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The Failure of Fusionism

The current issue of The American Conservative includes an historical retrospective of the Libertarian Party focusing on their alliances with the left and the right:

The Libertarian Party made a bid for centrist and liberal support in 1980, when its presidential candidate, Ed Clark, described his philosophy to Ted Koppel on “Nightline” as “low-tax liberalism.” In 1988, however, a once and future Republican Congressman, Ron Paul, perched atop the LP ticket as the party’s presidential nominee. . .

You can read the entire essay here.

11 Responses to “The Failure of Fusionism”

  1. Roscoe Says:

    Interesting essay. As he says, libertarians should stay true to their principles and see which candidates come courting. Many seats the GOP lost in 2006 will “never” come back to them without “libertarian” voters coming back (and who knows how many hard conservatives would then abandon the GOP). Or moderate Democrats could seal their elections for a long time to come by courting libertarians. But if we automatically join one side or another, then they will just treat us like the black vote - theirs automatically no matter how many dumps they take on us.

  2. Gene Berkman Says:

    A good historical overview of the Libertarian Movement since the 1960’s

    The essay makes a very valid point - the Libertarian Movement must develop independent of the continually changing “right” and “left” groupings. Only if we know what we stand for can we judge how much others can help us achieve liberty.

  3. Andy Says:

    “The essay makes a very valid point - the Libertarian Movement must develop independent of the continually changing “right” and “left” groupings. Only if we know what we stand for can we judge how much others can help us achieve liberty.”

    I’ve been saying for a long time that the Libertarian Party needs to be a label unto itself that is not a part of the “left vs. right” paradigm. Some people say that we should recruit more from the right and some say we should recruit more from the left. I say that we recruit from the left right and center. In fact, our biggest potential constituency is probably independents and non-voters as these people are not “married” to one of the major parties.

    The Libertarian Party is not about “left vs. right”, it’s about the state vs. the individual.

  4. undercover_anarchist Says:

    Agreed (with Andy). But the point that I (and others) have continually tried to make is that prior recruiting efforts have focused on disgruntled conservatives to the point that most people think that “libertarian” means “far-right conservative” or a “Republican who REALLY hates taxes.” The presence and tolerance of homophobic, racist, sexist, and natioanlist elements within the LP turn off potential recruitees from the left.

    Look at it this way: “Liberals” are more likely to come to their senses because most come to their positions from (faulty) reasoning. Conservatives are dogmatists by nature and come to their positions by faith. Self-examination led me to ditch the state - nothing will ever stop a right-winger from believing in the Cult of the Omniopotent Biblical State becuase he doesn’t come to the viewpoint from any sense of rationality.

    Take it another way: Do you think it is possible for a politician to honestly be anti-gay, and then over time, become pro-gay? I do. But do you think it is possible for the opposite to occur? It may be possible, but it is far less likely. No one is going to believe that Giuliani (if he tries to say so) or Romney have “seen the light” and realized that their previous condoning of homosexuals was evil and now they realize that fags deserve no rights. But if a liberal Democrat had anti-gay views in the 70s, it is perfectly believable that he/she would have reversed by 2007. True?

  5. Donald Raymond Lake Says:

    But just as important is the failure of LP to reach out on ‘Libertarian Issues’ floated by Non Libs. Sunsetting failed agencies, like horrible, even lethal Veterans programs? The LP silence was deafening.

    GOP verbage on privatizing Sociial Security? Where were the Libs dancing in the street? ‘Life’ gives some of us a torrent of gifts [like the opportunity to vote against invading Iraq in 2003] as we dash to the ‘safety’ of almost certain failure!

  6. undercover_anarchist Says:

    “Privatizing” social security is by no means a libertarian or free-market concept. It is a statist, authoritarian progamme, worse than the current pseudo-socialist scheme.

    I have a “private account” - it’s called a fucking IRA. I don’t need the government to make me do it and to tell me what investments I can put in it, as would be the case with mandated “private” accounts. Social security is supposed to be INSURANCE, anyway.

  7. Cutty Sark Says:

    U_Are Correct.

  8. matt Says:

    You’re 100% right, UA.
    The problem today is that people are so unaquainted with liberty that they mistake all sorts of counterfit tripe for the geniune article.

  9. undercover_anarchist Says:

    I would support social security if it really were what it’s supposed to be - disability and old age INSURANCE. It should provide a minimum income, say double the poverty level - just enough to get by and not be forced to eat dog food. Everyone should be paid the same; not based on income. That would encourage private investment because no one would look to social secuirty as their sole source of “retirement income” - it would be a backup plan, which is what insurance is supposed to be.

  10. matt Says:

    I would support social security if it wasn’t mandatory or state-sponsored.

  11. Sean Scallon Says:

    Fusionism failed because no one could figure out who was the ultimate victor when Reagan won in 1980 or when the GOP took over Congress in 1994, Edmund Burke or Ayn Rand? These are no two people whose views you can just cobble together.

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