Last weekend, I attended the 2013 International Students for Liberty Conference. The conference featured a taping of Stossel with opportunities for the attendees to engage the guests with questions.
The most momentous occasion at the Stossel taping was when Ann Coulter called libertarians “pussies.” As anticipated, this elicited a response of jeering. Coulter clarified, saying that libertarians spend too much time sucking up to their liberal friends instead of focusing on the real issues. She mentioned that libertarians can work with conservatives on issues that matter–such as economics–but they instead choose to focus on marijuana in order to appeal to the left. In this statement, Coulter highlighted precisely why the modern libertarian movement is failing.
Instead of creating alliances with fiscal conservatives, libertarians would rather tell people that libertarianism is about “pot and gay marriage” in order to garner the attention of the youth. The result of making libertarianism about social issues is that there are therefore people, who claim to be libertarians, that do not understanding the philosophy of libertarianism in the slightest. These individuals who are duped in to believing libertarianism is only about pot and government gay marriage end up not understanding any of the foundational principles of libertarians. As a result, some self-described libertarians even rationalize greater state interventionism on behalf of egalitarianism and economic equity. Generally, no one would consider individuals who support a bigger government to be libertarians; however, these people were told they are libertarians because they like to smoke pot and think gay people are cool. These new libertarians, therefore, do not understand the non-aggression principle, do not understand the importance of voluntary action, and do not understand the power of the market. These self-proclaimed libertarians are a threat to freedom, as they say they act on behalf of liberty when they simultaneously call for greater government.
During the taping, Ann Coulter said that she does not want welfare to go towards someone who is getting high, which is a moderately justifiable reason to be against drug legalization. The audience erupted in to loud noise upon hearing Coulter’s answer. Proving her point that libertarians only care about pot, the majority of the questions that followed from Stossel, as well as the audience, were about her views on marijuana. Coulter kept mentioning there are bigger concerns than marijuana, such as ending the welfare state. Libertarians and conservatives should agree that welfare should not go to individuals who use drugs. Libertarians and conservatives should agree that welfare should be abolished. However, there was no such dialogue from the audience about what should happen first. From the minute Coulter walked on stage, the audience decided to act like children and cast her as an enemy rather than someone who can be worked with. For a conference that prides itself on intellectualism, there was no intelligent discussion between the audience and Coulter.
The audience booed Coulter for stating the obvious truths about the travesty of the modern libertarian movement. To demonstrate her point, there was another high-profile guest of an entirely different political persuasion who received applause. When Dennis Kucinich entered the stage, he was applauded. When Kucinich advocated for government regulations in order to save the world from the global warming catastrophe, parts of the audience applauded. When Kucinich mentioned how evil profits were for banks and health-care corporations, parts of the audience applauded.
A woman who has done not much except write opinion columns received a vitriolic response from the audience, while a man who has spent his entire time in Congress campaigning against liberty was cheered. Dennis Kucinich has spent his time in Congress vowing for bigger government. Since Dennis Kucinich is a leftist with politically correct opinions, however, the audience at a “libertarian” conference gave him more respect than a woman who never assaulted anyone’s freedom.