The Libertarian Party is blowing its big chance

Alas, the party has had trouble organizing seriously around any principle other than pot. Johnson was a successful governor by any measure. He is now the CEO of a company that sells primo cannabis. He is also a bit unpredictable, which by the standards of this cycle, isn’t disqualifying at all, but weirdness without sizzle is just not very compelling.

The party’s fiscal conservative policy planks, always fuzzier than — and downplayed in favor of — its leave-us-alone-stands on social issues, are out of synch of with what Americans say they want from government. There is no real “Libertarian” view on foreign policy; Johnson seems to be all over the map…

But the Libertarians aren’t well-suited to American politics. Politics is transactional; goods, services, and rights are distributed and redistributed to satisfy competing demands and pressures. We elect people to give us the stuff we want, whether that’s stuff that makes our lives easier or makes life harder for the guys we don’t like. Drugs aside, libertarians reject interest-group politics on principle, which makes them ill-suited to argue that gay voters might enjoy a better world in the near-term if they supported libertarians. Yes, Hillary Clinton evolved later on gay marriage than, say, the libertarian nominee each year her husband ran for office, but gays have done well by Democrats and Democrats have done well by gays, and that’s pretty much that.

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