Ilya Somin, Julian Sanchez, and others seem to be in agreement with Bruce Bartlett’s thesis that the Libertarian Party does more harm than good for the cause of actually enacting libertarian policies.
I’ve been a member of the Libertarian Party for many years, and I’ve often voted for Libertarian candidates. I appreciate having an avenue for expressing my political preferences at the ballot box more clearly than I could with a vote for either major party candidate. I have certainly been dissappointed by many of the candidates and policies of the Libertarian Party, but I guess I never really expected brilliant competence, or quick major electoral victories. I always thought the political landscape to be better with the LP than without, if for no other reason than many people might learn of the libertarian alternative to traditional left or right alliances. Also, there’s always been the hope that the LP would help to cause many libertarian policies to be adopted by major parties (as has been said of the Socialist Party). A major shift towards libertarianism will not happen until there’s a major cultural shift that embraces the ideas of individual liberty more consistently.
It’s certainly true that some of the resources used to promote the Libertarian Party would otherwise be used to promote liberty via the two major parties. But, overall, I’m not so sure that the cause of libertarian policy would be better off without the LP.
One interesting idea from Bartlett is this:
In place of the LP, there should arise a new libertarian interest group organized like the National Rifle Association or the various pro- and anti-abortion groups. This new group, whatever it is called, would hire lobbyists, run advertisements and make political contributions to candidates supporting libertarian ideas. It will work with both major parties. It can magnify its influence by creating temporary coalitions on particular issues and being willing to work with elected officials who may hold libertarian positions on only one or a handful of issues. They need not hold libertarian views on every single issue, as the LP now demands of those it supports.
The Club For Growth seems to be off to a good start at this idea; at least in the economic-liberty arena. Are there other libertarian-leaning organizations like this?