It goes without saying that if we are to achieve a genuinely free society, people need to have a deep and abiding faith in freedom. If people are convinced that freedom won’t work or if they have serious doubts as to whether freedom will really work, then the chances of achieving the free society are slim.
Realistically, the only people who can lead America to freedom are libertarians. Both conservatives and liberals are wedded to the things that are opposite to freedom, specifically things like the welfare state, the national-security state, the managed economy, immigration controls, and public schooling. Both conservatives and liberals (i.e., progressives) are terrified at the thought of abolishing, repealing, or dismantling any of these things. They are convinced that freedom — genuine freedom — simply cannot and does not work.
That means that in order to achieve the genuinely free society, only libertarians can lead us there. But in order to do that, libertarians have to have faith in freedom. If libertarians aren’t convinced that freedom will work or have grave doubts that it will work, then freedom becomes virtually impossible.
The problem we face then is that in some areas, many libertarians lack faith in freedom.
Consider the war on drugs. By and large, libertarians are solid about repealing and dismantling drug laws. Not all libertarians, of course, are on board with full legalization of drugs. The conservative-oriented libertarians want to legalize only marijuana. Some of them even want the government to regulate the production and distribution of marijuana, and they want to keep the possession and distribution of hard drugs (e.g., heroin and cocaine) illegal.
But I’d say most libertarians understand that freedom — genuine freedom — necessarily requires the repeal of all drug laws. They understand that when the government wields the power to punish people for what they put into their mouths, there is no way that people in that society can genuinely be considered free. It’s no surprise that there are drug laws in Cuba, North Korea, China, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
Thus, in the area of drug laws, most libertarians are direct and unequivocal: Repeal all drug laws now, not later. Freedom — genuine freedom — requires it.
Unfortunately, however, in other areas there are lots of libertarians who lack the faith in freedom and free markets that is necessary to achieve the free society.
Example one: Social Security. Many conservative-oriented libertarians are scared to death whenever they hear libertarians calling for the immediate repeal, not reform, of this socialist program. Like conservatives and liberals, these conservative-oriented and liberal-oriented libertarians are convinced that without Social Security, seniors would die in the streets.
Thus, such libertarians are scared to death to advocate the immediate end of Social Security (even though they are not scared to death of calling for the immediate end of the war on drugs). They settle for Rube Goldberg-like schemes that save and reform Social Security. In this area, they lack the faith in freedom that achieving freedom requires.
Example two: healthcare, specifically Medicare and Medicaid, the Centers for Disease Control, and the FDA. Conservative-oriented libertarians are scared to death to call for their immediate repeal and dismantling. They instead endorse conservative “free market” concepts of reform that leave leave Medicare and Medicaid intact and that adopt “free-market” reform measures like “health-savings accounts.” Or they’ll carp about how the CDC or the FDA should have done this or that and then come up with their own plans on what these agencies should have done or should be doing.
Example three: immigration controls. Conservative-oriented libertarians are scared to death of the libertarian concept of open borders, at least with respect to international borders. That is, they favor America’s system of domestic open borders, but have no faith in freedom of movement across international borders. That’s why you never hear them calling for the dismantling of ICE and the Border Patrol. They usually want the government to better manage the immigration-control system by letting in more immigrants.
Example four: public schooling. While conservative-oriented libertarians favor abolishing the federal Department of Education (as Ronald Reagan favored), the idea of abolishing public (i.e., government) schools at the local level scares them to death. Like conservatives and liberals, such libertarians are convinced that without public schooling, everyone would be dumb and uneducated.
Thus, to a large extent achieving freedom — genuine freedom — lies with the large number of libertarians who lack faith in freedom. If all such libertarians were to suddenly capture a deep and abiding faith in genuine freedom and share that faith with others, the chances of achieving genuine freedom would increase exponentially because we would then be increasingly closer to the critical mass of people needed to bring a paradigm shift to liberty.