Libertarian politicians have received their fair share of criticism from the press, mostly as a means of discrediting them. The two biggest cases I can think of are,
- During the 2012 presidential campaign season, Ron Paul’s involvement with a newsletter published during the 1980s and 1990s was brought to the spot light. These newsletters, as it turns out, are riddled with racism. Ron Paul defended himself and claimed that he never read that material, let alone write it, and it’s generally accepted — at least, I think so — that a ghostwriter is most likely responsible. A name that I remember floating around is Lew Rockwell’s. This Atlantic piece is a good summary of what happened;
- More recently, Rand Paul’s campaign suffered a major setback when the media found out that one of his advisers believed in the interpretation of the American Civil War that it was not fought over slavery, but over tariffs and other such forms of extractive Northern politics. This is the false story advocated by scholars such as Tom DiLorenzo.
There’s another belief that a minority — I hope — of libertarians hold that I was reminded of yesterday, because of all the social media flutter on the Royal baby. Four years ago or so, in preparation for fourth of July, Stephen Kinsella wrote that secession from Britain was a “mistake,” arguing that we substituted monarchy for “democracy worship.” Kinsella has been influenced by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who in an incredibly naïve comparative analysis of political institutions (see Hoppe  and Hoppe ) concludes that monarchs have better incentives for non-extractive behavior than democracies. (Hoppe is unequivocally wrong — the rise of relatively pluralistic governance is related to the establishment and enforcement of broader property rights.) I wonder how long it will take for this idea to bite libertarianism in the ass.
In defense of these kind of arguments, except the racism one, there’s value in being a contrarian — if argued otherwise I’d be a hypocrite. The people who espouse these ideas aren’t idiots; they’re smart people. They have reasons for believing what they do, and they should absolutely express their thoughts and try to persuade their peers. But, if we think that some idea is particularly bad, we shouldn’t be afraid of discrediting the life out of it.