The Republican Party stands on the heels of a monumental paradigm shift in its ideological direction. And for lovers of freer markets and smaller governments, that shift points toward a very wrong direction.
In recent years, the libertarian wing of the party has made major progress in steering the GOP closer to its vision, thanks in large part to the Tea Party movement. Libertarian-minded conservatives like Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Justin Amash have gone to Washington and helped to change the conversation on everything from mass surveillance to foreign policy. But as the Tea Party helped to inch the party closer to libertarian ideals, an authoritarian strongman stands prepared to undo all of that progress.
Donald Trump is no friend of libertarians. He has called for universal healthcare and raising taxes. His company has long been a prominent abuser of eminent domain and Trump himself has endorsed the confiscation of privately owned land as “necessary.” He took the side of the federal government in their crusade against Apple and has publicly called for the execution of Edward Snowden. And having an unhinged autocrat whose views seem to change daily as our commander-in-chief of the military doesn’t exactly sound like a plan for less intervention in foreign affairs and conflicts.
Many libertarians I have spoken to seem to be largely apathetic about the implications of Trump’s rise on the future of the party. To those people, I would argue that although Ted Cruz is not a perfect libertarian, he is a constitutional conservative. He represents a small step in the right direction, where the alternative represents three Trump Tower-sized steps backwards.
In our current two-party system, change is most positively affected when it is done within one of the major parties. Creating a viable third party has largely been a fool’s errand for libertarians, but we have proven capable of moving the GOP towards our ideals. The Tea Party movement got the ball rolling, but now we must come together to stop Trump from picking the ball up and popping it.
The cause of libertarianism in the Republican Party is not dead, but it may now be on life support. We must come together to save it.