By Chris Shaw
The concept of a libertarian party should be simple. A collection of multiple strands of libertarian and anarchist ideologues, thinkers and activists coming together to present multiple alternatives to the current statist world. Simple, right? Not so for the modern Libertarian Party of America. It seems, looking at its origins, it had the goal that I’ve just set out. A collection of differing viewpoints but with a core libertarian ideology at the centre of it all. But then came the low tax liberalism, and the lack of radicalism in pushing a message of political and non-political action. That was bad enough. But now it’s gone one step further in diluting more to becoming some Beltway Republican outfit for all those disaffected by Trump and Clinton.
On the surface, this may seem a good strategy. Your spreading the message of libertarianism into more mainstream outlets and individuals like Republican ex-politicians. However, many of these Republicans are only leaving because of Trump. That means that they at least tolerated the Bush era, an era of a massive expansion of state power through the Patriot Act which kickstarted the NSA surveillance program that Snowden revealed in 2013. An era of two imperialistic wars that have led to death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a large increases in homelessness and cases of PTSD among veterans. How can one tolerate this stupidity, yet can’t tolerate the differing stupidity of Trump’s policies.
Let’s look at one of these Republican turned libertarian convert, William Weld, who is now Gary Johnson’s presumptive running mate. This is a man who previously endorsed Mitt Romney and John Kasich, two candidates who have not proposed a libertarian foreign or economic policy but instead want to maintain neoliberal-neoconservative consensus that prevails in America. Again, Weld is a man who could seemingly tolerate the extremely un-libertarian years of the Bush administration, but then can’t tolerate Trump.
But even worse than this entryism by pissed off Republicans is the fact that the major Libertarian presidential candidates, particularly Johnson, seem to be somewhat kowtowing towards these disaffected ex-politicians, with watered-down statements on foreign policy suggesting no real end to the American empire, as well as a continuation of the low tax liberalism that is utterly devoid of any radical libertarian ideology.
Rothbard said back in 1990 about the Libertarian Party, “most of us have left it in body and all of us in spirit”. Such an epithet rings even more true today. A large base of radical libertarianism, with strands on both the left and the right, is being completely ignored by the major candidates and figures in the LP. Instead, they seem to want to create some watered-down version of neoconservatism, with a dollop of neoliberal thinking just for good measure. If the Libertarian Party is transforming into some vestige for pissed-off, Bush-era Republicans, the question has to be asked: what is the point of the Libertarian Party?