Libertarians Are the Only Hope For American Business, and Republicans, to Be Competitive Again

ByJohn Mills

History will show that right now we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the Republican Party. The social agenda of the religious right, which dominates the Republican Party, is what caused Romney to lose, and the problem will get worse with time. 

To defeat big government Democrats, business needs to organize a new coalition of libertarians, business, and “Blue-Dog Democrats.” The Republican Party is fatally connected with the religious right’s rejected social agenda, and so the most plausible way to creating this new coalition is for business to leave the Republican Party and start providing serious financial support to the Libertarian Party.

This year, majorities of voters in four states approved marriage equality by popular vote. By large margins, voters in Colorado and Washington approved marijuana legalization. This tells us a tipping point has been reached on some serious social issues. Probably, it had already occurred when Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) lost in 2008; that was the year Michigan voters passed a medical marijuana initiative opposed by only 37% of Michigan voters. Similarly, The total percentage of Americans who believe abortion should be illegal under all circumstances is only about 20%. When it comes to war, a March, 2012 NY Times-CBS poll found that more than two-thirds of those polled — 69% — thought the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan. The number almost certainly is rising, not falling.

The Romney campaign showed that elections are now lost by talking about building fences along the Rio Grande and throwing illegal immigrants out of the country because that so angers all the immigrants — a growing voting bloc. Romney’s “etch-a-sketch” moment, where he tried to become more moderate on social issues, happened because he had to run away from all of the foregoing traditional Republican social agenda items to even have a chance of winning. Still, Romney lost. McCain lost too, and for the same reason: the non-economic social issues are killing any chance of Republicans to win national elections because it's not possible to put enough distance between anyone with an (R) label and the social issues. If Romney couldn't get a win in this horrible economy, no one can win (as a Republican).  

My Republican friends are shocked that any wealthy person would support the Democrats given their overt tax and spend programs. That doesn't seem strange to me. These people care more about social issues than money. They have gay and lesbian friends. They have immigrant friends. They have friends whose kids were arrested for possession of pot. They worry about their daughter's right to reproductive choice. Those issues are more important to them than whether their taxes go up. They don't care about the taxes because they have enough money to pay them. If you care more about money than these social issues, you join the Republicans; if you care more about these social issues than money, you are compelled to support the Democrats.

The 2012 election showed that if the choice were between more social freedom with higher taxes (the Democrat’s program) or less social freedom and lower taxes (the Republican’s agenda), most American voters would pick the Democrat’s program. Focusing on economic issues isn't enough to get a majority of voters if you are stuck with the Republican’s long history on social issues.

It was different even a decade ago. You would not, back then, have got majority votes to legalize pot and endorse same-sex marriage; a majority of Americans would not have voted for reproductive freedom or for immigration freedom. That's why a decade ago George W. Bush could win (although narrowly). Things have changed.

The Republican Party Can’t Be Fixed.

There are some who think the Republican Party can be fixed by moderating its stance on social issues. That’s not possible, because the Republican Party is a coalition of two big groups, business and the religious right, along with a much smaller group of libertarians.

Even Senator Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) solution of making abortion a state's rights question isn't going to work because the religious right isn't going to accept a platform plank saying: "the Sanctity of Life is in the hands of state legislatures, and they are free to allow women to choose." There is just zero chance that the religious right will accept that and stay on, voting for Republicans, and supporting that party.

And yet, Republicans need the votes of the religious right to win given the coalition that's been constructed and used for decades. George Bush needed — and got — their votes. But, there aren't enough of those votes to win any longer. That’s really why Romney had to "etch-a-sketch" even though that effort failed.

So, the bottom line becomes: If the Republicans don't change they lose; if they do change they lose. That's the truth given the shift in the electorate's thinking on key social issues as demonstrated by the popular votes on marriage equality and pot all around the country. That's the true message of the Romney campaign's spectacular implosion.

Getting Business to Underwrite the Libertarians.

For 40 years, the Libertarian Party’s chief stumbling block to getting serious money from business people is that, while many business people don't care about the social issues, maybe they even sympathize with libertarians, they nonetheless evaluate political contributions like other investments and they want some fair chance of a return on their investment. Given a choice between supporting Republicans or libertarians, both of whom talk about smaller government, business puts its money on the Republicans because Republicans win, libertarians don't. Everyone knows that, and to date, it's been true.

But, the message of this election is: "Republicans don't win any more than libertarians; both now lose."  And, given the social issue trends, Republicans will lose by larger and larger margins in the future.

If Republican's can't win, business should throw in with the libertarians, because libertarians can win in the future. Libertarians are on the same side as Democrats on all the changing social issues and are, therefore, not burdened the way the Republicans are with an unacceptable, outdated social agenda. In fact, libertarians have been in the vanguard on most of these issues.  

A New Coalition.

One thing the Romney campaign shows is that business alone can't win elections. That's why Republicans long ago crafted the coalition between business and the religious right. They needed the additional votes business found in church.

But, if business can't win alone, it’s also true there are not enough libertarian votes to make up the difference — even if all the supporters of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) came on board. However, the Libertarian Party can fracture the Democratic Party by peeling away wealthy people who are Democrats principally because of the social issues. These are the "Blue-Dog Democrats," who are fiscally responsible Democrats. There are a lot of wealthy people who don't particularly subscribe to the Obama-Pelosi-Krugman effort to socialize America. All those people can vote libertarian, even though they will never vote Republican.  

So, the way to win is to use the Libertarian Party to put together a new coalition of libertarians, business people, and "blue-dog Democrats" with the objective of defeating the Democratic leadership that is taking the America strongly in the direction of European-style socialism. Business has to supply the money to build this new coalition 

(by the way, the Blue-Dog Democrats currently don't support the Libertarian Party because ... Democrats win; libertarians don't. It's the flip side of the Libertarian Party’s problem with business and the Republican Party).

It’s well known that business generally doesn't want a free market — they want a "fair advantage." They want crony capitalism. Still, if the choice is between a free-market (meaning an end to the Warfare-State and the old crony capitalism offered by the Republicans) or letting the Democrats take everything business owns and earns, business has to choose the free market and throw in with the libertarians. They will do that if they realize Republicans just can't win national elections – and that’s the message business should discern from the wreckage of their most recent investment in a failed presidential campaign.