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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When Should Libertarians Say D=R?

Brian Holtz // Aug 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm

When we say that the incumbent parties aren’t substantially different from each other, we undercut our message that Libertarians combine the best of both Left and Right. One way to present that message is with an interactive JavaScript Nolan quiz.

When we say that the incumbent parties are too alike, we should include specifics, as in these two videos.

Brian Holtz // Aug 8, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Saying that there is such a thing as Left and Right does not perpetuate the myth that there is no Up or Down.

On the other hand ;-) , denying that there is a Left that differs from the Right is a great way to limit your audience to pretty much just the choir.

Brian Holtz // Aug 9, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Darryl, the answer to your question is in my two videos above.

Michael, the point of the Nolan Chart is that Left and Right are just two different tendencies to coerce, and that Up/North is the direction for those who find both tendencies distasteful.

If you think that taping the “coercion” label onto things is a political silver bullet, let’s see if it works on you. Read this short essay, and see if it gives you the geolibertarian realization that appropriating ground rent is coercion.

There are no silver bullets in libertarian outreach. A silver bullet that works on every werewolf is exactly what the next werewolf wants you to think you have.

Brian Holtz // Aug 9, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I’m saying that the Left and Right each want to protect you from a certain set of your own choices. The substantial overlap between those two sets is identified in the two videos above. The substantial difference between those two sets can be seen using the “View the positions of” menu of the quiz above.

Different audiences have different tolerances for oversimplification. For audiences with higher tolerance, or less time, there is always the bumper sticker approach.

Brian Holtz // Aug 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm

JT) Democrats and Republicans aren’t substantially different in what they actually do in office (JT

Minimum wage. Abortion. Marginal tax rates. DOMA. Mandatory health insurance. Prayer in public schools. Partial Social Security privatization. Family medical leave. Etc. Etc.

To see how differently the donkeys and elephants vote, take a look at the data, e.g.

Sure, it’s often the case that one party can limit how much of the other party’s agenda gets implemented, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t pushing an ideology. And yes, neither party is working to move policy in an overall libertarian direction. But denying there are substantial differences is not a silver marketing bullet to be included in all Libertarian outreach. There is a market segment to whom we should emphasize the similarities between the two incumbent parties, and there is anothe segment to whom we should say we combine the best of the differences between the parties.

For a guide to polling data about how libertarian Americans are, see .

Brian Holtz // Aug 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm

The point of my Boxer/Hatch links was to point toward data about how important policy issues are often decided by close to party-line votes. That’s why I also listed a bunch of important policies whose implementation has hinged on party lines. If we disagree about the historical record here, then we can let readers investigate for themselves.

JT) But overall, I don’t see a substantial difference between the 2 incumbent parties. (JT

Yes, but you’re already a libertarian. It’s important to get libertarians to vote Libertarian, but we also need to cultivate the libertarian leaners who currently vote for one incumbent party out of loathing for the other. Telling them the incumbent parties are the same is a good way to get them to ignore the rest of our pitch.

That’s why I like The Advocates For Self-Government and their diamond-chart quiz. I wouldn’t replace it with an are-you-a-statist-or-libertarian quiz.

Brian Holtz // Aug 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm

JT) “Democrat” and “Republican” aren’t two of the areas. (JT

If you score the Democrats and Republicans on the quiz @31 (or on the WSPQ), they will fall into the left and right sides of the diamond chart, respectively. That’s why it’s shaped like a diamond, and not a thermometer.

JT) a few of those policies either weren’t close to being implemented or weren’t substantially different from what the other party proposed, IMO (JT

1) I repeat: “it’s often the case that one party can limit how much of the other party’s agenda gets implemented, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t pushing an ideology.”

2) Policy questions like abortion, marginal tax rates, school prayer, and SS privatization are considered by many many Americans to have massive impacts on their lives — even if you don’t see much difference in the outcomes. (If the Democrats raise marginal tax rates and uncap FICA contributions, are you going to pay my family the tens of thousands of dollars a year it will cost us? If one of my daughters wants an abortion after the Republicans outlaw them, are you going to perform the procedure?)

Bob, voters’ perception of candidates below POTUS are mostly determined by party label (and name recognition), not individual candidate evaluations. That’s pretty much the point of political parties.

Brian Holtz // Aug 10, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I’m not asking voters to become issue analysts. I’m just asking voters to signal what direction they want America to go: Left, Right, or Free. The way to beat the Wasted Vote Argument is to convince people that voting is about signaling, and not about changing election outcomes.

If in the near future the Democrats and Republicans start having policy differences that you consider “substantial”, would you then start agreeing with the Wasted Vote Argument?

For my full dissection of the Wasted Vote Argument, see here.