As libertarians, it’s pretty easy to point out the flaws and holes in solutions pitched to address the issues we face. It’s also very easy to just say no to everything, because the answer doesn’t pass muster with a libertarian worldview.
The hard part, yet the one that helps you be taken seriously as a part of the conversation, is to have your solution, a libertarian solution, ready to share when you oppose the option(s) presented.
In my experience, we are quick to oppose a politician’s proposal because it increases spending and/or taxes. Or we see that it isn’t authorized by the Constitution. Or we have examined the likely outcomes, and find fault with those outcomes.
Even in cases of strict opposition, like a new tax, build a case to present about why the proposal is bad and offer a libertarian solution to reduce or eliminate the perceived need for increased spending.
When I worked against the continuation of a sales tax, our “Ax the Tax!” campaign focused on the wasteful spending that accompanied the tax.
We pointed out:
- that additional spending on new capital projects increased the liability for future budgets for operations and maintenance of those projects, likely leading to future tax increases.
- the projects were wasteful and unnecessary, designed to get the support of small constituencies to support the “whole pie” in order to get their “piece.”
- several projects duplicated and directly competed with existing private sector businesses or replaced something that failed in the eyes of the market.
- the regular budgeting process planned for the tax’s continuation to make the spending appear necessary. In this case, road “improvements” (paving and intersection changes) were 98% dependent on the continuation of the sales tax.
We were also involved early in the process, showing up to events and meetings to discuss why the ideas proposed were not acceptable. By being involved early, we won a small victory by reducing the size (and cost) of the proposed project list by a third before it was even presented to voters for the referendum. By showing these faults and offering that there were ways to address them all without the tax, we nearly defeated it, despite being outspent 100:1.
We built a coalition of like-minded and some unlikely allies, and our unified messaging that addressed our solutions received MULTIPLE positive news stories about our opposition to spending $600 million in taxpayer money.
Regardless of why you oppose a proposal, no ready solution negates your inclusion in the conversation, which limits your exposure outside your immediate allies. Those allies already have your support, so you end up “preaching to the choir” rather than getting more people on your side.
Libertarians cannot always be a force of opposition. Inclusion in the discussion gives us a way to share a libertarian solution and offer some common sense guidance to the outcome.