Some are tempted to abandon the Libertarian Party, and jump on the Republican bandwagon. They see the great hope for the future as the Republicans are influenced by the Tea Party. And I can say that I understand the urge to do so. But with a quick review of history, we can easily see why the Libertarian Party plays a vital role and why it must remain strong and vigilant.
We see a pattern that occurs every 14-to-16 years.
In 1964, Barry Goldwater rose up as the Republican Party nominee for president. Goldwater straddled the line between paleo-conservative and libertarian, but leaned a bit further to the paleo-conservative, at the time. (Not familiar with the term paleo-conservative? Read about it on Wikipedia.)
The establishment Rockefeller wing of the Republican Party was not pleased. They worked against Goldwater. And Goldwater was sunk anyway, due to the very unfortunate assassination of JFK. But the establishment Republicans specifically purged a great number of the new liberty-minded Goldwater supporters from the party.
The establishment regained control, and put their man -- Richard Nixon -- into the White house in 1968. Everyone knows how that ended.
In 1980, with the Republican Party in complete shambles post-Nixon, Reagan rose to the top, and revived the dying party. Reagan ran on a platform that any paleo-conservative would love.
By the end of his first term, however, neo-conservative policies were being put in place. George H. W. Bush (#41) finalized the return of neo-conservativism as the living party platform.
In 1994, Republicans led by Newt Gingrich took over control of the US House of Representatives for Republicans for the first time in four decades. Running on a solid paleo-conservative platform, they were able to garner support, rallying around the defeat of HilaryCare as their rally cry all the way to Washington.
But by 1996, they'd lost their way again. Republicans nominated Bob Dole to be the presidential candidate that year. The congress lost the political will to fight the big fights that needed to be fought. And again, Republicans turned back to neo-conservativism.
In 2010, we again saw a 1994-esque turn of the US House of Representatives, running on a paleo-conservative platform, and in a rejection of ObamaCare.
But do we have any hope that this time will be any different? Are there any signs that history won't just repeat itself?
I don't see them. If anything, I see the opposite. It's my observation that the reason the Tea Parties started was because the Republican establishment specifically worked to prevent the rise of the "liberty right" paleo-conservatives within the Republican Party to begin with.
In the upcoming presidential contest in 2012, Mitt Romney is generally considered the front-runner. And while that means he probably won't win it, it's a telling sign to see people like Romney and Huckabee on the short-list. Both men are big-government Republicans, and that list points to an inevitable return to neo-conservativism within the GOP.
I believe now, more than ever, with the rise of alternative media and the growing discontent with the direction of the country, that libertarians, and specifically the Libertarian Party, play a critical role in the future of America.
We've entered a new era in the LP; the new generation of libertarians are more organized, well-spoken, and media savvy.
We should and must continue to grow the Libertarian Party both for those that are "liberty-left", and to the "liberty-right", when they are again stabbed in the back by their neo-conservative party-mates.