What Progressive Activists Could Learn From The Liberty Movement

in Philosophy/Politics by
   

For progressives, the political future looks dark right now. The them versus the world mentality has never been more prominent. Police brutality is a major concern, Senator Bernie Sanders lost a questionable primary, and the only answer seems to be found in Hillary Clinton. Where do the progressives go from here?

At first glance, the answer actually seems quite simple. The presumptive nominee of the Republican Party is the controversial and combative businessman Donald Trump, who has regularly made a name for himself hurling insults and taking concerning positions. He doesn’t align with the progressive agenda at all and is arguably worse than Hillary Clinton on the topic.

Progressives must support Hillary Clinton, or so everybody is told.

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Back in 2012, libertarians were in a major battle for significance within the Republican Party. Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul was their candidate and using a caucus-focused strategy, really launched a movement. While many expected former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to eventually win, Paul was making the Republican establishment uncomfortable with time.

But with questionable tactics, the Republican National Committee saved the day for the party mainstream and Romney was anointed the nominee.

At this point, many libertarians were faced with the same decision progressives are now: where do we turn?

President Barack Obama was Romney’s opponent and from a libertarian perspective, President Obama was nothing like them and was distant from their principles. The Democratic incumbent continued an interventionist foreign policy and favored war more than he campaigned on, supported the surveillance state, and pushed higher government spending. Libertarians favor a noninterventionist foreign policy and oppose war, favor limited government, and responsible government spending.

And while Romney is hardly libertarian, he wasn’t as bad as President Obama. Libertarians must support Romney, or so everyone was told. So what happened?

Many libertarians refused to support the Republican nominee, who wrongfully seized the nomination in the eyes of many. Instead, they looked elsewhere. There are third parties like the Libertarian, Green and Constitution Parties, Independent candidates, write-in votes, or simply just stay at home. Whatever it was, libertarians stood their ground and voted for principle.

President Barack Obama won a second term and from a libertarian perspective, it was an awful four years. Though statistically incorrect, libertarians were still largely blamed for the loss of Mitt Romney. The short term was a loss no matter how it looked, so why compromise on principles? The result was a long term gain.

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Over the coming years, many libertarians abandoned the Republican Party and started seeking to establish third party strength. This is something that has grown stronger with the ascension of Donald Trump. The result is Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson not only getting polled, but polling well. In past years, third party candidates don’t generally get polled. This year, the strength of the ticket and the increased viability of the party due to libertarian investment, has changed things. In presidential polls, Johnson is polling around 7-13% of the vote.

While progressives may note that won’t win an election, it’s enough to break through. Johnson is mere percentage points from the 15% threshold to get in the presidential debates and if he makes the stage, that grants a great deal of credibility to a third party candidate who already will be on the ballot in all 50 states. The result is the beginning of a movement.

The Republican Party will never embrace libertarianism. Likewise, the Democratic Party will never embrace progressivism. Both party establishments are about power and manufacture a safe, middle-of-the-road moderate view to ensure that is maintained. Progressives, if they want to succeed, have to model themselves after libertarians and take after their approach.

Don’t sell out to the Democratic Party that mistreated you. Don’t support Hillary Clinton.

Chris Dixon is a liberty activist and writer from Maine. In addition to being Managing Editor for the Liberty Conservative, he also writes the Bangor Daily News blog "Undercover Porcupine" and for sports website Cleatgeeks.