The Spectacle Blog

Liberaltarians revisited

By on 12.11.06 | 9:36AM

Does it matter whether libertarians are "fused" to the right or the left? A few of us around here obviously think so. Steve Sailer argues provocatively that however exciting this debate may be to the blogosphere's smart set, libertarians are just too marginal electorally for it to really matter. He paraphrases Stalin in asking, "How many divisions do the libertarians have?" Daniel Larison and Michael Brendan Dougherty agree.

Now, if you buy into David Boaz and David Kirby's study finding a significant libertarian-leaning swing vote -- I'm not yet sure whether I do -- you might quibble with Sailer on the number of libertarian voters. But ultimately, that isn't the point of this whole debate. Even though political consultants earn their livings by figuring out ways to attract the largest voting blocs, intellectual elites frequently do have a disproportionate impact on our politics. Take the neoconservative versus paleoconservative debate as an example. The number of people involved is actually quite small. Yet the difference it makes to the character of the American Right, which includes vast numbers of voters who couldn't explain the difference between a neocon and a paleocon to save their lives, is much larger.

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