Harvard economics professor Edward Glaeser wrote a very intriguing piece recently in The New York Times. In it, he examines the pure philosophy of the libertarian and confronts that way of thinking with the harsh realities of political feasibility. He makes some rather good points, and it’s quite clear that many libertarian principles are noble ones that have been grossly distorted by the less reasoned, more emotionally reactive likes of the Tea Party movement.
Smaller government–and more importantly less government involvement in the lives of citizens–is not likely to be achieved by the ranting of some man with a mullet haircut who brings a gun and a misspelled sign with him from Tennessee to Capitol Hill. That is not the face of a movement with widespread appeal–as large and as vocal as the public displays may appear.
What this group needs, if they are to be successful, is less of Sarah Palin’s Obama-bashing “hopey-changey” rhetoric or even Ron Paul’s well-reasoned but rather radical ideas, and more small steps in the direction they favor. As Glaeser so nicely outlines, political fights are never won by appealing to the extremes. Victories come from appealing to the middle.