By Mike Tront
To the chagrin of many in the liberty movement, the Libertarian Party has decided to go with two former Republicans on their Presidential ticket. Just being a former Republican isn’t necessarily bad. Some Republicans like Ron Paul, Justin Amash, and Thomas Massie are about as libertarian as one can get while being involved in politics.
The biggest issue people are having is that Gary Johnson and William Weld are simply not libertarian enough.
It’s true that Johnson doesn’t have the hatred for government that most libertarians have. But what Johnson does offer to the average voters are reasonable, “sane” ways for the President to roll back government intervention in all areas of our lives. Personally, nothing would make me happier than to have a principled, consistent libertarian voice at the head of the Libertarian Party who can clearly, confidently, and convincingly sell the masses on giving up their government goodies in favor of unbridled freedom. However, Tom Woods didn’t seek the nomination this year. And the more consistent libertarians that were seeking the nomination were basically “Internet Famous” libertarians.
So that brings me to this:
Would you rather have a guy who is 85% libertarian but gets a ton of media attention, or a guy who is 100% libertarian but gets little or no attention?
To a lot of libertarians it’s all or nothing, baby! Give me Liberty or give me Death! I disagree. I can’t help the movement if I’m dead. If the Libertarian Party keeps getting 1% in the elections, and can hardly maintain ballet access in many states, they’re pretty much dead to the world. If that’s the case, why even have a Libertarian Party?
To defend the Libertarian Party, I think of it as market segmentation. In the marketing world, companies realize that there are many different kinds of consumers in the world. They often look at specific markets and offer products/services tailored to that specific market. One example of market segmentation is in the auto world. Car companies know that different people have different budgets, tastes, and needs for vehicles, so they offer many different lines of vehicles to attempt to have a vehicle that will fit into everyone’s budget and fill everyone’s need. How many cars would they sell if they just offered one car for one price? Even if they believed it was the “perfect” car?
As a movement, we need to have our fingers in as many pies as possible. We have a plethora of amazing, consistent libertarians writing books, getting media, producing podcasts, and genuinely furthering the cause of freedom. The Libertarian Party is a gateway drug into that world. Of course that doesn’t mean the Libertarian Party can just throw a Trump type person up there just to get a few extra votes. Same as a car company can’t sell a bicycle and say it’s a car. They at least need something with 4 wheels, a roof, an engine, an interior, heat, etc. And we need someone who genuinely believes that less government is better than more government representing the Libertarian Party.
What Johnson/Weld ticket is going to do, that a perfect 100% libertarian can’t do, is peak the curiosity of the average voter. None of us started out as 100% libertarian. We all started somewhere. So think of yourself as an average voter. You know little or nothing about libertarianism. The Libertarian Party then decides to nominate the most libertarian person in the room: Darryl W. Perry. Perry is an awesome, principled, consistent libertarian. I can’t think of a platform of his I disagree with. However, to the average American and to the media, how much serious attention is he going to get with no name recognition and a platform that literally says “that the United States government, as it exists today, should be abolished!” Not to mention he only accepts campaign donations in the form of Bitcoin and/or precious metals. Hearing that, after 12 years in a government school and watching biased media all your life, what are you going to think? I know I would have dismissed it right out. It took me time to go from there to here.
The fact is the Libertarian Party is a political party. They are not a social club. They are not a philosophy club. Their job isn’t to give The Nolan Chart to every potential candidate and simply pick who scores the best. Their job is to find candidates who want to shrink the government and roll back oppression. Preferably candidates who have the best shot at winning, getting press, piquing interest in Liberty, and influencing the people who do win into having a more libertarian agenda.
If you’re a full blown libertarian like me, our job is to help these new people who are coming into the movement from this campaign season. They are going to talk to us on Twitter, on Facebook, on Reddit. And maybe even in real life! They will listen to our podcasts. How can we keep them in the movement? One thing I can say for sure is this: if our attitude is that we are holier than thou, or if we call people stupid because they don’t completely grasp every aspect of how terrible government is, we will lose them just like I would have been lost had I been talked down to in the beginning of my discovery.
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