Friday, 27 May 2005

The demographics of libertarians

About this time in the electoral cycle (the time comparable, that is, to the time in the life cycle of the male praying mantis just before he mates, and following which he has his head chewed off by his partner), about this time in the cycle we libertarians receive an influx of advice and offers from well-meaning supporters -- offers ranging from the bloody useful to the bizarre.

One regular offer from those enthusiastic about such things is to determine the ‘demographic’ of our supporters so that better ‘targeting’ can be done with our advertising and party promotional material. This offer fits somewhere between ‘bizarre’ and ‘bloody useful’ into a particular category called 'irrelevant.'

Here’s the problem. Libertarians don’t have a demographic. I know, we’ve looked.

Being a libertarian isn’t about income or wealth: there are some who drive Mercedes Kompressors and Dodge Vipers (and who are suitably benevolent in whom they take for a spin: me for example), but at least one other who lives in a one-room shack and gets around on a bicycle -- without a helmet, of course.

Nor is it about ‘educational attainment’: there are plenty of smart libertarians, but there’s nothing especially ‘modal’ about their qualifications. PhDs and truck-drivers have equal speaking time at Libz events, which is usually too generous to the PhDs.

Employment? Not all libertarians are self-employed, and there are some – including the Libz president himself – who are (gasp) bureaucrats. Disgusting but true. Ethnicity? We’re colour-blind. Family structure? Don’t make me laugh. Areas in which we all live? You’re dreaming

How about age? Well, we have noticed that those over forty often recognise what we’re losing –- property rights, rule of law, respect for others – but there are plenty of eager youngsters who understand these things too.

Recreational drug use? While all libertarians support the right of people to smoke, snort, inhale, inject or otherwise ingest what the hell they like, not many libertarians actually engage in this kind of things themselves. No hope there then. We don’t even have many Libz who smoke, for Galt’s sake! Or who shoot guns – although there are more than a few who do.

There is one exception however, that is almost without fail common to all libertarians: We like a drink. Or two. And we like to argue, and to make up our own minds on issues. Ask two libertarians to speak their mind and you’ll have four different opinions. Especially after a few drinks.

It makes for interesting and entertaining evenings together, but can you build a campaign on that? I doubt it, and I’ve had demographic experts advising me.

Look, here’s one now ...


  1. :) I just came back from the Auckland Libz Exec meeting. Bloody hell, how true. We are a diverse bunch, aren't we?

    Yet, for all the differences, I have never met a bunch of people I like spending time with as much as these guys. They are all strong-minded, hard-working and honest people. Best of all, there are no whiners - no self-pitying losers. Just straight-up people who respect other people's rights and demand the same in return.


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