The Rise of Libertarianism

Last week’s column in The Kitchener Post was temporarily inaccessible due to technical issues, but they’re fixed, now. In it, I wrote about the strong performance of Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party in the American elections. It’s the strongest performance since Ross Perot, and that’s no small thing…

The Libertarians have been running candidates in Canadian and American elections for decades. Over here, they’ve never received more than one to two per cent of the vote. In this American election, however, the Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson may be receiving 10 per cent of the vote. One poll in Utah had him at 26 per cent in the state.

If a third party gets 15 per cent of the vote, they get to participate in the national debates. That hasn’t happened since Ross Perot ran for president.

In the political debates I’ve seen online, many have laughed at the Libertarians’ idealism, likening their desires to wishing for unicorns. This sells them short.

Libertarians are actually quite hard to debate with because their philosophy is so consistent — they just want freedom. They don’t want the government taxing us for social programs, they don’t want government to police what we smoke or ingest and they certainly don’t want government telling us what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes.

Who doesn’t agree with that? Those who would argue tend to focus on the practicality of the agenda — how governments are vital for ensuring our water is clean, our food is safe and roads actually get built.

In terms of debating, however, that’s still a “yes, but—” statement, which automatically cedes the Libertarians a chunk of the floor.

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