The bizarre fiction of libertarians' control of Washington

I wish somebody had told me sooner that we had so much power!

The Washington Monument.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Allusioni/iStock, Flory/iStock, Wikimedia Commons)

It is with great pleasure that I announce to my fellow libertarians: We have won.

We thought ourselves the acolytes of a largely ignored vision for American governance. We saw a $22 trillion national debt and figured no one in Washington was interested in our message of fiscal restraint. We critiqued crony capitalism and corporate subsidies while both major parties bailed out big business, using tax dollars to paper over the consequences of bad policy calls. We watched the rise of the post-9/11 security state — mass digital surveillance, the terror watchlist, the TSA — and got the impression that few Americans shared our alarm. We wondered if these numerous and apparently permanent wars, with their deplorable carelessness about civilian casualties, war crimes, and due process, would ever end. We objected to the brutality and militarization of American law enforcement before the issue came to national attention and after it mostly slipped from view. We talked about abolishing the Federal Reserve, ending the drug war, eliminating entire federal departments, and more, all with relatively little reason to believe our goals would ever be realized on any mass scale. We thought there was a brief "libertarian moment," launched by Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign, peaked in 2014, and functionally ended by President Trump's 2016 win, plunging us back to fringe status in American electoral politics.

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.