Sorry, libertarians: You'll never convert liberals

Let’s take Boulder, since it’s been treated as the epicenter of marijuana reform. A young city, there are a number of issues that make Boulder feel especially libertarian. It is also one of biggest nannyistic towns in the country. Cigarette smoking bans in Boulder are about the most restrictive in the nation – even though it’s reasonable to suppose more people still inhale tobacco than marijuana in Colorado. In Boulder, where I’ve spent plenty of time, the First Amendment is treated with the reverence of the Second, and coercive environmentalism is basically sacrament. In Boulder, voters don’t care about individual freedom as much as they care about issues that infuse them with moral comfort. When I look at polls of Millennial outlooks, I see Boulder…

Some persuasive pieces have convinced me that libertarians may have tripped on an opportunity here. What irks me most about some of the “libertarian moment” talk, though, is that it rests on the notion that most target-rich group is the young progressive left. Actually, the biggest “libertarian moment” in recent history came during 2010 midterms, when voters elected a number of idealistic (if imperfect) economic libertarians who often openly identified as such. When I think “libertarian,” I think of Colorado Springs, a conservative outpost south of Denver where, though social conservatism holds the majority back from embracing issues like pot legalization, there is a strong concern for economic freedom, property rights and a skepticism about government power that is often manifested in policy.

That’s the movement that produced Rand Paul and Justin Amash. Those are the people that have to succeed to ensure the growth of libertarianism on the right. Yet, those voters don’t seem to excite the secular libertarian intellectual as much as the ones that only incidentally agree with them on a few social issues. And that seems like a big mistake.