Current United States policy, let alone popular political thought, is very far from libertarian. Writing about a future election where libertarianism is the mainstream can only be an exercise in vision as of now.
Nevertheless, there are signs that libertarianism can serve as a durable political mainstream of a solid, universal-adult-suffrage republic. Despite the low poll numbers racked up by all libertarian candidates (in the broader sense), there are definite signs that a libertarian mainstream can be the basis of a thriving two-party state — a competitive two-party system, with frequent horse races.
Based upon what the libertarian movement is like now, the most likely split into two parties would be Objectivist-based versus Austro-libertarian-based. There’s already enough animosity between both groups’ "party faithful" to make for two competitive camps. According to hard-core Objectivists, what you’re reading here amounts to "The Perversion of Liberty." (See The Voice of Reason, pp. 311—333.) And, of course, the great Murray N. Rothbard had his own choice appellation about the inner core of the Objectivist movement. He isn’t the only libertarian to use that term, either.
Backing up this split are profound differences in political attitude, to the point that Objectivists would probably be "Red-State Randians" and the Austros would likely be "Blue-State Libertarians." Although the principles deduced from the Non-Aggression Axiom are exact, there’s sufficient vagueness in implementing them to make for an unending string of issue-driven campaigns. For example, there is a natural right to defend oneself against aggression. But how far should that right be farmed off to a minimal-government libertarian State? How minimal is u2018minimal’? Would it be better to put a lot of cops on the beat, to properly deter any would-be aggressors? Should there be minimal policing, because it’s better (and tax-cheaper) for aggresses to see to their own defense? Since a libertarian State is still a State, the same compromises would be necessary, and the same trade-offs would appear. There would be ample scope for two competing visions, as expressed in two different parties.
In fact, given the gulfs that already exist now, two hypothetical platforms of two different parties are straightforward to construct. Since big-L libertarianism basically is Austro-libertarianism (although sometimes errant), I’ll use the name "Libertarian" for the Austro-party and "Objectivist" for the Rand-driven party.
The Hypothetical Libertarian Future, Date Unknown
The Libertarian Party platform:
- The Libertarian Party expresses its tolerance for anarcho-capitalist and other pro-liberty anarchist movements, as they help to lower our need for the State.
- The Libertarian Party staunchly reiterates its opposition to any war, or any other foreign adventure, that does not begin with an explicit attack on United States soil.
- The Libertarian Party, in solidarity with taxpayers and in harmony with the virtue of self-reliance, promises economy in funding of the police services, courts and military.
- The Libertarian Party promises to take seriously any violations of private property rights not yet known to science, with appropriate legislation if called for.
- The Libertarian Party, in consonance with common sense, reiterates its eternal opposition to any form of corporate welfare.
- The Libertarian Party continues to express its opposition in principle to government-sanctioned patents, copyrights and trademarks, and promises to abolish U.S. governmental protection of the first of these three.
- The Libertarian Party affirms its support of 100%-reserve banking, and promises continual scrutiny of any bank that claims to operate under a "consent-driven" fractional-reserve model.
- The Libertarian Party reiterates its commitment to federalism. Violations of individual rights at the non-federal level, although deplorable, will not be formally redressed by a Libertarian administration except through oratory.
- Further to the Libertarian Party’s commitment to federalism, the Libertarian Party pledges to introduce a Constitutional Amendment to reinforce Article of Amendment XXIX’s repeal of Article of Amendment XII. Said proposal will specify the conditions of secession for any state that desires to do so, and will be known as Article of Amendment XXXIII if ratified by sufficient States along with the House and Senate.
- The Libertarian Party also pledges an exploratory committee to divest Congress of its power to "coin Money" and "regulate the Value thereof," and to examine the feasibility of devolving said Power to the several states.
The Objectivist Party platform:
- The Objectivist Party denounces all forms of anarchism, as they encourage blood feuds, irrational diffidence when relying upon the objectivization of retaliation, and private, non-objective vengeance crusades.
- The Objectivist Party reaffirms the right of the United States government, as a principled defender of man’s rights, to invade any slave state at the time of its choosing.
- The Objectivist Party, in solidarity with victims and in harmony with the virtue of rational civility, promises adequate funding of the police services, courts and military.
- The Objectivist Party promises to treat any alleged new kind of violation of property rights with appropriate judiciousness and restraint.
- The Objectivist Party, in harmony with the virtue of productiveness, reiterates its eternal opposition to the pure dependency inculcated by "pure" welfare.
- The Objectivist Party promises to maintain and defend intellectual property rights, rationally defined.
- The Objectivist Party reiterates its support of free banking, and promises to place greater priority on retaliations against more direct and injurious rights violations.
- The Objectivist Party also reiterates its commitment to individual rights. Violations of any of man’s rights at the non-federal level shall be met with official responses that will pass the scrutiny of the Supreme Court.
- The Objectivist Party promises to enforce Article of Amendment XXXI with full rigor, through introducing a binding resolution in Congress that would necessitate it and any future Congress to require formal Supreme Court pre-vetting of any legislation that could affect trade.
- The Objectivist Party also promises to introduce diamond "coins," of grade and weight specified by law, to make commerce in large denominations more convenient.
Liberty And The Two-Party State
Although not deducible from the Non-Aggression Axiom, the two-party State is a well-known buttress against totalitarian tyrannies, all of which feature one-party States. Those two hypothetical platforms just above, constructed from the "two libertarianisms" already extant, make it evident that a libertarian mainstream does not herald a future one-party State. Given the differences already referred to above, it would be an extraordinary claim to assert the opposite. There’s enough diversity within the small-l libertarian movement to make for full, competitive, voter-courting elections…within a libertarian mainstream. In fact, the libertarian movement could support full and competitive mock elections for a mock-Congress and -White House as of now.
They’d be "full" elections in another sense, too. "Oh boy — the Objectionist Party!" "Well, if it ain’t the Librarian Party!" "Did the other candidate lecture you on the irrational premises expressed by your front lawn?" "One thing we aren’t is the u2018Sally Ayn’ Party." "Watch it — if you defend yourself like that, the Sally Ayn Party will throw you into the hoosegow!" "Only a Libber-tear-ian would blame the victim for calling the police." And so on, and on, and on…
In fact there may be enough fur flying to make an entry point for alternate parties, including protest parties.
"Hello and thank you for listening. I’m with the Libertarian Monarchist Party. Are you as sick of the social immaturity of the u2018mainstream’ as I am? Well, if you are, then we have a third alternative that’s solidly based on sound political theory…"