By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial
The perpetual war between liberty and state control rages on day-by-day, year-by-year, and era-by-era. The United States of America was founded with the intention of creating a government that would limit itself and yet here we are with the largest centralized governance in the history of our nation.
Spoiler: this creation was a failure. Even with a constitution built to reign in how far a government can expand, the United States has become a state expansionist frenzy. The hope of Lockean liberalism turned into neoliberal interventionism run amok.
We spend insurmountable sums on military, welfare, social security, and other entitlements. At the same time, the government sees the solution to every bit of its own malpractice as adding more money to the pile.
Yeah, the U.S. Constitution hasn’t worked very well. Alas, this is the system we are in. Radical departure from the status quo does not seem to be on the horizon. We must play into the electoral system of our republic at the present. The United States Federal Government is a powerful entity, so we are going to have to play by its rules as we beat it back down.
This sounds counter-intuitive, but it is possible. There are two ways to do this: replacing the state with entrepreneurship (a method that will get its article at a later date) and the Libertarian Party.
Historically, the LP has been more of a flop than the Constitution. Prior to the 2016 presidential election, the Party of Principle only gained over 1% of the national vote once, in 1980.
2016 saw a 2.3% increase in votes since 2012, but in turn, we ended up with Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. Towards the end of the race (but still prior to Trump’s election), Weld all but endorsed Hilary Clinton. Gary Johnson had his own fair share of incidents.
You get the point.
These guys were wrong for the party. They were the wrong guys for garnering votes. They were the wrong guys for beating Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. But that is not the extent of the problem. The fact that our goal was (and still is) “get votes, maybe get elected” was and is the crux of the issue.
The Libertarian Party has become obsessed with figuring out how to run a good campaign. This is because its only goal has become getting votes and getting into office. Liberty seems to be less of an end than being in the proper position. Although there are exceptions, the LP has historically fit this trend.
The Johnson campaign became “get 5%,” rather than “reduce taxes, reduce spending, reduce government.” The Libertarian Party needs to shift its focus away from getting votes to getting converts.
The issue with election-priority campaigns is that the campaign will have to go one of two routes. The first is that they have to appeal to voters, which begins to make small regulations incrementally be added to a “Libertarian” candidate’s platform. Next thing we know, the forerunner Libertarian candidate in any given race is a barely watered-down Republican.
The other is don’t roll over for the other parties. This is the more admirable and principled route to take, yet still lacking. Holding talks, rallies, speeches, moneybombs, and cookouts with the local voters seems like the way to run a proper campaign. At the end of the day, though, voters will vote on a central two or three issues, meaning the LP ends up in last place anyway.
The Allison Foxall campaign was a prime example of this phenomenon. The campaign was excellently tun, yet Ms. Foxall did not garner the Florida voters everyone expected her to achieve.
This is because getting elected, along with the existence of any government in general, requires one thing: popular support. The masses need to be libertarian before we can win libertarian.
This is why I believe that the Libertarian Party should shift from a “get decent candidates elected using campaign gimmicks” focus to a “disseminate libertarian ideals” focus.
The Libertarian Party will have seen victory not once it has the White House, but rather it will see victory when the Republican and Democrats have to change their platforms to keep their voters. A Republican who enters office hoping to end the Fed, slash corporate taxes, and privatize social security is a Libertarian Party victory.
The success of the party is not our end. Seeing Congressmen have (L)’s in front of their name is not what we should be striving for. What we should be striving for is the creation of people who will vote for candidates that want to reduce government.
I know what you’re thinking: Republican victory is not Libertarian victory.
It is if the Republican label has transitioned to mean limiting and reducing government while promoting individual rights and free markets.
This is how most parties have had to change throughout American history, too. Eugene V. Debs, the icon of early 20th century American Socialism, topped out at 6% of the national vote for president in 1912. He did not become President of the United States, and the Socialist Party did not become a long-lasting American political entity.
The numbers show the Socialist Party itself did not become wildly successful. Regardless, their ideas turned the tide of American history. The Democratic Party took up the torch of worker protection and fighting for the “little guy.” Because of this, over time we got policies like Social Security, minimum wage laws, Anti-Trust laws, high taxes on the “1%”, high corporate taxes, and various worker protection laws.
The Socialist Party lost, but their ideas came out on top. The Libertarian Party needs to take a similar approach. Rather than political leaders, we must become ideological revolutionary radicals. We need intelligent and charismatic speakers to inspire the hearts and minds of people of all races, parties, and ages.
And yes, I am talking multiple. We need to give a platform to new Ron Pauls, and Jordan Peterson-like individuals who grip the hearts of individuals that yearn for freedom. We need to transform the masses ideologically so the Republicans and Democrats are left no choice but to make freedom a priority.
We need thought leaders and intellectuals, not druggy former-governors. That is the direction the party should turn in. Let’s stop seeing how moderate we can get and still be considered “libertarian.” Let’s stop making people icons of our movement because they have political backgrounds.
Let’s start putting charismatic intellectuals at the forefront of this movement. Let’s make libertarianism win, even if the Libertarian Party loses in the process. A crash course towards political self-destruction is a worthy aim if we reap the benefits of ideological victory.