About this time last year I joined the Libertarian Party. It was a long time coming, and I put it off for a while- but I bit the bullet. Why? For a long time I opted for organizations like YAL and C4L instead, thinking we had to work within one of the major two parties. I was aware of the LP, but hadn’t given it much thought.

So what changed? Well, let’s take it point by point.

1.) Politics changed
Or more accurately the GOP changed. Under Trump’s direction the Republican party has become openly hostile to libertarian interests such as free trade and immigration. There were always differences between us, but the party of the Tea Party and tax-protests was a home base that we could count on for something that sort of looks like support for free markets most of the time.

Conservatism is morphing further, abandoning all connection to (classical) liberalism and doubling down on trade wars, mercantilism, and closed borders. Justin Amash seems to have recognized this, leaving the Republican Party, becoming independent, and then joining the Libertarian Party. He didn’t feel at home in the GOP anymore. Though I never personally did, the time for calling the GOP back to it’s roots has passed. A very different sort of conservatism has taken root instead.

2.) A good point was made.
I heard someone else, on a podcast I believe, relate a story. They were complaining about the 2016 LP Presidential candidate and someone challenged them. They said that if you want to complain then you need to show up and vote for the candidate and direction that you do want, rather than just complaining. The LP has had it’s share of mis-steps and problems, but if I want it to be better I need to show up and get involved.

3.) I read the Platform
and gosh darn it, I really liked it. Support for LGBTQQI+ rights, sex workers, being functionally pro-choice, anti-empire building, and for open borders really made me feel at home as someone that comes to libertarianism from the anti-war left. You should read it too, it’s short and to the point.

4.) The relatively liberal platform isolates from far-right elements
After insane and destructive boondoggles in libertarian history such as Lew Rockwell’s “Southern Strategy” and Ron Paul’s newsletters it really means alot that a major libertarian space is making an effort to be different. It can be argued that it can always been this way since the 70s, when the LP was founded. Supporting sex workers, advocating open borders, and being hands off on abortion is a trifecta that seems to serve to keep wildly bigoted conservatives from flocking in, while giving space for anti-war converted neo-cons to find a new space to stand for freed markets.

5.) I saw results.
The 2019 LP TN Convention featured a panel of elected Libertarians. They had started with local and county races, and where just a few hundred votes more means a win, they won. If it can be done in their communities, it can be done in yours and mine.

I’ve become the County Chair for Rutherford County in Tennessee since then. I’m still navigating how to recruit and organize in the new social-distanced world. But I am stil excited to carry on the YAL maxim of, “Winning on Principle”.