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The Libertarian future is here

by George Phillies  

Exciting news from the Pew Trust.   They just completed their latest study of American political opinions.   The implications are totally spectacular for the libertarian political movement. You can read the whole study  here. Implications not seen in their report: *There are many more left libertarians than there are right libertarians. *Libertarians are at least as large as Republicans. All libertarians need to do is to bring our supporters together. *Are you wondering why you suddenly see “Libertarians should run no Presidential candidate and vote Republican”?   Without libertarians, Republicans are completely dead in the water. What did Pew do? If you do not care how Pew came to its conclusions, skip to What did Pew Learn? So what did Pew do?   They asked a very large number of Americans a long list of questions.   Then they used computers to do “cluster analysis”, meaning they looked for groups of people who agree with each other on lots of their questions.   Of course, very few people agree with anyone else on everything. However, it turns out that you can break voters into groups of people who agree with each other on most issues, and you can show that the space between groups has relatively few people in it. That outcome, well-defined tribes of people with similar sets of view, and few people with views midway in between, does not have to be the case.   You could find, having asked your questions, that people giving each combination of answers are exactly as common as people giving any other combination.   You could, but you don’t.   For example, you don’t find a lot of people who support gay marriage, believe that the social safety net is important, support government intervention to protect climate, and … think that abortion should be totally illegal.   You don’t find zero people like that, but they are rare, while people who support gay marriage, the safety net, and carbon emission control, and who are pro-choice, are common. That’s clustering. The reason you do computer analysis is that computers are relatively unbiased politically.   They will find clusters that exist in your data, will not find clusters that are not there, and will tell you the odds that a cluster is real rather than random chance. If you are worried whether this approach makes sense, it is the same as the classical approach that decides whether two groups of not-entirely-similar birds are the same species or two different species. What Did Pew Learn? Pew found that you can divide Americans into nine political clusters. The “Bystanders” are young, politically disengaged, and amount to 10% of the population, but approximately zero percent of the registered voters.   For voting purposes, they don’t matter because they don’t vote.   They could matter, if they became voters. So what are the groups? There are three groups of people that are mostly Democratic. There are ‘Solid Liberals’, amounting to 16% of registered voters, who take liberal sands most of the time.   There are ‘hard-pressed Democrats’ who are religious, and financially challenged, amounting to 15% of the electorate.   Finally, the ‘New Coalition Democrats’ at 9% of the electorate take a positive view of our institutions, including business, and tend to be Latino and other minority groups.   These groups differ one some questions; the liberals are much more socially liberal.   Count them up; the Democratic base is 40% of the voters. Then there are the two groups that are mostly Republican, the ‘staunch conservatives’ at 11% of voters and the ‘Main Street Republicans’ at 14% of the voters.   The ‘staunch conservatives’ are very conservative on almost everything, and include the people favorable to the conservative tea party types.   However, the Tea Party is much more complicated that the Staunch Conservatives, and is not a unified movement. The Main Street Conservatives are also conservative, but less so.   Observe that the conservative tea party types, the staunch conservatives, are a minority in their own party.   Staunch conservatives think environmental laws hurt the economy and businesses do not make too much profit; Main Street Republicans are just the opposite.   Counting them up, the Republican base is 25% of the voters. Pew identified three totally different groups in the middle, which they described as ‘Disaffected’, ‘Libertarian’, and ‘post-modern’.   The three groups are very different.   Post-Moderns might reasonably be described as Left Libertarians, while Pew Libertarians are actually ‘Right Libertarians’. Non-libertarians may be unaware of that there are right and left libertarians, let alone that they disagree.   The Left and Right Libertarians are substantially split, even as the two groups of Republicans and the three groups of Democrats are badly split.   The disaffected may be described as very upset, but not in the same ways as some other people; they think that government is almost always ineffective and wasteful, and also government should do more to help the needy. The Left and Right Libertarians are both fiscally conservative and socially liberal, left libertarians being younger and more diverse, while right libertarians are 2/3 white males.     Oh, yes, left libertarians are young people, largely under 30. The Right Libertarians are 10% of the population, the Left Libertarians are 14% of the population and the Disaffecteds are 11% of the population.   Left and right differ on such issues as global warming. My conclusions There are many more left libertarians than there are right libertarians. The ratio is almost 3:2. Counting even a few of the disaffected ‘government does not work’ people as libertarians, 25%+ of the electorate is left or right libertarian, and that’s as many Libertarians as there are Republicans. And now we see why Republican empty heads have been calling for Libertarians — mostly right libertarians — not to run a Presidential candidate next year, namely without the Libertarian vote the Republicans are in an impossible position.   ‘Attached to the vertical building support with helical fasteners’ for those who wish not to read Anglo-Saxonisms.   The Democratic block will not vote Republican.   The Disaffecteds see that Republicans will tamper with the social safety net to the profit of the Republicans’ plutocrat bosses. The Left Libertarians are overwhelmingly supportive of gay marriage and environmental protections, and will not go near Republican religious-anti-environmental types.   Without Right Libertarians, the Republicans are stuck at a quarter of the vote, which is not even minority status in most places. *What Should Libertarians Do?” The Libertarian objective is to become the #2 party in the country, displacing the Republicans.   Thanks to first-past-the-post elections, a 25-30% Libertarian bloc confines the Republicans to third-party status. In order to do that, there are some wedge issues that need to be pounded on, hard, and some other wedges that need to be removed. The core wedge issues for pulling Right Libertarians away from Republicans are the social issues, notably abortion and gay rights.   An effective libertarian campaign will take hard-core libertarian positions on abortion and GLBTQPL issues, forcing right libertarians to consider the ways in which they are not very Republican at all.   Libertarian Party supporters will recognize that Libertarian Parties in the deep south may not like a pro-abortion stance.   But it’s like supporting the right to vote for African-Americans; it was the right thing to do, racist reactionary manques notwithstanding, even if it did cost the forces of virtue the votes of white racist bigots. The libertarian position that immigrants strengthen American society not only drives away Republicans but links right and left libertarians. Core issues for uniting right and left libertarians are the social issues, the belief that we are a secular rather than a religious society, that we welcome immigration, that capitalism works, that we oppose the warfare national security state, and that we have substantially made the changes needed to give equal rights for all. And now we come to a few wedges that need to be removed, notably the tendency of right libertarians to fall for conservative anti-intellectualism, expressed as global warming denial, evolution denial, and a completely unworkable environmental defense scheme based on litigation on an unprecedented scale. And if you are a Democrat, you should note that positive steps for a strong libertarian movement mean that Republicans go away completely. There are things you can do to help.   Better ballot access laws come immediately to mind.   George Phillies is a contributing editor for Liberty For All. You can contact Dr. Phillies at phillies@4liberty.net.