What Libertarian Moment?


David Harsanyi brings the bad news about that so-called “libertarian moment” you might have read about:

There is no ‘libertarian moment’ without libertarian economic reform.

It’s odd that stories about the impending libertarian ascension always treat economics as an addendum to the itinerary. Especially when one considers some of the greatest thinkers of classical liberalism were (and are) economists. It’s yet to be seen if grassroots conservatives will maintain their libertarian economic outlook should they ever find themselves in power. But at least some in GOP have embraced an agenda driven by actual idealism.

Now, with all that said, most Americans want nothing to do with libertarian economic policy. As Kevin Williamson pointed out not long ago in Politco, the love Americans show for their expensive and inefficient programs makes a libertarian moment in the near future unlikely. No matter how often voters tell pollsters they crave more choice, limited governments and free market solutions, elections tell us that they’re lying.

However, elections can’t change math, and someday the money will run out. At that point, at least as I see it, American voters will face four choices.

• Re-embrace a limited and small federal government

• Enact just enough reforms to to keep things chugging along, albeit slowly

• Go “full Italy” and take much of the economy underground and out of Washington’s reach

• Fully embrace our growing extraconstitutional democratic tyranny

I suspect we’ll get some combination of the second and third items as we continue down this path of becoming a deeply unexceptional nation.