Gary Johnson; One of Three Paths for Libertarians
Libertarians are facing an identity crisis.
For the first time the Libertarian Party’s history (a Party that has focused mainly on local and state elections), they have a Presidential candidate polling above 10%, nearing the chance to take on the two main parties in a nationally televised debate.
But a lot of libertarians aren’t even very supportive of him. Why? I think this has to do with the growing pains of libertarians. At this point, realistically, libertarians have three options in moving forward.
Ron Paul presents: Libertarianism
Libertarians have been pampered. For the last two election cycles, libertarianism has been championed by Dr. Ron Paul, a principled, 12-term congressman who is certainly well-read in the philosophy, economic theory, and legal ideology backing himself. An honest man, and one with charm and charisma, he formed an inspired coalition of young people and anti-establishment types.
Today, Ron Paul still stands as a figure of libertarian values, and in starting his own Ron Paul Institute as well as his Ron Paul Channel, he continues to talk about the values and ideals that made him the libertarian flag-bearer.
For libertarians, Ron Paul represents the choice to maintain libertarianism as a separate philosophy. Consider how Ron Paul himself has remained on the fence about endorsing Gary Johnson, how his Institute wrote a scathing article about Johnson and Weld dragging libertarianism ‘through the mud’ for supporting a still very active foreign policy and a lackluster defense for the Second Amendment, among other issues.
Ron Paul is about maintaining liberty as a fully understood and appreciated political idea; not one to be misrepresented, watered down, or popularized without being deeply held.
A Gary Johnson Libertarian Party
Let’s be clear-eyed about it — Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are not fully libertarian, at least in the sense of Murray Rothbard, whose beliefs the modern Libertarian Party was formed upon; Gary Johnson and Bill Weld were Republicans, and like they say, they were fiscally conservative and socially liberal/tolerant. That works as a shorthand explanation of libertarian beliefs, but that doesn’t mean it’s the entirety of libertarianism. However, the biggest problem facing the Party is that unfortunately, the voting public doesn’t really want the entirety of libertarianism — they want some fiscal responsibility and social tolerance.
Make no bones about it; Johnson and Weld really do represent that idea of being bipartisan and moderate. And if you are on board with their message, you are supportive of a libertarian approach to centrist politics. In the end, a Gary Johnson Libertarian Party is a centrist, cosmopolitan political Party that prioritizes pro-market policies, a reconstruction of drug policy, criminal justice reform, foreign policy skepticism, and internationalist orientation to trade and immigration.
This is not at all marketed as a separate philosophy, however it would help to turn the US political paradigm from “Left vs Right” into “nation-first” vs “cosmopolitan.” Whether that’s good or bad, that’s something libertarians are going to have to wrestle with. But ultimately, libertarians should have to decide whether or not it is valuable to prioritize the bipartisan possibilities of ending the Drug War, of calling an end to foreign interventionism, and of fighting for a much more free market.
The Republican Liberty Caucus in a post-Trump GOP
What will the GOP do after November? There is no doubt that Donald Trump has done something irreversible to Republican Party — race relations have been scorned, international ties have been stretched, immigration and trade are being scrutinized, and a populist atmosphere hangs over both the national and many local elections across the Party. Someone’s going to have to pick up the pieces of the Republican party — but who?
Establishment Republicans are extremely unpopular and many Evangelical voters are opting out for Trump as a pushback against Leftism and potential threats from abroad. Outsiders are going to be the main group left to stand and among them are Rand Paul and Thomas Massie — big names for libertarian-leaning Republicans and have both publicly stated their support of Donald Trump.
It’s a somewhat uncertain future for a post-Trump GOP, but quite possibly, the surviving party may become lead by the likes of Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul — young leaders with strong will-power for nation-first conservativism. The emerging GOP would become a nation-first party, with similarities to the Conservative Party of the UK; a pro-business, strong-leader coalition with heavy national conservative factions. Could libertarian leaning candidates play a much bigger role in this future? It seems to be what’s driving Paul and Massie.