Libertarian Party intermural internecine conflicts

The interview with Justin Amash is not all that interestng, except perhaps a general sense of his attempt in defining a frame of a center between two extremes of the left and the right through contortions, and the bulk of the comments section is a long since defined bunch of rote insta-comments. But swirling about there are at least a few insights into the workings of the Libertarian Party:

I. All political parties are coalition parties. The Libertarian Party is comprised of various factions, none of whom believe in coalitions. That is the core of the problem right there. Randians are never going to get along with Rothbardians, minarchists will never get along with anarchists, crunchies will never get along with turtles.

I’ve been in LP executive meetings at the state level. Nasty shit. The lower the stakes the pettier the politics, and when the party as a whole has completely given on the idea of actually getting someone elected, there literally are no stakes so it’s the maximum of petty sniping. And I’m sure the state level was Emily Post in comparison to national.

II. One dimension is a conflict between those who want to create a “big tent” Libertarian Party that has people who support liberty broadly but who don’t necessarily support every single position, vs. those who want to create a Libertarian Party of pure principle. As I recall, there was a candidate who epitomized the purism tradition, Bergland in 1984, who refused even to get a driver’s license on principle. That’s pretty hardcore. He of course failed miserably. Just from an empirical point of view, the “big tent” campaigns of Gary Johnson were more successful than any purist campaign. Is there a Libertarian Party candidate who was elected, anywhere, by standing on a mountain of pure principle? But there have been plenty of Libertarian Party candidates elected in various offices who were elected despite some heterodox beliefs, because they were viewed as reasonable alternatives to the two-party duopoly, and one reason they were considered reasonable was because they WEREN’T hard-core ideologues.

The other dimension to the conflict is how to package and sell libertarianism. Being edgy and prioritizing the most unpopular libertarian positions is not the way to go IMO. I mean, if you want to sell the Libertarian brand, why on earth would you start your opening pitch with a statement like “maybe child labor should be legalized”? WTF? There are COUNTLESS examples of how our liberties are infringed upon that are much easier sells. Going on about legalizing child labor, or overturning the Civil Rights Act, or privatizing the roads, or securing the right to own nuclear weapons, is just going to turn people off.

Personally I think the LP would be well served by pursuing some “good government” proposals that are strictly speaking not libertarian per se, but could secure interest and support, and are unwilling to be addressed by either Team Red or Team Blue because it would undermine their duopoly. Such as, expanding the size of the House. Pushing for more open access and more transparency on how government at all levels works. They can be “gateway issues” to the Libertarian philosophy at large.

Some more:

III. Team L has two problems: no money, and few candidates that can effectively articulate a libertarian message to the electorate. It is not rocket science. Develop an effective apparatus to raise money in small dollar amounts (think Act Blue app, versus just a few wealthy donors); ‘up’ their digital game – significantly.

Then the better candidates will come. And for damned sure, if someone looking like Vermin Supreme is truly a serious contender for Team L leadership, Team L will go nowhere. Jorgensen had some mishaps in her campaign (BLM comments come to mind). What I would tell her is that practice makes perfect. She is intelligent and articulate. To me, she is the lead candidate for 2024 for Team L (assuming she wants another try).


In third party land, you might as well have your candidates roll two turns at bat. Vermin Supreme can wait for 2028.

The Green Party had to kick out their Alaska Party after they roguishly ran Jesse Ventura for President, but that at least is a tangible certain focus than trying to herd a batch of malcontents. The party’s definining character should argue for sectionalist in fights, the pitch increased because the stakes literally come down to who gets to be right and as everyone knows that is I.

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