This article was originally published by Young Americans for Liberty.
As I’m sure all single libertarians with a Y chromosome are fully aware, the libertarian movement fails to woo the ladies. Knowing how sexy our ideas are, you may wonder, “why are all the ladies head over heels for those not-so-liberal Democrats?” Well, regardless of how intelligent, morally consistent, and just plain awesome libertarian ideas are, we are not so good with the romance. That is, we are not so good with the politics.
That isn’t to say that all libertarians are awkward intellectual white guys whose primary relationships are with books and blogs — y’all know who you are* — but first impressions and the internet are very powerful things.
I once read a forum that posed the question: “Why doesn’t [liberty-inclined candidate] have a larger female base?” The sexist, condescending responses that followed were alienating, even to me, so it isn’t too difficult to deduce how a woman mildly sympathetic to our ideas might feel about the movement once they read something like that. While I’m sure that no SFLer would claim that our deficit of ladies is due to their lack of intelligence and a desire to murder babies, that doesn’t change the reality that it was posted and is affiliated with our movement.
So even before we attempt to court potential supporters, we are pinned with the reputation of misogynistic — and often, racist and elitist — sleazeball, simply because some angsty, closeted creeper calling himself a friend of liberty said some terrible things on the indelible medium of the internet. It may not be fair, but guess what? It doesn’t matter. If you want your potential liberty supporter to even consider you and your poetic musings on liberty, you’re going to have to compensate for someone else’s mistakes. You have to open the car door, take off your hat when you walk inside, and stand as she gets up from the table. You have to be a perfect damn gentleman (or gentlewoman, as the case may be).
If you got lost in that metaphor, which you may very well have, the point is one which you should be familiar with: Focus on where your beliefs overlap, not where they differ. There are a few issues that tend to be problematic with the female demographic. Fortunately, the libertarian community itself is split on many of these issues as well, so as a general rule, don’t discuss them when selling the ideology.
The primary issue which you should avoid like it’s Jimmy Carter is abortion. I’m pro-choice, but I make it clear that not all libertarians feel this way and only discuss it personally, if asked. Same goes for pro-lifers — a real or perceived restriction of women’s rights can lose some people’s support irreparably, especially (you guessed it) them aforementioned girls.
There are more issues that are no man’s land, but you can usually play them by ear. A good gauge of whether an issue is delicate is whether there are competing rights involved (such as life vs. liberty in abortion or life vs. property in emergency medical care). And don’t bring up prostitution. That’s awwwwkwarrrd.
So what sexy issues SHOULD you flaunt besides how really, really good-looking — I’ve totally done that — and funny we are? I’m so glad [that I am pretending] you asked! My favorite issue is gay rights, especially gay marriage, because it’s one of those issues that the Democrats really just suck at (they’re closeted, just like the Republicans) but which is kind of a big deal to their base. Personally, I think the world would be a prettier, less stuffy place if we gay-ed it up a bit. Politically, I — and most libertarians — believe that the government should have nothing to do with marriage or sex between consensual adults. Period. Nobody wants a creepy middle-aged government official in their bedroom unless they’re planning a sex scandal. As an added bonus, the birds and the bees discussion is easily segued into the unethical practice of overly-complicated taxation, which, other than religion, is the only real difference between marriage and a civil union. Bizinga.
So this is what’s up: Liberals should see that we’re warm and fuzzy and a billion times better than Democrats on social issues! Politics IS personal; you have to get them to fall for you with your sexy talking points before they’ll even consider your “baggage” — show them your antiwar sticker BEFORE you talk about the kinky stuff you’d like to do to entitlements.
*Seriously, those of y’all who DO spend all of your time on Al Gore’s interwebs: go forth, absorb some vitamin D, groom thyself, and DO the things you blog/vlog/whine about. You might even flirt up and convert some lady libertarians! (Please?)