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October 13, 2006
 by Christina Larson
Christina Larson

LIBERTARIANS SHRUGGED ... Are "Libertarian Democrats" a rare breed, an invasive species, or a political myth? Kos, Kevin, and Yglesias have each weighed in, with varying degrees of skepticism.

It's worth pointing out, however, that the Cato study released today, "The Libertarian Vote," which found 10-20 percent of voters to be libertarians, wasn't talking about Ayn Rand aficionados, per se.

Most voters who hold libertarian views don’t identify themselves as libertarian, though many of them would say they are “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.”

With that definition in mind, this next figure from Cato makes more sense, and also more sense to follow-up on:

Polls find that Libertarians preferred George W. Bush over Al Gore by 72 to 20 percent, but Bush’s margin dropped in 2004 to 59-38 over John Kerry. Congressional voting showed a similar swing from 2002 to 2004.
Christina Larson 12:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (3)

"Fiscally conservative and socially liberal" would describe John Anderson and his supporters back in 1980. But one would hardly describe them as libertarian.

"Fiscally conservative" means "reluctant to spend money you don't have," that's all. Libertarians believe the government should hardly be spending money at all, which is a big difference.

They also believe government shouldn't regulate much of anything at all.

There are a lot of what one might describe as John Anderson Dems. There aren't really any libertarian Dems.

Posted by: RT on October 13, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

I think there's a certain myopia about "libertarian" voters caused largely by the fact that the commentariat is elite, coastal, and quite physically distant from the people who purportedly hold these views. That is: the libertarians that writers at the Washington Monthly see regularly are Cato kids with copies of The Fountainhead in their back pockets.

It's sometimes not apparent to the people writing about it, but libertarianism, like neoconservatism, is a political doctrine without a constituency. The difference is that it pretends to have one, and does so by blurring the difference between "get-the-gubmint out my business" and "privatize the interstates and end public schools!"

There are people out here (I'm writing from Idaho) that are social moderates and fiscal conservatives. But the Cato Institute has blurred the line between individualist voters and, essentially, capitalist anarchists. There are ways which the Democrats can embrace the former, and I think recent successes and strong showings in Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona are proving that it can be done. But then Beltway folks, exposed only to the species of libertarian that fancies itself John Galt, wonder if that's actually possible, because there's no way that those people would ever vote for a Democrat.

Well, those people can generally afford to construct economic castles-in-the-sky like Health Savings Accounts and universal privatization. Most voters cannot, and although they don't always vote their interests, they are at least aware of what those interests are.

-- ACS

Posted by: Andreas Schou on October 13, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a libertarian and pretty much always vote Democratic for the simple reason that I value civil liberties a lot more than economic ones. I've never understood libertarians who vote Republican, especially since the repubs switched from being economically conservative to economically help-your-corporate-buddies-out-and-do-anything-to-get-elected.

I'm a realist and generally realize in a winner-takes-all system like ours, a vote for a third party is a waste of a vote. So I end up voting for the lesser of two evils, the Democratic party. Though I'd vote Republican if I was in Ron Paul's district. And I'd choose a Republican over a conservative Democrat like Casey.

And to RT's comments, just as the mainstream parties are big tents, the definition of a libertarian can be too. Especially if they are being practical.

I'm for universal healthcare and retirement security because if we didn't have them, most people wouldn't be responsible enough to have them and under no circumstances would the American people let a bunch of seniors starve to death because they didn't save properly. So, if we're going to have to pay for it eventually, we might as well make it a real program.

And the number one reason I'd incredibly unlikely to vote Republican is I don't want any one forcing the religion/moral values on me. And almost all Republican candidates suck up to the Evangelicals. I'd vote for Satan himself before Pat Roberts and his ilk.

— Mark

Posted by: Mark Lilback on October 15, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

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