I’ve found myself drifting into libertarianism over the past few years. The financial meltdown helped accelerate the process by forcing me take a serious look at Ayn Rand instead of laughing her off as a cult leader for geeks. When the government is getting more powerful it’s almost an instinctual reaction to demand less of it. I’ve lived through the 1970’s once already and I don’t share the nostalgia others have for that decade. I am also very uncomfortable with the social conservatism of the Republican party; I don’t understand how Republicans want less government regulation of business but more government regulation of people’s bedrooms.
Nick Gillespie defines Libertarians as follows:
First and foremost, libertarians like liberty, the idea that individuals have as much space as possible to make as many choices as possible (there’s a reason that Reason’s most recent anthology is called “Choice“). And unlike conservatives and liberals, who always fetishize some choices and demonize others, we’re pretty consistent. We generally like school choice and reproductive choice, for instance, and think you should have your choice of religion (including none at all) too, and drugs, and partners in life and business.
In any given situation, is your default position that people ought to have more freedom rather than less? If so, you just might be a libertarian (especially if you don’t find Rush—the band, not the bloviator—totally awful). Do you believe in decentralized, John Stuart Mill-like “experiments in living“ rather than top-down, command-and-control lifestyles (whether right-wing or left), then you might be a libertarian. Are you incredibly good-looking, witty and learned, the sort of man that women want and men want to be like (and vice versa)? Libertarian.
What’s not to like about that definition? I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t want to save the world, I simply want to be left alone. Unfortunately the problem with libertarianism is it’s full of perverts, potheads and paranoids. Libertarianism seems to attract people who want to legalize drugs so they can get high, or end restrictions on who (or what) they can bed, or to end the threat of the CIA reading their thoughts and dreading the day the black helicopters from the UN arrive.
Most of the libertarians I know are not “incredibly good-looking”; they look like me – middle aged, pudgy and balding – about as attractive as a package of strawberries two weeks past their sell-by date. Even the band Rush that Nick Gillespie refers to is one of the most homely looking bands in the history of rock and roll. Yes Neil Peart is the best drummer in rock history and his lyrics come straight from SF classics but his grizzled visage could sterilize Canadian geese at 100 yards.
This has me concerned, since PJ O’Rourke once observed that the future success of a political movement could be gauged by the beauty of the women supporting it. Granted there are some nice looking Libertarians like Ann Althouse and I suppose Glenn Reynolds, and Nick Gillespie himself could be considered attractive (especially among leather fetishists), but the vast majority of rank and file Libertarian Party members that one runs into outside of the DMV or the polls look like denizens of parental basements that spend too much time playing World of Warcraft and viewing free online porn.
This does not bode well for a libertarian future if O’Rourke is to be believed, although to be fair the Left is suffering similarly. Leftists like Arianna Huffington and Nancy Pelosi appear ready to shoot their faces off at any moment once the plastic surgery implanted rubber band holding back the years snaps. Rachel Maddow looks like Justin Bieber’s lesbian lover, and both Olbermann and Matthews look like they’ve spent way too much time conducting interviews at all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets.
So where does the hotness – and the political future – lay? On the Right with the likes of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman and Kristi Noem. All these women have no equal among Democrats which may be yet another reason why so many on the Left despise them. Add in the likes of Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter and it’s no wonder that Fox News beats the tar out of the other cable news outlets. Who wants to watch fat people arguing while you’re stuffing your own face?
Is this a shallow analysis? Of course it is, but people join political parties for lots of reasons and avoid them for others. While there are important philosophical criticisms of libertarianism, the fact is that libertarianism needs to take a cold shower and get a nice suit (something tailored and selected by an experienced clerk who knows how to dress someone) before it becomes a respectable movement.