Over the past few months we have all been witness to the horrible consequences of a political party selling its soul – giving up totally on any sort of coherent message in favor of embracing a cult of personality as the only way to "win".
Libertarians have been commenting for years, of course, that the Republican Party has been losing ideological coherence, giving up most of what it had in the way of "principles", so that on many issues it became little more than an echo of the other major party.
No more was the Republican Party standing up consistently for the ideals of free enterprise or even limited government. It was no longer fighting for smaller government, but just a government not growing quite as fast as what the Democrats wanted. No longer fighting against socialism, its members could only bring themselves to advocate "reform" of programs like Medicare, Social Security, and various kinds of welfare for individuals and corporations alike.
This was all true even before Trump took over that party. But in choosing Trump to lead them, because he seemed the only candidate capable of beating the Democrats, they took their self-destructive path to a bitter end. With their party now in the hands of a populist, they found themselves fighting against free trade, against civil liberties, and in a position where they had to support this man no matter how repulsive his behavior.
We don't expect a totally consistent ideological message from either the Republicans or the Democrats. These parties both aim to be "big tent" parties, able to include people with a wide enough range of views and interests to be able to "win" on election day. But the Republicans' "tent" hasn't even been up to that job. In California it hasn't been up to that job for a while, with the result that the Democrats now have a super-majority in both houses of the state legislature, with no prospect of that changing for the foreseeable future.
The Republicans now find themselves divided into at least three camps – the "traditional" conservatives, the Trump-loving populists, and some who lean libertarian. It is almost impossible that these three groups will be able to resolve their differences in time to become a winning team in the next election, either in California or nationally. It isn't clear if they will ever be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. And if they can't, and wind up in the dustbin of history (like the party they replaced), what will happen to the Democrats? Will they succeed in cementing their hold on power, making us a one-party nation, like the Communist parties in China and the old Soviet Union? Or will they then fracture into their own "populist" and "traditional" wings?
One thing is clear: Neither of those parties is going to be in any position to lead a movement to restore liberty, in California or the country as a whole. Only the Libertarian Party can do that, and only the Libertarian Party has a structure that ensures that we will not "sell our soul". Our Statement of Principles, unchanged for more than 40 years now, and protected by our national bylaws requirement for 7/8 approval of any change to it, makes it the job of our convention delegates to select candidates who represent our principles, rather than changing our principles year by year as new candidates come along.
Members of the Libertarian Party come from a variety of political backgrounds. Some were Republicans, before they saw that the LP was a better way to work for freedom. Now that they can see the consequences of letting their party be taken over by Trump, more Republicans than ever will be considering joining us. If you have Republican friends, relatives, or neighbors – please extend an invitation!