libertarian populism

What is Libertarian Populism?

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Via Reason Magazine on YouTube, Nick Gillespie chats with Ben Domenech, Tim Carney, and Jesse Walker about “libertarian populism” and the potential appeal it could have to Americans who are tired of cronyism and big government.

On Libertarian Populism and the Liberty Movement

 Much is being made of this idea called ”Libertarian Populism” and its perceived value as a winning political strategy. The problem is, few seem to know what those words really mean. As such, a range of politicians and policies have incorrectly been grafted onto specific words that have specific meanings.

I’ve silently watched as this LibPop movement(?) has unfolded; see this litany of articles at this link roundup provided by Reason Magazine. The term seems to have been coined at a book forum for Tim Carney at the Cato Institute. In its next iteration, Ross Douthat succinctly defined Libertarian Populism as:

“A strain of thought that moves from the standard grassroots conservative view of Washington as an inherently corrupt realm of special interests and self-dealing elites to a broader skepticism of ‘bigness’ in all its forms (corporate as well as governmental), that regards the Bush era as an object lesson in everything that can go wrong (at home and abroad) when conservatives set aside this skepticism, and that sees the cause of limited government as a means not only to safeguarding liberty, but to unwinding webs of privilege and rent-seeking and enabling true equality of opportunity as well.”

Libertarian Populism: How to Sell Ideas to the American People

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a big debate about the future of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. On one side you have the status quo — those who continue to grow government and get the United States in perilous military engagements overseas — and on the other, there is a new brand of fusionism that is gaining in popularity.

Ben Domenech, editor of The Transom, has dubbed this new fusionism as “libertarian populism,” which is part of the debate over conservative reform. In a response to a recent critique by Ross Douthat, Domenech outlines the tenets of libertarian populism and explains that it presents a path for limited government advocates to sell ideas to voters:

The appeal of libertarian populism is that it refuses to cede the philosophical battle to the side of big government – and the permanence of a broken welfare/regulatory state and convoluted tax code – before the argument is even joined. Instead, libertarian populism can and should be cast in the proper light: the sober reality of our dire fiscal situation; the abject brokenness of our welfare state; tax, education and regulatory systems that retard economic opportunity, punish success, hurt the poor and middle class, and reward cronies; and a federal government that wants control over almost every aspect of our lives, from the raw milk we drink to the lightbulbs we use and the toilets we flush.


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