I have noticed a troubling trend amongst liberty conservatives that is growing lately. Instead of forging alliances with the anti-establishment Republican grassroots, they are pouting, whining, doing the bidding of the Bill Kristol’s of the world, abandoning ship, taking their ball and going home. They are proving all the worst stereotypes about the liberty minded: that we are marginal, petty, flaky, unreliable, melodramatic and undeserving to enjoy the blessings of freedom.
Although events in the last year have killed morale and bruised many of our egos, there is a silver lining. The Trump phenomenon has harmed our enemies more than it has us. The elite media is reeling, having been out-smarted by a reality TV star. The neocons have never looked more foolish and out of touch. The special interest money machine that fuels Washington D.C. has been neutered by Trump’s garbage machine. When looked at as a case study, there are many lessons that we can learn from Trump’s historic campaign.
Lesson #1: Populist, anti-establishment politics are a goldmine
Donald Trump has proven this once and for all. Nigel Farage has overseas proven it as well. The people are fightin’ mad for a multitude of obvious reasons. We have to embrace this fact, not reject it. The liberty movement is not a cheerleader outfit for the status quo. We want to rock the boat. We want to turn the table on establishment politics. We are not guardians of liberal democracy nor the defenders of equality. We are liberty warriors on march to ultimate victory for a radical, anti-statist cause.
With those facts in mind, we must realize that Rand Paul and Ted Cruz both have made some made huge mistakes. Rand’s shady alliance with Mitch McConnell and endorsement of Mitt Romney while his father was still running for President in 2012 cost him thousands of dedicated passionate supporters. Ted Cruz surrounding himself with a who’s who of snakes from warmongering Bush era retreads to veteran establishment sleazebags indicated that he was more of the same during the Presidential season this year.
I am willing to give both men the benefit of the doubt that their hearts were in the right place, and they made these concessions only because they thought it was the only way they could get to the finish line. To be even more fair, I don’t think anyone could have foreseen Trump’s path to the nomination coming to fruition. Nevertheless, Trump’s success is now the undeniable reality. It has changed politics forever, and we can either ride the populist anti-establishment wave or be consumed by it.
It’s very easy to make populist arguments in favor of libertarianism, especially when approval of government is at or near all-time historic record lows. Those lows have sustained themselves for many years as well, which is great news for us. Decentralization and local control of government, as recommended by Austrian economist Hans Herman Hoppe, could be marketed in a populist manner of bringing the political power back home. Pitting the states against the federal government to cause division and cripple the growth of government might be another way to do this.
Lesson #2: We must offer strong, determined leadership that the public demands
America simply does not want some spineless dweeb to lead them. That is what the sorry sell-outs of the Libertarian Party are going to learn the hard way in November. Gary Johnson is almost the perfect embodiment of the stereotype of the libertarian as a waffling, weaselly doofus. As much as I hate to admit it, there is unfortunately plenty of those characters in the liberty movement. We have a bad case of too many chiefs and not enough indians.
Apparently every libertarian thinks that they are a pretty little snowflake, and adhering to any type of coherent strategy is beyond their grasp. Getting into the muck of it all and grinding for the cause of liberty is beneath them. Apparently they thought they would roll into the GOP and take over immediately after Ron Paul showed up on the national scene. Paul’s campaigns were merely a door opening for us that we needed to capitalize upon. When the going got tough, many have forgotten Ron Paul’s heroic example and threw in the towel.
Tenacity is what forges a movement. Ron Paul struggled for 30 years to have his big chance to finally get the message out on the big stage, and he knocked the ball out of the park. As a result of his efforts, the DNA of the Republican Party was changed forevermore. That was strong, bold, iconoclastic leadership, and it wasn’t easy to pull off. It came after decades of strife, but it was one brave man’s fortitude that allowed it to happen. Ron Paul didn’t bend an inch, and that’s what people like about him (and Donald Trump as well).
We have to actually stand for something. We have to actually put a vision out there that people can rally behind. A trite meaningless slogan such as “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” makes people yawn. We have to go after the power structure in a fearless, scathing manner, not look to water down our message to appeal to special interests. The irate, tireless minority can make miracles happen, but not if we keep shooting ourselves in the foot. When we equivocate, we do just that.
Lesson #3: ‘America First’ rhetoric is a huge winner for liberty
Donald Trump famously made “Make America Great Again” his slogan. Of all of his successes, this was the one that liberty conservatives can most easily tap into. Although liberty and nationalism don’t necessarily go together, it is easy to make such a connection in America. Because the Founding Fathers of our nation were some of the most brilliant philosophical advocates for liberty in history, their message is palatable for America First individuals.
The neocons famously became powerful within the Republican Party by wrapping big government and endless war around a flag. Now it is time for us to play that card against them to bury them. It is easy to brand the idea of natural God-given negative rights as a solidly pro-America message. The Founding Fathers, while not perfect, certainly understood rights in the context that a modern-day liberty conservative would. We have to use that to our advantage. We can work this angle to stifle neocons and other globalist insiders in the GOP from selling us out to foreign interests, at the very least.
There is even a history of the liberty minded having success pushing this message. In the build-up to World War II, the America First Committee was able to save countless lives by helping to keep American involvement out of it until it was absolutely necessary. This shows that non-interventionist foreign policy can be a major part of an America First message. The messaging is simple: We shouldn’t be wasting American lives and American money on foreigners. This type of message works much better than the jibberish-laden hippie bromides that are usually heard from peaceniks that makes all sound-minded individuals roll their eyes.
It also beats back the left by forcing them to show their own hand. With the Brexit in Europe, we saw the left plead with Goldman Sachs and the banksters to keep their system of control into play. The left knows that their that their globalist masters would ensure a socialist Europe whereas if nations had self-determination, they might wise up and choose freedom instead. Farage’s brilliance literally made the left come out against democracy and in favor of corporate dominance! He made this happen because he pressed forward and attacked them and their favored institutions relentlessly. Through appeasement to the PC left and their sanctimonious tropes, it is impossible to make the left crumble under the weight of their own hypocrisy.
Lesson 4: Beltway libertarianism is a cancer that must be destroyed
This is the most important lesson, by far. What Trump deserves the most credit for is acting as a steamroller against the cancerous system of influence-peddling that takes place in Washington D.C. This is not to say that Trump is legitimately anti-establishment. He may be acting in a completely self-serving manner. However, his bull-in-a-China-shop routine has knocked much of the luster from the parasitic, insular beltway apparatus that exists only to enrich the state. That is a byproduct of the Trump phenomenon that must be applauded by liberty supporters everywhere.
After all, nothing is weaker or more pathetic than Stockholm libertarians who pledge fealty to the Beltway and its monstrous creations. This may be news to the ivory tower echo chamber Beltway-friendly libertarians out there, but nothing hurts the cause more than these pretentious elitists regurgitating talking points from a pro-TPP or pro-NAFTA white paper produced by corporate-bought Washington D.C. thinktanks. This sends angry individuals who might otherwise be sympathetic and interested in the cause running for the door, and rightfully so. Can you really blame the common man for drifting to Trump when libertarians are so tone-deaf and aloof in their outreach attempts?
The common man sees the jobs drifting off-shore, the Constitution ripped to shreds, national sovereignty destroyed, lawlessness run amok, and sees villains like Obama and his RINO apologists pushing cloak-and-dagger trade agreements to facilitate these problems. Rand gave a nuanced position on the issue that was good, but not good enough. Cruz flip-flopped constantly on the issue depending on which way the winds were blowing. These are not acceptable stances for liberty-minded candidates to take if they want to win. Both men paid the consequences for letting Washington D.C. corrupt them and losing touch with the pulse of the grassroots.
Getting a writing perch in TIME or Newsweek may have been impressive 20 years ago, but those dinosaur outlets are obsolete in the new media age. They are already irrelevant, and will be ushered into the dustbin of history before long. A liberty movement that lives in the past by pandering to opinion molders who are reviled by the public will continue to be ineffective. Because of Trump’s success, the incestuous network of PACs, SuperPACs, 501c3’s, 501c4’s and other blood-money laundering schemes that feed the illicit power of the Beltway are now almost as irrelevant in GOP politics as the mainstream media. This is a Godsend for liberty conservatives, if they are just willing to embrace it.
Frankly, there is no more time for dilly-daillying at this point. The time is now to adopt a coherent strategy that will win for us moving forward. It is time to put the bruised egos aside. We have had time to lick our wounds. Do whatever it is you need to do to move on. Take a cold shower. Drink a bottle of Jack Daniels. Cry under your bed in the fetal position if you have to do so. Because after you have dusted yourself off and snapped out of your funk, a tremendous amount of opportunity awaits any liberty conservative in the mix of the new Republican Party.