The Great Liberaltarian Alliance

| Sat Apr. 10, 2010 4:21 PM EDT

Will Wilkinson hopes that libertarians and liberals will find more common ground in the future:

In particular, I predict Democrats will become somewhat more receptive to arguments that certain less centralized, more market-oriented policies do a better job of achieving liberal goals than do the more heavily centralized, technocratic policies favored by current Democratic opinion elites. This kind of increased openness to fresh thinking is especially likely if there is an organized effort to articulate a moderate libertarian philosophy in terms attractive to liberals, which is precisely what Brink Lindsey and I are in the process of doing.

....I don’t expect liberaltarian arguments to be enthusiastically embraced by those who cannot tell the difference between successful liberal social and economic policy and the preservation and extension of New Deal/Great Society institutions. But I do expect a future Democratic Party less dismissive of policies such as school choice and defined-contribution social insurance schemes — policies that have been successfully implemented in a fair number of countries rather less libertarian in spirit than the U.S.

As a liberal who is — tentatively, cautiously — sympathetic to arguments for both school choice and a role for private accounts in Social Security, I guess I'm the target audience for whatever they're cooking up. So I'll be curious to see what they propose, especially since I've long been skeptical of Lindsey's past efforts in this direction. But if Will and Brink have anything new, I'm all ears.