Jon Chait’s reply to the “liberaltarian” proposal is both amusing and sound, including such crucial points as “wooing a small bloc with unpopular views is not a sound political strategy.” He notes that “the politically fertile terrain seems to lie in the anti-libertarian direction” and that the Democrats’ non-libertarian nature notwithstanding, there’s a non-crazy case to be made that libertarians should vote for Democrats rather than Republicans anyway. In sum:
I think the spirit of my proposed arrangement was best expressed by Michael Corleone, who said, “You can have my answer now if you like. My offer is this: nothing.” I don’t blame libertarians for wanting more than the lesser of two evils. But, when your beliefs are wildly unpopular, supporting the lesser of two evils is about the best you can expect.
With that as a new baseline, I’m prepared to make some minor concessions. There are a variety of ways in which the status quo has the heavy hand of the state being deployed to further entrench existing wealth and privilege, notably certain aspects of intellectual property policy. Liberals have our own reasons for opposing such measures but, in practice, liberal politicians are often nowhere to be seen on these issues. What’s more, there’s a foreign policy aspect to these questions and I think I’m more eager than Chait to see the Democrats oppose senseless militarism. At the end of the day, though, I agree with this conclusion:
The most impressive Democratic performances in 2006 came from candidates like Bob Casey, James Webb, and Heath Shuler, who combined economic populism with social traditionalism. The ideological counterpart to this strategy would be to flesh out a kind of liberal-populist fusionism, rooted in fighting the ways that massive inequality and income fluctuation have undermined traditional family life.
That’s where the real possibilities lie — trying to outline a vision where progressive economic policy is seen as a better means of shoring up family life than is legal discrimination against gays and lesbians.