GOP Survival Depends on Engaging the Millenial Libertarians
Republicans–myself included–sometimes struggle with Libertarians. Historically the Libertarian Party took an approach that was pro-freedom, small government, non-interventionist, with a big emphasis on the decriminalization of drugs. Ron Paul Libertarians add a little spice to the mix with a conspiratorial mind-set that views 9/11 as an inside job and the Federal Reserve as Lucifer’s lair. Many Tea Party activists lean Libertarian, predominantly of Generations X and Y, with a large helping of Baby Boomers. But there is a new strain of Libertarian thought that is more focused upon individual liberty than the other accouterments of Paulian Libertarianism, and it is emerging from the Millenials; young people primarily in their twenties.
Though somewhat politically interested, these Libertarians are formulating a way of life for themselves that minimizes their interactions with government. They lack older Libertarians’ preoccupation with issues such as the “Fed” and “Military imperialism.” Millenial Libertarians grew up primarily during Clinton’s tenure; a time when government could not be taken seriously and political leaders were more fodder for raunchy jokes than figures of respect. Millenial Libertarians, whose formative years were the 1990s, have an instinctive distrust of government at all levels. Clinton was the transformative Democrat who destroyed the moral authority of the office of the President of the United States, and turned the Executive Branch into a pinata for the political opposition of any given time, and a vector for big government favors to be extracted by Progressive special interests.
Millenial Libertarians, most of whom have sound moral instincts, are disgusted with politics as usual, and they resent the damage to our economy and culture brought on by the Baby Boomers; in particular the massive growth and repressive nature of governing bodies. Their primary political philosophy is based simply on the desire to live free without government constantly in their business.
My son exemplifies this strain of Libertarianism.
With a shock of orange hair, a frowzy beard, intense eyes, and a ropy body, my oldest son looks like a Celtic warrior winding up to pounce on a Roman. Long outside my hen’s protecting wings, he has become an elite underground cycling athlete. Working as a bike courier in a bustling metropolis for years–having actually spent a night or two in jail for unpaid tickets he received for running his bike through red lights–he’s become part of a rebel movement that holds competitive, dangerous bike races during normal business hours in the midst of city traffic.
This rebel movement skirts the ordinary processes of applying for and obtaining permits to hold bike races on city streets. This racing cabal rebuffs cooperation with law enforcement and city officials who ordinarily arrange for certain streets to be blocked off so that races can go unhampered by car traffic and its associated dangers. With a veiled code that prioritizes neither rules nor safety, these rebel cyclists simply launch from a beginning point, and whoever reaches the end point first, wins.
I’m a good mom, so of course I plead with my son not to take the kinds of risks that could land him under the wheels of a semi, or through the plate glass of a city window. But he’s a young man with a libertarian spirit; sick of rules, regulations, and the impositions of government, and there is a part of me that celebrates this rebellion. I too am sick of dictatorial government and its limitations on human freedom. Behind the motherly concern for my son’s well being, my heart resounds with a zest for unfettered, fearless living, even when it requires defiance of the law and a repudiation of government constraints.
Like it or not, the Republican Party needs to come to grips with young Libertarian rebels like my son, because they are they key to its viability. Old guard Republicans fancy big government, which Tea Party Conservatives and Libertarians find intolerable, and more importantly, fear. The establishment GOP regards shaving off bits of the Bill of Rights here and there as a necessary evil to maintain national security, while new guard activists believe the greatest threat to national security is the Federal Government itself.
Chris Christie’s attacks on Rand Paul are emblematic of the tug of war between the ossified establishment GOP, and the revolutionary spirit of the Tea Party and its sister movement of libertarian Millennials. Accusations by establishment hacks like Chris Christie that somehow, Libertarian thought is “dangerous” serves only to fuel the fires of resistance within the GOP’s conservative base. The real danger to the Conservative Movement comes from the porky GOP establishment where the zeal for freedom has given way to the comfort of compromise, where the light of liberty has been eclipsed by the penumbra of inevitable decline.
Ted Cruz’ Texas victory is a model upon which the Republican party must build its strategy for 2014. It’s almost inevitable that every establishment Republican, especially those in the red states, will have to face down a Tea Party/Libertarian primary opponent. Democrats relish the thought of a divided GOP. But it was a divided Republican party in Texas that gave us Ted Cruz. The division is not one of equal sides. The Tea Party is more organized and firmly embedded within GOP organizations across the country than it was even in 2010. With popular Libertarianism on the rise among young people, and Progressivism failing at every turn, the Tea Party is poised to sweep the political landscape with a hundred like Ted Cruz in the months to come. Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, fifteen months out, is already facing a Tea Party challenger in the form of Kentucky firebrand, Matt Bevin, who, like Ted Cruz, is young, fiery, articulate, and sick of big government. This is merely a shadow of what is to come.
There is fire in my son’s eyes, and in those of thousands–perhaps millions of Millenials, who simply want to live their lives without government always in their faces. The Left, with the Obama Administration leading the way and establishment Republicans in tow, has pushed the arc of the political pendulum to its utter extreme, and under the force of social gravity it is primed to come swinging back. The Republican Party will go extinct if it fails to seize the Libertarian momentum of America’s Right swinging arc.
by Marjorie Haun 2/24/14
Tags: Establishment GOP, individual liberty, Libertarians, Millenial Generation, mistrust of Obama, rebellion, rebels, reject Obama statism, republicans, resentment for government, revolutionaries, Ron Paul, Tea Party, Ted Cruz