Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jul/11

1

The superficiality of ‘pop-libertarianism’

I’m sympathetic to a lot of the specific policy prescriptions of publications like Reason. Though I’m no philosophical libertarian, I converge with libertarians when it comes to attitudes on specific issues. But outside of think tanks like Cato a lot of mainstream libertarianism seems rather glib and superficial. This diavlog between Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie is a case in point of style over substance:

Obviously I agree with Welch and Gillespie on issues like airline deregulation, but who cares about the growing fraction of independents? It’s a robust social science finding that most independents are actually rather reliable partisan voters. On the contrary to the inference made in the discussion, the past generation has seen a rise in the nominal identification of independents, but greater practical polarization. There’s no there, there.

5 comments

  • RandyB · July 1, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    If I’m understanding the penultimate sentence correctly, I think I disagree with its implications.

    Currently American politics has a one-dimensional political spectrum, with party members firmly at each end. Voters who aren’t on that spectrum, like libertarians or new economy independents, don’t belong to either party and don’t get to vote in primaries. There’ve been some unusually elections in which candidates like Joe Lieberman and Arnold Schwarzeneggar won general elections who couldn’t win a primary.

    I think politics worked a lot better in my youth when the Republicans had some liberals in the northeast and the Democrats had conservatives in the south. When each party had more breadth, every issue wasn’t just as partisan as it was ideological.

  • Dwight E. Howell · July 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Point taken RandyP but Nancy P deliberately threw the conservative to moderate members of the House under the bus. Where the Democratic Party can go in the South is open to question.

  • VALiberaltarian · July 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I think David’s point is that there are no “Voters who aren’t on that spectrum, like libertarians or new economy independents, don’t belong to either party and don’t get to vote in primaries.” Most voters align to the one-dimensional political spectrum: http://voteview.spia.uga.edu/blog/?p=1900

    The fact is that political survey data doesn’t support the claim that there are a mass of ignored and neglected independent libertarians. What seems to be more possible are hawkish liberals and dovish conservatives who don’t entirely fit in with the rest of their party. Pro-gay marriage, anti-tax libertarians, or anti-gay marriage, pro-taxes populists just don’t seem to exist in great numbers.

  • VALiberaltarian · July 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    P.S., “I think politics worked a lot better in my youth when the Republicans had some liberals in the northeast and the Democrats had conservatives in the south. When each party had more breadth, every issue wasn’t just as partisan as it was ideological.”

    The problem here is that the average self-identified Democrat is a liberal/left-leaning moderate, regardless of being in the Deep South or in California. The average self-identified Republican is a conservative, from Massachusetts down to Oklahoma. What explains differences in representation is the relative number of Democrats and Republicans.

  • RandyB · July 3, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I haven’t watched the vid (62 minutes of two talking heads, yawn), but I do agree in general that pop libertarians think reducing regulation would release the creative energy of legitimate businesses and scientists, without doing the same among con artists and crackpots.

    They cite the growth of industrialization and invention of new medical practices around the beginning of the last century, without noticing its rampant financial fraud and snake oil products. They’ll credit low regulation of the internet for the growth of online stock brokerage and contact lenses by mail, while ignoring Nigerian banking scams and male enhancement products.

    However, I do sympathize with the belief that it is in the very nature of government to get involved in an increasing number of arenas, and I don’t see an electoral solution to the “voting themselves money” problem.

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