You could call it the wealthy White fratboy wing of the GOP. Or perhaps its masters-of-the-universe subset, as exemplified by Wall Streeters who regularly rank private profits above the common good and whose credo is “get government out of my way.”
Libertarians make up a small but enduring slice of the Right, a nationwide study by the Public Religion Research Institute confirms. Of course, they have their own party that nominates presidential candidates—like the Greens. But, practically speaking, libertarians line up with Republicans most of the time. They are the economic conservatives and privacy rights adherents that existed before the Tea Party emerged in 2010, PRRI finds, and today—as in years past—they split with the religious right on regulating morality, and they are not always Tea Party fans.
PRRI’s “2013 American Values Survey” is the latest reminder from respected pollsters that “committed libertarians”—who comprise seven percent of all voters, with another 15 percent leaning their way—have an out-sized influence. Libertarians feel that there is almost nothing good that government can do for them personally or for society, PRRI reports. In contrast, the GOP’s evangelical wing wants government to ban abortion, reject same-sex marriage and bar assisted suicide for the terminally ill.
According to PRRI, a room full of libertarians would be overwhemingly young, male and White. “Nearly all libertarians are non-Hispanic Whites (94 percent), more than two-thirds (68 percent) are men, and more than six in 10 (62 percent) are under the age of 50,” they report. Libertarians tend to be WASPs—white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (27 percent)—or religious agnostics (27 percent), but a few are Catholic (11 percent) and amazingly “no libertarians identify as Black Protestant,” PRRI said, without offering an explanation.