(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)
A new poll indicates America is smack dab in the midst of “a libertarian renaissance in 2013.” So reports the highly-regarded website POLITICO.
The poll finds that fully “78 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents self-identify as fiscally conservative and socially moderate.”
Further: “Told that libertarians generally believe individuals should be free to do as they like as long as they don’t hurt others and that the government should keep out of people’s day-to-day lives, 58 percent of the full national sample said they agree.”
“It’s not that Republicans are suddenly self-identifying as ‘libertarians’ and devouring Ayn Rand novels,” says POLITICO, “but more that they seem to be embracing underlying libertarian priorities and views about the role of government.”
FreedomWorks, the liberty-minded organization that sponsored the poll of 1,000 registered voters, makes the same point. They say their poll “identifies voters who can be fairly identified as ‘libertarian’ based on their fiscally conservative, but socially moderate to liberal answers to questions on polls.
“We do not claim that these are hardcore libertarians who have all read Ayn Rand and F. A. Hayek, or are as ideologically self-aware as readers of Reason magazine. Rather, these voters’ libertarian beliefs distinguish them from liberals and conservatives, even if the word ‘libertarian’ may be unfamiliar to them.”
The poll has lots of great news for libertarians. It suggests that libertarians and libertarian-leaning Republicans could be on the way to becoming more influential within the GOP than the party’s social conservatives, military hawks and neo-conservatives.
When asked what they are most interested in, fully 40 percent of Republican voters chose “individual freedom through lower taxes and reducing the size and scope of government.” Just 27 percent picked “traditional values,” and only 18 percent chose a “strong national defense.”
Fully one-fourth of Republicans in the poll self-identified as “libertarian” or “lean libertarian.” 42 percent of Republicans view the term “libertarian” favorably and 10 percent don’t know it.
The poll also shows that libertarians have more work to do to get the word out.
Overall 27 percent of voters said they didn’t know enough about libertarianism to offer an opinion. About 40 percent of 18-to-32-year-olds view the word “libertarian” favorably. But about a third don’t know what it means.
Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who conducted the poll, told POLITICO that a large and growing number of voters feel the government is too expensive, too invasive and too expansive.
“The perfect storm is being created between the NSA, the IRS, the implementation of Obamacare and now Syria,” Conway said. “People are looking at the government more suspiciously. They’re looking with deeper scrutiny and reasonable suspicion.”
The poll also found a healthy distrust of government.
Fully 61 percent said “economic policies coming out of Washington” are hurting more than helping. 64 percent of 25-to-32-year-olds who have been in the workforce a substantial time said they favor “smaller government with fewer services but lower taxes.” And two-thirds of 18-to-32-year-olds are favorable towards “free market” and similar terms.
Asked which party they trust to “reform government in Washington,” a whopping 40 percent of American voters say “neither” party can be trusted — outnumbering both the 30 percent who trust the Democrats to reform government and the 25 percent who trust the Republicans. Even among self-identified Republicans, 41 percent say they trust “neither” party.