Will Libertarianism Win Young People?

This recent post in The Nation tells the story of a young idealist Libertarian who is “mugged by reality.” Basically, this young libertarian goes out into the real world and discovers that not “only governments have the power to deprive citizens of freedom.” Working for a corporation, this young idealist discovered that no matter their legal status, the corporation does not have the heart of a…

  1. Jeff

    While lethargic ”conservatives” have  been trying to persuade people, libertarians have been taking it to the institutions and winning.

    Republicans and Democrats prevented hair-braiders from earning an honest living. Libertarians beat them back.

    Republicans propose copyright reforms, then lobbyists get involved. Republicans fire the the reform author, despite a groundswell of  libertarian support. Crony copyright survives in the Republican House. Libertarians lose trust in the GOP.

    Republicans and Democrats in Wisconsin don’t want citizens to have cheap gas. Libertarians got that insane law overturned. Libertarians win back  consumer freedom for everyday folks.

    I could go on, and on, and on.

    Libertarians have done more for the average working person – by private action with private money – than the GOP has in the last twenty years.

    You really value constitutionalism, liberty, and free markets? You’d have done much better giving money to libertarian organizations than the Republican Party.

    Cato Institute. Institute for Justice. Doing yeoman’s work for freedom.

    Republican Party. Not one accomplishment for freedom. Nothing. Not one law rolled back. Not one government power curtailed. Weak.

    Will libertarianism win young people? Yes. It already has.

  2. Douglas

    “Ignore the liberal conclusions and careless switching of the terms “Libertarian” and “Conservative” throughout the post, and think about the issue as faced by young people all across this nation.”

    This is part of the problem though, and something Democrats use to their advantage. Conservatism and libertarianism are two different idea sets. Democrats highlight the more unpleasant parts of both ideologies and lump them into one beast labeled conservatism, and then tell kids “that beast is gonna get ya! Run! Run to liberalism!”.

    But truth be known, most young libertarians are liberal and just think the liberal label is musty and uncool, while ” libertarian” sounds dangerous and edgy and vaguely like some modern day French Resistance movement for American politics. Most young people that describe themselves as libertarian, though,  almost always support bigger government on every level in addition to their social liberalism. That’s why in my own topic I advocated the end of the illusion of Fusionism. Let both conservatives and libertarians go their own ways, with their own parties, and sharpen and focus their message, giving people a clearer picture… and choice… of what they stand for. 

  3. Spin

    I disagree.  I use as evidence my own son.  He nearly 19, working for a small business.  He’s a Republican, though I dare say he is none too happy with the establishment Republicans.  He doesn’t look forward with gloom and doubt.  He see’s his boss running a small construction business and making money.  His boss tells him he’s going to get a raise because he makes his boss good money.  He knows that is because he works hard and does a good job and is accountable.  

    If the Republican’s want to keep my kid’s vote, they need to work hard to make sure that his boss can run his business, and that he, my son, has a reasonable chance of running his own one day.  

    But has Jeff has pointed out, Republicans don’t seem to be offering a compelling alternative to Democrats in that regard.  I’m frankly starting to come around to the Libertarian way of thinking.  Don’t vote for the Libertarian, it’s throwing your vote away, I’ve said it myself.  Well, guess what, Obama is still in office, so my vote is in the trash anyway.  

  4. Douglas
    Jeff:  Yes. It already has. · 13 minutes ago

    Edited 9 minutes ago

    Then run a Libertarian Party ticket against Democrats for the votes of the young and prove it. Here’s my bet: Democrats will win 9 out 10 times. Because while those kids tell you how cool you are, they also want Uncle Sam to pay their bills and guarantee them protection against all the bad ole’ things in the world. When you try to sell them the virtues of self-responsibility, you’re going to get the same thing conservatives get: Oh, you’re just cold and heartless and want to starve old people.

  5. Leigh

    The libertarian message to young people, oversimplified: You can live however you want so long as you pay your own bills.

    The conservative message, also oversimplified: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    The former is more immediately attractive, unless you find that paying your own bills gets in the way of how you want to live your life.  The latter is a bigger challenge to the way you live your life, not just the way you vote.

  6. Bob Laing

    The second half of this post feels like it was lifted out of Das Kapital.

  7. Elizabeth Van Horn
    Rawls: Conservatives are always saying we need to change the culture, but with no cultural leaders/celebrities that appeal to young people, moderates, independents, on-the-fencers and undecideds that is impossible.

    Among Libertarians you have most of Silicon Valley (entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos [Amazon], Jimmy Wales [Wikipedia], Peter Thiel) and a good smattering of real celebrities like Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man Tony Stark!), Angelina Jolie, Denis Leary, etc. etc. etc.

    I bet we could find all kinds of Libertarian sports stars too and Mark Cuban would help us find them.

    Well, but then again, who knows, I could be wrong; Pat Boone and Ted Nugentaredoingwonders for the rightwing in winning over young people. Maybe we should stay that course and just hope for the best.

    In case you’re interested: YouTube Video of 50 Famous Libertarians. I challenge any social conservative to give me a list of celebrities that appeal to young people in the cultural mainstream that contends with this. · 3 hours ago

    Add to the list: 

    http://theurbandaily.com/2030343/big-boi-didnt-vote-president-obama-video/

  8. Austin Murrey
    Jeff: While lethargic ”conservatives” have  been trying to persuade people, libertarians have been taking it to the institutions and winning.

    Republican Party. Not one accomplishment for freedom. Nothing. Not one law rolled back. Not one government power curtailed. Weak.

    Will libertarianism win young people? Yes. It already has. · 2 hours ago

    Edited 2 hours ago

    Darn those Republicans, passing welfare reform, cutting taxes and governing the nation instead of keeping regulations light on hair braiders!

    In all seriousness libertarianism has less cache with youth than Che Guevara does, so they’re not “winning” anyone – not that the Republican party is either.

    Frankly the national Republican party should actually be conservative instead of “moderate” which is code for liberal-lite.  In a choice between the real thing and an imitation, people go for the real thing. 

    If the national Republican Party would point more towards success stories like Indiana and Texas and stop nominating candidates who are “safe” through an antiquated nomination process we’d all be better off.

  9. CoolHand
    Joseph Eagar:

    That’s a rather hellish vision, one that, from what I can tell, stems almost entirely from left-oriented libertarian thinking.

    Explain this.

    In detail.

  10. Elizabeth Van Horn
    Brian Miller:

    The Republican party’s message is that entrepreneurs drive the nation, and are the hope of the future.

    Hmm, Brian, you may think that’s the GOP’s message, but as someone on the outside looking in, I can assure you that the Republican party’s message does not sound like that.   (I wish!) 

    Brian Miller:

     The reality is that most young people are listening to this and find themselves completely unable to relate or obtain such status.

    We must know vastly different types of young people.  Because, the young people I know, are becoming Internet entrepreneurs, or starting their own businesses.   They’ve learned what the older generation is still struggling to grasp, that there’s no one to help them, but themselves.  They see a federal government with massive debt, and doubt they will never see any “social security” money.

    Young people are becoming YouTube venture capitalist, or creating websites to sell online. They are writing software, and understand the Tech Revolution is the future.    The youth of today have learned that government is restrictive, and that they as individuals, can do more with personal freedom.  So, the political group that meets their needs is Libertarian.

  11. Elizabeth Van Horn
    Jeff:  While lethargic ”conservatives” have  been trying to persuade people, libertarians have been taking it to the institutions and  taking it to the institutions and winning.

    Oh, hey Jeff!  My younger son was one of the George Mason University’s Institute for Humane Studies Summer Seminar participants last summer.  One of his favorite speakers was a lawyer from the Institute of Justice. Here is one of the cases they discussed: http://www.ij.org/freedomflix/49-uthairbraidingvideo ————- http://www.ij.org/utah-hairbraiding-2

    Yup.  The hair-braiding case!   : )

  12. Elizabeth Van Horn
    Douglas

    Jeff:  Yes. It already has.

    Then run a Libertarian Party ticket against Democrats for the votes of the young and prove it. Here’s my bet: Democrats will win 9 out 10 times. Because while those kids tell you how cool you are, they also want Uncle Sam to pay their bills and guarantee them protection against all the bad ole’ things in the world. When you try to sell them the virtues of self-responsibility, you’re going to get the same thing conservatives get: Oh, you’re just cold and heartless and want to starve old people.

    I have more faith in the youth of today then what you seem to have.  I’m online most of my work day, and work with very young people.   What you just posted does not describe these young men and women at all.

    If that’s how the GOP members see the youth of today, then no wonder they aren’t interested in the GOP. 

  13. Jeff
    Austin Murrey

    Darn those Republicans, passing welfare reform, cutting taxes and governing the nation instead of keeping regulations light on hair braiders!

    Welfare reform? Bill Clinton.

    Tax cuts? Temporary tax cuts, and no reform of the abusive tax system. Why? Everyone’s bought off by monied special interests.

    Regulation? Government regulations boomed under both Bush presidencies.

    The court system works on precedent. When the IJ gets a win against abusive regulations, even if it’s hair braiders, it establishes legal mechanisms that apply to everyone.

    It’s precisely your flippant lack of institutional focus that has allowed progressives to expand. The GOP was once a grass roots party that cared about the liberty of everyone, even black people who make a living braiding hair. The old GOP wouldn’t scoff at person’s right to work and profit.

    I do believe you represent the GOP of today.

  14. Jeff
    Austin Murrey

    Frankly the national Republican party should actuallybeconservative instead of “moderate” which is code for liberal-lite.  In a choice between the real thing and an imitation, people go for the real thing. 

    If the national Republican Party would point more towards success stories like Indiana and Texas and stop nominating candidates who are “safe” through an antiquated nomination process we’d all be better off. 

    On this, we fully agree.

  15. CoolHand

    Oh good! another “libertarians suck” thread.

    That’s exactly what we needed.

    /rolleyes

    Jeff, you’re doing yeoman’s work, sir.

    Keep it up.

  16. Fred Cole

    I read about that post on The Nation because the good people at Reason mentioned it.

    Specifically this section:

    He sold books at Borders in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It “did kind of a 180 on me. Just in terms of the rigidity of a corporate structure! You know: they tell you you have to take your lunch break at 1. But at 12:58 a customer starts speaking to you. And if you speak to them until 1:02 the bosses at Borders would start yelling at you to take your break at one, and then if you got an extra minute to 1:31 it throws off the whole schedule but if you volunteer to go two minutes early they fear they might be fined!”

    Call it the irrationality of the market.

    Here’s the thing about this kid: I’m kind of glad he’s not a libertarian, because he’s obviously a [expletive] moron.  You’d think the reporter would have noticed it too, but obviously neither of the two of them could find their own asses with both hands, so its small wonder they think the above situation is the result of “the irrationality of the market.”

  17. Fred Cole

    Back to the original post:

    Libertarianism is on the rise especially with young people.  Libertarianism is where the youth and energy is in the Republican Party.  

    Ron Paul drew huge crowds of excited enthusiastic people, especially at colleges, to come out and listen to him talk about economics.

    That’s where the future is.

    And Ron Paul has retired from the Congress and so he’s passed the torch to a new generation, people like his son Rand and like Rep. Justin Amash.

  18. LowcountryJoe

    Jeff and Fred Cole nail it. I taught for five years up until last year; I can attest to them becoming more interested in liberty and less government. I wish that more folks here on Ricochet would move this way.

  19. Rob Long
    C
    Fred Cole: Back to the original post:

    Libertarianism is on the rise especially with young people.  Libertarianism is where the youth and energy is in the Republican Party.  

    Ron Paul drew huge crowds of excited enthusiastic people, especially at colleges, to come out and listen to him talk about economics.

    That’s where the future is.

    And Ron Paul has retired from the Congress and so he’s passed the torch to a new generation, people like his son Rand and like Rep. Justin Amash. · 10 minutes ago

    I agree, mostly.  That’s where a lot ”of the future is.” Libertarians and conservatives can work together, mostly, on about 70% of the big issues.  And where they disagree on the remaining issues, they can disagree.  I would love to live in a world in which the big issues remaining were the only big issues.

    The real rot of the liberal welfare state came into being in 1964, with Barry Goldwater’s defeat and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society movement. 

    We’re going to need every oar in the water to turn this ship around.

  20. Fred Cole
    Rob Long

    We’re going to need every oar in the water to turn this ship around. 

    I don’t disagree with your Goldwater Thesis, you’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll be happy to help row as long as the island we’re going to is somewhere I want to be.  If we’re leaving Statism Island just to go to the other Statism Island, I’m not using my oar.

    The Wikipedia defines Fusionism thusly

    Fusionism is an American political term for the philosophical and political combination or “fusion” of traditionalist social conservatism with libertarianism summarized as using libertarian means in a conservative society to produce traditional social ends.

    Conservatives do thing where they stop being conservatives and becomes anti-liberals.  If it smells somewhat liberal, they’re against it.  Often so much so that they’ll use the state, at which point they become statists.

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