From its roots in Classical Liberalism, its founding as a party in the US in 1971, and it’s long history of thoughts and ideas before the first use of the word “Libertarian” back in 1796, Libertarianism has become quite a modern day movement for individual liberties, small government, free market economics, and property rights.
It has become such a movement that it came into the small but substantial limelight of the 2016 presidential election with the campaign of Gary Johnson. Making progress in the conversation on reforming the presidential debate system, the election process, and breaking up the two-party system we’ve been so used to. When we take a step back, however, what is a “Libertarian” and why should they be taken seriously?
We don’t have many Libertarians in state or national levels of government. We only just got a guaranteed spot on the ballot for the 2020 election, and yet we’re only seeing someone like Larry Sharpe leading the race of actual progress in getting more libertarians in political offices that matter. The Libertarian Party doesn’t have much to show for it’s true need to propagate its ideals and put them into practice. The libertarian has ideals with no substance.
Substance, you say? Yeah, we have risen to a level of such idealism and “wokeness” that we are forgetting how to deal with people, how to have some decorum, or even how to just relate with people who aren’t libertarian. The Libertarian Party and Libertarianism as a whole has horrible PR.
Back when I was first introduced to the Libertarian Party and learned of this Gary Johnson fella, I was really getting on board with the ideas of liberty and his policies. As time went on, and he didn’t win the election, I started having a shift on the perception of the party and just the movement as a whole.
Libertarianism started to look no different than Republicans and Democrats in some areas of “typical politics,” and honestly, exhibited the edgy-ness of the supposed alt-right provocateur behaviors of 4chan. The in-fighting became more and more apparent while the “no true scotsman” would make the rounds as a radical push for the likes of Adam Kokesh for the next presidential election somehow was becoming rationalized as a feasible and practical means to get a guy in the White House representing libertarianism.
Further detraction from the “Feel The Johnson” train only became more and more apparent and devolving into toxicity. Libertarians were doubling down and not realizing our own downfall into irrelevance in the political landscape. Libertarianism is not self-aware. We espouse our ideals as if they’re infallible, while making them less and less relatable to the average American. Libertarians are ignorant.
I remember when libertarians jumped on board with Gary Johnson’s attitude of making libertarianism a political party that defied the two-party system through being an ideal for both the common man and the uncommon man. We had everything they wanted! We were the way out of typical broken promises, typical “us vs. them” that Republicans and Democrats pumped out all the time, and the vicious cycle of statism that affects us all! We were the one party to be above the other two! We could do no wrong!
Gary Johnson was the man for the Libertarian Party because Gary was the most palatable and least radical libertarian we could come up with. If we wanted to steer in the direction of a more “libertarian” American government, he’d be our best choice. He was the most marketable, votable, and just overall cool guy we needed to get in there as a first step. We needed and still need a first step.
We can keep the memes, the ancaps, and our “taxation is theft” slogan, but we need to be
relatable. We need a movement that draws people in, not a movement that excludes those who are “more statist” than us. If the movement is to survive anything, let alone get a man into any office that matters, we need to self-evaluate. When 9/11 comes around, do we rattle off about Middle East policy and the warmachine in the faces of those who are grieving? When a well known politician passes, do we flood the internet with our memes of his tyrannical decisions? We can keep our identity, but we need to be better at being appropriate in our actions.
We need to be better representations of the movement we want people to be a part of. We need to be people that people want to hear ideas from.
Read more from Amos Joseph on Think Liberty here