Libertarians have won arguments in the past (deregulation of transportation), and they may win arguments in the future (marijuana legalization). But while such movements can shape and bend politics, they cannot form it, because they are inspired by a unitary ideological doctrine and most human beings are not. True parties must be run by politicians, and politicians must make concessions to the refractory and contradictory demands of non-ideological voters.
Via I’m Still a Republican—and I’ll Fight to Reclaim My Party by David Frum published by The Atlantic on July 1, 2016.
While my reading of the popular literature on U.S. Politics is not exhaustive, it is extensive. To my recollection no American political writer has previously explained the contributions of libertarians to our public policy framework as elegantly as Mr Frum does in the above passage. In doing so, Mr Frum nicely sets up his incredibly sharp critique of conservative thought leaders circa 2016 – that successful politicians are by definition shape shifters who must be supremely confident holding intellectually inconsistent policy views. The dysfunction of national politics over the course of the Obama years will prove an anomaly that will prove incomprehensible to younger voters by the 2024 election. Yes, the dysfunction we have observed for the past eight years was caused by the refusal large numbers of Republican representatives to modulate their policy positions in ways that were contradictory. But that dysfunction also served to mask how angry the electorate was becoming with those same GOP leaders. It is to America’s great benefit that Donald Trump forced the collapse of this house of cards. It is to America’s further great benefit that Donald Trump is so repellent to the majority of voters that he will lose this election to Hillary Clinton. And therein lies the trap for the Democrat Party.
The 2016 election will go to Hillary Clinton. There can be no doubt about that. It is far from certain that Hillary Clinton could win re-election in 2020. Indeed there is a very strong argument that Hillary Clinton’s victory in 2016 will guarantee her defeat (should she even stand for office) in 2020. The policy contradictions within the center-right of American life that Donald Trump is surfacing in his awkward reality-television style manner during this election cycle will be in full view on the day after Hillary Clinton is inaugurated. The very similar policy contradictions within the center-left of American life will be masked in the glow of the Democrats great victory. All of which is to say that the 2020 election cycle will be even more interesting than this 2016 election cycle.