By Ryan Lau | @agorists
As a libertarian, it can be very difficult to find good examples of political figures to admire. Of course, very few public officials are members of the Libertarian Party, and the exceptions usually hold minor local positions. This creates a bit of a problem for libertarians, especially those of the next generation. Without a key figure to look up to, it can be very difficult for many youths to form their opinions.
In fact, it is entirely possible that the lack of libertarians in the country is perpetuated by a lack of clear examples to follow. Though the most informed will discover Hayek and Mises, the reality is that these names are foreign to a majority of people. Yet, names of current politicians are well-known.
What effect does this have on the youth? Simply put, it limits the ideas that they witness and process. If a mouse is fed nothing but cheese in its life, it may believe cheese to be the only food source. Yet, the mouse’s belief does nothing to actually cement itself into reality. It does, however, alter how the mouse perceives reality. In this manner, the nation’s adolescents are no different. If society teaches an adolescent that there is a one dimensional spectrum of ideas in politics, the second dimension will not cease to exist. But, it will not be in the youth’s brain in any way.
Thus, many are under the impression in America that only one dimension exists: left and right. One may either be a conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between. Of course, this could not be farther from the truth, but what reason do they have to doubt this? The fact of the matter is, there is no clear alternative in place. Blame the media. Blame government manipulation. Ultimately, however, the blame game needs to end. It is time for the libertarian movement to start acting proactively, not reactively.
Throughout much of the last two years, Governor Gary Johnson has focused on his Our America Initiative. The main objective is to make the country’s politics “fair” again, and end a bias against third parties. I do not question Johnson’s data on said bias, nor his intentions.
But, this simply is not the behavior of the leader of a new movement. Essentially, the governor is asking the government to treat him fairly, while accusing them of treating him unfairly. In his project, he makes no mention to his numerous embarrassing, televised gaffes during the 2016 election season, or his inability to raise enough money. Though the government does unfairly treat third parties, Johnson takes no responsibility for his own pitfalls, instead choosing to point the blame solely at anyone who can take it. He has successfully brought some more attention to the Libertarian Party, but Gary Johnson is not, and will not be, the next figurehead for libertarians.
If not Johnson, who else can fill the role? Some go so far as the Republican Party, claiming that Rand Paul should be the next leader of liberty. Conversely, he is a far worse choice. With his support for a federal income tax, as well as his vote to confirm Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, Paul shows that his true colors do not reside near liberty. Though he is better than most Republicans, the lesser of two evils is still evil. In fact, that very principle of not voting for a lesser evil is often the reason libertarians leave the major parties. It is absurd to think that now, they should throw their support behind a statist of a slightly lower degree.
Ruling out both of them, there simply are not many options left. Both Larry Sharpe and Austin Petersen are smart, respectable men with a desire for change. Yet, neither comes close to being well-known enough to make a national impact. Petersen, if he wins his Senate race, may have the potential to fill that gaping void. However, Josh Hawley may prove to be too difficult a primary opponent to defeat. Sharpe, on the other hand, appears even less likely to win his race for Governor of New York. Without a title, neither of these men are likely to gain the recognition needed to be the face of a movement.
We as a nation are at a turbulent time in politics. Approval ratings for both parties are at a record low, and desire for a third party is higher than ever before. Gary Johnson is correct with those statements. Yet, if libertarians wish to become a force in politics, with or without the aid of the Libertarian Party, they need a figurehead, someone who can inspire the masses. Ron Paul did exactly this, and did a great job of it, but he is well into his ninth decade and has retired from politics. We as a movement need a new viable leader, but alas, one does not seem to exist.
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