Sebastian’s Blogiversary Reflection

When we started Unfettered Equality, a popular article in New York Magazine asked “Has The Libertarian Moment Finally Arrived?” Three years later, in Politico: “The End of the Libertarian Dream?”

It’s been a wild three years in American politics. Revisiting our thesis in those first articles, I’m struck by the notes of optimism that seem almost foreign in this darkest timeline where Donald Trump is commander in chief. But even now, I don’t think we were wrong — I think that we just missed the rise of a more sinister political force: populism.

Authoritarian right-wing populism is now the dominant ideological strain within the Republican Party thanks to Trump’s svengali Steve Bannon. Bernie Sanders’ left-wing populism, aimed at the concentrated wealth of millionaires and billionaires, is a continuing challenge to the center-left technocrats steadily losing control of the Democratic Party. As we drift to our respective corners, conditioned by our self-selected affinity groups and media bubbles, any space or discussion and compromise evaporates.

There are some signs of hope, however. Donald Trump, for all of his ideological inconsistency, was able to capture the Republican nomination in part by running against neo-con foreign policy adventures. There’s bipartisan movement on criminal justice reform and agreement on treating drug addiction as a public health concern instead of a criminal one. The universal basic income (UBI), which we supported early on, is gaining increasing traction as an alternative to traditional social insurance schemes, one that could enable Americans to make better, freer choices for themselves and their families.

But we must also be vigilant against the illiberal movements — against immigrants and free trade, for increased surveillance and “law and order,” suppression of speech and the press — that continue to threaten our shared liberty. And we must continue to be mistrustful of power in all its forms and uses, not just when those in power are on the other side. That’s always been our aim, and we’re looking forward to continuing our mission.

— Sebastian

Sebastian’s Highlights:

Jeremy — “For Every Session, an Unsession: Undoing the Accretion of Bad Law”

I really love this early piece from Jeremy because it is an example of what this blog is all about: finding new ideas that progressives and libertarians can agree on. An unsession is a very smart solution to changing the incentives that lead special interests and politicians to continuously pass new laws without ever attempting to do anything about the ones that just don’t work.

Angie — “Problems with the Gamergate Movement”

This piece from Angie is a fantastic early look at Breitbart and the online army of trolls that would tip the scale of the 2016 presidential election. Angie hit the nail on the head, distinguishing between the legitimate concerns of Gamergaters around journalistic ethics and the fever swamp of misogyny they were participating in. Sadly, this would not be the last time that legitimate concerns (about, say, compliance with federal recordkeeping rules) were subsumed in a dumpster fire of hate on the Internet.

Anupam — “My Red Hot Race Moment (Or, ‘Why South Asians Must, Too, Care About Ferguson’)”


This explosive mix of personal narrative and serious reflection on the intersectionality of race, culture and class is one of the best pieces we’ve published. Anupam makes the case that issues of policy brutality and systemic racism are issues for everyone, not just black and brown communities. The message is all the more compelling today, when Trump’s rhetoric is fueling an increase in hate crimes across our country.

Personal Best:

Sebastian — “White Flag”


Photo Credit: Minnesota Historical Society

My favorite piece of my own is “White Flag,” which I wrote in the raw wake of the murder of 9 African Americans by Dylann Roof in Charleston, SC. Shortly thereafter, many politicians rushed to condemn the Confederate flag — in what I felt was a craven, and ultimately empty gesture for communities of color in South Carolina. It also hit one on of the themes that I’ve tried to explore on the blog: that the practice of politics often bears little resemblance to the problems we actually need to tackle together.