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June 13, 2023 06:52 AM MDT

It's Not Your Hippie Uncle's Libertarian Party Anymore

  • by: Colorado Pols

This morning, the Colorado Republican Party led by politically radioactive chairman Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams announced an agreement brokered with the Colorado Libertarian Party, as long as certain ideological qualifications are met by Republican candidates, to not field Libertarian candidates where they might serve as spoilers for Republicans in tight races:

2022 Libertarian CD-8 candidate Dan Ward.

On the surface, this might seem like a positive development for beleaguered Colorado Republicans, who blame the narrow defeat of last year’s inaugural CD-8 congressional race by Barb Kirkmeyer at least in part on Libertarian candidate Dan Ward. But under the hood this agreement isn’t nearly as encouraging, and has more to do with an ideological shift to the hard right within the national Libertarian Party–one that Dan Ward didn’t participate in. As the Daily Beast reported last November:

Earlier [in 2022], the right-wing Mises Caucus won control of the Libertarian Party’s national leadership. The takeover resulted in bitter rifts and accusations of bigotry, with some state-level Libertarian parties moving to disaffiliate from the national party. The leader of a now-dissolved Virginia Libertarian party, Holly Ward (no relation), previously told The Daily Beast that Mises agendas like secession were a departure from the party’s previous platforms…

Dan Ward has also taken issue with the party’s direction, putting him at odds with state-level leadership, McMahon said. (The Libertarian Party of Colorado did not return a request for comment.) [Pols emphasis]

“Dan is part of a resistance movement within the Libertarian Party,” McMahon said. “We have openly protested the messaging that has been coming out of the Libertarian Party that they call edgy. We don’t think it’s edgy. We think it’s racist, we think it’s sexist… We think it’s obnoxious.”

2022 Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Brian Peotter.

Traditionally, the Libertarian Party has served as a home for a relatively small percentage of politically active individuals who care more about personal freedom than anything else, including winning elections. Being a Libertarian allowed one to short-circuit debates about unpleasant social wedge issues while still finding agreement with conservatives on a minimally regulated economy with low taxes. But more recently, the party has been challenged by an influx of what are basically right-wing ideologues masquerading as small-government freedom lovers. This described the 2022 Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in Colorado Brian Peotter, who ran to the right of pseudo-centrist Republican Joe O’Dea and campaigned on ending abortion rights.

In short, what we have here is not a Republican Party moderating to appeal to freedom-loving Libertarians. The Libertarian Party, or at least its controlling faction, has veered ideologically right and also (at least in Peotter’s case) toward Donald Trump’s “Ultra MAGA” cult of personality. And while that might ease an internal conflict on the right, what it won’t do is produce candidates who are any more electable in Colorado. 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark summed it up well:

Today’s Libertarian Party has lost its contrarian soul, and become a faction in a larger conservative power struggle. This left Libertarians ripe for exploitation by both the corporate and MAGA wings of the Republican Party, and at least in Colorado, they’re choosing the MAGA side. But despite the takeover of the Libertarian Party organization by right-wing ideologues, ordinary Libertarians have never been proven to be reliable Republican voters in the absence of a Libertarian candidate.

If there are any old-school Libertarians left to fight, today’s “deal” should be your dealbreaker.


3 thoughts on “It’s Not Your Hippie Uncle’s Libertarian Party Anymore

  1. When they say “limited government,” do they include keeping the government out of a woman’s uterus?  Also, is it the role of the government – state, federal, or both – to screen and ban offensive books?

    And where in the constitution is the government given a role in prohibiting a man from wearing a dress?

    (Asking for a friend.)

    1. I'm also wondering if a man in a dress in a Catholic School is protected differently than a man in a dress at a public library or public school.

      I'd think that Libertarians would want liberty for all … but obviously, I may be missing some subtlety.

  2. When I was a brand new adult, the idea of responsible, limited government that stays out of social issues sounded great so I joined the Colorado Libertarian Party. Then I got their emails and learned that the Colorado Libertarian Party is just a bunch of Christian Anarchists and I left that party as fast as I could.

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