by: Rob Yates, LPNC Communications Director
So often, we confuse being principled with gate keeping, and the party suffers for it. When people are succeeding in politics on Liberty messages, we should own that. We can do so without betraying who we are. We just need to understand how and when to do it.
Being a Libertarian is not a choice. Call it being red-pilled or black-pilled (or some other catchy thing), it means that you are aware of things of which you can no longer be unaware. Once you see it, there’s no amount of bourbon in our ABC-tyranny-ridden state that can erase that memory. Trust me on that one.
A downside of this is that we have incredible distrust of institutions, with more distrust reserved for larger organizations, especially as they drift further from being subject to moderating market forces, making government institutions those that are the least worthy of trust. This extends to representatives of the government, from unelected bureaucrats to celebrity candidates, and everyone in between.
This perspective makes it very difficult for us to really support candidates from the uniparty. On a local level, it probably matters less in specific cases, as we can hold individual’s feet to the fire in their commitment to Liberty, regardless of the letter before their respective names.
But at higher levels, federal especially, giving credit to any politician who comes with an R or a D is a different pill, one that we generally have more trouble swallowing than John Fetterman has forming a complete sentence.
We do this to our detriment, and we are doing it currently. And I hope you will bear with me as I explain why, but right now, we should be fully supporting Vivek Ramaswamy and RFK Jr.
I will respectfully pause while a number of you yell at the screen, or curse my name, or disavow me and all my future generations. I get it. One of our favorite things to say is that someone isn’t a “real Libertarian” because of some belief that doesn’t align with our own. I think that this sensitivity comes from the huge number of people who really aren’t Libertarian but love to say that they are, like it’s some flex, and then turn around and support the Iraq War, or corrupt cops, or imprisoning people for smoking pot, or banning gas stoves, or asserting the right of the state to make medical decisions for a child, and so on.
And we’ve been burned. False ambassadors who market themselves as Libertarian while bowing at the altar of the almighty state, proving themselves beholden to their political careers and not Liberty through actions grossly at odds with individual freedom. See Jared Polis, Bill Richardson, Bill Weld, and Paul LePage. All four of them deserve our contempt and nothing more.
So, when some new political figure garners national attention, riding on Liberty messages, and members of our party began to support that person, our collective recoil is justified. We don’t want scarce financial and volunteer resources to be redirected from actual Libertarians to support some random republicrat because that person said taxes are too high (or something like that). Sometimes, things even go as far as endorsements, and the blowback is warranted.
Before I explain why it’s different here with Vivek and RFK, there is one point I have to establish. I am firmly convinced that our primary goal is to spread Liberty, not to get politicians elected. If we lived in a country that respected the NAP and individual Liberty, but a bunch of uniparty narcissists wanted to play “government” while leaving us alone, I can’t imagine caring. Unfortunately, we have ceded so much of our power and freedom to the government, though, that getting Libertarians elected is by far the biggest way to advance Liberty, so I don’t see advancing Liberty and electing officials as mutually exclusive.
What it means is that we have to be aware of the moment, and take advantage of every opportunity given us. This is where Vivek and RFK come in.
I am well aware of the policies they have proposed that should be antithetical to every single person in this party (honestly, if you support any of these, then you really aren’t a Libertarian). Vivek wants a massive estate tax, he’s staunchly anti-immigration with no hint of irony, he weaponizes the culture war to drive support, and he has proposed invading Mexico. RFK loves celebrity rep AOC’s Green New Deal, he’s called for his political opponents to be jailed in a way that makes the Biden administration jealous, he’s advocated for wealth redistribution plans, he has stated that fraudulent speech (i.e., “misinformation”) is not protected speech, and he is historically anti-2A with only a tepid backtracking in recent months.
To these things I say, so what.
Vivek and RFK Jr. have captured the attention of much of the nation, and they have done it not based on those policies listed above, but on a message of Liberty. At a moment in time when it appears we are careening toward another shameful election battle between an incontinent dementia patient who heads a crime family and a megalomaniac sociopath who also heads a crime family (think this is hyperbolic? I bet you know exactly who each one is…), it is foolish and counterproductive to not embrace the zeitgeist around these two and the Liberty message that is propelling them.
This is not an argument that we should abandon our candidates. We have a few intriguing Libertarians who have entered the race. In particular, Lars Mapstead has set a goal of winning one electoral vote, and has the strategy and finances to make it a real possibility. Not two weeks ago, Lars registered over a percentage point on a WSJ poll, and we are more than a year from the election.
But that’s the important context. We are, in fact, more than a year from the election. Lots is going to happen, and lots is going to change. (He who shall not be named) D*n@ld Tr*mp could run from a prison cell. Prez Joey B could actually dissolve into dust while wandering off stage to the sound of an ice cream truck. We are likely facing a significant economic crash – it’s more a matter of when and how bad it is. So look at the situation right now.
Vivek wants to abolish the FBI, the CIA, the IRS, and the Department of Education, among ten total departments he would eliminate, he wants to crush the Fed down to almost nothing, he wants to implement national constitutional carry, he wants to pardon Snowden and Assange, and he wants to aggressively roll back and limit the bureaucratic state. RFK Jr. has made a career challenging the revolving door between industry and regulators, and he wants to destroy the FDA and the CDC, and hold mass murderer Mr. Anthony Fauci accountable for his blood money crimes, as well as abolishing the CIA. Both of them are virulently opposed to Central Bank Digital Currencies, want to pursue a peaceful resolution to the Russia-Ukraine war, and generally oppose foreign military intervention and imperialistic policies.
All of those are squarely Libertarian policy positions (except the Fed thing doesn’t go far enough #AbolishtheFed). And it is messaging specifically for those policies that is behind the messengers’ surge in popularity. How is it possible that we are losing ideological ground to a Republican on military intervention or to a Democrat on regulator overreach?
So understand the moment, be aware of the context, and react accordingly. Right now, we should unapologetically be supporting Vivek and RFK Jr. Not completely, not through defending their awful policies, and certainly not with money or volunteering. But we need to be aggressively owning the messaging that is driving their popularity, and right now, we do that by supporting them in a way that drives productive conversations. Back Vivek or RFK Jr. and point out to their non-Libertarian supporters how much they love those two candidates’ Libertarian messaging.
Then, when the zombies who somehow get to vote on my freedom inevitably put us back into a fever dream reality show where we are expected to choose between, on one hand, a soulless, racist, rapist career politician who turned his first wife’s death into a campaign opportunity and leveraged his position to enrich himself and his family only to finally become president when the beta amyloids in his brain took over, and, on the other hand, a soulless, racist, rapist stay-puffed marshmallow man with weird orange hair who uses lawsuits to never honor contracts and eats steak well done with ketchup, we can say, “there’s another choice…”
Instead of choosing between these two poor facsimiles for human beings, we can tout the great, principled, moral, pro-human defenders of Liberty we have in our party. And we can do so in a way that resonates with people, supported by the fact that we backed their candidates previously based on Libertarian messaging. The only difference is the person saying it.
Since the founding of our party more than 50 years ago, there has never been a moment like right now. The country hates the uniparty, but they don’t see another option. People are so afraid if they don’t vote for their side, then the other side will win and hell will be unleashed on earth. In reality, it doesn’t matter who wins, the government still gets in, and we lose more incremental rights.
If someone asks me what I think of Vivek, I am going to say, “I love him. He is great on eliminating useless agencies, pardons for Snowden and Assange, and second amendment protections. You know what’s even better? You should check out our platform.” And if someone asks what I think of RFK Jr., same thing. I will say, “He’s fantastic. He’s especially good on exposing the racket that we are told is regulatory oversight of big Pharma. As long as there is incentive, there will be regulatory capture, but market forces can fix this. Let me explain.”
So stop with the natural recoil when someone mentions Vivek and RFK Jr. Instead, support them, but be clear why you are doing it. Stick with it. Keep at it. Transition the discussion from the person to the message. Then show people there is a better way. This is how we win votes, and, ultimately advance Liberty.