: Weblogs are the best thing to happen to the libertarian cause since its beginning. Libby bloggers — and I’m still not sure why there are disproporportional number of them — have done a great job spreading their worldview and making sense of it. They have advanced their cause admirably.

But this morning, I hear an NPR story about Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik and it consigns libertarians right back into the looney bin: Their candidate thinks driver’s licenses are unconstitutional, the report says, and so Badnarik makes it a point to get arrested for driving without a license whenever he can to prove his alleged point. This is exactly the image libertarians had for years: impractical, obnoxious loons.

I suggest that the libertarian bloggers band together and take over their party, for they are, in fact, their party’s best hope: Hold the first online convention, a national internet primary to pick your next candidate. Run some sane people with libby leanings (Reynolds, Volokh, Gillespie, et al). And continue to have sane discussion of issues from your perspective to add into the national debate. And get rid of the loonies.

: A libby discussion ensues thanks to Matt Welch over at Hit & Run.

  • The members of the libertarian party are the reason why people like me who are fairly libertarian in outlook vote republican. Actual libertarian candidtates tend to be nuts. Last election there was the Monatana Libertarian Senate candidate who turned himself blue permanently by drinking some home made silver tonic. It seems like libertarians have no idea how they come off looking to other people and seem unwilling to make the needed compromises to effect change in a democractic republic.

  • Leonard Peikoff

    “Libby leaners” are kind of like vegetarians who eat poultry. They like lower taxes and lots of guns but ignore core principles of libertarianism upon which such things are based, like non-aggression.

  • Hey, I’d vote for Reynolds or Volkoh. At least, I would be more likely to vote for them than other libertarians.

  • Joe Baby

    Reynolds? But-but-but he’s a Republican stooge!

  • Too-Scared-To-Use-His-Real-Name Joe Baby has a point. Renyolds is very pro-Bush which means he’s pro-bigger government, pro-more personal interference, and pro-more spending which isn’t very Libertarian (or Republican for that matter). However I think this is a very interesting idea, it was blogs and bloggers that brought the party onto my radar, not the kooks they have been running for office.

  • Mike

    So why limit the definition of the party to libertarian? Why not organize a new party, some sort of moderate party with bloggers at the forefront of the movement. Someone more creative than myself can come up with a name, all that would be required then is to come up with a basis of ideals and debate them. It could be an interesting way to change politics as we know it.

  • Paul Brinkley

    Sean Bonner: Please. Just because you’re pro-X doesn’t mean you’re pro- everything X stands for.
    That said, I agree with you; this could be a time of ascendancy for the Libertarian Party, thanks to the blogosphere. Maybe a new chapter of history is opening.

  • Dishman

    I used to be registered Libertarian. I changed to Republican when I concluded that candidates weren’t actually interested in winning elections. It seemed to me that they were more interested in appearance than results. Come to think of it, the same could be said of the Republicans here in California prior to Schwarzenegger.
    An alternate solution (to a third party) would be if most of the independents registered either R or D (coin-toss, even) just to vote in the primaries. I’m not suggesting using registration as any kind of a guide in the generals, though. The thought here is that it would help pull both parties back towards the center.

  • A while back (don’t remember the thread here on Jeff’s site), a minor sidebar occurred that discussed whether Joe Trippi’s assertion of a third party come to prominence by 2008 could be true, and if so, which party was likely to split. I argued that the Dems would along the fracture that the war has caused. But another person argued libertarians vs. religious conservatives within the Republican ranks.
    What say you?

  • Joe Baby aka Jason Bourne

    That didn’t take long, Sean.
    Obviously, Reynolds is the looking glass. He’s whatever you want him to be! He’s a chicken pot pie, he’s a Yoo-Hoo, he’s buried six inches under your front lawn.
    And Oliver Willis spouted forth from his head after David Brock tried one of those home remedy axe-to-the-head remedies on him.
    That said, I think we all agree that web libs (or lib leaners) make a lot more sense than libs in the flesh. Today’s organized (hah!) Libs are the modern-day equiv of the early s…believing organization is for suckers, whereas purity is everything.

  • Gunthrie

    The government not intruding into every quarter of American’s lives?
    What a loony idea.

  • Karl

    Why do bloggers skew libertarian? Probably for the same reason that heavy internet users do in general. It’s a phenomenon long discussed; here are two examples.

  • There are Old Catholics, and then there are old Catholics.
    There’s Libertarian, and then there’s libertarian. Mustn’t get the two confused.

  • Actually, Badnarik does sound like a real libertarian. The libertoonians, and that is the correct term for them, are the ones who rant and rail about libertarian causes only when they fit with their conservative or liberal ideology.
    For example, a libertarian is opposed to big government and the government spending their money needlessly. A libertoonian however, never utters a peep about the excessive size and the gawdawful amount of money the US spends on the military. A true libertarian would take issue with it.

  • I just find it amusing that Libertarians are so clearly in love with a medium that was sponsored by federal dollars, developed by academics who were never forced to cost justify anything, and is powered largely by software that’s available at no cost and shared freely.
    Of course, Libertarians love to drive the Federal highway system, too. Next they’ll be drinking Tang.

  • Dishman

    Anil, try reading the list of contributors on the IETF RFCs. The ones I reference now are all Sun, AT&T, Xerox-PARC and Microsoft. These are companies that believe they are actually making money by contributing to open standards. Yes, it’s descended from ARPAnet, with help from universities, but it’s much, much bigger than that.
    As for the freely available software, there are quite a few of us (thousands) who get paid to contribute to is, and we can justify that to our employers.

  • Ironchef

    All the Libertarians I know, and have ever heard of, are by definition non-agressive, and only respond with force to force. Dems and Reps have different views entirely. Namely – using force first. Either “for your own good”, or “because you might use it against us”.
    I’ll stick with Libertarian, thank you.
    Anyone who doesn’t vote Libertarian needs someone to rule them. Anyone who thinks otherwise does not understand the principles of Liberty.

  • Paul – If you say you are pro-X and never say you are anti anything X does, then people can only assume you are pro X and everything X does and stands for.

  • Dishman-
    Well put. The nation’s foremost navel-gazing, debating society is hardly prepared to govern.
    That is my read on Glenn as well. Coincidentally, my support for Mr. Bush revolves around his prosecution of the War on Terror as well.
    Michael Badnarik is probably right in the legal sense about driver’s licenses. There are other libertarians that make a similar case against the income tax as well. The problem is that such issues no longer resonate with voters and are useless to a candidate’s primary objective of getting elected.
    BTW, did you hear that Mr. Badnarik was planning on getting arrested if he wasn’t permitted to participate in the debates in St. Louis?? How that advances his candidacy is beyond me.

  • As indicated by the strident response of “Leonard Peikoff”, for example, there’s probably too much baggage attached to the term “libertarian.” I’ve got no wish to associate with “libertarians” who can only apply the “non-aggression principle” in such a simplistic fashion that they can’t see the justification for war in Iraq. Nor those who only care about limiting taxes, no matter how it affect those legitimate functions of government. Better to go with “minarchist” or even “classical liberal” or the “freedom party” or something.
    But most especially, there’s no point in a political party that only argues in terms of implementing their entire ideal in one fell swoop, rather than pragmatic moves TOWARDS a more libertarian government on individual issues.
    But I must take exception with the use of “loony” as the deregatory term for extremist libertarians. The “Loonies” should be respected (see Robert Heinlein’s: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress for the reference).

  • Cog

    John McCain for VP or Secretary of Defense? Or would he be the White House press secretary?

  • 6Gun

    Loonitarians? Hardly. Using the driver license example, I’d like just one individual to present a credible, valid claim why private sovereign citizens need a license to do anything…from marriage to driving to owning certain types of lethal hardware.
    Oh, yeah, I know; mountins of subjective, but-we-NEED-them-because relativistic dependency arguments will ensue, yet, at it’s core, the issue of government involvement or intervention is utterly valid. And such mealy-mouthed arguments to the contrary had better justify themselves, not the other way around.
    Pubbies (is that who’s in attendence here, BTW?) would do well to question how the US became one of the most oppressed and most socialized countries on earth before looking down their noses on Libertarians.

  • Jeff

    Hey, why not? They don’t seem any stupider or more dishonest than the two punks on the GOP ticket.

  • Mike

    Can we call our new party Federalism-X?
    People like the use of the letter X for some reason.

  • What happened to the plan to take over North Dakota?

  • Statements like 6 Gun’s show how out of touch most libertarians are and how appropriate the Loonitarian comments are. “US became one of the most oppressed and most socialized countries on earth before looking down their noses on Libertarians.” Dude, the US is not one of the most oppressive countries on earth. It is one of the least. Is the US too oppressive? Yes. Is the US government anywhere near as oppressive as most other countries? No. This lack of perspective shows why Libertarians will never rule the US.
    Oh, and 6 gun, private citizens need licenses to do some stuff because private citizens interact with other people while doing these things. You do not need a drivers license if you only drive on your own property. You drive on public roads you need a license. Having a license system helps to protect people from reckless drivers and provides a system of law and order for our publically owned roads. This is obvious to most people. That it is not obvious to many Libertarians shows how far they are from enacting policy and how close they are to being part of an ineffectual debating society.

  • 6Gun

    Right on que, Pete the Shouter opines that, wait for it, driver licenses are required…just because they are. All the while displaying his ignorance of the origins of this once-Constitutional Republic, Pete goes on–again, right on que–to relativistically defend the utter encroachment of government on the private, once-sovereign citizen.
    I’m no loonatarian, Pete, neither am I a liberal, so let’s drop the preconceptions and explore just how life in these Socialist States is every bit as oppressed as I said it was. (The rest of the country already knows this stuff):
    In the US, government dispenses the licensed authority to marry, drive, practice a trade, conduct commerce, submit involuntary taxes, and just about anything else that brings in income. Government also steals children without due process or equal protection (called “custody law”,) takes property (called eminent domain,) taxes without representation (called, er, taxation without representation,) restricts speech (called separation of church and state,) establishes a religion (called secular humanism, which exists in the vacuum left behind by restricting speech,) and dominates your life.
    Pete still lives in a wonderland of what? Pubbie hoo-rahing? Well, for reason of a strong national defense Dubya is my man too, Pete, but that’s all government does without destroying everything it touches.
    Head outta the sand now, Pete. Don’t go off on that of which ye evidently know so little…

  • 6Gun

    Pete relativistically asserts: “Is the US too oppressive? Yes. Is the US government anywhere near as oppressive as most other countries? No.”
    Thanks for affirming my theory, Pete: In the latter days of this Republic, it really is all about justifying socialism by how we compare to France and Germany, isn’t it? Thot so.
    Pete: “private citizens need licenses to do some stuff because private citizens interact with other people”
    Ah, the license controls behavior, eh? Like, say, a temporary restraining order makes folks automatic law-abiders? Would love to see that documented…
    Of course, this is utterly wrong. Private citizens are expected to follow law. Licensing them exerts controls, collects fees, but has nothing whatsoever to do with lawful behavior.
    Freedom by assertion. Proof by demand. The Pete’s of the um, “Right” scare me. Without an appreciation of what freedom is, so lecture the oppressed about being free.

  • Feldar

    You’re all a bunch of loons.

  • I agree with Pete. I tend to vote Republican because I disagree with looney libertarians who focus so strongly on the libertarian values that are unelectable in today’s American political climate (drug legalization says hi), or who otherwise do looney things that make them unelectable.
    Also, if I ever see Glenn H. Reynolds on a ballot of mine, I will be compelled to vote for him. And I’m guessing I wouldn’t be alone. Dare I say millions, perhaps tens of millions might join me? Hmm…

  • The Libertarian Party and Michael Badnarik both call for *small-government* on all issues at all times. Unlike the Republicans and Democrats we demand less government in all areas of our life including financial, personal, and social matters.
    Bush and Kerry both are “BIG-GOVERNMENT” candidates that have no plans whatsoever to cut the size of government, reduce the cost of government, and abolish taxes such as the federal income taxes among others.
    The federal income tax only accounts for 15% of the government’s yearly income. If we cannot reduce our bloated government by 15% to let taxpayers KEEP more of the money they earn instead of giving it to the federal government then our nation is in very dreadful shape indeed!
    Libertarians also are against the violation of individual’s rights and freedoms. We all have the right to live our life how we see fit as long as we do not violate the rights of others or harm anyone else. For example, the Patriot Act and “Free Speech Zones” severely restrict the first ammendment *right* of free speech. Such legislation should be abolished, but the Republicans and Democrats have no desire to abolish it.
    If you value your rights, your freedoms, and of course your hard earned money then Michael Badnarik is your only principled choice this election. If you truly have any desire for small government Bush and Kerry are NOT acceptable candidates for your precious vote.
    Please visit http://www.badnarik.org to learn more about Michael Badnarik, the only SMALL government candidate!

  • Rob D.

    I’m a small “l” libertarian as I think most are, and I will work within the LP party to voice my opposition to these things that have given the party a bad rep. What I don’t understand are those who leave the party, without trying to make these concerns heard. Believe me, the party’s changing for the better, regardless of what MB’s personal opinion is on driver’s licenses are. I disagree with it, but I’m not leaving because of it…that’s just silly. This is my political home and I’m staying to make it better, and there are plenty like me. Michael Badnarik is a well rounded and a truly respectable candidate that has worked his a$$ off for the cause of liberty. If you fellas don’t believe me that the party is changing for the better, just check out some of the more prominent lower level offices libertarians are going for.
    Just to name some:
    All, check out Doug Stanhope’s (from the Man Show) little funny endorsement of Badnarik. Here’s one part that relates to what I’m referring to…
    “It’s common for people to pick one or two issues from the Libertarian platform that they disagree with and discount the rest because of it. Then you end up voting for one of the two major parties only BECAUSE of the one or two issues that you DO agree with, when you don’t really trust either party on the majority of their rhetoric.”

  • Bill Brown

    Concerning the possibility of a split in the Republican Party between religious conservatives and libertarians, I consider myself to be both and see no contradiction involved. A careful reading of Romans 14 and I Corinthians 5 would indicate that, while there is a definite and distinctive way of life for the Christian to follow, the Christian has no business legislating that way of life for the non-believer. Remember, the basic rule in civil relationships is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. That sounds also like the basic rule of libertarianism.

  • joe

    To the poster who said there are legitimate reasons to think the income tax is constitutional, I suggest he READ THE CONSTITUTION. Specifically, the Sixteenth Amendment:
    “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”
    In the words of Instahack (or Insta-no-intellectual-honesty), OUCH!

  • Joe-
    There are a couple of relevant arguments in play.
    The most important (IMO) is that the 16th Amendment was never ratified by 2/3s of the states. Specifically, either Tennesee or Kentucky voted against ratification, but the Secretary of State for that state reported passage to the federal government. There are some other arguments against the income tax as well (voluntary taxation, a Supreme Court decision that states that the 16th amendment didn’t grant any new powers to Congress, etc.).
    However, the problem is that the American people have been bludgeoned into accepting the legitimacy of the income tax and therefore it is a lousy issue to build a campaign around.

  • J. Dixon

    There is nothing at all silly, loony, strange, unfathomable, or otherwise about the furthest reaches of Libertarianism… this nation definitely deserves better government than it has received. I’d rather see it move in the general direction of freedom than the general direction of serfdom.
    To those of you that speak, fearfully, of the need for incremental steps: The fact that there are two opposing parties (considered “major”) with Authoritarian slants isn’t slow enough for you?

  • 6 gun: “Thanks for affirming my theory, Pete: In the latter days of this Republic, it really is all about justifying socialism by how we compare to France and Germany, isn’t it? Thot so.”
    Thank you for confirming my theory that most Libertarians are loons. You are the one who said “US became one of the most oppressed and most socialized countries on earth before looking down their noses on Libertarians.” If you are going to say we are “the most oppressed” don’t start whining when I compare the US to other countries which are far more oppressed than we are to point out how loony you sound. Most means 50% +1. Please point out which 50% +1 of countries out there that are less oppressed than the United States, which is the number required to make your original statement accurate.
    Thank you for remininding me why I keep voting Republican and I hope you enjoy your debating society.

  • 6Gun

    Pete’s regular appeals to the conventional wisdom of Washington Republicanism’s assumed merits are at least consistent with his assertions that we need big government because we need big government.
    The onus, of course, is actually on the Pubbies (and Leftists) defending the Socialist States of America. I ask those Pubbies determined to weasel their way into a defense of all that is red-stated by any means possible to tell US how 50% taxation is consistent with the principles of this Republic?
    How failing near-mandatory Statist “education” fulfills the Holy Separation of Church and State (a mystical ideal intended, at least at it’s heart, to keep Government out of the business of influencing the private sector’s social values)?
    How contemporary search and seizure practices reflect 1776’s demand to keep the sovereign citizen sovereign?
    How family custody law, which simultaneously destroys half a dozen essential Constitutional mandates concerning life, liberty, and the pursuit of (family) happiness, plus equal protection and due process and the presumption of innocence, would play with say, an original Jeffersonian concept of personal freedom?
    How “medical care” as it’s defined in the US, which, at the moment, is just a few percentage points shy of a full-on, European/Canadian-style gulag of trillions of wasted dollars, meets the test of a free society full of free-market competition and excellence?
    How half a dozen generations of welfare dependants unable to climb out of their government-imposed hell jives with self-sufficiency and enjoying the fruits of one’s own labors?
    How constant, exponential tax pressure on the so-called upper class — that class typically also at the helm of industry — serves the economic ideals fundamental to the country’s continued survival?
    How taxing the sovereign individual citizen fairly balances the scales where trillions of dollars of corporate profit go scott-free?
    And so on. And so on.
    Head-in-the-sand red-state zealots, with an eye to beating the evil Left just as badly as the Bush-haters want to destroy the perceived devils on the Right do nothing to further the real ideals of conservative freedom when they can’t even defend their own Party.
    Again I ask, how is it that Neocon, centrist, Lucianne-style Pubbies, all the while calling for more government and more controls, can act so integral to the cause of Conservatism when their Party has done absolutely nothing to restore personal freedom or diminish the burden of Washington’s inescapable taxation?

  • 6Gun

    Here’s a simpler version of the non-debate surrounding rights and freedoms in America:
    Is the conversation EVER about whether government has a place in the private sector, or is it ALWAYS about whether it’ll be to the tune of 5% less or 5% more than it’s current level of roughly 50% of the entire GDP of this country?
    In my state, the Democrat and Republican congressmen team up in newsletters that brag about how much money they were able to bilk out of Washington. Each victory is accompanied by how these dollars will create jobs or reduce poverty or upgrade education or enhance local history. Problem is, none of these feel-good projects are government’s role. Not one.
    But that’s what we’ve come to, isn’t it?
    When you say “well, I think we should do this or that” regarding Big Brother instead of “government has no Constitutional right in that role” then the war’s already lost. When you factor government relative to your mood ring and not to your principles, then you have a simple, Roman-amphitheatre, thumbs-up or thumbs-down democracy, not a Constitutional Republic.
    And when your unprincipled, popular-acclaim government reaches 51% critical mass, as it has now, it’s all over. When you all vote yourself their property, the house of cards falls.

  • 6 gun you still haven’t defended your statement that the “US became one of the most oppressed and most socialized countries on earth before looking down their noses on Libertarians”. You keep changing the subject.
    You also just don’t get it. And sadly I think you and most other Libertarians never will get it. You assume I am a socialist, but I am one of the people who would vote Libertarian if I thought they were a serious party with a chance of winning and if they understood how to get other people to vote for them and agree with their ideas. Right now the Libertarian party is not serious. It is more of a cult than a political party. In American government, for change to be enacted you have to accept compromises some times. Right now most Libertarians care more about enforcing ideological purity than actually taking the steps needed to get things to change.
    On many big government issues I am angry with the Republicans because because I think they have turned out to be too pro-big government in everything from health care to social security. You could cut the Federal Government (and most state and local governments) to about a fifth of the size it is today and I would be cool with it. Unfortunately, I know that is NEVER going to happen. So instead of having a cultish faith in a Libertarian fantasy land I vote for the party that is at least going to cut my taxes, the one that at least has a chance of reducing the size of some government programs, and the one that is most serious about the most important legitmate role of government: National Security. Right now that is the Republican party.

  • 6Gun

    I’ve defended my statement with more detail than the discussion deserves, Pete; and I’ve defined your inconsistency reasonably well too. If you cannot get your head around the high relative level of American Socialism, that’s not my issue to correct then, is it?
    I do, in fact, more than get it. I further believe you keep banging the same pragmatic drum, hoping the notes will somehow resonant with Conservatives. It’s not happening.
    Your problem is that you are, as I’ll say just once more, struggling with relative values, and then slandering Libertarians (of which I am not one) because they and they alone defend real Constitutional principles in the absolute sense in which they were written. Like you, Jarvis should be ashamed for ridiculing Libertarian values simply because they don’t work immediately in this current tone of socializing American government.
    Isn’t that the very point?
    Pubbies (may I call you one, Pete) typically reason from this shifting POV, one that is as easily modified to suit the occasion as any. In this, they’re easily as dangerous as the Left.
    That’s the core problem: Without a sound basis of theory of government by the people for the people, and without a recognizable framework to maintain it, how will you ever restore the country to reason? If you actually want a Roman democracy of the games, just come out with it.

  • I suggest that the libertarian bloggers band together …
    Sorry, Jeff, but I think that suggestion stumbled coming out of the gate. Libertarians don’t band together well – that’s why they aren’t statists, and why they will never achieve the mass to become a credible political party. They are likely to split over doctrinal differences whenever they get big enough to support factions.
    Their ideas, at least in attenuated form, are quite viable and will continue to be adopted and adapted.

  • Jack Tanner

    ‘ A libertoonian however, never utters a peep about the excessive size and the gawdawful amount of money the US spends on the military. ‘
    You have no idea what you’re talking about. The national LP opposes the WOT, the funding and basically all foreign bases and deployments.
    In MA in 2002 Carla Howell LP candidate for governor sponsored an initiative to repeal the state income tax which received 45% of the vote in Mass. While this didn’t pass the message was loud and clear to the State legislature and Governor that budget shortfalls weren’t going to be made up by raising taxes.
    The war on drugs is a waste of millions in law enforcement implementation, adjucation and incarceration. Is ther anyone who thinks it’s worth the effort and cost?
    I don’t think Badnarik is a good candidate, I liked Harry Browne better. But one thing for sure, if there were a LP president we wouldn’t have trillion dollar deficits.

    • Michael Scott

      Billions…not millions