The Libertarian Party Isn’t Ever Going To Catch On

Over at Election Projection — which is a fine blog — Scott Elliott is predicting great things for the Libertarian Party in the future:

“So, here’s my prediction. In the next twenty years or so, we’ll become a three-party political system. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party will be joined by the Libertarian Party as a legitimate force in American politics. The Libertarian Party will grow substantially over the next couple of decades, pulling support from both the GOP and the Democrats.

Here’s the reason why: Many Americans are libertarian at heart – they just don’t recognize it…yet. These folks believe in less restrictions on behaviors (a liberal or Democratic view) and less involvement by the government in economic issues (a conservative or Republican view). Right now, many closet Libertarians are counted among the two major political parties. As Democrats continue to espouse increasingly liberal economic policies – such as universal healthcare – it is becoming more and more difficult for libertarians in their ranks to remain. Likewise, philosophical libertarians in the GOP are getting increasingly uncomfortable with the growing influence of the values-based politics – such as pro-life policies and the Defense of Marriage Act – in their party.

These forces in both major parties that run contrary to their more libertarian brethren are showing no signs of backing off. As a result, I predict a slow steady bleed of philosophical libertarians from both the Democrats and Republicans. This migration will produce, sometime in the next two or three decades, a political system with three major partisan players.”

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With all due respect to Scott, most Americans ARE NOT Libertarians at heart. That’s why the Libertarian Party has been around since 1971 and is still small potatoes.

A lot of libertarians don’t get how out of the mainstream their beliefs really are because they’re wildly over-represented in the blogosphere and because many of them deliberately avoid talking about a lot of the issues that really kill them with the American public.

But, the truth is that there are a lot of issues Libertarians hold near and dear to their heart that most Americans view as political, “deal breakers.”

For example, how many people currently voting for the GOP would seriously consider voting for a candidate who is pro-prostitution, thinks it should be legal to sell crack, wants to gut the military, and believes in open borders and having no restrictions whatsoever on abortion?

On the other hand, as far as Democrats go, you have to understand that Dems tend to be believers in big government. Their solution to every problem is starting a new government program, writing new regulations, and increasing taxes. All of that is anathema to everything Libertarians believe.

Again, Libertarians convince themselves these sorts of issues don’t matter because Libertarian candidates are rarely major players in politics, so they generally get ignored. But, what happens if a Libertarian candidate is enough of a factor in an election that his opponents have to pay attention? What happens when one of the other candidates starts running spots featuring crack babies and prostitutes and says, truthfully, that’s what Libertarians believe in? How about ads featuring foreign workers walking across the border and taking jobs from Americans? You can go on and on and on with these sorts of ads and they would work exceptionally well — if there were ever a need to run them.

Look, the hard truth is that although some Libertarian ideas can — and have — caught on, the Libertarian Party is never going to be big. The most the LP can ever hope to be is a political spoiler that siphons off votes, mainly from Republicans. That’s not something I’m saying to be mean or spiteful, especially since I like, respect, and agree with a number of Libertarians on many important issues, but it’s just reality.

If you’re a Libertarian and you want to make a difference, join the Democrats or the Republicans — whichever party most closely matches up to your beliefs — and try to change people’s views from the inside. That, unlike working for, voting for, or contributing to the Libertarian Party, is worthwhile.

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