Quantifying the Libertarian Vote

A new policy analysis from the Cato Institute estimates that roughly 14% of American voters can be classified as libertarian, with ‘libertarian’ defined as “socially liberal and fiscally conservative.”

We find that 14 percent of American voters can be classified as libertarian. Other surveys find a larger number of people who hold views that are neither consistently liberal nor conservative but are best described as libertarian. A 2009 Gallup poll found that 23 percent held libertarian views. A Zogby poll found that 59 percent considered themselves “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” and 44 percent agreed that they were “fiscally conservative and socially liberal, also known as libertarian.”

75 thoughts on “Quantifying the Libertarian Vote

  1. 91%

    libertarian =/= Libertarian.

    14% have broadly libertarian views, but the vast majority of those rarely, if ever, vote for Libertarians.

  2. Aroundtheblockafewtimes

    So let’s see. That’s 130 million votes in 2008 presidential contest. That’s 18 million “libertarian” votes cast. Barr/Root got half a million. So, not quite 3% of libertarians voted for the Libertarian ticket! Even if Cato is overstating the libertarian vote by half, that’s still a terrible result for the LP. Donderoo must be rubbing his hands in glee, but why he bothers to try to convince a 3-6% remnant to support the GOP’s alleged libertarian candidates is a wonder.

  3. Gene Berkman

    Of course Cato is defining “libertarian” in broad terms, but politics is about developing broad coalitions of voters.

    Cato does exemplary work developing libertarian analyses of current policy issues, while other institutes promote deeper education in libertarian philosophy.

    It is up the Libertarian Party to show that it is serious enough to merit the votes of people who broadly agree with us, even if not deep philosophical libertarians. But even committed Libertarians understand the “wasted vote” problem.

  4. Robert Milnes

    This is old news. The Libertarian Vote came out about 2 years ago. I’ve advanced the hypothesis to The PLAS. Libertarians are doing nothing about it.///Hijack. Since people have seen fit to contribute 35 million to Ron Paul, & bunches to Barr & little to George & Tom & NONE to me… I have had to do without a laptop. The local computer store has had one after the other used that I could have used. gone-sold. So I got 400 credit with Seventh Avenue. Saw a Samsung Tinybook mini computer 300 marked down to 200 so I got it. Just found out it is WiFi & ones manufactured in USA are not 3G compatible. That is what I have! ATT 3G. & why are some manufactured in other countries 3G compatible? Local computer store owner suggested to ask ATT for a CD & try an external CD device to download that. All I need the mini for is occasional web browsing & for vonage v phone & maybe email. So, if it can be made 3G it would be ok for me. Now, would it be enough power for paulie? If so, I can send it to him. Be nice if somebody could send me a full size laptop in exchange. Used fine. It has ARM 11 processor, Windows CE6. paulie, do you want this Tinybook? As is. You have a lot of access to wifi don’t you? Is this enough processor? you can add a 4 GB sd memory. We can communicate via Tom K. Or IPR. I assume.

  5. Eric Dondero

    Foreign Policy should be included. An individual should be described as Socially Tolerant if they are in favor of the War on Islamo-Fascism. In contrast, those who support Sharia Law, or give it tacit support by a weak on foreign policy stance, should be viewed as Intolerant, and thus less libertarian.

  6. Austin Battenberg

    I find that the percentage is fair. I have friends that are socially liberal, fiscally conservative but still continue to vote for the lesser of two evils because they know that a Libertarian candidate will never win. They don’t believe in the protest vote as I do. Some friends don’t vote, and others can’t (either because of age or because of a felony). My point is….just because it says that 14% of the people consider themselves libertarian, doesn’t mean they VOTE Libertarian.

    Also, I think its fair that foreign policy issues were excused. I’m not going to argue with people over what foreign policy we should have (that is for another topic), but I know there are many people who are libertarians, but support war as necessary to protect ourselves. I may disagree with their posistions on foreign policy, but it is unfair to say someone is unlibertarian just because they think we must have a more active role in the world. That just further splits the movement. Of course, I’m sure purists or anarchist’s would disagree with me…but remember, these polls can’t be too specific about what is defined as a “libertarian”. War is never “conservative” or “liberal”, thus, it must be left out when polling people.

  7. Michael Seebeck

    War on somebody based on their religion is being “socially tolerant”? That’s a new one.

    I’m sure the victims of the Inquisition and the Crusades would be quite surprised that their persecutors and executors were “socially tolerant.”

  8. Trent Hill

    Milnes: “I’m bored. Am I socially liberal or fiscally conservative?”

    NewFederalist: “Jeez, Bob. You are socially disturbed and fiscally non-existent.”

    Comment of the day (Havent awarded one of these in a while)

  9. Thane Eichenauer

    If a libertarian can’t manage to vote Libertarian is that person a libertarian? I don’t think so.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Libertarians are loosing 6% due to the wasted vote syndrome and the other 7% (leaving about 1%) due to the fact that people just won’t vote for any candidate they don’t see covered on the TV.

  10. Austin Battenberg

    @17

    Wrong. Many people who might consider themselves libertarian, anarchist, or just anti-government choose not to vote because they do not want to participate in a corrupt system. Why participate in a system that is gradually taking away your freedoms.

    I highly recomend that you listen to Free Talk Live someday. The hosts are obviously “socially liberal” and “economically conservative”, but the main host (Ian), hates the word libertarian, thinking it has been corrupted and changed because of those who abuse the term (by calling yourself a libertarian when your views are hardly such). Both hosts didn’t vote for Bob Barr even though he was a “Libertarian”, because Bob Barr really didn’t reflect the views of the more extreme libertarians.

    So, yes…Libertarians are losing votes because of the wasted vote syndrome, but if a libertarian decides not to vote Libertarian, that does not mean he is a libertarian.

  11. Trent Hill

    Thane,

    That’s ridiculous. Of course a libertarian that doesn’t vote for the Libertarian Party can be libertarian. Just as socialists don’t just vote for the socialist party.

  12. Richard Winger

    There are millions of voters in every national election who vote for some nominees of the Libertarian Party. Election returns for president are not the end of the story. In November 2008, one Libertarian nominee in a partisan race in Georgia got 1,076,760 votes, and one Libertarian nominee in a partisan race in Texas got 1,043,642 votes. A Libertarian nominee in Michigan got 420,823 votes. In November 2002, Florida candidates for the state house polled 413,590 votes.

  13. The Last Conservative

    Libertarians and Donderites will soon have to face that the largest political ideology is along the lines of Catholic Trotskyism (fiscally liberal/socialist, socially conservative). Unfortunately both parties have left them out on the cold, but they tend to be Democrats these days. I don’t agree with this philosophy at all, I am a monarchist feudalist, but the facts are the facts.

    If Dondero were a liberal, he could say, “those who support higher taxes are libertarian because a lot of the Shria supporters want to cut taxes, so if you cut taxes, you are an Islamo-Fascist.”

  14. The Last Conservative

    I would also like to take the opportunity to announce that we are starting a new political party, the Conservative Monarchist Feudalist Party of America, and will be challenging several members of Congress in the 2010 election. More details later.

  15. Robert Milnes

    Let me try again, here, people? First, I’m not sure what the deal with felons & voting is. After I got out of Club Fed I registered to vote. Name, address & I.D. Hassle free. They didn’t ask, I didn’t tell. Maybe NJ is liberal about this, or negligent. I’m not sure. ///In 2008, the worst candidate got the most contributions. Obama. The best candidate got ZERO-ME! So that puts Ron Paul about third or fourth McCain. (Billary?) WORST. Now, let’s just think about 35 million for a bit, shall we? paulie, how many signatures is that? How many laptops? Mini laptops? How many burgers would have to be flipped? Or tomatoes picked? Or condos sold? Or credit cards maxed out?///I’ve been dogging paulie for years about getting a laptop. Recently he wrote an elaborate comment about his problems with it. a mini seemed a possible near solution. Both he & I put our hands out for a laptop, mini or maxi & got zippo. We asked for busfare to Pittsburgh. Zip. Then he said he got flush in MA. Now I have come into a mini on credit but also a maxie problem with it-not 3G compatible. It might fit paulie’s needs so I’ve offered it to him. Do you want/need it, paulie? Can anybody help me out with a maxi-laptop? & please don’t send it to Ron Paul. He doesn’t need it as much as I do.

  16. Robert Capozzi

    ab: Both hosts didn’t vote for Bob Barr even though he was a “Libertarian”, because Bob Barr really didn’t reflect the views of the more extreme libertarians.

    me: Fair point. Most Ls who run for office don’t “reflect the views of the more extreme Ls.”

    If they did, I suspect their vote totals would go down precipitously. They might pick up the agorist vote ;-), but lose the much larger centrist L vote.

    If the extremists want debt renunciation, baby selling, end IP, legalize meth tomorrow to be major planks of a candidate, they ensure that Ls not only don’t get any more votes but they ensure ridicule and irrelevancy.

    Is that what you want?

  17. Aroundtheblockafewtimes

    Wasted votes? Of course, those voting for the GOP and Democrats are the vote wasters. Imagine the impact if all 18 million “libertarians” voted Libertarian all the time? However, I doubt that the 90+% percent that Cato categorizes as libertarians but who don’t vote Libertarian could ever be persuaded to vote Libertarian no matter how great the candidate.
    They are, however, the target audience for the LP and gradually, with exposure to the LP’s issues, they might actually move the party they do vote for to field more libertarian candidates.

  18. Robert Capozzi

    tk, good question. Wish I could offer something precise for you, but alas I cannot.

    I’d say it’d be something like advocating positions that are plausibly enactable in the next 5-10 years. Abolishing DoD would not be plausible in that timeframe, so I’d say that’s irrelevant. Bringing troops home from SK and WE is plausible, and potentially relevant. Legalizing/decriminalizing weed is plausible in the intermediate term, and is relevant; meth not so much. Separating contracts and State, irrelevant; civil unions, relevant.

  19. Thane Eichenauer

    I’ll add that my statement should have (in hindsight) been:

    “If a libertarian can’t manage to vote Libertarian is that person a libertarian? [unless you have a reason to not vote or the Libertarian candidate on the ballot is otherwise not a trustworthy respresentative of the Libertarian Party (or libertarian philosophy) or who does not otherwise represent your ideals.]“

  20. Ralph

    @1, While there may be a perception,

    @20, I concur the vote totals get increasingly impressive. Also, people do indeed vote Libertarians in and have been doing so since the beginning, all things being equal i.e. the candidate does his local homework and runs several times (most LP candidates don’t since they’re really running for ballot access reasons). Appointive office and people available for election at this time seem mostly a function now of Libertarians willing to get involved. In my experience this is itself a function in large part of a local trainer or leaders willing to contact interested people and get them informed and motivated.

    In fairness, the USLP didn’t even set a goal of winning in Presidential elections until 2000, when the coverage persuaded many the “educational” function was basically done. Presidential office in my opinion will depend on changing the electoral college to proportional representation through state law, and lower ballot requirements…plus increasing cultural change. Centrist Liberal parties in Europe are resigned to 5%-10% of the national vote, so what we’re doing is quite ambitious. We’ve already exceeded their voter support level in many cases. (They have the electoral system we want and we have the voter support they wish for!)

    The cultural change in US since we started with ISIL and USLP is impressive, from 5% Libertarian-leaning in 1971 to 20% or so. More to the point is that fewer are testing statist (40%+ in 1971). That level is sufficient to win at the local level with good candidates no matter what their variety of Libertarianism, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing more of. What needs to be done is development of more “radical” Libertarians who identify themselves as such, a Libertarian constituency, as this process expands. That will take another generation or two and is outside the competence of the LP. But it is being done by its parent, sister or founded groups such as LIO, ISIL, Advocates, CATO, CLS/Mises, etc. that support and encourage the many unsung Libertarians who hand over some literature or a link to someone they know, one person at a time.

    That seems to be happening.

  21. Trent Hill

    Thane,

    Again you’re wrong–even with the heavily modified statement. There are judgements which can and should be made regarding electability, too. Though some, like many here, may not care–others are free to make judgment calls regarding where they can use their vote best.

  22. Melty

    I ain’t “socially liberal” nor “fiscally conservative” nor any kind of liberal or conservative. I’m a different species, “libuhtairyun”, and I would like to see government become more tolerant and fiscally responsible.

  23. Robert Milnes

    Again, there is a special election in GA in February. Qualifying Monday-Wednesday various hours. Fee-$400. We need a preferably Libertarian OR a Green on this ballot & try PLAS. Will a candidate come forward, please?

  24. Robert Milnes

    We need to phase in VTOL residences & personal & shipping vehicles asap regardless of the government. i.e. a progressive government would pursue it, a reactionary would probably not. reactionary businesses don’t seem interested either.

  25. Robert Capozzi

    tk, “relevant” means — for me — framing and discussing an issue in the public square in a way which is plausibly enacted in 5-10 years, and plausibly means that the discussion is comprehensible by large subsets of the population.

    Clearer?

  26. Doug Craig

    robert I am not sure which election you are talking about but I am working with a candidate who is going to run for a senate seat in Georgia as soon as the date is announced. We are already at work.

  27. Mr. John A. Estes (L)

    Poll’s (B.S.) by whom CATO, need’ to cough-up te Buck’? “Libertarian’s 14% cal themselve’s ‘or’ Reistered,is te only thing that count’s. Nothing else! 14% conpaired to Whom (re-registered) Green’s (GP.org) or Reform Party. Us & ten given special Status, from the208 election’s!!! Not 3rd Party’s any more. 5 Party syste or 3, scond party’s to the 1st/two No matter…
    County Election Offical’s, roll’s of citizen’s registred. Other option’s Worth-Less…!! Request copies, of & work the(LP) party Platform???
    Or, Con-(JOB) plain; about the Sad state of affair’s; expecting differant Result’s????????

  28. Trent Hill

    “Trent, could you mention to paulie about the Tinybook? Thanks.”

    I’ll be honest, I haven’t the slightest clue what you’re talking about. Were we in the middle of a conversation I don’t remember having?

  29. Robert Capozzi

    tk, if you want to play dictionary, the Webster’s def. works, too:

    Etymology: Medieval Latin relevant-, relevans, from Latin, present participle of relevare to raise up — more at relieve
    Date: 1560
    1 a : having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand b : affording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion c : having social relevance

    “Having social relevance” is esp. apropos. Interestingly, the etymology of “relieve” is REALLY apropos. Relieve implies something like a rolling back vs. abolition.

  30. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    Good work.

    Let’s go with that first one:

    “having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand”

    Now, what “significant or demonstrable bearing” on anything can a party which routinely polls one third of one percent for president and low single-digit percentages for Congress generate by:

    1) Peering from behind the knees of one of the parties that routinely polls 45-55% in most congressional and presidential races; and

    2) Squeaking “us too — only just a wee bit more so?”

  31. Robert Capozzi

    tk, any minority (inc. individuals) who wants to have a bearing (to be consequential) FIRST has to demonstrate that they recognize what the relevant issues ARE. One forms positions about the issues of the day, and those they try to influence largely agree or largely disagree. Those who want to become influential calibrate and communicate their ideas in ways that attract large numbers of supporters.

    You — ADR — are missing the point of L positioning vs R and D positioning. The Rs and Ds position themselves by advocating change in a dysfunctional (“wrong”) direction. Ls advocate change in a functional, freer, more peaceful (“right”) direction.

    If you wish to characterize that as being on our “knees,” that’s your perspective. I choose to view the situation differently. We Ls have excellent ideas to move the country in an attractive, practical direction. (I’d go so far as to say that peace and liberty are the ONLY practical direction.) We shouldn’t be defensive about our views, but we SHOULD advocate in a “relevant” manner.

    Abolitionism IMO ain’t relevant, at least not for significant numbers of the populace. “It ain’t gonna make it anyone anyhow.” Lennonism is indicated, not Leninism.

  32. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write:

    “Those who want to become influential calibrate and communicate their ideas in ways that attract large numbers of supporters.”

    Correct.

    The first question to consider in that approach is “what large blocs of supporters are available?”

    The second question to consider in that approach is “how do we attract them?”

    It’s not obvious to me that the blocs of supporters we’re targeting (current supporters of the Big Two) are available.

    It’s not obvious to me that the approach you consider “relevant” will actually attract the supporters who are actually available.

    You’ve got a comforting riff going, comforting and effective aren’t necessarily the same thing.

  33. Robert Capozzi

    tk, I’ve not sat down with cross-tabs and what not, but I’d say the 14% Cato IDs’d be a great start. Independents’d be a great start, especially because they are the majority in many places. The subset of independents would be L-leaning independents.

    Given the choice between my “comforting” riff, and the riffs of, say, Timothy McVeigh, Murray Rothbard, or H Rap Brown, I’d humbly submit that mine stands a better chance of some success to advance L change.

  34. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    OK, you brought up Rothbard, so let’s go there.

    He was way ahead of his time on debt repudiation.

    Nobody’s very far ahead of their time on debt repudiation now.

    You and the sitting Congress are fairly far behind it.

    The mainstream is right about in sync with it — they know that it’s going to happen and they’re making fun of people who say it won’t.

    The Libertarian Party SHOULD be out ahead of it. We’re the political entity that’s in a position to tell the truth and benefit from doing so.

    But you apparently don’t think that doing so is “plausible” or can be “relevant.”

  35. Robert Capozzi

    tk, while I’m not sure I agree with your assessment of debt repudiation, I’ll roll with it for illustrative purposes.

    Here’s how I see it:

    - The role of the theorist is to suggest a paradigm and its LT implications.

    - The role of the politician is to practice the art of the practical.

    - The role of a third party politician is to be a bridge between the 2. A third-party pol is more likely to advocate a theorists position when the time is right. That surely is BEFORE an R and D would.

    I would agree that an L candidate could today advocate debt repudiation (if properly framed) and not sound like a soapbox lunatic, given the ballooning LT liabilities the FedGov has incurred.
    (To be clear, I don’t support debt repudiation, at least not yet.) I can’t imagine this issue NOT sounding kooky 50 years ago.

    Ideas should have ripened in theoretical circles for them to be advocated in the public square. I’m comfortable — and I encourage — the LP to be “edgy.” Kooky: not so much.

  36. Michael H. Wilson

    May I comment? Thanks! Repudiating the debt while spending like crazy will not get us anywhere.

    We need to be specific about spending cuts and for the most part we have not done so. We can start by pointing out how much it costs to keep all those troops overseas. Last time I checked there was nothing on the website of significance on this issue.

  37. Robert Capozzi

    mhw, by “the website,” are you talking about the LP National site?

    A search shows that “troops” are mentioned quite a bit there. But the national party isn’t a think tank or a campaign, so I’m not sure that the national party is the appropriate wonk institution for such a thing.

    That said, I agree that spending cuts, including world policeman spending, should be a major emphasis of the LP and its candidates. It’s also edgy but not kooky to adopt such positioning.

    Debt repudiation could lead to all sorts of chaos on a lot of levels, so I also agree it’s a premature issue at best. Repudiation under an Obama Administration could lead to a variety of highly unpredictable outcomes, none of them attractive that I can think of. Possibly, for ex., a Zimbabwe-style hyper-inflation might ensue. Maybe martial law. Throngs at soup kitchens. Perhaps a distracting war.

    All things I don’t care to get behind!

  38. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    Yes, debt repudiation has some bad and unpredictable consequences.

    Debt repudiation is also going to happen, either formally or informally, whether you “get behind it” or not.

    As a matter of fact there’s a very good chance that it will start happening this year, disguised as Social Security benefit cuts or an increase in the retirement age.

    Social Security trust fund receipts are routinely converted into government debt securities, and the yelping from foreign central banks and Wall Street bond operators is that rather than default on the paper THEY are holding, the US government should find a way to avoid paying full service on the debt held by the SSTF.

    The debt is going to be repudiated/defaulted, and the truth of how it’s done is going to come out.

    Should the LP be ahead of the curve of explaining that and offering better ways to deal with it, or should the LP continue to jog three paces behind and just to the left of the duopoly parties on the issue?

    Which approach would make us more “relevant”

    What solutions are more “plausible?”

  39. paulie

    Milnes,

    Thanks for the offer.

    If it’s free, I’ll take it. I’m not interested in paying for one.

    I don’t have a physical mailing address at the moment, as I expect to be checking out of the motel where I am on Tuesday morning.

    The next one I’m getting on Tuesday will probably be too short-term for shipping purposes as well.

    When I have an address I expect to keep for a week or more I’ll let you know.

  40. Robert Milnes

    paulie, thanks for replying. I’m trying to figure out what to do with it. I’m not familiar with wifi; I’ve gone directly to 3G & am considering 4G (Clear). My understanding is that you are familiar with wifi & have access usually-at various hotels, hot spots, etc. Despite our differences I appreciate you & your technical skills. You should have better. Is this machine GOOD ENOUGH for you?Actually I am mystified. You & I both put hands out for a laptop, Pittsburgh busfare etc. I just found a motorhome online for a mere -relatively-4000 that I am drooling for. We both seem deserving of support, yet very little seems to be forthcoming. WTF? So, yes, it is for free if I figure that is the best thing for it. I still have the shipping box. (OCD!). Now, compare. Ron Paul, 35 million. Barr, Root & Boortz speaking at LP convention like all is well. etc. You a workhorse at IPR & a mule of a signature gatherer-hobo with clipboard. The LP & IPR would be screwed WITHOUT you. Me with a theory to try to win & nobody supporting it. & broke & depressed for DECADES. Now living in my VAN outside my dilapidated TRAILER!. Do I sense a pattern here or what? I could really use a laptop. Mini or not. But if this machine matches you better than me, it is yours as far as I’m concerned.

  41. Robert Capozzi

    tk, you’ve shifted things, introducing default and SS benefits changes into the mix. Your predictions are possible, but I don’t think anything like that is imminent.

    Whether repudiation is the answer for “the LP” has many issues. First, the LP is a party, not a single issue public interest group. A party is a stage where like-minded people gather to play politics. Your role is different from mine is different from Root’s, etc. We each have our own take on how the next act should go, how the narrative will twist, how the dialog flows.

    Second, even if you were to convince, say, 90% of all Ls to get behind debt repudiation as a marquee issue for the LP, then what? We could hold high that banner with sandwich boards on reading “The End is Nigh”, but few would take notice. Root, in his TV appearances and columns, could change the subject of the day and rail on that the crisis du jour is easily solved by debt repudiation. This would be an excellent way to NOT get invited back on, IMO. It’s one thing to be provocative, another to sound “kooky,” which repudiation is.

    But let’s spin it out further. Root and other in the LP start a L-style drum beat for repudiation. Maybe some small subset of the electorate hears this message. Soon thereafter the USG defaults on some bond issuance, or some draconian debt restructuring is announced.

    Do you really think that the electorate will then say, “Hey, the Ls had the right answer all along. Let’s repudiate the debt and vote LP next time.”

    This is all about as plausible as Howard Roark being found innocent for blowing up buildings. Not gonna happen.

    Image making is far more subtle, and generally evolves over time. If the LP and L ideas are to begin to win adoption, it will happen far more gradually. It would require people starting to incorporate L analysis into their worldview, which I believe requires them admiring our forthrightness and our commitment to advocating common sense solutions.

    Red-diaper-baby Rothbard made the mistake of attempting to apply Leninism to an affluent society. Cadre-building among the desperate and disenfranchised works when large numbers go to bed hungry.

  42. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    If you don’t think we can become “relevant” by taking a strong line on an issue as pressing as the national debt, how the hell do you think we can become “relevant” by moving to the center and trying to stay out from under the major parties’ feet while they stomp all over that center to mark their territory?

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that anyone believes “the crisis can be easily solved by debt repudiation.”

    Let’s get back to reality:

    1) The national debt IS going to be repudiated. That repudiation will probably be preceded by some periods of default and false assurances that it will be paid, but ultimately it will not be paid, and ultimately those holding it will be told that they’re not going to get paid.

    2) Politicians of the major parties are not in a position to benefit by stating the truth of (1) — because they and their predecessors are the ones who created the situation and they are going to be blamed for it when its consequences become more clear. At present, they are riding the tiger, holding on tight to its ears and praying for a miracle, or at least for a chance to retire before the defecation intersects the oscillating blades.

    3) Politicians of the non-major parties, however, ARE in a position to state that truth, to offer ways through the situation, and to benefit politically by doing so.

    You need to re-think what “plausible” means, and since you bring up Leninism (an approach which I haven’t suggested, btw), might as well tap Lenin to get you started in your re-thinking:

    In July of 1914, would Robert Capozzi have predicted that within 5-10 years, the Russian monarchy would have fallen and the Communist Party would have taken power, won a bloody civil war, broken a blockade by the other allied powers, and begun attempting to export their revolution to the rest of Europe?

    Even Lenin himself probably didn’t think that was “plausible,” but that’s what happened. What you’re preaching isn’t plausibility, it’s risk-aversion.

  43. Robert Capozzi

    tk, Coupla points:

    -Beg your pardon, but I’ve not said Ls shouldn’t take a strong line on the national debt. I encourage that.

    -We become relevant to addressing issues of the day from the edge of the center. We differentiate from the Rs and Ds by pushing the envelope in the direction of liberty. We change the conversation’s terms somewhat by being capitalist peaceniks.

    -Sorry, it’s not “reality” that the national debt WILL BE repudiated. That’s your prediction.

    -So, yes, non-majors have a freer hand in stating the truth, as we’re highly unlikely to win. But, in this case, check your premise about what the truth is. You are confusing your prediction with the truth, it appears.

    -It’s entirely that a Robert Caposky of say St. Peterburg in 1914 would have come to the conclusion that the Tsar was likely to fall. Hungry bellies. Unpopular, disengaged monarch. Bloody wars. Other monarchies falling all over Europe.

    -If we are in for a collapse of our abundant way of life, perhaps a militia-type of approach would be indicated for Ls. It’s certainly possible, but I consider it highly unlikely. Should it come to that, I would expect that a hyper-statist message is more likely to win out, since a fearful, desperate people are more prone to a “strong” leader’s promises. I’ll get back to you if it comes to that.

  44. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You’re missing the point. We aren’t the Communists, this isn’t pre-WWI Russia, and I’m not proposing that the US government is set to fall and that we should conduct a military coup against its provisional successor when it does. Analogy only goes so far.

    The point you’re missing is this:

    Your definition of “plausibility” is timid.

    You make the same error you accuse the radicals of making with respect to the mythical “negotiation table.”

    You’re right — there is no negotiation table to take radical proposals to in order to force a compromise in your direction.

    There isn’t a negotiation table to take “edge of the center” proposals to for that purpose either.

    We’re not negotiating with the powers that be, nor are we negotiating with the voters, because neither of those two groups have any interest or incentive to negotiate with us.

    We can’t negotiate — we have to inspire.

    Inspiration doesn’t come from the edge of the center, it comes from the edge of plausibility, sometimes even beyond. You move the center by pulling it with you as you head away from it, not by standing on top of it and pointing to where you wish it would take you.

  45. Robert Capozzi

    tk, yes, it makes sense to me for Ls to be the source of inspiration in a positive direction, which would be toward peace and liberty.

    Perhaps we need to discuss what is inspirational, and when inspiration leads to positive change.

    I’d say that staking out a position WAY outside the mainstream will inspire few. Without significant numbers of people expressing their desire for more liberty, there will likely be no movement toward liberty. Our society has a wide range of oddball movements that have no effect on the political landscape.

    I’d also say that most people are not inspired by grandiose utopianism. They are inspired IN PART by practical considerations, in part by a sense of virtue. If most people don’t think something is possible, they are not likely to be inspired by it, even if it’s a virtuous position. For ex., I suspect very large numbers of people would prefer a world free of nuclear weapons. Yet, the unilateral nuclear disarmament movement has made virtually no progress in decades.

    To play on the political stage, credibility is a vital characteristic to be taken seriously. Part of credibility in a candidate who can represent us at the negotiating table, EVEN IF they are unlikely to get to the negotiating table. Single-minded zealots may well make good single-issue advocates, but they make terrible, ineffective politicians.

    Playing the role of being inspirational in a POLITICAL context requires one to be at least plausible in the role one wants to be cast in. If one doesn’t want to be a politician, then one should consider being a theorist or a pressure-group activist.

    As for my view being “timid,” I’d say it’s the opposite, but thanks for the feedback. Wanting to engage a larger percentage of the population in the cause of liberty is a heck of a lot more daunting than narrowcasting to those who might buy into an abolitionist agenda, for ex.

  46. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Playing the role of being inspirational in a POLITICAL context requires one to be at least plausible in the role one wants to be cast in.”

    Agreed.

    We should reconsider what role we’re auditioning for.

  47. Robert Capozzi

    tk, yes, I’d say the LP is still auditioning for the role of cadre-builder for the “coming revolution.”

    I’d suggest the role of change agent in the direction of peace and liberty.

    What would you suggest the appropriate role would be?

  48. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 57 RC writes; “A search shows that “troops” are mentioned quite a bit there. But the national party isn’t a think tank or a campaign, so I’m not sure that the national party is the appropriate wonk institution for such a thing.”

    Robert yesterday when I looked at the “issues” section under “foreign policy” what I saw was a piece by Michael Tanner that must be ten years old if not older. Nothing on the deployment of U.S. military forces to foreign countries, the numbers of them, or the countries they are in.

    Having some a significant amount of time working to get the word out to others I can only say that this situation is not acceptable.

  49. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write:

    “What would you suggest the appropriate role would be?”

    It’s not “what would,” it’s “what will.”

    I intend to answer your question, probably in excruciating deatil, March 20th in Nashua, New Hampshire.

    Just for shits and giggles, I’ll let you know in advance that the working title of the speech is “What Is To Be Done?”

  50. Michael H. Wilson

    Tom you make a good point about Social Security above. As Kevin Phillips pointed out in a recent book the U.S. government has already reformulated the way inflation is figured and thus today’s Social Security recipients are receiving less funds then they would under the older formula.

    Old CW song about divorce went something like “she got the mine and I got the shaft”. That applies to the people in the U.S. as well.

  51. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    All I’ve promised is to answer the question “What would will you suggest the appropriate role would be?”

    I don’t think it’s overconfident of me to believe that I’m capable of saying what I think. I’m pretty good at doing that. Some people think I do far too much of it.

  52. Robert Capozzi

    mhw, I did a generalized search on LP.org, and got lots of hits.

    My sense is you’d like the LP to be more of a wonk institution’and that there are variable resources that could be put to the use you’d prefer.

    You might consider running for NatCom to shift the party’s focus in a Wilsonian direction. Best of luck if you choose to do so.

    Careful, though. If you’re successful in reallocating resources from partybuilding and foundational politics, and toward being a policy resource, be prepared for the inevitable squawking about why X issue is not given equal time and whether the language is sufficiently in line with the platform and SoP.

    Personally, I’d like to see the national party focus almost exclusively on party building.

  53. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 73 RC when people go to the website and want to see what issues we advocate they most likely check out the issues list and then maybe foreign policy to find out what the LP things about foreign policy, but maybe I am wrong about that.

    It is difficult to sell something without clearly defining what it is you are selling.

    The attitude that we need to get elected then we’ll tell the people what we are about is not helping.

    It is worth recognizing that the overseas commitment costs the U.S. taxpayer a chunk of change each year and is a subsidy to our foreign competition at the expense of the U.S. worker. Gee whizz that might be a selling tool. ;)

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