Was the “Libertarian Moment” Wishful Thinking? A Debate

Featuring David Boaz and David Kirby

Less than 18 months ago, a cover story for the New York Times Magazine asked, “Has the ‘libertarian moment’ finally arrived?” From public suspicion of the surveillance state, to increasing tolerance for marijuana legalization, to marriage equality, to weariness with war—the article argued that after years of intellectual work, “for perhaps the first time,” libertarianism has “genuine political momentum on its side.” However, the Rand Paul presidential campaign failed to catch fire. The two breakout candidates of the presidential campaign have been a socialist and an authoritarian. The idea of tolerance seems increasingly quaint, as Mexicans and Muslims have become the target of public frustrations. And the public seems to have forgotten its weariness with war, as the Islamic State continues its brutal terrorism. Was all this talk of the libertarian moment simply wishful thinking? Or was the libertarian moment never about politics in the first place? Join David Boaz, Matt Welch, Ramesh Ponnuru, and Conor Friedersdorf for a wide-ranging conversation on the future of libertarianism.