Principle and Pragmatism: The Horton/Woods Plan for Liberty – Misconceptions


Many people, myself included, were introduced to libertarianism through Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns. Others, including Scott Horton, were influenced by Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne.

Neither of these candidates became president. But they were able to convey the message of liberty in an inspirational and effective manner. During the Ron Paul Revolution, libertarians were united under a common cause, and from there came organizations like Young Americans for Liberty.

Since then, the liberty movement has split and faltered, divided on the culture war, Trump, and numerous other issues. Libertarians always had these cultural differences, but now they’ve moved to the forefront.

One’s opinion on the Libertarian Party (LP) and the recent Gary Johnson campaign can tell you what kind of libertarian they are. To many, it spreads the wrong kind of message, doing far more harm than good to the libertarian name, leading organizations like Bastion to abandon the term to better spread the message.

But Scott Horton and Tom Woods have plans to change this. They reject the ‘principle vs. pragmatism’ false dichotomy in party politics. Libertarians do not have to choose between a watered-down Republican or a radical libertine. Instead, the liberty movement needs another Ron Paul, who can make the case for radical views in a presentable, professional manner.

For this job they recommend that disaffected libertarians join the Libertarian Party and make their voice heard. Woods points out that, whether we like it or not, the LP bears the libertarian name and affects how regular people perceive it, and libertarians unhappy with the LP’s message need to work together to change that.

The plan is to make the LP “robust, fearless, and inspirational” rather than “a laughing stock, and pathetic.” Part of this plan includes backing candidate Jacob Hornberger for the LP nomination. This is less about winning the presidency (although that would certainly be great) and more about having a representative for liberty that is both effective and inspiring.

Horton and Woods emphasize that this is not a plan to takeover the LP and displace the current members. Hornberger has been a defender of liberty for quite some time, and appeals to many different types of libertarians. This is not about one group of libertarians beating another, but about uniting together to get things done as was the case during the Ron Paul campaigns.

So many libertarians look fondly upon the days of the Ron Paul Revolution and not-so-fondly on the current state of liberty. This is an opportunity to change that. This can be positive even for libertarians who see no chance of a libertarian presidential victory. At the very least, libertarians will have a principled, responsible figure making libertarianism look like something other than Republican-lite or cultural libertinism. Rather than work against the party, right-libertarians can work through it.

And these libertarians must remember: Even if the party isn’t currently influencing national political policy or reducing the size of government, it is influencing people’s perception of libertarianism, and that’s important. Introducing people to libertarianism is pointless (and even counterproductive) if their first impression is negative rather than positive.

Perhaps the next Ron Paul Revolution is close ahead, and the Horton/Woods Liberty Battle Plan is the way to get there.

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Nathan A. Kreider is author of the Misconceptions column for Being Libertarian, and has written for the Austrian Economics Center, the Foundation for Economic Education, and the Liberalists. He also occasionally publishes a blog and video content, including short book reviews, which can be found on his website, He can be contacted by email via


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