Links, Libertarianism

CNN Op-Ed on Gary Johnson’s Libertarian Campaign

I forgot to post this last week, but I’ve got a short piece on the Johnson/Weld Libertarian campaign at CNN. The basic idea – familiar enough to readers of BHL, I imagine – is that it’s a mistake to think of libertarianism as a “right-wing” ideology, and therefore a mistake to think that a successful Libertarian campaign would draw more votes from Trump than from Clinton.

Here’s an excerpt:

First, libertarianism is more than just an economic ideology. It’s a social one. And many Libertarian social positions — an openness to immigration, an embrace of equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transgender persons, a hostility toward the war on drugs and American militarism abroad, and support for women’s reproductive rights — are arguably more progressive than the average Democrat. Libertarians were supporting marriage equality and marijuana legalization, for instance, long before any mainstream politician — Clinton included — would touch those issues.
Second, even on strictly economic issues, Libertarians have a lot to say that should appeal to those on the left. Libertarians have long been sharply critical, for instance, of the ways regulations such as occupational licensing requirements are used to protect the economically powerful at the expense of the poor and marginalized. They’ve fought against subsidies, bailouts, and other forms of “crony capitalism” that benefit the few at the expense of the masses. And — contrary to popular perception — Libertarians have often argued in favor of a well-designed social safety net to protect those who fail to benefit from the economic dynamism of a free economy. Both Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, for instance, supported what many regard as a radically progressive policy — a basic income guarantee. And Gary Johnson has suggested that he is open to the idea as well.
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Author: Matt Zwolinski
  • As long as a significant number of authoritarians adopt the self-identification of “libertarian” because it sounds cool and less, er, awkward when compared to “authoritarian”, libertarianism will continue to struggle to gain traction with people who self-identify as progressives.
    Anecdotally, I often find myself attempting to explain to progressive people why (a) the libertarian movement is not entirely comprised of people who behave like dismissive, Darwinian. authoritarian assholes, and (b) why libertarianism has a lot of ideas that progressive people can and should embrace. I rarely get to (b) because I mostly cannot get past (a). On more than one occasion I have been told that I don’t talk like a libertarian. This seems to come down to the fact that people regard me as reasonable and pleasant.
    The unfortunate conclusion to draw is that whatever libertarian (or libertarians) those people previously encountered did not make a favorable impression on an interpersonal level. This speaks to both a perception and communication problem for libertarianism. I read people on my Facebook who are currently seriously considering voting libertarian this election cycle, describing Gary Johnson as “smart” and “reasonable”. My view is that unlike (say) Ron Paul, he does not come across as a cranky curmudgeon. He is interpersonally appealing in a way that many libertarians are not.

  • ciethrenn stevens

    please americans if you believe our country is great Gary is the only
    choice. He is polling higher than trump among st under 35.s the future
    of our nation…He is also polling higher than Clinton and trump
    among-st active Military, the people who actually defend us all. please
    listen to the people who risk their lives for you and me …. vote Gary