A New Era for the Libertarian Party?

I spent this weekend cleaning my house, doing homework, and watching the 2022 Libertarian National Convention. I am not a Libertarian Party member, although I was years ago, nor do I put much stock in politics. I believe true change comes from the individual, not from appealing to the political class. But this convention was pretty special.

For at least a decade, the Libertarian Party has been in a downward spiral. They have moved away from the inspiring words of leaders like Harry Browne, author of How to Find Freedom in an Unfree World, and Ron Paul, who ran the most successful Libertarian presidential campaign in history. They have moved towards a pandering to the woke mob and were virtually silent during the lockdowns, mandates, and government overreach of the last two years.

Feeling fed up with the nonsense of at the national level, a grassroots campaign began, and they call themselves the Mises Cauces, named after Ludwig Von Mises, an Austrian School economist and classical liberal who is also the namesake of the Mises Institute, founded in 1982. The Mises Caucus was created by Michael Heise and features popular libertarians Dave Smith, Tom Woods, and Scott Horton, among others. Their campaign initiatives run the gamut of the typical Libertarian Party initiatives on personal and economic liberty, but their main purpose is to create bolder messaging for the LP and differentiate the party from Republicans and Democrats. The Mises Caucus believes the Libertarian Party is a true third party and should comport itself as such.

As I began paying attention to the moves of the Mises Caucus and its disagreements with the national Libertarian Party over the last couple of years, it became clear to me why the party has become untenable. Corruption and childishness have become the norm in the LP. National Chairs forced to resign over collusion to unseat elected officials, swift removal and condemnation of whistleblowers, and the puerile, reactionary attitudes of so-called leaders have ruled the day. I found it all pretty disgusting.

This weekend, as I watched the convention, the infantile bickering was on full display. The whole first day of the convention was spent trying to pass the agenda, which took five hours. The LP chair Whitney Bilyeu made snide commentary on most every comment, which added to the negative feeling in the room. It was a damn mess. On day two, however, Ms. Bilyeu was sick and therefore the gavel was passed to vice chair Ken Moellman, who is an extremely fair and patient man and got things moving post haste.

The Mises Caucus swept the convention. As far as I know, every seat up for election was won by a Mises Caucus member, including the new chair Angela McArdle who gave a rousing campaign speech. Reading though Ms. McArdle’s strategic plan, I’m thrilled to see a section on marketing, which the party has always lacked. “Unfortunately, our messaging at the national level has a very self-conscious tone. We need to move away from “low self esteem” messaging. Many of the messages that come from LP National communicate that we are embarrassed to be libertarians, we’re apologetic about our beliefs, and we’re not really trying to convince anyone to be libertarian.” Other Mises candidates gave similar speeches about change and strategy. Once the elections started happening, you could feel the energy in the room begin to shift. Childishness was losing, but freedom was winning.

Will I join the LP now? That still remains to be seen. I still believe that personal responsibility and individual action do more than any political campaign. But it is exciting to see the Libertarian Party become something I can be proud of again. I stopped using the term years ago, as it was co-opted by Republicans to gain votes and by Democrats to push insults. But I am interested to see how this new leadership plays out.

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