Critque of 2012: Libertarians
by Jay Wendt
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Let me say this right off the bat, I feel 2012 should be the year of the Libertarian Party. The Democrats and Republican have both failed to inspire the imagination of everyday Americans, so there should be a real opportunity for a new force in American politics. Unfortunately, I also feel that, just as in 2004, every LP will over-hype the possibility of change and disappoint everyone come Election Day. Let me go over reasons.
Lack of Pragmatism: The largest contender to challenge the two party system, and arguably the most successful third party. They are fiscally responsible, socially open-minded, and a driving force for small government. Ideologically, they are in the same category as the Free Democrats in Germany and the VVD of the Netherlands, so clearly the ideals and concepts are electable. The only problem with the Libertarian Party is the fact that it is dominated by the fringe elements of the movement. The Party tends to take the more extreme elements of the Libertarian movements and accept them as part of the platform. The fact of the matter is that to be electable, a political party has to be extremely pragmatic. For example, the VVD and Free Democrats are in favor of some immigration controls, some government subsidies, and some environmental regulations. It’s just the political nature of the beast that is electoral politics; trying to offend the smallest number of people as possible.
Lack of Foresight: Another thing that is against the Libertarians is its lack of foresight in selecting it’s Presidential ticket. True, in 2008 they nominated a former Republican Congressman (Bob Barr), unfortunately his record in Congress was the complete opposite of the Libertarian platform, especially with regards to immigration and drugs. It was only exacerbated by nominating a former Republican who was in favor of the war for Vice President. Now, had they nominated Mike Gravel, whose positions matched exactly to a moderate to left-wing libertarian stance, the situation would have been different. Gravel, with his experience in the US Senate and liberal voting record, could have convinced Democrats who disliked Obama to vote for him; and say had Mary Ruwart been his VP, it would have been an extremely interesting ticket. Of course that is speculation, but based on history my scenario is more likely. Remember, Ed Clark won almost a million votes in 1980 arguing that Libertarianism is low-tax liberalism; and since the 1980 elections the Libertarian Party has never found a candidate who could beat that total.Having Gravel as the nominee, Libertarians could argue that they are low-tax liberals, and could have been a major player in the election. Unless the party starts to identify itself as the "low-tax liberal party," I highly doubt it will ever truly take advantage of an opportunity.