The “On this Day” feature of Facebook is rather amazing, isn’t it? Today, it reminded me of an event that took place two years ago, my removal from the board of directors of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia. This action was taken in response to my employment with the 2013 Robert Sarvis for Governor campaign. Although I fought against my expulsion, at first, as I strongly believed in the mission of the RLC to promote liberty within the ranks of the Republican Party, I did understand where they were coming from and thus did not contest the matter further.
When I posted my piece on Facebook, the Treasurer of the Libertarian Party of Virginia told me that it was “time for you to come home.” I assumed it was an invitation to join the LP. In some ways it was a rather curious message. After all, at that point I was not a member of the Libertarian Party nor had I ever been. Like many folks that promote liberty and reducing the size and scope of government, the Republican Party was the only political home that I had ever known. But that home would soon be destroyed. Little did I know that less than five months later, in early 2014, I would be kicked out of the Harrisonburg Republican Party, a group I had volunteered countless hours with since the age of 15. I discovered that being without a political home sort of sucks and, as such, a month or two later I ended up joining the Libertarian Party. Although I ran for office that fall, I did so as an independent for a variety of reason beyond the scope of this article.
Unfortunately, the liberty movement is divided and without a unified home. Many of us reside within the Republican Party, others in the Libertarian Party, a few with the Democrats, and some that have taken another path or given up on politics entirely. Even worse, we spend so much of our time fighting each other that often the push for liberty is lost. Libertarians think Republicans are sell-outs, Republicans declare that the Libertarian Party is a waste of time, and neither group spends much time thinking about the handful of us who are Democrats.
What can we do? The answer to this situation is illusive.
Being in the Republican fold these days means that my fellow liberty activists are often compelled or even forced into supporting candidates who stand in stark contrast to their principles. Some of my brothers and sisters in the GOP have told me that they despise the Republican Party and her candidates, but they feel that they have no other option. I’m sure that many of us profoundly wish that the Republican Party held true to their principles and actually supported liberty and limited government. Now, there certainly is a segment who do hold to these values, but they are a minority.
Conversely, the Libertarian Party is quite small and faces enormously unfair hurdles in areas such as ballot and debate access. There are many stories of the LP being bullied by the Republican establishment, presumably done in order to keep the liberty-wing of the Republican Party from switching sides. The Libertarian Party is plagued by division and a lack of resources. Like any political party, there are a variety of ideological disagreements among members. In addition, they have a bit of an image problem; for the longest time I viewed them as little more than immoral, pot-smoking, hedonists. As for the Democrats…well, I don’t really know what to say about them.
The simple fact is that every political ideology requires a home, a party which promotes its interests. The liberty movement is divided and is a diaspora. It needs a major political party to steadfastly promote its principles. Although they bash each other in public, behind closed doors I have heard conversations from both RLC members and Libertarians who agree on almost every major point. So, the question remains. What can we do to find a common political home for the liberty movement, one that both wields significant political influence and one that doesn’t routinely betray the cause?