by Kitty Testa
Graham Vyse of The New Republic suggests that “Libertarians and Democrats need to fall in love again.” He encourages liberty-minded legislators to reach across the aisle to oppose Donald Trump’s agenda on issues where liberals and libertarians agree, using a term coined by Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute: liberaltarians.
As a presidential candidate, Gary Johnson was very much a liberaltarian. Many Libertarians complained that Johnson, and to a greater degree his running mate, Bill Weld, hyped their liberalism over their libertarianism, and thus alienated libertarian-minded conservatives. I continue to see a Libertarian-Conservative alliance as a more natural coalition. The libertarian-leaning conservatives are already half-way there. They simply need to take their already strong beliefs about personal freedom and apply them rationally to all aspects of behavior. To do this, they must conquer a few fears, namely drug legalization and marriage equality, and the possibility of not getting re-elected.
The problem with a romance between libertarians and Democrats is that Democrats have ceased to be liberals. While Donald Trump is a populist and libertarians are individualists, the Democrats are collectivists. All issues are seen through the prism of one member group or another. Identity politics have lured them away from liberalism, and instead their interests are focused on advancing one group over another, individuals be damned.
Group-think is what makes populism dangerous and it’s what makes collectivism dangerous. Americans have become overwhelmingly populist or collectivist, and the once-admired idea of the rugged individual has been degraded to exemplify the greedy capitalist who abhors his fellow man. The left sees the concept of individual freedom as a caricature made up of Ayn Rand’s most hard-hearted, sneering statements.
Americans have become habituated to over-regulation, and they don’t even notice how less free they have become over the past several decades. We have reactionary governments at the local, state, and federal level passing laws intended to cure every ill, as if they are the architects of a giant safe space for all Americans. Legislators believe their job is to save us from ourselves, and thus we are restricted at every turn.
Americans need to fall in love with freedom again. We need to fall in love with the idea that we can walk down the street without being asked for an ID. We need to fall in love with the idea that we can start a business, raise a family, and live by our consciences without the government interfering at every step. We need to fall in love with the idea that we are secure from the government in our homes, with our property and our personal affects. We need to fall in love with the ideas of freedom that demand we take personal responsibility for our failures and our successes.
Only then will we have enough liberty-minded legislators to oppose the populists and the collectivists.