Possibly the best post I’ve read at Bleeding Heart Libertarians. The concept is that “civil virtue” can be found outside politics. It can be making products people want, being a musician or just being nice.
One point I’d add: A lot of causes we consider “liberal” have migrated from the government to nongovernmental organizations, corporations or plain old private life. People are recycling – not because the government tells them to (though some governments do) but because it makes sense. NGOs such as the Carter Center and Bill Gates’ organizations are doing wonderful work in Africa and elsewhere. And even the bad old oil companies are investing in cleaner energy – in part because it makes long-term economic sense, in part because it’s the “nice” thing to do.
While people do libertarian-style good outside politics, we have Tea Party types in politics who are dismissing science and other inconvenient facts. They’re running state governments that benefit greatly from federal largesse they claim to be fighting against.
So who’s a more virtuous libertarian? The lefty who has disengaged from politics and has turned attention to academia and nongovernmental activism? Or the Tea Party folks clamoring to get into government and get what’s theirs?