If the Libertarian Party is ever going to have an opportunity to enter the mainstream political conversation, between now and 2012 promises to be that opportunity. The internet exposure of libertarian ideas between now and 2012 will increase and more people will be discussing political ideas outside the two main parties. I believe this because I already see far more libertarian internet sites and more mention of libertarianism in the media.
I'm not a member of the Libertarian Party, but I might consider joining between now and 2012, if the message is clear and possible candidates are viable. I thought the choice of Bob Barr sent a confusing message in the last election.
A big part of my past employment history has been focused on marketing -- marketing a small business, marketing private healthcare facilities and now marketing another business in real estate. I know the power of marketing and its not just frivolous, flashing advertising, but a comprehensive effort to get information out to the public with a clear, believable message.
I don't know the structure of the Libertarian Party, but it seems they could benefit from professional marketing to get their message out loud and clear before 2012. It wouldn't hurt to have a figurehead as soon as possible who can effectively get the message across. When I think of the Libertarian Party, I don't know who the political leaders are, and I definitely can't zero in on one individual -- maybe Wayne Allen Root. As far as other libertarian efforts go, I can identify Cato, Reason and a few others with zines and blogs and a good internet presence, but some of this seems a little confusing when I see how many at Reason supported Obama, and when I read the broad array of thought from anarchism to alliance with political liberalism.
It's probably a good thing that libertarianism doesn't have a limited, superficial, bullet-point message that ignores the complexity of modern-day society and our role in the global economy, but for the Libertarian Party to take advantage of the 2012 opportunity, I believe a good, clear message must begin separating libertarianism from conservatism and liberalism, so that people feel like they have a choice of something different, something that will work. To me the message should be centered on limited government -- free enterprise, a separation of state and economy, charity rather than war on poverty programs , private education, courts settling disputes rather than coercive regulation, reassessment of public goods, strong defense but a non-intervention military policy, the end of corporate welfare, restructured flat tax system, free trade, rehabilitation to deal with drug problems rather than incarceration, legalization of drugs no more harmful than alcohol, an end to regulations which aren't specifically designed to protect the rights of life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, and protection of personal liberties related to all acts which harm no one else. This is pretty much the Libertarian Party platform but I don't see it marketed consistently with reasons for taking tese stands.
These are radical positions in 2009, but if it was clear, focused, explained and promoted correctly, there may likely be a lot of support if liberalism scares people like I think it will, and if conservatism continues to ignore personal liberties.
Fear can be taken out of the more radical proposals by making the case that a moral nation can not be moral if choice is taken away. We are adults, those who can make the political decisions, who own our lives and must be free to make rational choices as long as we're not violating the rights of others. Given the chance, I think the nation will rise to the occasion and that most adults will make good choices which will inspire others to consider their ideas and ways of life, in all the diversity which would be created -- because all the diversity which freedom allows still centers on certain human values -- values which aren't generated by the state but from within us as a people. Voluntarily and creatively we'll handle societal problems, but it will require open-mindedness. The moralistic coercion by the right and left to make people act like some think is proper will have to give way to a broader concept of freedom, and views of morality will need to compete in the marketplace of ideas. Most of our conflict and division comes from groups attempting to push their brand of morality on the rest -- if this morality makes sense, then people will voluntarily adopt it, but if it's forced, they'll resist.
Let the Great Conversation continue -- and hopefully by 2012 libertariansim will be in the public mind just like the choices between conservatism and liberalism.