Since its founding in 1971 the Libertarian Party has never been more than a fringe party in American politics. The Party’s candidates have had moderate success in local elections, but the Party has never had a major candidate sent to the U.S. Congress, and the most an LP presidential candidate has received in the popular vote was 3.27%. Why has the Libertarian Party preformed so poorly over the years, and where does propertarianism fit into the libertarian landscape?
Let’s start with the problems of the Libertarian Party. The main problem with libertarianism is that it means almost anything these days. Just think about all the types of “libertarianism. There are anarcho-capitalist, minarchist, weeditarians, bleeding heart libertarians, and more. This is only possible because, strictly speaking, libertarianism is only a basic legal code based on the Nonaggression Principle, and it generally says nothing about the ethics more broadly.
In addition, libertarianism has so many different philosophical backgrounds. This has created an environment where some libertarians support abolishing the State and allowing for unfettered capitalism while other libertarians want to keep the State and use it to help minorities and to abolish “social pressure”. All this has made cooperation between even minutely differentiated libertarian groups, especially on the Right, almost impossible. How can those who believe in a limited government work with those who want to abolish the State, or how could those want unfettered capitalism work with those who view private property as oppressive and illegitimate? If you want a quick glance of the never ending bickering between these groups just look at a libertarian Facebook group.
Of course some of the groups listed above are on the fringe of libertarianism, so we need to look more in depth at mainstream libertarianism. Most of the mainstream movement is portrayed as a center of the road ideology between the Democrats and the Republicans, and they try to gain appeal with slogans such as “fiscally conservative, socially liberal”. This is a terrible appeal though. American politics is very divided now, and instead of trying to find a middle of the road solution most people are moving to one side of the American political spectrum. In reality this translates to American liberals believing libertarians are capitalist pigs who want the poor to die, and conservatives think libertarians are commie pinkos who just want to smoke dope. So instead of having a broad appeal libertarians just alienate themselves.
In any case though a middle of the road policy is a terrible libertarian goal anyway. First of all, these policies is not exciting at all especially for those who are tired of the political status quo. Also, as Mises showed in his essay “Middle of the Road Policies Lead to Socialism”, mainstream libertarian goals are self destructive. Many mainstream libertarians still want a central bank, taxation, welfare programs, and other statist measures. These libertarians want to limit these powers of government, but with this ideas they run into the problem of a utopian limited government which will eventually break the constraints placed upon it.
So where does Propertarianism fit into all this? Propertarian ideology is on the right of the libertarian spectrum. They believe in shrinking or abolishing government, and they want the free market to provide the services currently provided by the private sector. The propertarian realizes that not just any philisophical and cultural background will ensure an eviroment liberty, but that only the philosophy and bourgeois culture of the West is the best way to ensure liberty. Of course, since libertarianism is based on NAP which is only a legal code, this makes Propertarianism, as a political movement, a thicker form of libertarianism.
Because of all the problems with the general umbrella term “libertarianism”, I advocate for a split from the libertarian party. Without the encumbrance of the mainstream libertarians, propertarians could actually take steps to get something done politically. Instead of trying to appease a right leaning base who needs some reforming, and a libertarian base, the party could focus on catering to a larger base of support. This could prevent the cycle of alienating more and more groups.
In addition, splitting from the libertarians would draw in those propertarians who have not yet found a home because they do not agree with the Republican or Libertarian Parties. Also being independent from a terrible coalition would allow us to put out our message on our own terms, instead of having to water down that message to prevent infighting.
A new movement needs a new and independent party. Propertarians can no longer latch on to an increasingly leftist and fracturing Libertarian Party. In order to be effective this party must have a broader appeal than a fractured Libertarian Party can offer. In order to succeed propertarians must find a way for themselves by uniting into a solid front.