If libertarians want to be relevant, maybe they should focus on promoting liberty

Gillespie’s version of libertarianism is fundamentally defined by its hostility to the ideas and concerns of everybody else on the right. So how dare anyone suggest that the Libertarian Party candidates try to reach out to those people and appeal to them on their core issues? They don’t need to change to appeal to us, we need to change to accommodate them.

I find this grimly amusing because I come from the Ayn Rand wing of the right, and the big libertarian argument that I remember from long, long ago is that we Objectivists were too rigid and ideologically demanding. Libertarians were supposed to be better because they would have an ideological big tent. They could talk to anyone from any ideology and system of values and try to convince them that liberty is best system in which to pursue those values. Now here comes a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that, for libertarians to reach out to disgruntled conservatives and persuade them—and they’re the ones who are being ideologically rigid and exclusionary.

The bigger picture here is that organizations, movements, and the individuals who rise up within them tend to get very good at performing certain functions and emphasizing certain issues. But they are also susceptible to getting stuck in those functions and not adjusting to new facts and new contexts. For example, a whole wing of the right has spent the past quarter century fulminating about how bad Hillary Clinton is, and with good reason. So I’m not too surprised to see a lot of them lining up behind Donald Trump, swallowing hard and accepting every awful thing he says, because—well, we just can’t have Hillary, can we? That’s a fundamental truth they are familiar with, while evaluating Donald Trump on his own merits is relatively new and confusing.