On Sunday, Jack Hunter posted on his website this:
Liberal: “We need more gun control.”
Conservative: “We need less gun control.”
Independent: “I can see both sides.”
“An anarcho-capitalist society’s non-aggression principle in practice would enable individuals ability to prevent violence, should this principle be violated by any of the individuals within a true stateless society.”
Effective public debate necessarily requires a recognizable context for all parties involved. Examining the shooting tragedy in Aurora Colorado, the average American wants to know what will make them and their family safer in the future from similar incidents–more gun control or less? A reasonable concern.
Libertarians have answers to this concern. In fact, libertarians probably have some of the best answers. But those answers must be concrete and reality-based. Something virtually any American could understand on an everyday level.
There is a time and place for theoretical debate. But every time is not a place for theoretical debate. In fact, most times are not.
Jack makes an excellent point and one that is missed by many libertarian activists, especially both online and inside the Beltway. Libertarians tend to spend way too much on theory and idealistic solutions instead of articulating real world arguments for liberty. A lot of this is due to the fact that libertarians, especially based at the universities and think tanks in Washington DC, tend to be better educated than the general population. It’s a simple disconnect from how most Americans think.
Most Americans are not ideological. They’re just trying to work, raise families, provide for their children the best they can, and want the best possible future for them. They do not have the time to follow politics in depth, let alone study libertarian thought in depth. Most Americans instead need a political issue explained to them as simple as possible. That’s why most politicians and pundits speak in soundbites. If an issue grabs the attention of someone, then they will go out and research that issue more in depth. But the first thing you have to do is actually get their attention. It’s the first rule of marketing and all political activism is the marketing and selling of ideas and candidates.
Instead, many libertarians get frustrated with the voters and the American people for not seeing things their way. They think that because they’re well versed in political theory and that they’re politically principled that the American people should obviously go along with with them. They also believe that every American should share their values and get frustrated when they don’t. This is probably why many libertarians are so adamantly opposed to political compromise, advocate issues that have no appeal among the American electorate, and/or generally self-segregate politically. The major problem with this line of thinking is that in a democratic republic, the voters are always right on Election Day. If your side did not prevail, it’s because you did not persuade enough of them that your candidate should be elected and your platform should be enacted.
What libertarians need to work on is developing real world policy prescriptions for real world problems instead of working on the latest theoretical exercise.