portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary global

political theory

Where Have all the Libertarianís Gone?

The late Mary Travers once sang a song called "Where Have All the Flowers Gone? It was a lamentation about the human cost of war and it was a popular protest song during the Vietnam era. Well it seems to me that someone could write a song, or at least ask the same question, about Libertarians. Specifically, where have all the Libertarians gone?
The late Mary Travers once sang a song called "Where Have All the Flowers Gone? It was a lamentation about the human cost of war and it was a popular protest song during the Vietnam era. Well it seems to me that someone could write a song, or at least ask the same question, about Libertarians. Specifically, where have all the Libertarians gone?

In the din and roar surrounding politics in America today much is made of the importance of Libertarian thinking. Some have pointed out its importance to the Tea Party Movement: "More recently, the Libertarian theme of the "tea party" began with Republican Congressman Ron Paul supporters as a fund raising event during the 2008 presidential primaries to emphasize Paul's fiscal conservatism, which laid the groundwork for the modern-day Tea Party movement." That said it's interesting to consider the following two questions: First, if Libertarian ideas are so compelling, how come Libertarians garner such a small portion of actual votes during major electoral campaigns? Secondly, if Libertarians command such low voting totals, how is it that there is such a disproportionate number of Libertarian organizations and who is putting up the money to support them?

During the 2008 election cycle, America's Libertarian's had a clear choice among those vying for the Republican nomination for president. Ron Paul was an outspoken Libertarian and had been so for many years. Paul's Libertarian bona fides were well established, widely known and beyond question. But Paul wasn't even remotely competitive within the G.O.P.'s contest for candidate in the 2008 presidential election cycle. Yet even though Paul was eliminated from the race, Libertarians still had a choice in the person of Bob Barr, the former Republican Congressman of Georgia, and the Libertarian Party's presidential pick for 2008. The irony of it all is that even though they still had a horse in the race, in an election that offered four different choices for president, the Libertarian candidate finished dead last with a paltry 523,686 votes or 0.4% of the total votes cast in 2008. With the aforementioned facts in hand, we can only conclude that Libertarians either do not vote, fail to vote for their own candidates or that there aren't very many of them in existence after all.

Well, if it's hard to discern the actual existence of Libertarians in any precise number, then how is it we have over sixty five Libertarian organizations afloat in the body politic according to Wikipedia? The Stason Organization lists 11 "Major Libertarian Organizations" and 33 "Think Tanks". But this begs the question: Why so many organizations for just over a half of a million voters, or less than one half of one percent of the voting public? It seems a bit fishy to me that we have all of these "Libertarian" organizations in a country that seems to have so few Libertarians. If we have so few Libertarians, then where does the cash that fuels all of these "Libertarian" organizations come from? After all it would be pretty hard to fund this large number of organizations out of the pockets of just 0.4% of the voting public. Could it be that these "Libertarian" organizations are propped up by those with a specific agenda and deep pockets or do these 523,686 voters just all happen to be billionaires? So can someone tell me where have all the Libertarians gone, long time passing?



Steven J. Gulitti

9/6/10



Sources:



Tea Party Movement:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_movement



List of Libertarian Organizations:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_libertarian_organizations



Bob Barr presidential campaign, 2008:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Barr_for_President



11 Major Libertarian Organizations:  link to stason.org

33 Libertarian Organizations: Think Tanks:  link to stason.org

The Libertarian Learning Center:  http://www.mondopolitico.com/ideologies/libertarianism/libertarianorganizations.htm

Misconception? 07.Sep.2010 05:50

Mike Novack

"It seems a bit fishy to me that we have all of these "Libertarian" organizations in a country that seems to have so few Libertarians. If we have so few Libertarians, then where does the cash that fuels all of these "Libertarian" organizations come from? After all it would be pretty hard to fund this large number of organizations out of the pockets of just 0.4% of the voting public."

Before addressing the question of "how many "Libertarians" let's talk about this misconception. Turn it around and ask "how come with so few leftists (actual leftists) we have so many leftist organizations?" And who must be funding them? The answer is really simple. A lot of organizations but almost all of trivial size and it doesn't take a lot of funding and so yes, can do it out of their own pockets. If that can be true of the leftists, why do you assume not also true of the "libertarians".

And just who are you calling "libertarian"? There is a fairly wide range within the Libertarian Party (for example) SOME of which (10%?) are actually "libertarians" (lower case "l" meaning "individualist anarchist") but mostly other sorts opposed to those parts of government that do not favor their own personal interests.