I love big government. The more intrusive the better; please take my money now and tell me what to do with it!”
— Bobby Bauch
“No civil rights for you! I also want to control your life, but I want to do it with my rich people money! That’s how Republicans get to power, and we love it!” — Patrick O’Grady
Patrick and I never actually said those things, but if you talk to a libertarian, that very well could be the impression that you get of us. The new Libertarian movement; I say new because though libertarianism has been around for quite some time, it has experienced a resurgence and vitalization in the past few decades and especially the couple of years.
With the addition of Gary Johnson to the ballot across the country, it seems that the Libertarian Party has hit its stride. Criticizing a “broken” two-party system, promoting a rigorous abhorrence of “big, intrusive government” and supporting socially liberal issues, Libertarians have been able to sell themselves as a sort of hybrid. “Socially liberal, fiscally conservative” seems to be their unofficial motto. I won’t fault them for this. I agree with the socially liberal part and you can read my stance on fiscal conservatism from past articles. The problem I have lies not in what the party believes but what they do.
Firstly, I cannot help but liken the Libertarians to the Tea Party. Of course, many of the ideas are different or even diametrically opposed between the two groups. Where they are similar is the behavior I’ve seen. Both groups — which aren’t necessarily “parties” so much as they are ideologies — take advantage of the political climate at the time. The reason no one seems to realize that Libertarians are similar is because they come at the situation from the middle, not the reactionary right. They jump on people’s political dissatisfactions, causing further division rather than political compromise that a two-party system (usually) works towards.
Gary Johnson opposes Citizens United. I don’t agree with the ruling from Supreme Court ruling, either. I also don’t think that corporations should be allowed to donate large sums of money to a political party or to a candidate. But Libertarians aren’t consistent when they rail against Citizens United, then turn around and say Americans should give all the “power” to the corporations? To rely entirely on the free market and taking the government completely out of the economic equation is what we call unregulated capitalism, and it doesn’t work. The market is a temporary investment, and the gains are temporary as well. The government (on the whole) is the better investment and the better, more-centralized entity set up to deal with economic issues. Libertarians seem to have it backwards.
Let me be clear, I hear some good ideas from my Libertarian friends. My problem stems from the fact that, in selling themselves as a nuanced political party, they bring nothing new to the table. Don’t be surprised when Gary Johnson goes the way of Michele Bachmann, and the new Libertarian party goes with him, absorbed into the time-tested two-party system we hold dear.