Are Libertarians Ready To Be Hated?

Over the past few days I’ve been watching the Libertarian Party’s convention online. I appreciate that they are live streaming for those of those who can’t get to New Orleans.  You have to wonder why so many organizations these days still insist on limiting access to their conventions only to people who can be there physically.

When I look at the convention it is clear there are a lot of excited people who believe greatly in the libertarian movement paired.  A lot of very dedicated people are out there and they a lot of support for the party and Libertarian ideas.  It is quite impressive to see how excited they get about libertarian principles.

And that is great.  Because this past Presidential election didn’t work out too well for Libertarians.  Gary Johnson was a great guy and all.  But the 5% he mustered wasn’t near what people expected him to get.  Libertarians entered 2016 thinking there was a real chance Gary could make the debates and he never even came close.

Libertarians certainly tried hard this last election and Gary’s poor showing wasn’t for lack of effort.  But when you have two sides that hate each other so much it is hard to get a third voice in anywhere.  No matter where you turn everyone ignores you because they don’t want to do anything that helps the other side.

And certainly the media didn’t help.  When President Trump talks about “fake news” the stress a type of news coverage where media types decide beforehand what they want the narrative to be and find ways of supporting that narrative.  For Republicans, this means that reporters and analysts decide beforehand that they know Trump’s policies aren’t any good and they find ways of supporting that with their reporting.  “Fake” in this way doesn’t mean “made up” as much as it means “slanted”.  It refers to “fake” objectivity rather than “fake” information.

That sort of “fake news” approach is almost the definition of what happened to Gary Johnson.  He got barely any media coverage and then when he did he got labeled as a “pothead who’s probably too stoned to know what Aleppo is”.

So, Gary Johnson and the Libertarians didn’t get as far as many of us hope.  But the next election allows another opportunity.  People are angry and enough are looking for change to give the Libertarians another look.

That opportunity is going to be there but I do wonder how much Libertarians are ready to take advantage of it.  You look at the convention and there is excitement and passion.  Good, they’re going to need that.  And you watch how detailed the policy discussions get that you have to think there’s a lot of room for the necessary grassroots movements.  Good, they’ll need that as well.

But are Libertarians ready to be hated?  I mean, really despised?  Called “racist”, “sexist” and even “murderer”?

Don’t think “murderer” will enter into it?  Really?  Look at the yelling and screaming going on about gun control.  By the insults hurled at them by Democrats, you would think defenders of the Second Amendment did the school shootings themselves.  And that is only for standing up to the idea of increasing gun restrictions (or at least putting a limit on how much restrictions get put in place).

What do you think people are going to yell at politicians wanting to take gun controls away?  I mean, I’ve talked to Libertarian candidates and listened at the convention to candidates who want freedom of gun ownership.  And they can really make a solid case.  I just wonder if they are ready for the type of vile and hatred to be directed at them whenever people start taking any of those proposals seriously.

And wait until this whole thing about reducing government spending comes into play.  Trying to cut how much welfare programs increase gets you labeled as someone who hates the poor and wants children to starve.  Just wait until that sort of thinking gets directed at someone who wants to cut programs in half or more.

Donald Trump was hated. And is still hated.  By a large amount of people.  But if you look at him it seems clear that it really doesn’t bother him.  Why?

Well, he could just be a terrible person.  That seems to be some people’s explanation.  But it could also be that he was ready for this. I don’t know much about his history but I do know it includes a lot of people hating him for a lot of different things.  When you work in New York real estate, I guess a lot of people get angry at a lot of things you do.

I also think that he really does not believe he’s doing anything to hurt people.  He knows what people yell at him but that doesn’t mean he takes it in.  People can hate what you do but if you believe in it then that seems to serve as a kind of barrier keeping it from having much effect.

My personal opinion is that how he won the election.  He knew that running against a serious female candidate would get him labeled “sexist” right away.  And he know that picking up immigration as an issue would get him labeled “racist” right away.  Other candidates probably knew this as well but they seemed more phased by the labels.  Once they started getting lobbed at them these candidates starting backing down.  But Trump just kept on going.

I’m not saying here that Trump should be the model for any political candidate.  But I think he offers an example of how to handle the hatred that’s going to come at you as a political candidate.  Some candidates these days talk as if they think Trump’s main strength was his rudeness and vulgarity.  That seemed to help but it was more than that.  When you have a strength in REALLY believing in what you say and REALLY knowing that you are not doing it to harm people you are more prepared to fight back when the hatred gets flung at you.

And it’s also important to make clear to others WHY you have such strong convictions.  That’s something else to take away from Trump’s candidacy.  Whether what he believes would work is actually going to work is unknown.  But it was clear to many that he believed what he said.

His belief in what he said was true not in a philosophical way but in a practical way.  That’s something that often is missing from Libertarian candidates.  They have a lot of passion but the practicality seems missing.  When I watch the convention there is a lot of talk about freedom as a philosophical rather than a practical issue. Where is the discussion of exactly how having more freedom is going to help someone?  How are Libertarian ideas going to help you feed your family or keep a roof over your head?

Honestly, I sometimes wonder if Libertarian politicians have mortgages.  It just strikes me as weird that there just is little recognition in Libertarian political discussions about how voters make decisions on very practical issues.  People look to understand how the ideas politicians put forward are going to help them with their financial concerns.

This doesn’t mean they want all their problems solved.  They just want to know how any of these ideas are going to help them.  Trump provided a lot of ideas that didn’t involve actually do anything for specific people.  But what he proposed made it sound like he gave a damn.  And at least he seemed to have some idea of how would he was proposed was actually going to help.  Libertarians just don’t seem to worry enough about whether people listening to them really see any practical benefit to what they are saying

All of this is important because knowing the importance of what you say and being able to explain it in practical terms helps lessen the impact of people calling you hateful names.  That’s something to take from this last election.  And Libertarian politicians are going to need that if they are going to gain any ground this upcoming election.

And if you’re a Libertarian politician, I wouldn’t get too comfortable eating in any particular restaurant.  You might be welcome in some.  But when Libertarian ideas start being taken seriously there are some you aren’t going to be able to get anywhere near.

3 replies »

  1. > But the 5% he mustered wasn’t near what people expected him to get.
    5% was double what any prior LP presidential candidate had earned. Johnson did a fantastic job by any reasonable standard. If anybody expected him to get more then their expectations were set far too high. Was Johnson responsible for that expectation? Not in my book he wasn’t.


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