I’ve always argue that the last thing libertarians who want to achieve political success should ever do is position themselves as just another branch of “free market conservatives” preaching bourgeois economics. The failure Rand Paul indicates that, for better or worse, I was probably right. Case in point:
“Libertarians, however, can take heart from the fact that political sentiment is moving their way in some areas. Gay rights, drug decriminalization, increasing outrage over heavy-handed police tactics, growing concern over an unjust legal system, disgust over crony capitalism, and opposition to military deployments abroad all suggest that libertarian arguments can have political force. But just because people buy libertarian arguments when it comes to civil liberties or foreign policy does not mean they are more likely to buy them on taxes, spending, or regulation. If they were, then Bernie Sanders Democrats would be Rand Paul Republicans.”
The thing is “civil liberties and foreign policy” is what matters about libertarianism. We’ve got conventional Republicans for the other stuff.
The libertarian moment in American politics—foretold just last year in the New York Times Magazine—is like the horizon; always retreating as we advance upon it.