Why the Libertarian Party Doesn’t Work (at getting someone elected president)

Interesting thoughts written before the advent of the current administration.

If we were to one day elect a Libertarian president who successfully dismantled many government programs and cut taxes dramatically that would be a wonderful break for a few years. But if that Libertarian president left the government structure as a whole intact it would then do what governments naturally do: grow.

via Why the Libertarian Party Doesn’t Work (at getting someone elected president) – Jeremy West at

Sinkhole on First Street
Image credit: Telstar Logistics

I think West is right. Moreover, even if we completely removed the structure (as is my dream – a massive sinkhole in D.C.) we would eventually wind up in the same place. I think there’s just a human tendency toward self-interest, which for some of us means disinterest in affairs outside our property lines. And for others means satisfying their sociopathic inclinations by setting themselves up in positions of power, aided and abetted by the disinterested.

I’m still in favor of electing as many Libertarians to office as possible, because they are the only ones who’ll challenge and change the status quo. But I can see why some have given up on effecting societal change and, like West, consider dropping out of the political system altogether.

2 thoughts on “Why the Libertarian Party Doesn’t Work (at getting someone elected president)”

  1. I read both your blog as well as the link that you attributed it to. Libertarian ideology will always be rejected in any well-populated society. Now, I do not want this comment to be construed as an attack on the philosophy itself but more as a commentary on why it will never catch on. Libertarianism, in its truest form (as stated in the attached link), rejects government overall. A libertarian candidate has to prove why we are better off without services that are seen as vital. Libertarians need to prove that people are better off without their food inspected by professionals (FDA). They have to prove that air travel would be safe without requiring planes to maintain a minimum safety and inspection standard (FAA). They also have to prove to unskilled workings making minimum wage that eliminating the minimum wage will not cause their employer to lower their already very low salary or convince them that they will be fine making less money. Now, this isn’t to say that all libertarian believe these things but more of a general overview of the philosophy itself. Proving to voters that all of these things, many of which they feel like they have a vested interest in, are actually detrimental to their lives is a nearly impossible task. I do not intend on attacking Libertarians but the philosophy itself, combined with the current state of affairs, is a very tough sell on voters.


    1. In my experience and reading I have found that most libertarians do not insist on a government-free society; rather, it’s a matter of the extent to which they would want to eliminate government agencies and programs. And while I would not use “always” or “never,” I agree that it is a tough sell given the mindset you describe, which I think is reflective of the thinking of the majority of Americans.

      Writing and research around numerous government-provided programs and services – even ones the average person would think of as the domain of government and no one else – has offered proof of its inefficiency or even ineptitude. Cases where there’s been genuine privatization of services also provide comparative proof that we can effectively operate in areas without government control. Cato’s Downsizing Government site is replete with well-documented examples, including some of the agencies, regulations and programs you mention (FAA, minimum wage laws).

      If we are ever to move beyond the dismal “current state of affairs” you mention, people have to be willing to step back and question, then research for themselves rather than accept what they’re fed by mainstream media outlets and government PR departments. Libertarians and others push daily to get people to think critically, and much evidence points to growth in libertarianism. But as long as the majority believe that only government can provide them the safety and security they want, libertarian thought will be filtered out at the ballot box. “Nearly impossible” is right. Then again, I never thought the Berlin wall would come down.

      Thank you for your comment – I always appreciate the opportunity to respectfully discuss differing viewpoints.


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