Ron Paul has faded into the background. Cato writers and managers have said their purpose is not activism. The Libertarian Party is stale with no innovative attempts to generate radical change and rally people to action. The Tea Party talks about conservatism, but not libertarianism. All those on the Right who first claimed affinity with libertarian/free market/limited government ideas are now capitulating to criticisms that libertarians don't care and are only concerned with protecting the bank accounts of rich, white, capitalist pigs, or, they, libertarians, support gay marriage and legalization of drugs, so there can be no association with such libertine extremists.
Among self-described libertarians, after media associated libertarians with rightwing extremists, many have called themselves liberaltarians or Left-libertarians or some have simply said they are liberals after all, just not totally liberal. As a matter of fact, they claim labels suck, so they just go the pragmatic route, which looks a lot like the modern liberal route. They won't say they support Obama, but they certainly don't support Romney, and the Libertarian Party is nothing, so...besides, Obama has turned out to be a Centrist, and that's not so bad.
There are no libertarian leaders, except perhaps Ron Paul, but Paul is not a radical -- America's situation calls for radical action, but radical change is seen as madness by the political class. The fact is that there are very few real libertarians left who are of the classical liberal/free market/limited government/non-interventionist variety. There's a lot of rhetoric about economic liberty and lessening the role of government in our lives, but there are few libertarians who will fight for radical change, and that's what it will take to make any significant changes to our statist system.
Being a libertarian means standing against the status quo, the political class, the establishments of both parties, the State machine, the media, most major universities, Hollywood, military/industrial complex hawks, bigots, statists on the Right and Left. Libertarians are attacked from all sides and misrepresented on a regular basis -- or completely ignored. There's no quick rewards being a libertarian because there's no hope of political influence in the foreseeable future. Libertarians are outcasts. Yet, libertarians are closer to the spirit and intellectual foundation of America as it was founded than modern liberals or conservatives. I quess we can say the country has moved on from that intellectual foundation and spirit, taking the Hamiltonian route, and now the State has grown to represent the hope of the future, the modern Way to justice, equality and security, rather than free people working together and competing sans government meddling. The idea of a minimal government that protects basic rights so that commerce can take place without fear of coercion is not considered viable anymore in America.
We've tried the mixed economy but the State continues to encroach and gain more control over the economy. As we find out, the more control over the economy that the State takes for itself, more general control is necessary. Dissent must be marginalized, and, to do this, privacy must be violated. Property rights must become of less or no import in a Statist system. Conformity becomes necessary as small enterprises which innovate upset the status quo and prevent well ordered economic management. A Statist system doesn't like surprises or spontaneous change. Statists must allow only the activity that fits within the overall plans and furthers the goals of the State. Innovation and creativity are discouraged, and if innovation and creativity are persistent, then they'll be blocked by regulation and law. All deviations from the plans are viewed as attempts by individuals to selfishly go their own ways and gain financially at the expense of others. In the Statist system there will be the managers and the managed, but since the new managers are State managers, they'll manage with compassion and fairness, so that justice is maintained and equality constantly sought.
The reason libertarians are not a political force is because libertarians don't seek political power -- libertarians seek to tear down political power and release the power of individuals in a free market. Any serious group of libertarians who actually organize to bring down the Statist power structures would be classified as enemies of the State, so it makes it even harder for libertarians to organize, because the thought of challenging the State and becoming an enemy of the State is daunting -- the intimidation factor is powerful and effective. When all meaningful power is within the State structure, then special interest groups are formed to seek benefit and favor from the State managers. Self-sufficient individuals keep their heads down and simply do their own things within the rules without causing waves. Not many people are cut out to become revolutionaries, and, besides, doesn't the State provide security? Why should the people tear down the structures of power when this power is needed in an uncertain, scary world? Isn't it best to trust that the managers of power will not abuse power? Yes, managers of power will always enrich themselves, but as long as they are helping the populace in need, why should anyone risk retaliation by the State and become marked as an enemy of the State, a rabble-rouser, a threat to security and order?
Can't we simply work through the political system and vote in representatives who will prevent power from being abused? I suppose it's possible, but the problem is that too many Americans are taking too much from the system and not producing enough to sustain a large nation, and once the dependents reach a greater percentage than can be supported, the nation begins collapsing. Even the managers of power cannot prevent reality from having its say. Ask the managers of power in Greece. It doesn't matter why dependents are created -- it could be that productivity is such that not as many people are needed in the labor market -- it can be government regulations cause an economy to become stagnant -- it can be because most people will not work if they can find a way to live without working, especially if their basic needs are met without a fulltime job, and they can work under the table when needed to supplement government welfare. It might be politically unpopular to discuss the motives of welfare recipients, but reality doesn't care about political correctness. For whatever reasons, if dependents increase and producers of wealth decrease, then nations move toward collapse. Middle class and corporate welfare are even greater destroyers of wealth when what is taken is greater than what's produced.
When nations begin to collapse, they turn on the dependents. Statists need dependents in the beginning to gain power, but when dependents begin to threaten the power structure, power managers lose their compassion -- positions are threatened and dependents are forced to earn their keep, even if it means the State will build roads and dig ditches, anything to stop the bleeding and mounting debt. But dependents will not go from no work to hard work without resistance. When middle class benfits are threatened, the middle class will push back and politicians will have to decide between economic reality and political survival. When protected corporations are threatened and then bled of cash to support the Statist system, they will try to find another way, some other political power to protect them. The various groups of dependents might even form other political parties that promise to keep the welfare state intact. There will be vicious political battles, with everyone fighting over dwindling resources. At this point, like Rome and Britain and other failed empires, the game is over and it's just a matter of time before the falling apart is complete.
But that's all nonsense, right? That can't happen in America. Libertarians are extremists and their paranoia is such a downer. No, it appears that libertarians had a minute of attention and now they're relegated back to obscurity on the fringe. Just read the above! Who wants to listen to that? How long does a collapse take? It could be another fifty years. Why worry now?