By Zach Foster
Former Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen is publicly exploring the prospect of running for U.S. Senate in Missouri on the Republican ticket. This has caused quite the uproar in the ranks of the Libertarian Party. Frankly, and I say this simultaneously as a pragmatist, a radical sympathizer, and somewhat of a party loyalist (only because I won’t sit quietly while it’s taken over by weed snitches and progress-anchors), I think we should let the whole AP crowd go with our blessings.
They obviously don’t feel at home in the party. They obviously don’t feel welcome in its ranks. Like many party members outside the AP camp, they feel disappointed and that their party could have done better in 2016. I get it. All I ask of them is that, if this experiment doesn’t work and they come back to the LP, that they try it someone else’s way.
In my opinion, we needed to run Gary Johnson this time. (I say ‘we’ as in party members, not smack-talking outsiders.) Come on, folks, this is the first time a third party ran a two-governor ticket! We needed that milestone to look as ‘mainstream’ as possible. It didn’t work, but I truly believe it was something we had to try. It wasn’t an avenue we could leave untouched. The truth is that in 2016, Gary Johnson was the best the LP ever had, but not the best he could have been. Many of you are thinking it but afraid to say it for fear of being attacked.
Therefore, let the AP camp go. Don’t give them grief for sticking to their principles, even if you disagree with them. If they really think they’ll be accomplishing things for liberty, I wish them the best. Frankly, I think it’s a really bad idea.
I remember 2012 and how the GOP openly vehemently hated the Ron Paul camp, the precursors of today’s RLC. They made it absolutely clear that ‘you libertarians don’t belong in the GOP.’ For context, Nick Sarwark’s major ‘crime’ was criticizing Ron Paul’s interpretation of states’ rights. (I covered this in a LP article about how I couldn’t care less about this ideological battle between the Paulestinians and Sarwarkis.) The GOP, on the other hand, actively sabotaged Ron Paul’s candidacy and even went as far as to de-credential, arrest, or physically injure Ron Paul delegates.
If the Petersen camp thinks they’ll be able to make a difference, I’m highly doubtful. Even the most stalwart critics of Trump inside the GOP eventually fell in line with the fascist and his homo-shocker running mate out of fear of Hillary Clinton. I highly doubt Republicans have learned from their mistakes or that they’re ‘ready’ for libertarianism. Despite my feelings, I have an obligation to encourage them to try something to advance libertarian principles, even if it means infiltrating the fascist party all over again.
Murray Rothbard set a magnificent example for us as an activist. Though he was a radical anarchist, Rothbard was more than willing either to collaborate with or infiltrate organizations like the Libertarian Party, SDS, the Peace-Freedom Party, Black Panthers, and even the white nationalist anarcho-tribalists. Rothbard was willing to give it a try working with anyone who wanted to roll back government power, regardless of what angle.
Therefore, true ideological libertarians really can’t fault the AP crowd for wanting to mass-infiltrate the GOP. They might actually elect one or two libertarian Republicans who can complement and amplify the work of Congressmen Paul, Massie, and Amash. If they manage to do that, then bravo. It’s a win for everyone. We need libertarian Republicans in the movement just like we need libertarian anarchists who change popular culture outside of government politics. However, I still think it’s a bad idea to go into the jaws of the fascist party.
I’d rather stay inside the Libertarian Party and continue pouring my energy into an organization I can believe in. I know that attending actual party meetings takes more work than glancing at posts and headlines on social media, but it’s worth it. Most party meetings that take place in the physical world are NOT the social media shouting fests that many have grown wary of. If you’re an AP Libertarian and you feel the need to migrate, then God be with you. If you want to give it another shot in this noble third party, then rally around cooler heads. I bet there’s a lot we can still agree on and accomplish together.