In op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal (link unavailable) called “?Libertarian Orphans” David Boaz points to a Gallup Poll as evidence that 20 percent of the country is libertarian and he laments that these people are underrepresented in politics and the media. But libertarians have nobody to blame but themselves. Libertarians may want to laugh at the religious right, but whatever you may think about their views, they undeniably earned their place at the table. For decades religious conservatives have been politically active, they have organized, donated their money and they have shown up for Republicans on Election Day. Meanwhile, libertarians by nature tend to be too cynical about politics to become active and get involved in campaigning, and would rather sit back and be critics, or work in think tanks or intellectual journals. Some libertarians think that the Democrats are the lesser of two evils, some think that the Republicans are and others would rather vote for a Libertarian Party candidate in protest. Still others will brag about how they didn’t vote at all, as if this makes them morally superior because they will never feel responsible for what happens. Now, these are all defensible positions on some level, but the bottom line is that when you add them all up, it means that libertarianism will never translate into political power. For a group of people who oppose anti-poverty programs out of a belief that in a capitalist system anybody who works hard and has talent can succeed, libertarians are awful defeatist when it comes to politics. Rather than fight the fight, they’d rather sit back so that they can complain about the outcome.
So, to answer a question posed by Boaz, “?What’s a libertarian to do”? I’d argue that they should get more politically active. Libertarians who won’t participate in the political system are the ones to blame for the under representation of libertarians in politics, and nobody else.
Over the next week, I hope to post some additional thoughts on the nature of libertarianism.