Shopping for a (political) label

Shopping for a (political) label


Okay, you might know I'm not really interested in politics, preferring to
focus on how we run the country, that is, governance.

It does make conversation easier if I have some label, and for a while, it
was "libertarian moderate." My background was pretty intensely libertarian
in my youth, but I didn't care much for the last maybe twenty years.

However, I've been doing customer service every day for over fourteen
years, exposed to thousands of people, many of whom are suffering. That
changes a guy, and me in particular.

My focus in now on what works, what relieves that suffering, in an
imperfect system.

Last year, on the way to, the phrase "libertarian
pragmatist" came to me. The folks there also suggested "civic libertarian"
but the first one captured not only my perspective, but that of much of
the Internet industry.

The deal here is that I believe both in limiting government, and that we
all need to work together to solve big problems. The current health care
situation perfectly illustrates the failure of the market to solve a
problem, and where we need private/public partnership to ease the
suffering of millions.

Oddly enough, according to the #tcot report principles, I'm a
"conservative," but that term's been taken by special interests, so
probably wise to avoid.

So folks, how about "libertarian pragmatist?"





I like it. I generally say that I'm "pragmatic, results-oriented (rather than idealistic) and libertarian in the John Stuart Mill sense of the term".
But that's a bit of a mouthful. Yours = more succinct.
I also think that we have to reclaim the term "libertarian" so as not to be confused with the Cato Institute version.

Neil in Chicago

Any label will eventually be corrupted, so know you're going to have to re-label eventually . . .
"Reality is hybrid."
Coming from the other side (lapsed anarchist), I recommend _Message of a Wise Kabouter_ by Roel Van Duyn, the only book I've encountered dealing with the dialectic between cooperation and competition.

Emil Sotirov

I can speak of myself – take what you want. In no particular order…
This test ( defined me as "considerate idealist" (
I also identify with what Robert Wright describes as "progressive realism" in this New York Times article:
And then, just recently I learned I may be a "conservative egalitarian" –


My problem as a libertarian is that "progressives" who hear the label immediately pigeonhole me as heartless ideologue who would let grandmothers starve in the streets. I've been trying on the label: "compassionate libertarian" and championing freedom + private charity in contrast with the coercion and moral failure of state control.

Stephen Buckley

I use the term "Radical Moderate".
The late Elliot Richardson wrote a book called "Reflections of a Radical Moderate" (1996).
Richardson was the guy who resigned as Attorney-General rather than follow Nixon's order to fire the Watergate special prosecutor. (He was also the only person to hold four Cabinet positions, so he was no light-weight.)
At first glance, "radical moderation" seems to be an oxymoron. But it is really something else.
But the best explanation that I've seen is this:
"Going to extremes to be reasonable about politics."
That appeals to me because it says "Let's all concentrate on finding the most optimal solution .. regardless of where that leads us."
I just googled the phrase "radical moderation" (with quotes) and got 3800 hits. Of course, I did not check them all, so if anyone sees the kernel of a gathering group, plese let me now.
I also use "transpartisan" when I don't have time to explain "radical moderate".
Stephen Buckley

Emil Sotirov

The proliferation of hyphenated political labels – all trying to express roughly the same "mixed" thing – may be a sign that we need to gather the courage to "pack" these bi-termed expressions into a brand new single label.
May be we should start by examining what's the ONE thing we don't identify with in BOTH the traditional progressivism and conservatism.


How exactly is healthcare supposed to illustrate a case of market failure? Maybe I'd buy this if medicine were an unregulated industry, if there were no laws requiring employers to provide insurance, if there were no licensing laws, no AMA restricting the supply of doctors, no FDA doing the legwork for big pharma…but as it is, what I see is the predictable results of government intervention combined with regulatory capture.

Andrew S

You don't seem to have many political views in common with most people in the area who call themselves "Libertarian". You respect the government and the people who work for it. You believe in the government working in the areas where it can help, including massively gigantic fields such as health care.
How about not needing any political label? Political labels are for politicians. The PEOPLE do not need one. We do not need to take a side and agree with everything that side does and disagree with everything that the other side does. We just need to make our representatives do what works, and not do what doesn't.
I suppose that is pragmatism–but pragmatism is not a political label.

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