I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about libertarianism. As a matter of fact, I advocate that you don’t follow any one person, but focus on principles. People can be corrupted and flawed, the principles themselves, cannot. I do, however, believe that I have some advice that can apply to the Libertarian Party. I give this advice after nearly 21 years in the political world as a debater, author, campaigner, and candidate. Please note, this is only advice, and do not wish to force change.
1. Speak more kindly
I cannot tell you how many times I have watched a discussion turn ugly both online and in the real world when differences arise between libertarians, or when someone new to the movement asks questions. In my capacities as Chair of my county affiliate, I have participated in countless outreach activities. In the course of these outreaches, I have heard what people are saying why they won’t join. When the person is ideologically libertarian, they have told me they aren’t coming over because of how they were treated by libertarians.
We are pushing people out before they even have a chance to join. If we continue to be abrasive to others in their journeys, they will continue to find themselves somewhere else. We most definitely should mentor new members. Help guide them. What we cannot do is continue to treat everyone who hasn’t arrived on the same exact path we are as if they are the scum of the earth. With some of the comments I’ve seen, that is exactly what is being done.
2. Actually Admin your group
Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. That being said, if you are utilizing a social media platform as an admin, you can and should moderate the content. I cannot begin to tell you how ridiculous we look when there is Libertarian in the title of a page and all I see is racism, bigotry, flat earthers, nationalists, etc. spewed across the pages. If you want to have a group for all political ideologies and theories, then name your group something that has to do with having multiple ideologies. If you want it to be about libertarianism, either the ideology or the party, you need to start getting rid of people who are utilizing our platform to advocate for things like genocide and segregation.
Some people are associating this as libertarianism, that these kinds of people are who we are. If you aren’t like that, police your site. It isn’t violating anyone’s free speech when it is a group you created. Freedom of association also applies. If they want to spew their garbage, let them create their own group. Don’t let them use yours.
3. We are not Republicans
A lot of people seem to think we are nothing more than the farm team for the Republican Party. A lot of that has to do with the fact that a lot of libertarians continue to speak in the left vs. right, red vs. blue paradigm with more positive light toward Republicans. Stop. Republicans are just as bad as Democrats in government. You want to come to Utah and see what a Republican super majority looks like? Sure, the economy is doing well, but civil liberties are another story all together.
We need to be vocally calling out both sides of the aisle and explaining how we can do it better. Quit pandering to the Republicans. We aren’t left, we aren’t right, we are people who are fighting for civil and economic liberty. Neither major party, especially those at the federal level, are doing that.
4. It takes more than a keyboard
For all the time spent arguing about the minutia of libertarian philosophy, you could have been out in the real world handing out flyers, making phone calls, meeting people with questions, helping with leadership, or any other host of activities. While we certainly must utilize social media in our outreach efforts, far too much time is consumed with petty infighting on Facebook than is spent broadening the movement.
Talk is cheap, so if you are sitting behind a keyboard flexing your finger muscles, and that is the limit of your activism, you need to be doing more. Politics is social. It involves people. Arguing online does nothing.
5. Yes, anarchists are libertarian too
I, as a radical in the Party, actually get quite fed up with the notion that if you aren’t a minarchist, you are somehow not libertarian. The facts are that we fall in the same spectrum of thought, just going one step further to eventual abolition. There is nothing wrong with that. We are people who want to help fight for liberty and then be left alone. We are on your side. We can debate how much government is an appropriate level once it actually starts shrinking. Right now, we both agree that it is a monster. We are going to need to fight it together.
And to radicals who are attacking the minarchists: for the same reasons outlined above, you too need to stop the fighting. We have a common enemy.
I highly encourage you as the reader to look up the Dallas Accord, a way to keep the peace. We are on a train together, we just might have earlier stops than others. Not everyone is going to agree exactly how much is needed, but one thing is certain: we need each other to keep pushing things. There are too few of us as it is right now. Quit trying to purge each other.