Reports have appeared a number of times over the last few years suggesting anything from a greater role for the libertarian wing of the Republican Party right through to essentially handing them the blue states to contest. The argument made for this is that libertarians would have much more appeal than conservatives in some of these states.
Nick Gillespie has revisited the idea in a recent article urging the GOP to embrace ‘its inner libertarian,’ focussing on a report from the College Republican National Committee:
Millennials, says the report, don’t care much about abstractions such as that favorite Republican bogeyman, “big government.” But they are into cutting government spending and reducing the national debt, as they realize both things are strangling their future before it begins. Fully 90 percent agree that Social Security and Medicare need to be reformed now, 82 percent are ready to “make tough choices about cutting government spending, even on some programs some people really like,” and 72 percent want to cut the size of government “because it is simply too big.” Only 17 percent want to increase spending on defense and just 30 percent said that “marriage should be legally defined as only between a man and a women,” with 44 percent saying same-sex marriage should be legal everywhere and 26 percent saying it should be up to individual states.
You don’t need a decoder ring to read the libertarian strain in such responses. Often described as socially liberal and fiscally conservative, libertarians argue for keeping the government out of the boardroom and the bedroom. They tend to favor more-open borders for people as well as goods and services, agitate for legalization (or at least decriminalization) of drugs, and push for choice in whom you can marry as well as where you send your kids to school.
Today’s younger voters—who have grown up in a wild, wired world in which the click of a mouse brings forth endless options in entertainment, commerce, and identity—naturally imbibe an essentially libertarian ethos that privileges individual choice over top-down control. They’re not anarchists: The CRNC report notes that 88 percent support safety-net programs that help people temporarily and 86 percent favor trimming regulations but maintaining ones “that keep us safe.” But Millennials plainly have a spirit of innovation and experimentation that is stymied by centralized government.
The enthusiasm of youthful republicans has been on display every time Ron Paul has hit the hustings. These people are out there ready and willing to do the heavy lifting despite the disdain they are held in by the establishment of the party.