Friday, April 29, 2005

Giving Americans What They Want

(The following is a response to a comments thread of this post at Liberty For Sale discussing whether libertarian candidates can succeed in winning office.)

The libertarian position on issues is often too nuanced that people don't agree with us. But I think this is all too often due in the way that the issue is framed in the eyes of the average American.

I think the average American's desire that something exist is confused with whether they want the government to provide that something. Many Americans (the media included!) simply assume that a service that could be used by many people should be provided by the government. That will take a long time to change.

But in the end, who provides the service is, to the average American, just details. While we libertarians make a big fuss over whether the government owns something or provides a service or regulates something, the average American could care less. They see taxes, health insurance, car insurance, mortgage payments, etc. all as the same type of thing.

An excellent example is publicly-funded sports stadiums. Some people are against them because they don't think the goverment should be involved, but many people (most people?) end up supporting them. All they know is that if the stadium doesn't get built, the team will leave town. They don't care if the government does it or if the team does it. They just want it done!

This is why I think libertarians still have a chance. We can put forward positive ideas (and say that we're *for* something) and still take on a populist position. As I said above, whether the government provides the solution is irrelevant to many Americans; they just want a solution. We can push for solutions without insisting (or even discussing) that the government provide those solutions and still maintain our ideological integrity.

UPDATE: For comments, see the original blog post here.

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