That the leftists of the world simply call everyone they disagree with a racist can be a bit of an exaggeration, but as I was researching for this week’s discussion, I found so many articles claiming that Libertarians are just a front for white male dominance, I thought that surely this was a joke and because of the many arguments made claiming libertarianism to be solely for the benefit of white males, I feel compelled to warn the reader that this article is going to be longer than usual.
These arguments almost entirely stem from a poll conducted in 2013 by the Public Religion Research Institute that found that 94% of libertarians are white and 68% are men. Most then argue this is reinforced by the 2014 Pew Research Poll that found “Men were about twice as likely as women to say the term libertarian describes them well and to know the meaning of the term (15% vs. 7%).”
Media outlets have taken this data to mean there is some sort of anomaly in the libertarian party because they feel that a party as anti-establishment should attract a more racially diverse membership.
An article from Salon claims that based on the before mentioned polls “Okay, so libertarianism attracts nerdy white males, but surely these are not the only ones making up the dedicated crowd? While looking at the larger conservative movement, it becomes a bit more clear that the hostility towards government and collective movements in general tends to attract white males who want to preserve their dominance in a society where they are quickly becoming minorities.”
Also, Jeet Heer of New Republic claims that part of the reason for libertarians being dominated by white men is are nostalgia for the economics of the 19th century and that a return to this time when most minorities were oppressed or enslaved, would be favorable to a libertarian.
Heer states “To a significant degree, libertarianism is a philosophy that exalts a world where white men enjoyed enormous freedom, but other groups were even more marginalized than they are now. How surprising is it, then, that politicians like [Rand] Paul, who voice libertarian ideas, have a fan base that is overwhelmingly made up of white men?”
Mother Jones writer, Kevin Drum, reinforces in his article claiming “Few women share this fantasy. I don’t know why, and I don’t really want to play amateur sociologist and guess. Perhaps it’s something as simple as the plain observation that in the more libertarian past, women were subjugated to men almost completely. Why would that seem like an appealing fantasy?
Both Salon and Heer, use a quote that Senator Paul said in the 1980’s over his objection to some parts of the Civil Rights Act. The congressmen claimed that he would want to repeal the section of the Act that makes it unlawful for a business to refuse service to someone based on their race, but because libertarians oppose government laws forcing a business to act certain ways does not equate to support for racist business practices.
Jamelle Bouie of The Daily Beast uses this survey to explain why libertarians will not appeal to voters because of the supposedly large amount of white men within the party. Bouie claims that libertarians won’t appeal as well to minorities, women and the LGBTQIA+ community because the social issues are not as important as the economic ones and the size of government. The party’s similarity to Republicans is a prime reason that the author comes to this conclusion.
He ends his article by stating “Libertarianism has much to contribute to our politics, and—on net—I think its influence is a welcome addition to a wide range of public policy questions. But, if this survey is any indication, libertarians are kidding themselves if they think their movement has electoral appeal to Americans. A narrow slice aside, it doesn’t.”
Bouie claims that libertarians won’t appeal as well to minorities, women and the LGBTQIA+ community because the social issues are not as important as the economic ones and the size of government. The party’s similarity to Republicans is a prime reason that the author comes to this conclusion.
To summarize what the media has disseminated from these polls, libertarians are supposedly only white males who believe the things that they do because of a nostalgic urge to return to times when the white man was dominate and businesses ran wild. Also, we’ll never win elections because the party has too many white men with conservative ideals to appeal to anyone else.
So, the first thing that needs to be discussed is the racial spread of those who consider themselves libertarian. Emily Ekins conducted nine surveys for the Reason Foundation/ Reason Magazine and found that the percentage of different races who consider themselves a libertarian, matches closely with the racial spread of the American population.
This spread is reinforced by the same Pew Poll that Salon used to claim that libertarians are almost entirely white men, and a YouGov poll, that showed that 17% of Hispanics and 10% of African Americans who participated would consider themselves libertarian. When Ekins surveyed Millenials, the amounts of each race who consider themselves libertarian became even more diverse.
For more evidence, the infamous white nationalist Richard Spencer, was met with much opposition when he attended a Students for Liberty Conference and eventually asked to leave. Spencer’s ideology is based mostly on race and a dominating culture, which doesn’t gel with liberty or individual freedom. Plus, Spencer basically hates libertarians:
In regards to Rand Paul’s statements, condoning the use of government force to end discrimination is not the same as supporting discriminating behavior. Racism, sexism and homophobia are all examples of collectivist ideologies that directly go against the ideal of empowering the individual because it strips someone of their identity and replaces it with stereotypes. This is not the same as color blindness, a libertarian simply wouldn’t allow the color of someone’s skin to define them and instead focus on what makes each individual unique.
If a business is not serving a certain race or a certain sexual orientation, what would affect that owner more than slapping a government fine on them would be to take my business elsewhere. Consumers have more power to allow inclusive businesses to succeed than the government ever could.
Finally, in regards to The Daily Beast’s comments on the electability of the philosophy’s current racial make-up, efforts are being made towards spreading the values of liberty to more minorities. FreedomWorks sponsored a panel of black conservatives and libertarians that went to the inner cities of Chicago and Bowie State to spark discussions on entrepreneurship, school choice and economic stimulation within these cities.
In the face of new political organizations and groups who are becoming increasingly hostile to the libertarian message, it is imperative that the philosophy can refute the nonsense. If calling their opposition racists and Nazis continues to be successful, they will only push harder at claiming it.
Click the links below to read my other articles on Libertarian Criticisms