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Libertarians and Republicans:
There is an interesting exchange between Ryan Sager and Ramesh Ponnuru about the role of libertarians in the Republican coalition (Instapundit has the links here). This is a complicated subject about which I would have a good deal to say if I had the time to compose a careful post. But I do want to make one point.

In hindsight, I think that the creation of the Libertarian Party has been very detrimental to the political influence of libertarians. Some voters (not many lately) and, more importantly, those libertarians who are interested in engaging in political activism (which does not include me) have been drained from both political parties, rendering both parties less libertarian at the margin.

Put another way, in proportional voting parliamentary systems, there are many political parties and governments are often formed by organizing a coalition in which they must cater to smaller parties, especially when holding a only slim paliamentary majority. In a winner-take-all first-past-the-post electoral system--like we have in elections for both Congress and the presidency--the major parties are each themselves coalitions of political interests. To win an election, they need to gather a coalition of voters to get over 50% of the vote, so the marginal voters become important to them. Of course, they cannot make efforts to reach marginal voters that completely alienate their "base" (which is one the problems facing Democrats at the moment).

While some libertarian political activists are certainly Republicans and Democrats, the existence of the Libertarian Party ensures that there are fewer activists and fewer voters in each major party coalition than would otherwise exist. Therefore, each party's coalition becomes less libertarian. I do not mean to exaggerate the extent of this effect. But even a handful of political activists in local and state party organizations can make a big difference. Whatever one thinks of the initial creation of the Libertarian Party, its continued existence seems to be a mistake for libertarians.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Parties Are Not Sports Teams--Parties are the Playoffs:
  2. Libertarians and Republicans: