Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Strategy 101: Should Libertarians Attempt to Flip Tulsi Gabbard?

Tulsi Gabbard
By Robert Wenzel

David Kuehn emails:
I think energies would be better spent trying to flip Tulsi Gabbard instead of AOC. Out of sound economics comes the realization that peace abroad is requisite for prosperity at home. Yes, Gabbard is a Liberal, and I wouldn’t expect her to become a libertarian (small “L”), or Austrian, or PPS…But still, she shows promise. And, after watching this interview she did with Joe Rogan, she seems mild to moderately disappointed with the Democratic Party (at least the Super Delegate controversy).
This email, of course, references my Committee to Flip Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But there is a major difference between AOC and Gabbard.

AOC is bad on just every issue. It would be hard to form any kind of alliance with her. It makes sense to call her out on everything. That was a key part of my thinking when I launched the Committee to Flip Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

I wrote at the time of launch:
 I  propose that The Committee to Flip Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez issue open letters to Ocasio-Cortez here at Target Liberty and at EPJ outlining the many confusions and contradictions in her socialist policy views. By being open letters, they will have the potential to reach far beyond Ocasio-Cortez and thus not get caught in the trap that doomed the Burgundy Circle.
In a follow-up essay, I wrote that there was probably something like a 3% chance of flipping her. Now that I have seen more of her in action, I give the chances of her being flipped at more like 0.0003%. I believe she is a very shrewd power hungry leftist.

But in that follow-up essay, it was clear that the Committee was more than an attempt to flip AOC. I wrote:
[I]f the #CommitteeToFlipAlexandriaOcasioCortez does nothing but counter Ocasio-Cortez socialist policy proposals, it will be a valuable service to anyone attempting to understand the alternatives to socialism.
She is a great target for libertarians. She is pretty much useless to us from a policy perspective but she has a huge following. By exposing the weaknesses in her socialist policy positions, we lanch the opportunity to possibly grab a couple of sharp people away from socialist-type thinking. People who in the future might become important second-hand dealers in ideas.

Gabbard is completely different. Her anti-interventionist foreign policy is equal to that of Rand Paul. There is no question that her foreign policy views are the best out there amongst those likely to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

She is terrible on economics but they all are. She also appears genuine, the type that would listen to opposing views.

But there is no reason to use her as a punching bag on economics. We have plenty of others for that, AOC, Kamala Harris, Michael Bloomberg, Corey Booker. The list doesn't stop,

What we need to do is emphasize where she is unique and correct---and that is foreign policy. People need to know this about her. We shouldn't be attacking her where she is just part of the pack.

Rothbard understood this type of alliance and wrote about it in his unpublished paper on strategy.
A united front coalition, he wrote, "accomplishes several things. In the first place it maximizes the influence of the numerically small Cadre on important social issues, it does so by aligning oneself with people who agree on that particular issue, albeit on a few others."
This doesn't mean you crater on principle but only that you focus, with a group you are in alliance with, based on what you have in common. And then perhaps slowly introduce them to libertarian thinking. As Rothbard put it in the paper:
Normally the proper tactic will be to begin with the concerns of the people being worked on, to show that you are with them on this particular issue, and then to 'widen their libertarian consciousness' by showing them that to be really consistent on the issues they favor you must also adopt the other libertarian positions. 
This is a different strategy than the one to employ against AOC where we have nothing in common.

The more that we organize with her supporters, the more we write op-eds supporting Gabbard's anti-US military global presence, whatever in support of her the better. The more we do along these lines the more Gabbard supporters that we will pick up as followers, and then we go for the advance by bashing AOC, Harris, Booker, etc.

This is not an attempt to convert the masses. It is an attempt to support the best candidate out of a terrible pack and try to pick up a few Tulsi supporters who can be important second-hand dealers.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't attempt to explain sound economics to Gabbard but it should be generally done in a more private way via emails, letters and sending her books.

The public position to her supporters should be, "Tulsi is just great on foreign policy no one comes close. Hey, did you know that free trade between nations results in the kind of peace between nations that Tulsi is advocating?"

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of

1 comment:

  1. I'd imagine that the best chance of flipping Tulsi Gabbard is after she drops out of the 2020 race. There seems to quite an improvement in Rand Paul's policy positions when you compare before and after his 2016 bid.