Last night, an amazing political spectacle took place in Mississippi. At an official campaign stop in Jackson, Donald Trump invited the notorious former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage to talk about the historic Brexit vote, of which he was instrumental in orchestrating over in Jolly Ol’ England.
The video coverage is powerful, and the speech was inspiring and optimistic. Here is Farage in his own words:
Farage is a leader who really understands how to frame the issues. He has established his forces as the populist rabble, the ordinary folks taking back their sovereignty against a totalitarian bureaucracy that is out of control. It is rare to hear the liberty movement pose their arguments in the same manner. Sometimes, it seems as if libertarians go out of their way to make their arguments as arcane to the common man as possible. Egotism and elitism are prioritized above reaching out to the masses and connecting with individuals.
The Beltway types perched upon their ivory towers like to act as if their opinion is irrefutable, in spite of never achieving any tangible success, and that “playing the game” is the only way for libertarians to make gains. Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz had to play the game to win, we were all assured. Then they played the game and had nothing to show for it in the end. Gary Johnson has tripled down on the pandering approach and has embarrassed the movement immeasurably on a grand stage as a result. Meanwhile, Farage is making historic gains for his cause without flinching or wavering one iota. That is the strong leadership that the liberty movement desperately needs in the states.
While libertarians flirt with the idea of becoming toadies of the political establishment, Farage and Trump make power moves to shake up the system at large. Regardless of what you think about the specifics of his policy platform, Trump has the entire political elite walking on eggshells. Federal bureaucrats show up on television shows and throw conniption fits over Trump’s nonsense. Mainstream media hacks meltdown and throw tantrums on live TV because Trump is under their skin. Trump has dragged establishment politics down into his sewer and made fools out of most of them. At the very least, the “friendly fire” from this mayhem is incredibly fun to watch.
Conversely, we have seen what happens when you try to fight back against the populist right. Rand Paul was steamrolled almost instantly. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio held on for awhile, but it was to no avail. Ted Cruz put up the most valiant effort, but even he was ultimately powerless to stop Trump. Extrapolating the situation to right-wing talk radio has had similar results. Neocon hacks Glenn Beck and Mark Levin have seen their empires crumble because Trumpmania caught them off guard. Paleoconservative fire-breather Alex Jones, on the other hand, flies higher than ever as Trump reads conspiracy theories directly from his website on the campaign trail. There are lessons that liberty activists must learn from this new political reality facing us.
Libertarians can find their role within the context of this burgeoning populist right, or they can get steamrolled by it. Although we may not like it, those are the two options. The climate of the Republican Party during that wonderful Ron Paul Revolution and subsequent tea party era was more hospitable to the liberty message. We made unprecedented gains during those years. However, times change and we need to roll with the punches to be most effective. It is still possible to create a strong liberty message out of populist rhetoric, and this message can carry liberty-minded folks to winning over more converts to the cause while growing in influence within the political sphere.
Here are some examples of populist right-wing arguments that can be made from a liberty perspective. As the concept is understood by the public, globalism means international bureaucracies and super-banks such as the United Nations, European Union, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank usurping independence from the people. We can easily make an argument against these forces from a libertarian standpoint, and dovetail from there into ending foreign aid and stopping the entanglement of alliances. American nationalism, as opposed to nationalism in other countries, necessarily entails the Bill of Rights and Constitution. While making a nationalistic argument to the public, liberty-minded folks would be wise to center the message around the founding documents while championing the supremacy of the American system.
Right now, libertarians are stuck at the proverbial fork in the road. They can either go the Johnson/Weld route, which consists of being a lapdog for their political masters while posing zero threat to the status quo and never accomplishing anything except for self-aggrandizement–or, they can do what Nigel Farage has done. Farage never bent an inch when times were tough, and he’s had an amazing victory against the reprehensible international bureaucrats to show for it. It is time to adopt an intelligent, coherent, winning political strategy. The liberty movement cannot afford another year where it lost as much momentum as it did in 2016. That is why it is time to re-evaluate and consider emulating what is working both nationally and globally.