The current Libertarian Party infighting revolves around the debate over who best represents and markets libertarianism: radicals, minarchists, or moderates/pragmatists.
People, this isn’t the fight.
It may have been bad publicity for Arvin Vohra to publicly criticize certain members of the military, and a watered down libertarian message may do little to differentiate us between other political parties. But that is of little consequence because America today is statist AF.
Go read the comments on online articles; go read your non-libertarian Facebook friend’s posts, and go read the comments on community pages. What you’ll find more often than not are people calling for more laws, stricter enforcement of existing laws, more spending on education, military, economic development, etc. The general feeling of most people is that more government intervention is needed to fix whatever problems they recognize.
This isn’t even a Progressive problem anymore; just as common as the democrats on your friends list calling for more spending on education, healthcare, and the environment to go along with higher taxes, regulation, and oversight are the conservatives desiring more money spent on military intervention, criminal justice, and agricultural subsidies.
What’s more, the lines between republicans and democrats are blurring more every day, and in the direction of more government intervention in the day-to-day lives of average Americans. Which two groups are closer on gun rights, Libertarians and Republicans or Democrats and Republicans? That answer isn’t as tricky as it may seem. Both republicans and democrats concede it is the government’s role to dictate who may own, possess, and carry a firearm.
American’s are growing more statist by the day, favoring a government that encroaches more and more on our lives and setting the terms for us to live by.
On a local Facebook page that offers updates on law enforcement calls and activity, one commenter posted (I assume jokingly) that the government should perform forced sterilization on a group of people setting off fireworks late during a work night. That’s obviously an extreme example, but the average American today fully endorses the government being more active, and especially proactive, in dealing with the issues they deem important.
When someone sees a problem, their first instinct isn’t how to get involved themselves and deal with it, but instead they run to the government to fix it. The government has become a cure-all for whatever ails our communities.
We’re losing, badly. Not just elections and party membership numbers, but in the overall direction the country and our communities are headed. It’s fun to debate the finer points of libertarianism in Facebook groups, but we need to become a part of the conversation with our neighbors on the topic of the role of government.
A good friend of mine, Marc Montoni, who has been a Libertarian Party member, officer, and activist since the stone ages comments daily that if you want to steer the direction of the Libertarian Party and government, then organize or become involved with your local county or city Libertarian Party, walk your district or precinct, or otherwise get involved locally.
That’s great advice. You can complain to and about the LNC, contact your regional rep, and scold those that do not hold your exact views, or you can make a real impact by talking to people in your own community about what you feel are the right answers.
Jason Stapleton, who rarely spares a kind word for the LP, often talks of the Liberty Train, how the train is going down the tracks and maybe at the end of the track is anarchism, but you can get off whenever you want, when you are at the level of government you want. But folks, that train isn’t even moving because we’re all at the station arguing with each other about the damn direction it’s going to go.
Maybe totally eliminating the state is the best answer, or maybe a gradual shift to more constitutionally principled government is right, either way that is the direction we need to be going, and we’re not. Every day lawmakers are sitting down to write new bills or come up with new ways to spend our money, and very rarely are those bills and laws going in a libertarian direction.
I have a certain end goal I believe we should be striving to reach, certain beliefs on what I think the appropriate role of government is, but as long as you’re on the Liberty Train and willing to put in a little work to help that train get moving, I’m on your side no matter where your stop is.
If the ultimate goal of libertarians is a smaller government, it doesn’t matter all that much on how small each individual is looking for right now. If I’m a minarchist and you’re more moderate, we can have a conversation about the direction of the Libertarian Party when we get to your stop. But I don’t think any libertarian is close to their stop right now.
Right now the Liberty Train is going in reverse, downhill, and picking up steam in the wrong direction. Let’s stop wasting so much effort arguing and berating each other over the finer points and start making a difference in our community.