Libertarianism v. Centrism?

Considering the current state of the Republican Party in particular and the duopoly formation in general, Jenny Kakasuleff wonders whether 2012 could be the 'year of the Libertarian,' but suggests that a centrist or moderate candidate would stand a better chance:

If they are to stand a chance, the task for Libertarians is to convince Americans that the federal deficit, and the national debt, should be their two most pressing concerns; making this argument stick will be based partially on the political climate in the summer of 2012. In addition, they must convince a majority of the electorate that the only way to fix this mess is to terminate all social programs, including food stamps, Medicare/Medicaid, social security, and education—this will be a tough sell. Three years is a political lifetime. The GOP has plenty of time to get their ducks in a row, but they are surely dragging their feet. If a third-party candidate were willing to move toward the center—as we well know, it’s the moderate candidate who can garner support from a majority of Americans that will win—then we may see the first third-party presidential victory. However, the ideas of Ron Paul will never resonate with a majority of Americans.
This juxtaposition of predictions raises a number of questions about the relationship between libertarianism and the so-called political center. Would not a strong libertarian candidate for national office change our very notion of what or where the "center" is?


Anonymous said...

When I think of the center I think of moderation. A Burkean conservatism really. Organic reforms not change for sake of change and governing based on concrete knowledge not vague ideology.

Getting rid of all social programs as suggested is, in my mind, in direct conflict with Burke. Libertarians will not go far with those sorts of ideas. America just wont have them at this juncture, possibly never in my lifetime.

IMHO The Centrist Party is the closest thing we have to an organized centrist party. Modern Whigs aren't far off either.

d. eris said...

I think the Whigs stand a good chance of gaining ground among moderates and centrists too. To qualify the question: what parts of a hypothetical Libertarian platform stand a chance of broader acceptance? The deficit and debt, as Kukasuleff suggests, would be two possibilities. I was thinking also opposition to 'foreign entanglements,' and maybe even some of their stances on social issues, ex. gay marriage, the war on drugs.

Samuel Wilson said...

You ask: "Would not a strong libertarian candidate for national office change our very notion of what or where the "center" is?" Derek replies with a philosophical definition of the center, but I assume your question was more demographic in nature. In those terms, the only answer to your question would be "yes," with the corollary that "you won't know until you try."