Squandering the libertarian moment

Most conservatives are somewhat ready for a genuinely anti-war, pro-criminal-justice reform, leave-us-alone type of ideology. The mess created by the Iraq and Libyan wars have made many on the Right rethink the wisdom or at least the extent of recent interventionist foreign policy.

One would think the Libertarian Party would be a natural second home for conservatives who feel beset by government-imposed pressure to accept and pay for what they believe immoral. The libertarian philosophy of “live-and-let-live” is, at least in theory, tolerant of alternative lifestyles, such as that of Christian parents who don’t want government propaganda on sexual morality forced on their children. Or those in the wedding industry who believe they should have a choice in service contracts based on their personal moral values, notwithstanding federal policy on same-sex marriage.

The Libertarian Party had a chance of outperforming during this election. But it is blowing its chances. It didn’t need to change but to stick to its principles, and quite a few disaffected conservatives would have found it an acceptable home. But, given what Johnson is offering, why would conservative Republicans defect? They already have a liberal Republican at the top of their own party.