October 21, 2004
REASON'S PRESIDENTIAL POLL IS UP: I'm in it. So is a guy who illustrates, I think, why libertarianism isn't selling well with the public:
2004 vote: I never vote. I donít wish to soil my hands.
2000 vote: Had I been forced to cast a ballot for president in the 2000 election, I might have died of septicemic disgust.
Most embarrassing vote: I voted only once in a presidential election, in 1976, and I did so on that occasion only so that I could irritate my left-liberal colleagues at the University of Washington by telling them that I had voted for "that idiot" Gerald Ford.
This isn't an attitude that's likely to pave the way to political success. And I say this as a guy who's never been overwhelmed with the quality of the choices given me, and who's voted Libertarian for President three times.
UPDATE: Gabe Posey emails:
I think the primary reason for mainstream American not grasping hold of Libertarianism isn't that the party doesn't have great ideals or spokespeople, but primarily that the same upper crust elitism seen so profoundly in the Democratic party is rampant in the academically pious Libertarians. The party that demonstrates they are the party of the people is usually the party that wins. For the last two presidential elections it hasn't been the Greens, Libertarians or the Democrats. I still have hope for the Liberty Caucus of the Republican Party.
As the folks at The Guardian have learned, letting people know you think they're idiots isn't an especially effective way of winning their votes.
More thoughts here. And reader Edward Clark emails:
I would like you to explain a little more on your impressions of libertarianism. I consider myself a libertarian, and not just because of my name. But listening to the libertarian party today leaves me with one reaction. Huh?
Their isolationist stance on security and foreign policy just doesn't make any sense in today's world. It is like surrending for the sake of liberty, which means liberty would end. On most other issues I pretty much agree with them. But on most of those issues they are closer to Republicans (but not very close) than democrats. Why would so many on Reason's poll be mixed between libertarians and democrats? It seems some people just claim to be libertarian because it sounds so independent and thoughtful.
I wish there was a party more along the lines of the Ayn Rand Institute. True Libertarianism. Call it the Objectivist Party.
I'm not an Objectivist, myself, but I have noted that they seem more realistic on foreign relations.
MORE: Here's an Objectivist take on foreign policy and the election.