I have for several years now worn the proud label of a libertarian, and been a member of the libertarian party of Wisconsin. I have run into a problem with the party though and as I look at it, it may be irreconcilable. The Libertarian Party has developed two problems that seem counter-intuitive and at the same time are going to seriously hamper any real chance for growth they have.
The more significant problem is this, they as a party have chosen to try to appeal to disaffected statists and socialists to try and expand their voter base. In this latest cycle the supporters of Bernie Sanders were largely seen as up for grabs after their candidate was defeated perhaps through subterfuge in the primaries. Every political party and faction then tried to claim them by either highlighting their similarities, or by actively moving in the policy directions of the Sanders faction. The Libertarians chose to be no different. While there are plenty of issues on which a libertarian person could agree with Senator Sanders, what the party failed to realize and will pay the price for intellectually is what they had known since the philosophy of libertarianism developed. That is to say, Socialism the avowed philosophy of Mr. Sanders is antithetical to the liberty movement. In their lust for a potentially large swath of voters they have begun flirting with and embracing their intellectual foes.
The second problem which is admittedly less significant is this. The unending virtue signaling and their apparent need to have all of their policy points at once with no compromise is the second problem. The origins of this issue are more readily apparent among the “right-libertarians” where I count myself than among “left-libertarians.” I am even in my own ways sympathetic to the roots of this problem. They see the unchecked expansion of government in the United States and think that in order to stop it they must immediately start cleaving entire limbs of off the government, and the government’s budget. They think that they must take the vorpal small government and cleave the head off the leviathan in one mighty blow. What they are failing to account for is that this sort of violent shift in government philosophy is completely unfeasible when they should instead be working towards policy scores where ever they can so that the government can be slowly surgically removed from our lives.
The solution to problem number one might sound crazy but here me out. The Libertarian Party needs to dissolve itself to protect libertarian values and electability. The Libertarian Party does not share the Democrat and Republican ability to shift left and right to snap up voter shares and head off competition from literally third party groups. Instead of trying to succeed as a party it would be wiser for libertarians to run across the nation on Democratic and Republican tickets and there using the issues that would appeal to each base. Then upon the election of a sufficient number of them the forming of a caucus in the given legislative body. Within these caucuses the libertarians can then accomplish what they’ve been trying to work towards as a party which is visibility, policy impact, and a seat at the table for the mostly marginalized voices around the country.
The second problem is an issue of election envy and can be solved only with stoic patience and discipline. If libertarians can ever finally start winning elections then they need to not immediately lose re-election by repealing social security and eliminating all but two federal agencies by the end of their first week. An excellent model of what I am talking about here is Rand Paul. Some libertarians have chosen to quibble with him because he is not enough of this or not enough of that. What they are ignoring is that he has determinably and with resolve marched towards libertarian ends and mostly used libertarian means to do it. He, and Justin Amash, would make excellent models for any libertarian who happens to find himself in office in our modern era.
Due to these issues and this realization in my own life I personally am going to be allowing my membership to lapse in the Libertarian party. I will at that time be joining the Republican Party and working to move them in an actively more libertarian direction. There is a clear template for this in the gentlemen I mentioned above. I encourage and preach the liberty message whenever I am given the chance but it would be wise to start working towards their goals instead of working towards being a part of the American political machine.