My advice to Libertarians…
I’m not a Libertarian, but I understand the basic philosophy as well as the goals you wish to achieve. While I agree with some, as a whole I see Libertarianism as doomed to failure because…
A. Too many Libertarians seem to thrive on alienating Libertarianism’s greatest allies while flirting with its greatest enemies.
B. Too few Libertarians seem to care anything about realistically convincing people that they have a workable idea. Instead they seem to want to simply annoy people and whine when they don’t get attention
C. As with any political philosophy Libertarianism attracts kooks who want to push it to some extreme. Unfortunately Libertarians don’t seem to mind that so many of these kooks have become the face of Libertarianism, in spite of not really representing its core principles very well.
D. Too many Libertarians have and are falling for the “all or nothing” scam that says that unless they get everything they want, then they’ll take their marbles and walk home pouting.
–Work With Your Friends, Know Your Enemies–
Liberalism has advanced because one of their strategies has always been to cooperate with “fellow travelers”. They find groups that have some goals in common, and either convince them to do the lion’s share of the work achieving that goal, or simply co-opt that group and redirect its resources toward the overall goal of Liberalism. Why do you think Feminism, Civil Rights, Environmentalism and a ton of other specific causes seem to be more concerned about advancing Liberalism as a whole, than what was originally their specific cause? They’ve been taken over and consumed by Liberals, and their resources re-allocated to the general Liberal cause. Libertarians have been and remain in Liberal’s sites to exploit this way.
However Conservatives (if you insist on believing that non-Libertarian Conservatives are “neo-conservatives” then simply understand that that’s what I mean when I call them Conservatives) have historically approached groups with similar interests more honestly. The GOP treats Libertarians, Evangelicals, gun-rights groups, pro-Israel groups, etc as valued advisors which each offering perspectives to consider and accommodate if possible. As much as Liberals may want to claim the GOP has taken over churches or vice-versa, Evangelical Christians and the GOP have always had a loose, working relationship, with each maintaining their specific goals, but cooperating when those goals overlap.
At its core, Libertarianism is about limiting government and allowing the individual to succeed on his own strength, merit and abilities. While both the DNC and the GOP increase the size of government, a larger, more powerful government is at the very core of what the DNC and Liberals want. Conservatives do enlarge the government, but do so grudgingly, because they feel it’s the only realistic option.
Look at it this way. If shooting a stray dog where enlarging government, Liberals are the neighbor that shoots a stray dog because he thinks it’s fun. Conservatives are the neighbor whose had his yard pooped in, his garden dug up and his children frightened by a stray dog, that really wishes there was some solution other than shooting it, but can’t think of one.
Liberals are the enemy of Libertarianism, while Conservatives are a potential and strong ally. Pretending they are both evil shuts off opportunities to push goals in common with Conservatives and leaves you open to being exploited by those who hold a completely opposite philosophy of government.
–Market Your Cause–
A whole lot of Conservatives have been turned off of Libertarianism because it’s not been presented in a very favorable way. There are some simply ways of resolving this.
First, present it in smaller, easier to digest portions. Screaming for the legalization of marijuana makes you look like pot-heads. However, lucidly presenting your opposition to “net neutrality” by explaining what it is and what it will do, will make people take note. Shouting that Israel is a terrorist nation, makes you look like an anti-Semitic morons. However, condemning foreign aid with realistic stats and plausible alternatives, brings the issue to people in a way they’ll understand and could be persuaded. Claiming the government has no right defining marriage, while ignoring the government’s actions in forcing businesses to endorse same-sex marriage, makes you look hypocritical at best.
I run a web site for people with a specific rare congenital condition. One of the many topics that comes up is the need for newborn screening. Many people have sought solutions to the problem by getting politicians to enact laws forcing hospitals to perform newborn screenings. I tried, in vain, to argue that a much better approach would be to instead, approach insurance companies with a well documented plan for offering and promoting newborn screening as a way for them to lower overall healthcare costs, that they would otherwise have to pay for. The problem I ran in to was the “let the government do it” mentality is deeply ingrained in so many people that they couldn’t comprehend any other method.
Before you will be able to convince people that Libertarianism is even remotely feasible, you need to educate them in some basic philosophical concepts. Marketing the idea of self-sufficiency, accomplishing great things without ever involving the government, even the idea of the trade off in freedoms a more powerful government costs, is where to start. Now you are trying to sell ice to people who’ve been convinced they are Eskimos. They won’t listen, until you first re-educate them, and convince them they aren’t Eskimos.
–Marginalize the Kooks–
I haven’t paid much attention to what Ron Paul has said or what he even stands for. The main reason is that before I had a chance to do so I was confronted by an army of people supporting him, but who were also certifiable nut cases. I know some Ron Paul supporters personally, and know they aren’t like this, but meanwhile the nation has been deluged with the insane antics of what is now known a PaulBots. Seriously, the biggest hindrance to Ron Paul’s political aspirations are his own followers. You guys really need to corral them, and get them to shut up. They’ve become a joke. And they bear the bulk of the responsibility for so few people ever taking Ron Paul seriously. (I’m giving Ron Paul the benefit of the doubt in regards to whether he endorses or encourages the lunacy that goes on in his name).
Conservatives have their kooks, but we don’t let them speak for us, or attempt to pretend they are mainstream. Even Liberals understand that concept, while they battle with silencing their kooks as they pretend to be “tolerant” and “accepting”.
–Be Willing to Run the Race One Step at a Time–
Prioritize your goals. It’s unrealistic to think that you’ll be able to get everything you want all at once. Which goals are most important, and which are the most realistic? Work on things one goal at a time, and don’t ignore the need to change the way people think about things. Don’t ignore recruitment/marketing as a major step in accomplishing your overall goals.
Dick Armey once said [I'm paraphrasing], “There are those that love freedom, and those that lust for power. Those that lust for power work constantly to accomplish their goals, so those of us who love freedom need to be willing to work just as hard to keep them from taking it away.”
That’s the biggest weakness among Libertarians. Their motivation is the love of freedom (albeit, they define freedom a bit differently than I would). But the motivation to preserve your freedom is much lower than the motivation in others to lust for power at the expense of your freedom. It’s not enough to whine all over the internet about having your freedoms taken away. That accomplishes nothing more than annoying people. You need to be smart, think long term, and understand that it’s a whole lot easier to preserve freedom than to try to get it back once it’s been taken away, especially when almost everyone else has been deluded into believing that they never really needed that freedom anyway.