Skip to comments.Hot-Tub Libertarians
Posted on 05/16/2006 1:20:13 PM PDT by freepatriot32
As the Republican Party abandons its commitment to small government, how politically impotent are libertarians? Let me count the ballots.
Specifically, let me count the ballots from 2004. Exit polls (along with, well, all polls) tend to ignore libertarians as a group, so one has to approach such questions from the side, as opposed to head on. But here's one measure of how libertarian-leaning voters voted in the last presidential election: While George W. Bush gained 10 points between 2000 and 2004 among voters who thought government should "do more," he stayed essentially even among voters who felt government should not do more or should "do less."
In other words, despite No Child Left Behind, campaign-finance regulation, steel tariffs, the Medicare prescription-drug bill and exploding government spending generally, libertarians stood by their man. (I should know. I did, too.)
That's no way for an organized voting bloc to behave. If no amount of sticking your finger in a constituency's eye will make them vote against you, you're going to poke through until you hit brain. But, of course, no one ever said that libertarians were organized -- or that, when it comes to politics, they have much in the way of brains.
But what if they did? How powerful a voting bloc could they be?
It's a tough question, and one libertarians have spent far too little time effort researching, but there's a quick and dirty answer: somewhere between 9 percent and 20 percent of the electorate.
The 20 percent figure comes from Gallup, which labels as libertarian voters who say they oppose the use of government either to "promote traditional values" or to "do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses." Gallup finds an equal number of populists (people who want more government intervention in both the economy and the culture). And it finds that 27 percent of Americans are conservative and 24 percent are liberal.
The 9 percent figure comes by way of a recent analysis done by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Last month, Pew released an analysis, based on a survey of 2,000 people, which was aimed at finding the ideologues among the American voting public -- those voters who held consistent ideological views on a sampling of subjects, such as health care, gay marriage and Social Security reform.
Libertarians were the smallest group, as defined by Pew, followed by conservatives (15 percent), populists (16 percent) and liberals (18 percent). A full 42 percent of voters held no identifiable ideology (these are presumably the people who vote for whomever's tallest).
Perhaps the most interesting fact in the Pew survey, however, was that less than 6 in 10 libertarians voted for Bush in 2004. While few libertarians seem to have deserted the president between 2000 and 2004, they are split roughly evenly between the two parties. The Pew survey finds 50 percent of libertarians identifying as Republicans, 41 percent as Democrats.
Given that libertarians' traditional home has been in the conservative base of the Republican Party for about five decades, as part of a strained partnership with social conservatives, their almost 50-50 split between the two parties today is big news.
According to Pew's "political typology," libertarians used to be one of three groups that made up the Republican Party, along with social conservatives and economic conservatives. But, since 1994, they've been replaced by a group of voters Pew has called Populists, but most recently renamed Pro-Government Conservatives. In essence, it would seem, these Pro-Government Conservatives -- about 10 percent of the electorate, largely female and southern, and equally at ease with universal health care and banning controversial books from libraries -- are squeezing libertarians further and further toward the fringes of the GOP.
Is there any way to reverse the tide?
That, of course, gets to the question of whether a bunch of individualists can ever be organized. A man who should know a little about that, the Cato Institute's executive vice president, David Boaz, tells two stories. In one, a man wouldn't come to a rally for 1980 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Ed Clark because he had to look at his sister-in-law's car. In another, a man skipped a rally at the 1984 Democratic convention in San Francisco because he had a more pressing engagement ... in a hot tub.
"I think libertarians are looking at their sister-in-law's car, instead of going to political meetings," Boaz says. "And there are also libertarians who are in hot tubs in Sausalito." These may seem like small things, Boaz argues, but the cumulative effect is that people who don't care much for government are the hardest to convince to care about changing it.
The challenge, then -- for those who don't want to see the Republican Party succumb once and for all to big-government conservatism and who don't want to see it become overrun with populists lacking in respect for taxpayers' money and individuals' right to be left alone -- is either to organize existing libertarians more effectively to vote and contribute time and money as a bloc or to identify new constituencies with an overriding interest in remaking the time bomb we call the New Deal (everyone under 40 comes to mind).
So, libertarians: It's time to get out of that hot tub! Put down that wrench! And start thinking about how you're going to reclaim your rightful place in the conservative coalition.
Deserves repeating. I see it all the time.
What do you do when it gets increasingly more difficult to tell the difference?
A lot of trolls.
Let me know when you find one.
"Give their knee jerk 100%erism, anyone who has a different view on issue A will suddenly decide they have to "Stand on principal" and abandon the party. Pretty soon you have 40 Losetraian parties each thumping their chest and screaming about how "pure" they are. Meanlwile they get ZERO accomplished in politics."
That analysis sounds surprisingly like the situation which the "muslim populations" of the world are currently experiencing.
Agreed. Libertarians will continue to be marginalized like all the other third, fourth, fifth . . . etc parties until they start gaining at the state and local level. To vote Libertarian at the federal level now is a vote wasted or worse, a vote for a rat.
I think President Bush is doing the best job of it I've ever seen.
A worthy cause. However I offer a premise. If the majority of whichever is the correct party continues to pass legislation that expands the government, hence institution of socialist programs, shouldn't we vote against those that would vote in the affirmative for such programs?
Don't get me wrong, I don't vote Democrat at the national level. I follow the principles of the Framers and vote for the candidate who represents my views. If there is not a candidate that represents my views (or at least comes close) in good conscience I cannot vote in that specific race.
However currently at the local level (county) the Democrats are for conservative issues (namely private property), while the Republicans have been for eminent domain when it suits their needs. At the local level, my vote has helped to keep liberals out of power. The conservatives are labeled Democrat, but which is more important, a party or a principle?
If you intend to work against us, I prefer you do it somewhere else.
I do not intend to work against anyone. I intend to follow the warnings of General Washington in his Farewell Address and the 'the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally'. I vote for the most conservative individual on the ballot. Always will, always have. In effect, I am doing my part to keep liberals (new liberals, not classical liberals) out of positions of power
Good. I am as disappointed by Pres. Bush's immigration policies as anyone, but some of the things people have been saying here on FR lately have really started to grate.
Everybody knew back in 2000 that George W. Bush was not an ideal conservative candidate, particularly on education, medicare and immigration. But he was a lot better than Gore on defense, judges, and a lot more so I supported him. President Bush has delivered on his promises, good and bad, and we are far better off now than if either Gore or Kerry had won.
Right now it is the House that is keeping the immigration issue from turning into a rout against the American interest. If the 'Rats take the House in November, this will be costly to freedom. We can't afford to be quitters or worse, spoilsports. We have got to keep working.
I've said it before, but I genuinely believe that 2008 represents a golden opportunity to elect a conservative President. The she-witch has the 'Rat nomination in an iron-clad lockbox, and yet she is very weak nationally. The MSM and the extreme leftists are trying to psych us out and snowjob the public with all of this hype about the President's plunging polls, etc., as if the 'Rats can win with nothing.
If we work hard this year, then we can hold the House and prevent another illegal alien amnesty debacle. Then we need to nominate a real Conservative (Tom Coburn?) and carry him to the White House in 2008.
Whatever we do, we must not quit, and we must not burn our own fort, however imperfect it is. It seems some people simply don't understand what our enemies intend for us.
You are so right.
Stock up on K-Y Jelly.
I hope you have an Industrial-sized can of whoopass to pull out, and that you have been keeping track of those who are likely not who they claim to be.
Ugh. I'd be laughing if you weren't telling the truth.
Libertarians are godless, evil, self-centered, nutty, swines. Especially when they don't vote for the latest beleagured RINO incumbent. When the Republican incumbent is riding high at the polls and no election's on, Libertarians aren't as bad... or at least their godless philosophy and disgusting behavior does't bug the mainstream as much. Libertarianism is such a potent political force that the traitorous fraction of the electorate that calls itself "Libertarian" and actually thinks like one is constantly in danger of destroying the GOP .... establishment.
Libertarians are particularly obnoxious whenever they are cynical or apathetic about the latest crisis whipped up by the paleocons, authoritarian right, and so-called neoconservatives.
- "The she-witch has the 'Rat nomination in an iron-clad lockbox"
No way, they want a chance to win and they aren't that stupid. The Democrats have a fiscal conservative in the wings in former Virginia governor Mark Warner, and they know they need that kind of guy if someone like Giuliani or McCain is running.
Why is everybody so (extremely) worried Hillary would even win an election. For right or wrong reasons, the country is not ready to elect a female president, esp. while in a war on terror and a war in Iraq. Only die-hard Dems would vote for her (primary voters), the same way they nominated such a liberal guy in John Kerry, who only came close because the Iraq war has some hiccups. It seems to me the RNC would have no worries in '08 if she were the nominee, provided some fringe issue doesn't steal the election.
That is the issue in a nutshell. And the best reason to go to the polls in November.
"Libertarians are godless, evil, self-centered, nutty, swines."
An interesting premise you have developed there. :)