Undermining Liberty

This Telegraph article suggests that Libertarians undermine liberty:

Libertarian thinking is already a force in party politics, as one of the strands of thinking in both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. The objective of libertarian campaigners ought to be to strengthen those strands. The lesson from American politics is that when libertarians create parties, they end up undermining liberty by diverting campaigners’ efforts way from the mainstream. Perversely, the Libertarian Party in the United States has undermined liberty: if it becomes a noticeable minority party, the British equivalent will do the same.

Part of the problem, I think, is that we live in a world where you can get everything the way you want it, so I think there’s an expectation that the consumer culture has created that you can get your politics just the way you want it too, except it can’t really work that way.  In politics, you have to build coalitions of interests, and being part of a coalition means you don’t get everything you want all of the time.  If gun rights activists had their way, Fred Thompson would have been the Republican nominee, but as it was, it was an election for national security and national greatness factions of the Republican Party to assert themselves, and they wanted McCain.  When you have to form coalitions with other interests, you can’t always get your way.

Perhaps one of the prices we pay in society for a decline in civic organizations, where politics happens on a smaller scale.  Having to participate in a civic organization, where everyone is a volunteer, is a great lesson in the dysfunctions of people, and the limitations of the political process.  With people more and more expecting politics to be like any other consumer product, the result could be a growing collection of small, ineffective parties that remove political capital from the main parties, leaving a lot of good ideas out in the political wilderness.

10 thoughts on “Undermining Liberty”

  1. The LP does undermine liberty because they actively seek out the biggest crackpots they can find and make them their candidates. They don’t even try to find people who can rationally argue the issues because they aren’t interested in getting people elected to public office. I have even been told this by national LP directors that they have no interest in electing anybody for anything. When they take up the banner of gun rights, for example, their antics make anyone with similar beliefs look bad.

  2. I mean, I agree with you. I’m actually shocked they picked Barr… because he’s not at all pure from a libertarian standpoint. I think what they want this time is to spoil McCain.

  3. Yes. Bob Barr has jumped the shark. Not because he abandoned the GOP but because he threw his lot in with the lunatic fringe. It demonstrates that he either didn’t know who he was getting involved with at the start or that he knew and didn’t care.

  4. The Barr nomination has started a war in the LP, and in any case, he’s not going to pull many votes from McCain: He’s done a 180 on all of the issues that attracted voters to him in the first place. I think what this author misses is that the LP performs a useful function in that it pulls the nuttiest contingent away from the GOP (or Tories, in his case), although he makes some valuable points.

    And I should point out that it wasn’t the party that elected McCain. It was the voters. Apparently, voters feel differently from pundits.

  5. The LP has been at war with itself since it was formed in the 70s. I do agree that the LP serves something of a purpose in providing a home for the kooks, but they also act as a drain on resources that could be better spent on more productive activities.

  6. my single biggest problem with the entire LP movement is the way that their most vocal supporters act…

    sure the candidates have great ideas, and even the core of the party is pretty level…

    but the first thing that gets yelled about by their supporters is “legalize drugs”

    and im sorry, but that mantra is a really bad way to win over the people that might be won over by the other ideas… even if you are like me and believe that the government has no right to tell you what you can and cannot put into your own body, its still a bad way to make friends…

  7. “but the first thing that gets yelled about by their supporters is “legalize drugs””

    And the republicans shout “shall not be infringed” That kind of thinking is counterproductive as you fail to see your stance is just as valid as theirs. The difference is they already understand that both sets of “laws” are total BS and have no constitutionality whatsoever and aren’t afraid to speak the truth. Sadly many have toasted enough brain cells to be incapable to explain when pressed.

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