The Trump Era Has Divided Libertarians. Can They Recover?

The Week columnist Shikha Dalmia, a prominent voice among libertarians, says the damage is real and could be lasting.

Libertarians, who attest to value personal freedom and limited government above all else, find themselves splintering in the Trump era.

“You couldn’t have crafted a more anti-libertarian candidate than Trump if you tried.” — Shikha Dalmia, The Week

Some libertarians have excoriated the president, who has consistently put his authoritarian tendencies on full display. But for others, the movement’s long-standing adjacency to Republican politics has complicated their response.

Listen: Columnist Shikha Dalmia talks about the divides among libertarians and the future of their movement after Trump

Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET


Shikha Dalmia is a columnist with The Week and a prominent voice in the libertarian political movement. She has long opposed President Trump and his politics.

“You couldn’t have crafted a more anti-libertarian candidate than Trump if you tried,” says Dalmia. But she notes that Trump’s successful push for tax cuts has allowed many libertarians and conservatives to ignore his autocratic tendencies.

“That’s the fig leaf that allowed them to ignore all the things Trump was engaging in,” she says.

On whether progressives could court some libertarians to ally with them against Trump’s brand of Republicanism, Dalmia says there’s a rocky history there that will make it difficult.

“There hasn’t been a deeper alliance between libertarians and progressives that one would like to see,” she says. “Libertarian lawmakers see sort of majority interests first and minority interests second, and progressives rightly prioritize minority interests which is why you don’t see more alliance between libertarians and progressives.”

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