Libertarians, with a small minority of exceptions, have an almost universal hatred of the 2016 Donald Trump campaign. Time and time again I will see a random vicious anti-Trump comment, squint at the profile picture, and see that its from a Rand supporter. The two traits seem to go together, even more than the establishment hates Trump. Indeed, the feud emerged in the first debate and second debate, not to mention in between. Perhaps the Rand supporters are just taking cues from their fearless leader (dont get me wrong, I do like him). I am not convinced of this playing any more than a minor role.
I touched upon this phenomenon briefly in my pro-Trump article. For years, libertarians have struggled to be noticed. We are so fervently sure that we are right that we cannot grasp why others do not understand. Heck, we dont even ask that THEY be libertarians. They can have their government, just let us be. But they wont do that. The situation is certainly better than it was in the 00s, and the 90s, and especially the 80s. We have the Free State Project to gather our wayward vessels together and try to influence one area, with some success. But still, even here, where people often agree with us, they dont.
No Libertarian Party presidential candidate has ever reached more than about 1% nationally. Meanwhile, Ralph Nader almost scored 3% in 2000 with the Green Party, vying for the 5% threshold to get matching funds and other benefits. Not to mention Ross Perot and John Anderson runs that did well. Libertarians have not been able to achieve this, which is unnerving, and leads to the LP fanatically claiming to be the third largest party in America. Hovering around 1% renders that meaningless.
Turning to the Republican primaries, Ron Paul earned 5.5% nationally in 2008, and nearly doubled to 10.9% in 2012. His son, Rand, was supposed to take up the mantle, and briefly flirted with 10% in the polls, leading the pack in November 2014. But alas, he has fallen to 3%. This is understandingly frustrating to libertarians, but why did it happen?
I suspect part of the reason is the unbearably crowded field. Rand is confined to the core support of his father, and may have even lost some of that. In 2012, there were twelve candidates to begin with, but only eight registered much in the polls (Cain dropped out before Iowa). By New Hampshire, there were only five notable candidates, and then Huntsman bailed. This time, we have ten candidates of muster, and five extras. Its hard to get a word in edgewise.
Another issue is that Rand is a terribly boring speaker. There were hopes in 2012 that he would be more appealing than his father, but he collapsed. In comparison to Rand, Ron was a demagogue. Charismatically leading a crowd to chants of END THE FED drums up support and binds people together better than whatever Rand does. Does he even turn out people? I dont know as Ive never been involved with the campaign. Combining this with some of his dances with the neocons/establishment that went largely unreciprocated, fewer want to be involved. And I suspect Bernie Sanders poached a number of our antiwar crossovers from 2012.
This becomes extremely frustrating for libertarians. What did we do wrong? Why cant we ever win, or at least grow? And then out of nowhere comes this jerk, who wined and dined with Democrats for 15 years, said a few “hateful” things and riled up 25% support in literally just four months. THATS NOT FAIR! After the newsletters controversy, when we were told to be good, tolerant, unbigoted children, or we wouldnt win elections. When every time some vaguely-associated-with-Nazis candidate comes along, we are told to distance ourselves from him. This guy comes along, does worse, and WINS. And he is winning, in 21 out of 33 states polled in the last six months. He is tied in 9 more. DAMN THAT BASTARD!
On top of that, some of his policy can be argued to not be libertarian at all, which a lot of Randoids have pointed out. But I dont think this is the real complaint. There isnt the same loathing of Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or Carly Fiorina, all of whom are probably worse for liberty than Trump. Its the explosive growth of Trump, the fact that he can say things that we arent allowed to. It frustrates people who have tried so hard to be heard, and are drowned out by the Trumpnado.
The thing is, Donald Trump wont be that bad, considering how little influence the president actually has on policy. Rand belongs in the Senate. He is young, so he can run again, and he will. We also need to look at the personal strengths of Trump. Emotion and demagoguery work. We need to stop being limpwristed nerds who talk about the fine details of this and that. No one cares. We have an intellectual class, which is great, but we need to win over the vast proles. And the only way to do that is with a strong and lively character who speaks in chants and slogans. Once we overthrow the socialist elites and replace them with our own, and gather together a leadership group, we can implement our ideas, and be the change. A few methodological compromises will need to be made, and policies will need to be prioritized, but I am confident that it all can be done.