Libertarianism in the Modern Era: A Long-Awaited ‘Yellow Wave’?

Libertarianism is beginning to become a more mainstream thought, but can the movement grow without corrupting the Libertarian Party?


By Harley Austin | United States

Beginning in the early 2000’s, America’s political climate has seen numerous drastic shifts. Discontent with the two major parties and the ineptitude of career politicians, typically called “the establishment”, is growing. This has led to a growing desire to, as the Libertarian Party suggests, “End The Duopoly”. This would end the two party system and introduce a third major party. This third party would not have the elitism and abandoned promises found in the Republican and Democratic Parties. Currently, many find these traits in the Libertarian Party. In fact, this has allowed the LP to become America’s largest third party.

However, it is the libertarian ideology itself that has really taken off since the 2000’s began. People such as Ron Paul deserve most of the credit for this. Figureheads such as him have spread the message of liberty and made it more mainstream. Also, like many other ideas in the 21st century, the internet has played a major role in spreading libertarianism, especially to younger generations. These range from online podcasts, such as Adam Kokesh’s Adam vs. The Man, to online libertarian figures such as the YouTube channel known as “Mr. Dapperton”. This rise in libertarian outreach perfectly coincided with a new wave of anti-government sentiments, which came as a result of Edward Snowden’s leaks about NSA spying in 2013 and the American public’s growing hostilities to the never-ending War on Terror.

Because of this, libertarianism has grown tremendously in the late 2000’s. However, as the movement grows, the party faces increasing levels of infighting. Libertarianism is a very broad term that includes many belief systems. Libertarians, in fact, range from classical liberals all the way to anarchists. While these ideologies are, for the most part, unified under the desire to further freedom and shrink the state, they do tend to clash over certain issues.

Clashes within libertarianism are not something new or rare. Differing beliefs have often created divides among libertarians ever since the party formed in the 1970’s. However, the 2000’s have brought a new threat to both the movement and the party. In fact, it threatens to corrupt the party in ways not unlike the faults of the major parties today. Many in the party are losing their principles to appeal to voters.

Recently, a growing number of people see themselves as what is known as a “neolibertarian”. These people are moderates who care more about political growth than spreading freedom. Neolibertarians also tend to support more foreign intervention. They generally associate with moderates like Gary Johnson, who many despised due to his nature to compromise true libertarianism. These critics believed him to be nothing like Ron Paul.

While the LP’s strategy for growth has increased their votes, it has also bred doubts about whether the party will uphold libertarian principles. Many worry that the LP is slowly forming its own “establishment” and that it might abandon its ideals to become mainstream. To many, neolibertarians are the LP’s version of neoconservatives: those who compromise instead of standing with principles.

While libertarianism has gained some of the mainstream influence it has sought after, it comes with new problems that libertarians will have to solve. If this new era does bring in the Yellow Wave, two things are possible. The wave will either bring freedom to fruition, or wreck the ideas that formed it.

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