Claudius Ptolemy was a Greco-Roman who lived in Alexandria, Egypt from 90 CE to 168 CE. He was a prolific writer, geographer, astrologer, and, most importantly, astronomer. You see until Nicolaus Copernicus came along, the entire world adhered to the Ptolemic or Geocentric model of the solar system. People believed that the Earth was the center of it. This belief was held from roughly 500 BCE to 1543 CE.
In 1543 “On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres” by Nicolaus Copernicus was published. It challenged the Geocentric model of the solar system and replaced it with a Heliocentric model, one where the Sun was the center. This challenge came to be known as the Copernican Revolution. Humanity went through a drastic shift in perspective once Copernicus’ model became widely adopted. It was a paradigm shift for most of humanity and it took roughly 2000 years for something we consider today as obvious to become decided as fact.
In American politics, the two-party system is the closest thing we have to a Geocentric model of the solar system. There are Republicans and there are Democrats. We are told repeatedly that its just the way it is.
Gallup recently released polling data that showed a record 42% of Americans identify as independents.
That should scare the HELL out of the two major U.S. political parties and cause Libertarian Party members to be giddy with excitement. Republican identification fell to a record low 25% and Democrat identification fell to 31%. Clearly the two major parties are not meeting the needs of eligible voters.
There are approximately 206,000,000 Americans who are eligible to vote and 146,000,000 of them are registered to vote. Based upon these numbers that means that of the 206 million eligible US voters, 86.5 million self-identify as independent, or if you prefer registered voters, since they are the most likely to vote, it means of the 146 million registered voters, 61.3 million self-identify as independent.
The Republican Party is losing self-identifiers left and right. Since 2004 Republicans have lost 8% of self-identifiers while the Democrat Party has lost 5% since 2008.
Why is that such good news for Libertarians and what on Earth does it have to do with two dead astronomers?
This data says to me that the majority of American voters can’t find a home. The days of, “My parents were a Republican so I vote Republican” are slowly fading away. In today’s digital world party affiliation is not enough. Voters demand information. We are high information voters. Republicans refuse to blindly support a John McCain or Lindsey Graham-type because they are the Republican candidate, just as Democrats refuse to blindly support Reagan Democrats. In the information age, voting records are readily accessible and a candidate must be more than his or her party.
The press has exhaustively talked about the conservative shift of the GOP, but I think nothing could not be further from the truth. The Tea Party, Americans For Prosperity, Freedomworks, and other organizations are simply holding representatives accountable for their voting records. GOP voters are sick of “Compassionate Conservatism”, Rockefeller Republicans, and Christian Conservatives. They want representatives whose voting records are consistent with their beliefs. They demand individuals who vote for the constitutionally limited government they espouse.
The world in which we live, is a world of candidates. It’s a world where the question, “What does the candidate believe?” holds more weight than, “Which party does he or she belong to?”
In addition to the changing landscape of American politics, American voters are losing trust in government.
In politics, there are times where patriotism works, such as immediately following 9/11 in the US. During those times trust and belief in government are at all time highs. Right now is not one of those times. Obamacare has forced even the most committed of Democrats to question government attempts at bureaucratic skill.
So, we have an American electorate that is less party affiliated than ever, distrusts the government’s ability to effectively manage anything and everything, and whose top concerns are the economy, job creation, health care, and government spending. Could there literally be a better time in American history to be a libertarian?
I would argue no.
But how do we convince the American voter that a vote for the Libertarian candidate is not a wasted vote?
By commandeering the GOP.
This is the point where I expect Libertarian Party member’s heads to explode or voluntaryist/anarcho-capitalist/whatever brand of libertarian you are.
The fact of the matter is that in America, we are a two-party system. We can choose to deny reality or we can embrace it. As much as I would prefer the Libertarian Party replace the GOP, it is not going to happen. The GOP is just too transformative. Think I’m wrong?
The party of Lincoln became the party of the American South when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the 1960’s, the GOP again starred obscurity in the face. The leaders of the party wrestled with the idea of becoming Democrat-lite, as Nelson Rockefeller wished, or re-branding themselves as small government Federalists in the mold of Thomas Jefferson as William F. Buckley and Senator Barry Goldwater wanted.
Surprisingly, Goldwater’s defeat in the 1964 Presidential election only made the GOP’s re-branding more clear and paved the way for small government reinvention. Republicans decided to embrace our country’s founding ideals and move closer to libertarian principles. Don’t believe me? Read what former President Ronald Reagan said about conservatism:
Reagan’s election was a false start for libertarianism in the United States. He was able to avoid the socially conservative strain of the GOP by courting their vote and then ignoring them. However, the next leader of the GOP will not be allowed such a luxury. Independents make up too much of the electorate. They are looking for a socially liberal and fiscally conservative leader. The millennial generation is the most fiscally conservative and socially liberal generation to date.
I do not know about you, but I for one, will not tolerate a Rick Santorum-type regardless of how fiscally conservative he or she may be.
That is why I believe libertarian infiltration of the GOP is the Copernican Revolution I have been waiting for my whole life. The GOP, as it is currently comprised, has shown itself incapable of governance. Its governing framework is too cumbersome. A Libertarian could easily support the recognition of gay marriage in exchange for a federal tax code overhaul. A Republican can do no such thing. A libertarian could legalize marijuana in exchange for a balanced budget amendment. A Republican, again, could do no such thing.
What we have witnessed, in the last 10 years, is the death of the GOP as a party capable of representing and governing Americans. Their platform has become a noose.
Many libertarians may consider that a good thing, but it is not. Rest assured, there are more collectivists than individualists in this world. Individuals who choose to abstain from participating in the political process will find themselves subject to the words of Pericles,
“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”
Mr. Priebus, if you are listening, please heed my words of advice. If you want the Grand Ole Party to remain relevant over the next 20 years, you must rediscover libertarian principles, otherwise, Strom Thurmond might as well be your 2016 Presidential nominee.
The most popular President of modern American conservatism, Ronald Reagan, believed in libertarian principles.
The Tea Party, whose vote you so fervently court, preaches our founding principles, which are libertarian.
Is it not time for the GOP to fess up and admit the party is libertarian in principle? Or would you prefer to become known as Dixiecrats?
Libertarianism is the governing philosophy that the majority of Americans have been waiting on. It protects the rights of all Americans and it replaces a framework of governance that has been rendered obsolete. It does not alienate individuals for lifestyle choices and lastly, it puts the trust of American people back in their hands.
Imagine that, a political Copernican Revolution where government is of the people, by the people, and for the people?
It’s almost as if history repeats itself…