rest of us to draw a clear line of distinction between libertarianism and Libertariansm -- or between the ideas of Smith, Jefferson, Mill, and the, well, the blue people.

I know lots of my readers vote LP, or are members of the LP. And many of you take it personally when I criticize them. It's not personal. And not only do I understand why you support the LP, I have respect for why you do. But when polls show that most Americans are socially laissez-faire and fiscally conservative, and the party that most represents those very ideas can't muster 1% of the vote, you have to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself why. Yes, the way the two major parties use the perks of power to shut out competitors certainly has something to do with it.

But mostly, it's because most people think you're nuts.


Lots of LPers have called me elitist, or snobbish, or "a weasel." I don't know. Maybe I'm all of those things. But there's no arguing with the facts.

    Zero-point-three-four percent of the vote in 2000

. In a country that polls issue-by-issue libertarian.

(emphasis and underlining added)


Well, polls being polls I'm not quite sure about the last line, but just in case he's seen better numbers than I, I thought I'd highlight it. It is certainly true that a party that boasts near universal ballot access and candidates in local, state, and federal elections every year certainly should have more to show for it, success-wise, than jack and shite. The Greens are a far smaller party and they have state representatives and have polled 5% nationally in a Presidential election. The Socialists have a Representative from Vermont. Where is the LP? When the nation is naturally in tune with libertarian (small L) ideas, why, indeed, does the LP never amount to anything?

Maybe if they had nominees like this for President, we'd get somewhere....

(I know, I know, constitutionally ineligible for the moment, but still...)

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I'd express my preferences

I'd express my preferences by voting for her.

Well, perhaps in or after

Well, perhaps in or after 2016... ;)

The country doesn't poll

The country doesn't poll libertarian issue-by-issue.

- Josh

I'm with Josh. I don't know

I'm with Josh. I don't know where Balko came up with that idea.