Life's Better Ideas

Occasional links to, and comments on, ideas that I think will make this a better world, and remarks about things that need fixing, too.

Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

libertarian failure?

Yesterday I got an email from The Advocates for Self-Government telling me, and everybody else they sent it to, that they lost their shirt on their last annual conference. The hoped to get 350 people, could get by with 200, but got only 100 attendees. That prompted some broader thoughts about the libertarian movement.

It appears that most libertarians are libertarians first and Americans second. That didn't matter before 9/11 and libertarians made the most progress before then. But today, I think that we must be Americans first and libertarians second in order to have any political success. Whether enough libertarians will come to understand that is debateable. And if those who do understand migrate to the Republican party (Democrats have the same problem we do), then the movement is likely to fail, or will succeed only through a Republican coalition.

UPDATE: I've been a member of the Libertarian Party for about 20 years and I don't ever recall seeing any public displays of patriotism or love of country at any official function of the party, either state or national. None of our candidates express that; they all talk about what needs changing or what's wrong, but I don't think I've ever heard a candidate say "This is the best country in the world", or something to that effect (I've been a candidate and I'm guilty). I am not saying "my country right or wrong" and I'm not a nativist, but we hear NOTHING except bitch, bitch, bitch, and that doesn't attract voters. We have no clue about how good it is here. If you think the US government violates your civil rights, move to England and find out what it really like where there's no First Amendment. America IS an exceptional nation; there's nothing else like it.

My comment about the Advocates for Self-Government was brought up by the question "why would the premiere libertarian outreach organization suffer a 2/3 loss of attendance at its flagship annual event?". Have libertarians lost faith in it or in the movement? There's something bigger going on here, I think, and that's what I've tried to address.

UPDATE II: "When you don't love something you lose it." HT instapundit


Blogger Seth said...

David, I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean by "Americans first, and libertarians second."

What, exactly, about American-ness, do you believe must prevail over what about libertarian-ness?

3:06 PM  
Blogger Walter said...

I have said, as a candidate,that America is the best nation on the planet. Taking the long view, the USA has been the most libertarian nation. No coincidence that we are the most successful. That's not the same as saying we couldn't do much better.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David: Thank you for posting this.

Seth: Clever question, but it evades the point because it attempts to put into Venn diagrams what's really an issue of emotional commitment. It's not one prevailing over the other. It's American-ness understood as an expression of -- a concretization of -- libertarian-ness

Walter: You're right. The problem with many libertarians is a matter of emphasis and going beyond the logic.

Damn it, I'm an Objectivist -- why do I have to point out to people that logic and abstractions aren't all there are to life? :-) Humans have "spiritual" needs, including a need to see their abstract ideas concretized and expressed in the real world.

America not only is the most libertarian nation, as Walter pointed out, it's the concrete embodiment of the ideas and values and heritage of libertarianism.

See my new post, Patriotism, for more on this.

12:18 AM  

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