Libertarians Should Not Support either Major Political Party | Opinion

The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Nick Gillespie during a Newsweek podcast debate on the U.S. political realignment. You can listen to the podcast here:

One of the things you'll find Democrats and Republicans agreeing on is coming up with election rules and campaign finance rules, and things like that that make it harder for any kind of insurgent. There's a reason why Ron Paul, in 2008 and 2012, ran as a Republican and got more traction. There's a reason why Bernie Sanders, who is an independent, is a perennial Democratic Party candidate. That's how you're going to get it. What happens, though, in American politics, and this happens maybe once a century or once every 50 years, is the parties either dissolve—which hasn't happened in a long time, for example, Whigs and Democratic-Republicans, or Federalists—or they radically change what they stand for. This is part of what's going on: The coalitions that the contemporary Republicans and Democrats represent are from the 1980s, maybe the 1990s, and those coalitions don't really exist anymore.

They don't have the votes to put people over the top. They're not internally consistent and they can't fake it anymore. Milton Friedman said that ultimately the level of government was determined by the size of spending, because that's the tax they end up doing. And under Democrats and Republicans, with different mixes of House and Senate majorities, in the 21st century all you have seen is spending go up. So the two parties are more alike than they are different, and they do block out other parties, but they can change. I mean, it seemed to be in the 2010s, the Republican Party had a Tea Party insurgency—people like Rand Paul, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie and even Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, they seem to be devoted to an even more stripped down Reaganism.

Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) speaks
Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) speaks at the Bitcoin 2021 Convention, a crypto-currency conference held at the Mana Convention Center in Wynwood on June 04, 2021 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It was really more like a Ron Paul vision of government—that government should be doing less for people. It should be less worried about the outside world and trying to be occupying every country around the world, and all of that kind of stuff. That gesture is totally gone now in the Republican Party. Now, you don't hear anybody talking like that. It's been transformed by Trump into a party, which at the presidential level, has shown in the past two election presidential elections that it can't get a majority. The Democratic Party is morphing from a kind of more centrist thing, going back to somebody like Bill Clinton, into a harder- and harder-left massive-government party where Joe Biden and the people around him want the government to be involved in virtually every transaction at every level. So, that's where we're at.

Nick Gillespie is host of "The Reason Interview" podcast.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.