Comment: Brilliant article! Right on target.

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Brilliant article! Right on target.

liberty's winning issue, on which they must focus when campaigning, may not be the most important issue as judged by the liberty movement's own philosophy: rather, it will be the issue that is most important to everyone else, of which the establishment is on the wrong side but the liberty movement is on the people's side.

This begs the obvious question: what is that issue? This may well be the most important question on which the potential electoral success of the liberty movement depends.

Yes! I couldn't agree more.

Libertarian types are disproportionately rationalists of an analytical bent. They are therefore prone to the quaint but false idea that the best way to win a supporter is explain one's view logically to as many people as possible. The reality, however, is that voters who adopt or even "try out" a new party come to accept its platform over time more by osmosis than logical deduction, as they discover that they feel comfortable with other members of the movement or party that they have newly joined. Ultimately, most of us are tribal beings so nearly all politics are the politics of identity.

Bingo, philosopher-kings are rare, a majority of philosopher-voters is an impossibility in this world. Education only goes so far, and I'm convinced that most of the people who can be educated have been educated. The focus of the movement must now be to reach the remainder, and that means identifying one or two issues they already care about and understand, and repeating our position over and over and over again in simple terms. We don't need more books and idealists, we need more soundbites, more slogans, more rhetorically skilled politicians. We need to see ourselves less as a graduate seminar and more as a marketing operation.

And if all this reads like an argument for a crude populism, then I can only point out that elections are simultaneously the purest and the crudest popularity contests modern society indulges in. The fact that the words "popularity" and "populism" are almost the same is not an accident. If American liberty is to gain more of the first, it shouldn't be scared by a little of the second.


"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."