The Libertarian Party, and the libertarian ideology as a whole, are fighting an uphill, losing battle. Government is only continuing to grow, and the wars are not coming any closer to an end. On the contrary, President Trump just bolstered the military more, signing into law a $717 billion military budget. Despite this, though, it is still possible to begin setting the country back on the right track, towards liberty. The one thing standing in the Libertarian Party’s way is the Libertarian Party.
Now, admittedly, the party has faced a number of challenges in its fairly brief history. They have struggled to obtain ballot access, and rarely, if ever, make the debate podiums on major networks. The two-party system and its duopoly over government surely contributes, but it is also the party’s scapegoat. Just like everyone else, the party needs to have some agency and take responsibility. Part of the reason that the party is not more popular is simply because they have not made the right political decisions.
At the very least, if they cannot accept this, they must recognize that the two party system is not going anywhere. Rather than complain about unfair rules, the party should fight around the rules and prove they can’t be held back. They need to find the right track and find it fast. The Libertarian Party is deeply flawed, but these important changes could turn it around faster than a student of Mises that hears an argument against property rights.
1. Reassert Dominance on Social Liberalism
At the party’s founding in 1971, it was the only one to support gay marriage and legalized marijuana. As such, the party was enticing to members of those groups, who otherwise had no home. But in the last decade, most politicians, beginning with Democrats, have begun to accept both of these practices. As a result, Libertarians have lost their advantage on social liberalism.
So, as a reaction to this, it is time for the Libertarians to voice strong support for important social issues that the major parties do not condone. A prime example of this is the decriminalization, and ultimate deregulation, of all narcotics. Using Portugal’s success as evidence, the Libertarian Party could seriously bring a new wave of social liberalism to the country. They simply need to steer clear of moderation, avoiding Gary Johnson’s policy of only legalizing marijuana. Libertarians need to use their uniqueness when it comes to social policy as a strength and a defining factor, not something to shy away from.
This uniqueness should also extend to new areas of social liberalism that have yet to catch on in the public eye. As new, voluntary ideas form, it is the job of the Libertarian Party to welcome them with open arms. Perhaps, in the next few years or decades, cloning will become mainstream. Currently, a vast majority of Americans do not find the idea of cloning moral. Naturally, this would suggest that those in power would agree and ban the practice. But by using this unique social tolerance, Libertarians can give a voice to those in support of unorthodox and unsupported social practices.
2. Begin to Explore Politics of the Future
The average American right now probably thinks that cyber-chips and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology are things of the future. However, they are beginning to slip into the mainstream. Already, RFID is used extensively in several areas, including the skiing industry. Moreover, a company in Sweden is implanting its employees with microchips that they use for everything from paying for lunch to opening the door. So, just how long will it be before we combine these technologies, and micro RFID implants are as common as essential as cell phones?
Probably not very long, as the technology would be incredibly convenient and profitable. Despite this, nobody in politics, save transhumanists like Zoltan Istvan, is talking about it at all. Whether the people like it or not, society will continue to progress, probably to the dissatisfaction of a lot of conservative traditionalists.
In fact, one of the most common errors of society is the inability to see that it will always change and evolve. George Gilder puts it excellently in his recent book, Life After Google. One of the fatal flaws of communism was that Marx believed his early industrial society to be the peak of human accomplishment. Likewise, politicians today entirely ignore the technology of the future.
The Libertarian Party, by looking at topics of the future, can assert dominance over the other parties. When the ideals come to fruition, as they will, the Libertarian Party will be the only ones talking about them. By supporting the right to modify one’s body, while condemning possible coercive government use of this technology, they can be the leading voice in technology politics, attracting both supporters and skeptics with this two-sided policy.
3. Become the Party of Cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency is not dead. Though the value bounces up and down, the market as a whole has a definite future. But much like futurism, nobody is really talking about it. Occasionally, the government makes a move and begins to regulate the blockchain. While this all occurs, the Libertarian Party does nothing.
Estimates vary about the number of total Americans that use cryptocurrency. One survey suggests that roughly five percent of Americans hold bitcoin. Of course, there is another significant portion of people that hold altcoins and not bitcoin. For the sake of simplicity, assume that the figure rests at a conservative five percent. Those five percent sure aren’t going to like when the federal government starts regulating their money, considering that crypto is known for its lack of government regulation.
Of course, an increase in regulation may leave all of these people feeling disenfranchised with the parties doing it. Yet, there is no real alternative at the time. In their official 2018 platform, the Libertarian Party does not mention Bitcoin once. That’s right, the party of decentralization and free markets has missed a huge opportunity. By favoring cryptocurrency and all other money that evades the state, they could do wonders in paving the way for future action in regards to it, as well as attracting more people involved in cryptocurrency to the movement and the party.
4. Stop Acting Like a Political Party
Political parties, like many other organizations, are filled to the brim with bureaucracy. Meaningless banter and semantics dominate discussion and limit discourse. In this case, the Libertarian Party is no different. Party member and 71 Republic writer Spencer Kellogg explains it in great depth in his review of the 2018 national convention. At one point, the members spent an hour or so debating whether the chair candidates should speak for five or ten minutes. Yes, they saved a half an hour, but not before wasting an hour debating, and netting a loss of time.
Moreover, the party relentlessly fights, to be frank, like a bunch of children. Just today, Caryn Ann Harlos, the Libertarian Party National Secretary, bickered senselessly with James Weeks of the socialist caucus. The former stated that it was a mistake to have socialists in the party, while the latter, of course, denied this. But while they fought, the bombs kept dropping, and the tax collectors kept collecting taxes.
Thus, it is time for the party to stop arguing, as long as there are so many areas of common ground. Before worrying about which economic system to adopt in a libertarian society (which does not matter at all, because all are free to form communities with the economic system of their choice), end the wars. End the central banks. End the systemic oppression that the federal government brings with nearly its every action. Stop looking at whether to fight Bill Weld or Adam Kokesh or James Weeks, and start fighting the government that has wronged all three.
5. Support Enemies of the State
The previous points have largely talked about ways to secure more votes and win an election. However, if securing a vote and winning an election are the eventual goals, there’s the door. Don’t let it slam on the way out. The battle goes far beyond winning one election or ten elections. Rather, it continues until we extirpate from the world the very thought of coercion. This isn’t to say that elections cannot be useful tools to bring about liberty, as they definitely can. The thing is, though, individual citizens have done more for this in five years than the Libertarian Party has in nearly fifty.
Just recently, Cody Wilson won a lawsuit against the federal government, and the files for a number of 3D printable guns are widely available. This avoids the painstaking process of registration, and the coercion that meets those who do not comply. Ross Ulbricht, by creating the Silk Road, has offered a platform for those who deal in substances the state does not approve of. Edward Snowden has revealed a great deal of information about the government’s corruption.
What do these men all have in common? None of them sought out a public office in order to accomplish their goals. On the contrary, all of them sought to make the world a better place by freely expressing themselves and their ideas. None have any affiliation with the Libertarian Party, and hence, the party says little about any of them. Occasionally, they voice support for Snowden or Ulbricht, but it is not a consistent message. Allying with enemies of the state is a powerful strategy, and if the party uses it properly, they may find themselves more able to foster more individuals who will also make the world a freer place.
The Future of the Libertarian Party
So, what does the future of the Libertarian Party look like? Following these steps, they could transform themselves from an irrelevant sect wrought with infighting to a major force that improves lives. But if they change nothing, well, ‘irrelevant sect’ just might be a good description for a whole lot longer than it needs to be.
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