As libertarians, we’re used to a sort of goofy sectional squabbling between self-styled "purists" and "realists," which often manifests itself as an argument about whether to pursue attainable changes now, or to deride that as "selling out" and remain focused on the long-run goal. Murray Rothbard pretty much had this one dead to rights years ago: the libertarian can, in good conscience, support anything that advances the libertarian cause without deviating even one iota from libertarian principle. So it’s fine for libertarians to go to bat for tax cuts or regulatory relief, so long as they aren’t packaged with something evil also.
So there’s lovely. That’s not really what we’re here to talk about today. I’m here to consider whether or not libertarian involvement in politics has been a fool’s game from the get-go; whether or not it’s all been a massive redirection of energy into a solidly negative direction. To put it as provocatively as possible: was Ron Paul a net negative for the liberty movement?
The Liberty Conservative earlier today posted an article about a bizarre Twitter rant Cato Institute vice president Brink Lindsey engaged in on Wednesday. Lindsey was outraged about that there Ron Paul; apparently it’s somehow cosmically socially unjust that Ron Paul is more widely known and respected than Brink Lindsey, and Lindsey wants us all to understand that real libertarianism consists of world wars, government-managed trade "agreements," and presumably also forcing people to bake cakes, though Lindsey himself was rather silent on that important point.
So that’s as may be. I was planning to write up a few hundred sarcastic words and throw it in Last Week in Weird. But then a funny thing happened on the way to the bookmarks: I shared the story on Facebook, which promptly earned me a 24-hour ban. And that’s not just me: apparently anybody who shares this particular story on Facebook is banned from "creating open graph actions" for twenty-four hours. What is an "open graph action?" It is a mystery!
Robert Wenzel is highlighting an interesting Twitter exchange in which Justin Raimondo is taken to task by several other writers for his positive view of Donald Trump, and in particular his belief that Trump is better on war than the usual presidential candidate (it’s hard to imagine anybody being worse on war than Hillary Clinton, but that’s neither here nor there). Raimondo’s response is fairly typical: he accuses his interlocutors of exhibiting "sectarian blindness" and claims that it’s therefore useless to argue with them.
I’ll not be found second to anyone in my admiration for Justin Raimondo, but this all-too-common response of his is unhelpful at best. To begin our analysis, let’s define our terms; according to Merriam-Webster, "sectarian" means:
1: of, relating to, or characteristic of a sect or sectarian
2: limited in character or scope : parochial