I sympathize with both Mike and Jim (see the two posts below). I posit that the seeming conflict between their views actually represents a dualism inherent in libertarianism. On the one hand, libertarians tend to be among the most political people you’ll ever meet. They have some of the most definite and vociferous political opinions around, and often as not, they won’t shut up about them. They realize, with Mike, that political institutions make a difference. On the other hand, the substantive content of libertarian belief is that most people should not have to be political. If government would just restrain itself to a narrow set of vital but manageable tasks, regular people could stop thinking about politics and instead focus their energies on the things that really matter in life, like running their businesses, raising their children, and, as Jim indicates, sipping cocktails and watching the surf roll in.
Sometimes I will meet a person who is apathetic about politics, who has very few opinions about politics aside from a good dose of cynicism, but who is just trying to make his own life – and the lives of those around him – better. And I think to myself, “That's libertarianism lived, not argued.”