Libertarians are still looking for the next thing

The movement remains ever in search of the perfect messenger. There are some prospects in the pipeline. Most conversations start with Paul and include names like Justin Amash and Mike Lee, two Republican lawmakers with libertarian leanings and the occasional ability to make national news. But capital-L Libertarian Party libertarians are often suspicious of Republicans who must compromise once they are in Congress — and this is one of the key measures of how fraught with tension big-tent libertarianism can be. Some want purity, others preach pragmatism. You can ask a dozen libertarians the same question on the future of the movement and come away with a dozen different answers.

“There are a lot of anti-establishment coalitions that are starting to realize they don’t like the game of politics the way it’s being played,” said Matt Kibbe, the former CEO of the tea party-aligned FreedomWorks who helped a Paul super PAC last cycle. “I do think that’s a profound opportunity for libertarians. But the liberty movement has some growing up to do, because being anti-establishment is not nearly enough.”