Libertarians are a lot more prevalent in the high-IQ swatch of the web than they are in voting booth. This argument is eliciting a lot more excitement in the high-end blogosphere than in the offices of campaign consultants.
Steve Sailer has been making this point elsewhere whenever people begin speaking breathlessly about the prospect of libertarians seeking new alliances. It is a point that ought to be restated again and again. Even if someone could cook up a rather shaky Unified Field Theory of libertarianism and liberalism (if I see one more mention of a possible “reconciliation” between Hayek and Rawls, I believe I may become violently ill), it would change very little.
The political irrelevance of the entire discussion is something that I alluded to a bit in my rather long, winding post on the same article when I noted that libertarians don’t pack much of a political punch:
For all of the enthusiastic talk about the “libertarian” swing vote this year, nobody on either side seemed terribly interested in appealing to it. Why? Because no one believes he is likely to win elections by appealing to it.
But there is another problem. In addition to rather ridiculously small numbers (which have to be inflated by the category of “libertarian-leaning” voters in Cato’s recent study to make the “swing vote” idea remotely plausible), libertarians do not reliably vote as a bloc for a specific slate of issues. As Sanchez hints when he refers to the problem of internal disunity, there is no “libertarian vote” to which a candidate would even be able to appeal, because libertarians seem to not agree among themselves what takes priority (which is true of any group of people with strong political opinions, but it is more damaging to effective political action the smaller the group is). The argument over which “side” libertarians should take–the old fusionism or the new, liberal fusionism or something else all together–is about as meaningful as arguing over whether Monty Python’s Judaean People’s Front or the People’s Front of Judaea or the Popular Front would be better able to overthrow Roman rule in Life of Brian. Even if you settled the argument and came up with a satisfactory conclusion, it would amount to very, very little. It could make for fun debate. Unruly reactionary observers of the debate could also occasionally toss out Bolingbrokean fulminations that declared the two traditions to be equally obnoxious and therefore in some sense made for each other. But whatever the outcome the impact of the “libertarian vote”‘ on matters of policy would remain as miniscule as it is today.
I find I am compelled to agree with Michael’s concluding statement to his related post: “Frankly I think it’s unseemly how much attentions libertarians are getting these days.”
Addendum: I should have been more precise in my earlier post. I spoke indifferently of libertarians and “libertarians” who participated in the conservative movement; I should have made it clear that this latter group would be better identified as fusionist libertarians, and that it was particularly these fusionist types following Frank Meyer’s lead in their rather dismissive attitude towards traditionalist concerns that I was berating. This also had the effect of confusing Reason-style open borders libertarians with these fusionist libertarians, who are pro-immigration but not nearly so batty about it. Because this was unclear in the original post, there may have been a good deal of confusion about who the subject of my criticism was.