Libertarians still tend to identify with the Republican party. Save for
historical reasons, it is hard to see why. The current administration,
despite its free market rhetoric, has been no better–arguably
worse–than its predecessor on economic issues. Its policy on public
schooling, the largest governent run industry in the U.S., has been a
push towards more central control, not less. Its support for free trade
has been at best intermittant. Reductions in taxes have been matched by
increases in government spending, increasing, not shrinking, the real
size and cost of government. It has been strikingly bad on civil
liberties. Its Supreme Court nominees have not been notably sympathetic
to libertarian views of the law. Libertarians disagree among themselves
on foreign policy, but many support a generally non-interventionist
approach and so find themselves unhappy with the Iraq war.
Democrats have problems too. While things have been looking up for them
recently, their ideological coalition has been losing strength for
decades, leaving them in danger of long term minority status.
obvious solution to both sets of problems is for the Democrats to try
to pull the libertarian faction out of the Republican party. How large
that faction is is hard to judge, but it is clearly a lot larger than
the vote of the Libertarian Party would suggest. ….
can the Democrats appeal to libertarian Republicans without alienating
their own base?…
I think I have an answer. In 2004, Montana went for Bush
by a sizable margin. It also voted in medical marijuana, by an even
larger margin. Legalizing medical marijuana is a policy popular with
libertarians, acceptable to Democrats, and opposed by the current
At the very least, prominent Democrats should
come out in favor of the federal government respecting state medical
marijuana laws, as it has so far refused to do. Better yet, let them
propose a federal medical marijuana law. That will send a signal to a
considerable number of voters that, at least on this issue, one of the
parties is finally on their side. It would be a beginning.