According to a 2017 Gallup Poll, 60% of Americans believe America is in need of a third party to challenge Republicans and Democrats.
This isn’t new though. According to the poll data, these results have been unchanged since 2013. Since 2003, the poll has fluctuated from 40% and higher.
The question becomes, if America wants a Third Party this strongly, why is the Libertarian Party struggling?
1) Districting Not Conducive To Third Parties
We’ll start with an area that is out of the Libertarian Party’s control, which is districting.
Both Republicans and Democrats accuse each other of Gerrymandering, the practice of purposefully drawing voting districts around constituency demographics that benefit them in an election cycle. They’re both right, because they both engage in this to their benefit and will continue to.
Due to this structural disadvantage, the Libertarian Party only has a chance in statewide elections that are determined by the popular vote, such as US Senate or Gubernatorial races. Unfortunately The Libertarian Party hasn’t been popular.
A great example of this is New York Gubernatorial Candidate Larry Sharpe in 2018. Sharpe ran a well structured campaign, fundraising well for a Libertarian and providing positive messaging in his platform.
Yet, Sharpe fell slightly below the Green Party Candidate Howie Hawkins in the election, despite much better fundraising and slightly better polling than Hawkins leading up to the election.
This was a temperature check for the upcoming political climate.
2) The Libertarian Party Won’t Fit Into 2020
The Libertarian Party viewed 2016 as their big year, and many eyes were indeed on the Party. They received an unprecedented amount of coverage compared to previous years. This came in the form of televised debates, a televised convention, and much more mainstream press coverage of the eventual Presidential candidate than ever before.
2020 is not a repeat of 2016. There’s no redo. It’s not the year of #NeverTrump because we already have President Trump.
The Democrats will run a candidate further to the Left to fight populism with populism. An extraordinarily binary election is the predictable result of the country’s current state of polarization. Americans will be fighting to retain Trump or fire Trump. Nobody will be shopping for a third choice with their perception of the stakes.
The only major issue that Libertarians can distinguish themselves from Trump on is immigration, where the vast majority of Americans ultimately disagree with Libertarians on the extent of their border views.
Democrats who are unhappy with those migration remarks will only go further left within the Democratic Party to field their candidate. There will be plenty for them to choose from. If you thought the 2016 field was crowded by Republicans, just you wait for the Democrats in 2020.
3) A Lack Of Empathy, And Its Translation Into Poor Marketing
Libertarians thrive on theory but struggle with practicality, often missing the forest for the trees. When you feel like you’ve won a random internet skirmish after calling your foe a statist bootlicking sheeple, you’ve actually helped lose the war.
In order to change someone’s views, you have to understand their views. Even acknowledge their views. Libertarians however operate on a Vegas or bust, all or nothing approach. I’ve seen more people incrementally arrive at the ideas of liberty than I’ve ever seen arrive there from being called a bootlicker.
The inability to handle criticism or play Devil’s Advocate, and having no sense of humor detracts from your ability to relate to others (otherwise known as empathy). In order to attract people you have to relate to people, and people don’t relate well with prudes.
I’m no stranger to Libertarians placing words in my mouth to confirm their biases, all for the sake of having something to complain about on the internet.
This was most recently demonstrated after sharing an article called Snapchat Sex Workers Being Reported To IRS For Taxes, Libertarians stormed my page to condemn my position on this subject, even though no position was given. Listen to my Freedom Report Podcast segment for more on this.
Small and medium businesses employ the majority of Americans. These are people who would be helped by the Libertarian position on deregulation. If the majority of businesses would be helped by a Libertarian economic structure, then why aren’t they supporting Libertarians?
It’s because the Libertarian focus is on normalizing taboos rather than on issues Americans feel are important. Libertarians would rather tell someone to read a book rather than engage in an economic discussion, yet they have all day to talk about why we should be able to sell heroin to 5 year olds (you thought I forgot).
If those who stand to benefit the most from your ideas are turning you down, you’re doing something very wrong.
4) The Party Is Being Overrun By Leftists
The Libertarian Party tried to capitalize on the #NeverTrump movement by working overtime to signal to the Left. Now the Party is being weighed down by Libertarian Socialists, Anarcho Communists and ANTIFA activists whose main objective is to abolish private property rights within the party. Private property rights are the very core of libertarianism, and entertaining these leftists is entertaining the idea of the party’s destruction.
The idea propagated during the 2016 election that Libertarians are socially liberal was a mistake, as Liberals champion a forced acceptance of behavior they approve of, and the abolishment of behavior they disapprove of by means of leveraging government.
Incrementalism, as I mentioned earlier, should work in the favor of the Libertarian party rather than in the favor of the Democrat party. Bringing in more Leftists who try to shift the party further to the left is not a win.
5) The NAP Is Fundamentally Flawed
I have always said the Non Aggression Principal (NAP) is an excellent guide, but makes for a poor pledge due to its flaws. The fact so much debate exists around The NAP should preclude it from being a pledge. Pledging different things to different people isn’t much of a solitary pledge.
Does abortion violate The NAP? It depends on which Libertarian you ask. Does allowing a child to starve to death violate The NAP? How about die from a diaper rash in a maggot infested diaper after being left in a baby swing for over a week? Depends on which Libertarian you ask.
What about getting behind the wheel when you’re black out drunk, swerving in and out of traffic? Is being a clear and present danger a violation of The NAP? How about firing a gun into the air? Again, it depends on which Libertarian you ask.
The fact any of this is even a debate horrifies anyone on the outside looking in.