Why the Libertarian Party is a Lost Cause
The various views of the Libertarian Party are neither good nor bad. They are simply ineffective as a political organization.
They have had moderate success, Gary Johnson comes to mind, but on the whole they have not been very influential in the electorate. There are libertarians who lean left, they are usually found in the Democratic Party, and there are libertarians who lean right, and they can be found everywhere, but there are very few self-proclaimed Libertarians.
As a force in American politics, the Libertarian Party has neither the depth nor breadth to make a dent in the course of American politics. Its quest for personal responsibility, civil liberties, and a strict adherence to the verbatim interpretation of the constitution oftentimes ignores the fact that America has grown more complex and multilayered. Everyone loves freedom and civil liberty. We all want the "man" off our back. Nobody wants to pay taxes. But there is a tradeoff that has to be made because none of these things come with a free ride. Public safety requires some sacrifice of carte blanche personal freedom. And a nation of 320 million requires some support from the people it protects.
All political platforms have things to agree on and things to disagree about and that is no different with the Libertarian Party. For me there are three things that make the Libertarian Party platform problematic. They are:
1) Legalization of all drugs: The argument is that the War on Drugs is a losing proposition for America because it costs more to enforce the law and punish offenders without any reasonable return on investment. That is true. People will not vote to legalize crack, heroin, and crystal meth, just to name a few, no matter how illogical it seems to continue to fight the effort to prevent people from getting high.
2) Non-Intervention policy: The Libertarian Party wants to bring the boys home. America because of its multinational, global interests, and greed finds it necessary to a) invest in foreign countries b) prop up foreign governments, and c) establish military presence for protection of "American" interests in foreign countries. Aggression is somewhat subjective. And our interests are vast and varied. The boys in Germany, Japan and South Korea are staying put.
3) Privatization of social programs like Social Security and Medicare: These extremely popular programs provide millions of elderly people with affordable healthcare and sustenance. Programs run by the government have their pros and cons but one thing for sure is that private industry usually puts profit ahead of service and the human element can be lost once stockholder dividends and executive bonuses become the priority. And invariably, some CEO will find it much more lucrative to cut services for the sake of profit.
It's my understanding that modern day libertarian ideology is based on the non-aggression principle. Within that principle, there are a number of philosophical approaches. Some libertarians find this to be a simple concept, others have argued that it's far more complex once you bring in government and economic policy. Which is it? Is it too simple to say that everyone wants to do what they want to do as long as they don't hurt anybody? Or does that become a little more complex when you start talking about social contracts in complex, multilayered, multilateral, cross-functional transactions?
Is it just about eliminating income taxes and restoring property rights, when all societies have exercised some "levy" on its members? That levy has taken many different forms throughout history. Is it just about natural law rights, e.g., life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness or does it also include those that have been "codified"? Does the need for public safety necessitate some sacrifice of personal freedom? These are just some of the things that generate a boatload of discussion. At the end of the day, we vote on who we agree with most. By that measure, we don’t often agree with the Libertarian Party.