A Message for Non-Libertarians
by Mark Grannis
The Libertarian Party is our nation’s third-largest political party, but I’d have to be delusional to think I’ll be swept into office by Libertarian voters. I’m not delusional.
But it’s equally plain that many well-educated and politically aware Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and independents have figured out that the “usual suspects” in the two major parties have no earthly idea what’s ailing our society or how we can return to peace and prosperity. The leaders of these parties—people who have attained “leadership” status by hanging around too long instead of living in the world the rest of us inhabit—suffer from an “idea deficit” that is every bit as daunting as our budget deficit. As a result, the sclerotic parties they lead are on the brink of intellectual bankruptcy themselves.
Probably nine out of ten of my friends and neighbors see right through the incumbents’ shtick, regardless of whether it’s the Democratic shtick or the Republican shtick. In fact, public opinion surveys routinely show that the vast majority of voters hold our incumbent senators and representatives in contempt. It’s easy to see why.
To these disaffected multitudes, I say: Here is your chance. You have the opportunity to cast a vote which, win or lose, will send the unambiguous message that our national government is too big, too dumb, and too expensive. Send that message. Vote Libertarian.
I’d love to have everyone who visits this website read the Libertarian Platform and join the Libertarian Party. (And for those of you who do, don’t forget to join your state party as well.) But you don’t have to join the Libertarian Party to understand that, right now, it’s our best hope of escaping the disastrous consequences of letting our government get too big to succeed. And you don’t have to think the Libertarian Party is right about every conceivable hypothetical question to know that it’s right about the things that need the most urgent attention in 2010. So even if you’re not ready to join the party, I hope you’ll consider pulling the lever for me and for other Libertarian candidates this fall.
Interested in learning more about libertarianism?
I’ll be posting more resources as the campaign progresses, but for starters you should watch this short video from another Maryland Libertarian who ran in 2008. You may also enjoy The World’s Smallest Political Quiz.
If you’re the bookish type, I have four recommendations for now.
At the top of the list is David Boaz’s excellent introduction, “Libertarianism: A Primer.” This book surveys both the political and economic foundations of libertarianism, concisely and powerfully.
Boaz’s book was first published in 1997, and for that reason it makes a nice contrast with Ron Paul’s 2008 contribution, “Revolution: A Manifesto.” (I reviewed Dr. Paul’s book for the Washington Times here.) Dr. Paul’s central thesis in this book (as elsewhere) is that we have departed from the principles of our nation’s founding in ways that systematically make us less free. It’s a great explanation of why we were on the wrong course long before the financial crisis of 2008 and long before President Obama took over.
Readers who are mostly interested in the economic case for smaller government will enjoy Henry Hazlitt’s 1946 classic, “Economics in One Lesson.” Hazlitt draws out the implications of one of the simplest and most important ideas in political economy, namely the fact that government largesse always involves tradeoffs and that it is important to pay attention not just to the things politicians promise to give us, but to the things we will not be able to provide for ourselves if we let them use private resources for their bright ideas.
Finally, if you want to read a truly masterful and prescient primary work by a Nobel laureate and prominent libertarian scholar (though he hated the word “libertarian” and preferred to call himself a “classical liberal”), try “The Road to Serfdom” by F.A. Hayek. Hayek, an Austrian who experienced Europe’s descent into fascism first-hand, published this book in 1944 to connect the dots for British readers who did not understand the way that centralized economic planning invariably leads to the suppression of political freedom.