I was recently involved in a discussion about which American third-party had the best chance to go mainstream and what might happen if they did. Of course, the whole discussion is based on an irrational idea, the whole reason that third parties aren’t mainstream is because they don’t appeal to a sizable number of American voters and the only way to appeal to a sizable number of American voters is to change their platform to such a degree that they’d no longer be that third-party. Since the majority of third parties in America are very similar to either the Democrats or the Republicans, except for one or two points that they go to extremes on, scaring away the majority of American voters, the only way to become more mainstream is to remove those extreme points, at which time they are virtually indistinguishable from the Democrats or Republicans.
But of course, it wasn’t long until the crazy libertarians showed up, as they always do, and started making absurd claims that show they just don’t comprehend reality. In this case, one came by and said that tons and tons and tons of people actually supported the Libertarian Party, although it was a conspiracy of sorts why that support never came out in the elections, where the Libertarians have failed, for more than 40 years, to garner even 5% of the electorate to their cause. So I and a couple of other people started asking questions. First off, we all know that there are huge swaths of people who wear the libertarian label who are single-issue voters. They want drugs legalized or they want to own guns or they want to end borders, etc. They care only about their issue and only vote libertarian because the party supports that issue. Our libertarian friend agreed that this is an issue and that just because you call yourself a libertarian, that doesn’t mean you actually are one, you have to embrace the “libertarian philosophy”. Great, we agreed that the Libertarian Party is even worse off than one might think because the majority of it’s support comes from people who don’t drink the Kool-Ade and don’t buy into the platform, they just want to sponge off of some of the side issues.
This, of course, brings us around to our second point, she then said that she’s been to a lot of libertarian “meetings”. Not rallies, meetings. She was very specific on that. She said that everyone that goes to these meetings buys into the libertarian philosophy hook, line and sinker and that proves that most libertarians are really serious about the platform. I immediately pointed out that this is a self-selection fallacy. Very few people go to these meetings out of the whole of registered libertarians and the ones that do attend will be the ones who accept the ideas that the libertarian leadership is preaching, after all, they are attending these meetings specifically to hear what the leadership has to say. Those who don’t care are very unlikely to attend. Therefore, the fact that these meetings are made up of people for whom these meetings are put together proves nothing about the overall makeup of the party or the people likely to vote for libertarian candidates and she just couldn’t get this very simple fact through her head.
There seems to be a very small group at the core of the Libertarian Party that are extremely cultish, they worship the “libertarian philosophy” and declare that anyone who doesn’t structure their entire lives around it “isn’t a real libertarian”. Yes, those were her exact words. How is this any different than a religion? Yet these same people are the ones that are the most vocal, evangelizing the “libertarian gospel” to anyone who will listen and insulting anyone who will not. The Libertarians are a third party for a reason, their message does not resonate with the majority of American voters and it’s not getting better, their influence is not growing, even after 40 years, their poll numbers aren’t getting higher and their candidates are stagnating at less than 3% of the voting public, often much less. Yet these people, in election after election, continue to vote for candidates that have no chance in hell of winning and then whining about the majority of Americans who won’t take a chance on their piss-poor political platform. When most libertarians don’t even take the platform seriously, why should anyone else?
Oh yeah, they have no grasp on reality!