Libertarians, Progressives Poised To Redefine American Politics

As discontent with the “Big Two” grows, Libertarian and Progressive parties are exploding in America, especially among Millennials. It’s a shift that could redefine politics in the future.
By @FrederickReese |
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    During the recent International Students for Liberty Conference, an annual global meeting of collegiate libertarian clubs, filmmaker and noted Socialist Oliver Stone spoke to the assembled crowd about his shifting political views.

    Stone’s panel dealt with “imperial overreach” and “the national security state.” It also featured Peter Kuznick, co-author of Stone’s “The Untold History of the United States,” and “Dirty Wars” producer Jeremy Scahill.

    The panel dwelled on the overlap between the Libertarians and the left, and criticisms of American military activities abroad, government surveillance and foreign policy all drew cheers from the audience


    With an increasing number of Millennials finding dissatisfaction with the traditional two-party system, strength among both the Libertarian and Progressive coalitions has never been greater.

    “As the views of Americans, and especially young voters, converge with the Libertarian platform, we are attracting more votes than the party has ever seen,” Carla Howell, political director of the National Libertarian Party, told MintPress News. “Over 15,000,000 votes were cast for Libertarians in 2012. The Robert Sarvis for governor campaign in Virginia last year garnered 6.5 percent of the vote, the highest vote total for a candidate who was neither a Democrat nor a Republican in a southern state in over 40 years. His vote among those aged 18-29 stood at 15 percent.

    “Both Democrats and Republicans have expanded Big Government to the limit that they could get away with for years, especially in the last 14 years during both the Bush and Obama administrations. Bailouts, FEMA, needless wars, Obamacare, the Drug Prohibition and NSA spying — all of which have failed their stated mission. They failed to create jobs, failed to stop the escalation of health care costs, violate personal liberties and put people and our country more — not less — at risk. Young voters have witnessed these abysmal failures and see that government is not the place to turn to solve human problems,” Howell continued.


    The changing demographic

    With an historically high 42 percent of Americans identifying themselves as independents as of January, the United States is becoming a nation increasingly not served by either the Republican or Democrat label. According to a December 2013 Gallup poll, 72 percent of all Americans believed that Big Government is a bigger threat to the United States than Big Business (21 percent) or Big Labor (5 percent).


    While this may be burn-out from years of government malpractice — an increase in unmanned drone usage, the largest government surveillance apparatus; several scandals involving the Executive Branch; a government shutdown in an attempt to repeal the patient Protection & Affordable Care Act followed by more than 40 repeal attempts — the general feeling is that the young vote has been moving away from the “Big Government” parties.

    Arguably, discontentment with President Barack Obama’s policies is behind the progressive surge. When New York City elected its first progressive mayor, the president’s approval rating fell 11 points among Millennials. The Second Iraqi and Afghan Wars, as well as Bush-era deficits, are pushing the right toward the Libertarians.

    As Millennials may represent the most Progressive or Libertarian generation ever, and as Millennials are expected to constitute 75 percent of the workforce by 2020, one might be tempted to say that the fate of the “Big Two” parties lies in the embrace of their small government cousins.

    “I think Republicans will not win again in my lifetime … unless they become a new GOP, a new Republican Party,” Sen. Rand Paul (R – Ky.) told Glenn Beck. “It has to be a transformation. Not just a little tweaking at the edges.”

    Many have argued that the Millennials’ awareness of societal issues and connections to their communities make them less likely to relate to the “Big Two” political ideologies.

    “While good deeds ought to be done, many Millennials do not see the government as the means to achieve these good deeds,” Robert Alexander, professor of political science at Ohio Northern University, told MintPress News. “A significant number of my own students seek fiscal solvency and consider themselves socially liberal.

    “Many do not see themselves connecting with Democrats, Republicans and certainly not Tea Party Activists. They would seem to prefer going it alone — not out of political conviction, but because they do not seem to have much faith that government can solve problems important to them.”


    The new battlefront

    Several issues, including the War on Drugs and marijuana legalization, marriage equality, immigration reform, student loan debt, abortion access and government surveillance, have created the impression that the main parties are hopelessly detached from the concerns of the people, especially Millennials.

    In 2013, under an expanded Progressive and Libertarian class in Congress, a suite of small government policy reforms were introduced, including the Amash Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill, introduced by Rep. Justin Amash (R – Mich.). It would have prevented the government from invoking Section 215 of the Patriot Act, thereby denying the government access to telephone metadata unless the government had reasonable suspicion of a connection to terrorism.

    Through the heavy lobbying of the White House and the National Security Agency, the bill was defeated 217-205.


    The “third option”

    The Progressive and Libertarian policy-lines, which advocate personal freedom and protections from undue burdens, have presented a third option to those concerned about issues such as the ballooning personal and national debt crises, the expansion of violence due to bigotry and denial of due process, and the influence of outside influences on the political system.

    “It is unfair to say that Libertarians are separating from conservatives,” Adam Dick, a writer with the Ron Paul Institute, told MintPress News. Dick asserted that Libertarians come from all points in the political spectrum, and Democrats are just as likely to be Libertarians as Republicans.

    “There is a movement among some people in regards to Libertarian-thinking, the polling is showing that people are now seeing the government — more now than ever before — as being one of the greatest threats to individual rights … there is an undeniable libertarian movement underway that is separate and distinguishable from both the Republicans and the Democrats,” Dick concluded.

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      • Evan Eberhardt

        If the Republicans reject Rand Paul the party may never recover (it might be too far gone as is). Old white folks are a shrinking number and the youth (as mentioned above) simply do not resonate with conservative social ideology. Someone bridging the gap should receive young votes in droves as cynicism is quite high with government in general. But given how Ron Paul was systematically cheated out of every local precinct, it could all happen again to his son.

      • Pingback: MintPress reports Libertarians are redefining American politics | Independent Political Report()

      • Bill Goode

        Note – “Big Government” IS “Big Business” and “Big Labor”.

      • Mark Hinkle

        I’ve often wondered by the GOP continues to promote the myth that Libertarians take votes away from GOP candidates. In the 2012 elections it was almost always the GOP that tried to keep LP candidates off of the ballot. Perhaps they believe their own lies. 😉

      • Layla Godey

        It seems to me that eventually, what was once a battle between conservatives and liberals is coming down to a battle between progressives and libertarians. There are big government advocates who are social conservatives (generally Republican) and big government advocates who are social liberals (generally Democrats). Libertarians can be either personally social conservatives or social liberals, and they share many of the same concerns as progressives regarding social issues, but they are for smaller government, and don’t necessarily agree with progressives on using government to solve those social issues (libertarians recognize the handing over to government such authority to address issues is what gives government the ability to grow, manipulate, and cheat taxpayers in the first place).

      • DonderoIsDumb
      • baggervance

        Eric Dondero’s post is totally incoherent.

      • Richard Winger

        Eric Dondero’s comment below completely ignores the exit polling data. He asserts “a post-election survey by one of the universities clearly showed that” but gives us no citation. Furthermore, when California had a blanket presidential primary in 2000, the election returns printed in the Statement of Votes (by the Secretary of State, a book that is on-line) showed the party affiliations of the voters for each presidential candidate. It showed only two-tenths of California’s registered Republicans voted for Libertarian Harry Browne in that presidential primary, but three-tenths of California’s registered Democrats voted for Harry Browne in that primary.

        • Nathan abu Nevada

          The US Senate is going to go Republican in 2014 so it would be wise to give the Democrats control of the House and turn over both chambers of congress so as not to give one corrupt party too much control.

          As a Libertarian I would love to have Jared Polis the gay Jew from Colorado as a House Majority leader, because he votes to withdraw Troops from Central Asia and the Middle East, he votes to audit the Federal Reserve Bank and defends the US Bill of Rights.

          More Democrats in the House voted to support Libertarian leaning Republican Congressman Justin Amash’s Amendment to defund the NSA and restore the 4th Amendment right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure of our personal effects than Republicans did.

          The Bolshevik GOP Neo-Cons need to go!

          Here is the vote.

      • ericdondero

        No, Democrats ARE NOT just as likely to be Libertarians as Republicans. That is an absolutely absurd statement. The majority of Sarvis’s vote came directly out of the GOP column in Virginia. A post-election survey by one of the Universities in Virginia clearly showed that.

        The Libertarian Party itself was FOUNDED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COLORADO YOUNG REPUBLICANS. Every single Libertarian Party presidential candidate since 1972, except for one (who was an Independent), were/are now Republicans. People like Bob Barr, Ron Paul, Roger MacBride, Gary Johnson, Andre Marrou, and 1980 LP vice-presidential candidate David Koch. Every single Libertarian who has ever been elected to a State Legislature in the United States (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Alaska) was a Republican or caucused with the Republicans once in office.

        We Libertarians have ZERO in common with the Democrat Party. Nothing, Zilch, Nada! All Democrats in short, are the vicious brutal enemies of us Libertarians. To say that we have common ground with Democrats is an utter absurdity. (With the possible one exception of pro-choice on abortion.)

        As far as foreign policy is concerned, it is only the leftside of the libertarian movement, what many of us right-libertarians would describe as not real libertarians, but rather infiltrators in our movement, that is non-interventionist/isolationist.

        Eric Dondero, Fmr. Libertarian National Comm. mbr 1985/86
        Travel Aide, Libertarian for President Ron Paul 1988
        Founder, Republican Liberty Caucus
        Senior Aide, US Cong. Ron Paul 1997-2003