Originally Posted by stephanie
But as Katherine's pessimism demonstrates, they know damn well that public opinion and more democracy means action quite different than that libertarians like, because when it comes down to it, rhetoric aside, the majority doesn't want libertarianism. They want benefits that, well, benefit them.
This is almost certainly true; I'm sure most of us are aware of the disparity between rhetoric for limited government, and the reality that most people polled are opposed to reductions in Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare and defense spending. These programs combined account for over 70% of the federal budget and something like 14% of GDP. This doesn't necessarily make libertarians hypocrites; many see the institutional constraints built into the constitution as way to protect us from democracy. This often cuts across political divides. Liberals typically think it's wrong to make laws that discriminate against gay people, and argue that the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment protects them, and I completely agree. However, there are many libertarians that think that the commerce clause does not empower the federal government to force Americans to purchase a commodity from a private company. I know that this is not the prevailing view of the majority of legal scholars; however, a number of constitutional experts and judges believe that the commerce clause has been substantially distorted though modern jurisprudence. I certainly don't have the education on this subject to even weigh in intelligently. My point in all of this is that for any given issue, there may be a majority of people who believe that power should be taken away from one group, but are constrained by a number of institutions, whether it is the senate filibuster, separation of powers, judicial review or whatever, and I think that principled libertarians aren't evil boogeymen for not giving in to the majority.