The PR problem for libertarianism

(also posted at Bleeding Heart Libertarians)
As long as a significant number of authoritarians adopt the self-identification of “libertarian” because it sounds cool and less, er, awkward when compared to “authoritarian”, libertarianism will continue to struggle to gain traction with people who self-identify as progressives.
Anecdotally, I often find myself attempting to explain to progressive people why (a) the libertarian movement is not entirely comprised of people who behave like dismissive, Darwinian. authoritarian assholes, and (b) why libertarianism has a lot of ideas that progressive people can and should embrace. I rarely get to (b) because I mostly cannot get past (a). On more than one occasion I have been told that I don’t talk like a libertarian. This seems to come down to the fact that people regard me as reasonable and pleasant.
The unfortunate conclusion to draw is that whatever libertarian (or libertarians) those people previously encountered did not make a favorable impression on an interpersonal level. This speaks to both a perception and communication problem for libertarianism. I read people on my Facebook who are currently seriously considering voting libertarian this election cycle, describing Gary Johnson as “smart” and “reasonable”. My view is that unlike (say) Ron Paul, he does not come across as a cranky curmudgeon. He is interpersonally appealing in a way that many libertarians are not.


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