Why Libertarians Lose Miserably – Freedom Philosophy

libertarians, gary johnson

The electoral success of our movement is non-existent. Yet at the same time, many studies have shown libertarians are among the most politically engaged and educated. Clearly, there’s a disconnect that needs to be identified.

I think there’s a myriad of oversimplifications within our ranks as to why this is. Pat answers, such as the notion that people don’t want personal responsibility, or the population at large wants government handouts, don’t adequately address the disconnect. Higher income earners with enormous tax burdens haven’t gravitated to our movement in large numbers for elections.

If our preachment is the message of personal responsibility we should practice it. Our movement has failed because of us. We become irate at the thought of Driver’s Licensing – a thing no one in society cares about. The position against Driver’s Licensing is morally correct, but poor political strategy.

Strategical preaching is possible in politics. Libertarians can educate people on liberty. However, it’s far more effective when it’s presented as solutions to issues individuals care about else they won’t have an interest in learning about our movement.

There are three levels of argumentation. A valid argument is one that if the premises are true, then the conclusion is true. A sound argument is valid, but also one where the premises are true. And a cogent argument is a sound argument, but the audience knows the premises are true as well. Successful political strategy demands cogency, where our audience agrees to the premises.

Libertarians are infatuated with articulating truth propositions rather than accomplishing any liberty-oriented goals. This political strategy is little different from shouting how many rocks are in my driveway, I might be correct if I counted carefully but it’s of little concern to the average voter.

The growth of our movement can only happen if people learn more about libertarianism. People will only learn if they’re forced to or if they want to. Since it’s unethical to force people to learn about us, they must want to if we are to expand. They will only want to learn about our movement if we are speaking to issues they’re interested in.

People appear to be interested in rising costs of living, our movement has a viable solution to this through sound money. People appear to be interested in an increasing market for jobs, and our movement has viable solutions to this through the abolition of corporate tax. People dislike terrorism, our movement stands in opposition to terrorist-breeding wars. People appear to care about environmental degradation and our movement has actual solutions to this with free market environmentalism and property rights.

Tim Moen gave an excellent speech at the American Libertarian Party convention in which he called for libertarians to find consensus on some issues and pursue that. I wish to expand that by way of finding consensus with the average voters.

Our movement must be directed toward cogency. We will remain as preachers without a congregation until a strategy is involved with our politics.

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Brandon Kirby

Brandon Kirby has a philosophy degree from the University of New Brunswick and is a current MBA candidate finishing his thesis. He is an AML officer specializing in hedge funds in the Cayman Islands, owns a real estate company in Canada, and has been in the financial industry since 2004. He is the director of Being Libertarian - Canada and the president of the Libertarian Party of Canada.

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