Story by Joseph Ford Cotto
Libertarianism has seen better days.
A few years ago, certain political forecasters claimed that the future of America's center-right belongs to libertarians. Since the 2012 presidential election, however, protectionism surged -- not only in the GOP, but among Democratic ranks as well. Now, amid the age of Donald Trump, libertarianism's once-ascendant nature seems a distant memory.
"I fear that the classical liberal/libertarian idea and ideal will be seriously tarnished by the policies and politics of the Trump Administration," Dr. Richard Ebeling, one of our time's greatest Austrian School thinkers, recently told me.
He continued: "Virtually all of Trump’s proposed policies involve a continuation or an intensification of government involvement in social and economic life. He acts as the all-knowing government central planner when he calls in business executives and tells them where to invest and what products they should make to 'create jobs.' He undermines respect for and protection of essential civil liberties when he ridicules the freedom of the press and their way of reporting on his administration’s actions and his words."
Ebeling went on to state his worry "that with the assistance of the mainstream media the Trump Administration’s anti-freedom policies will tarnish the real case for a free society and a free market. That is, people who want lower taxes and fewer regulations on business will be identified as the people who also believe in torture, discrimination against immigrants, violations of civil liberties, and the instigation of trade wars because of aggressive nationalist attitudes."
One group not giving up on libertarian ideals is Free the People, a consortium which claims its "goal is to get ahead of politics, and engage in the cultural exchange that will set the political agenda for the next 50 years. We want to set the conversation, instead of settling for rhetorical scraps tossed to us by the political class. We want to make the community for liberty a cool thing. Using cutting-edge technology and storytelling, we’re building a grassroots constituency that can translate good ideas into education, conversation, and social activism."
Matt Kibbe is at the helm of this ship. FTP describes him as "President and Chief Community Organizer", making this fellow the only non-leftist I have ever known to use the Barack Obama-popularized 'community organizer' label.
Needless to mention, he is a unique individual.
"An economist by training, Kibbe is a public policy expert, bestselling author and political commentator," his FTP biography tells. "He served as Senior Advisor to Concerned American Voters, a Rand Paul Super PAC. He is also Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Austrian Economic Center in Vienna, Austria.
"In 2004 Kibbe founded FreedomWorks, a national grassroots advocacy organization, and served as President until his departure in July 2015. Steve Forbes said 'Kibbe has been to FreedomWorks what Steve Jobs was to Apple.' Newsweek pronounced Kibbe 'one of the masterminds' of tea party politics. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann called Kibbe 'the second worst person in the world.'"
Kibbe recently chatted with me about libertarianism, its role in American life, and his organization. Some of our conversation is included below.