This isn't the libertarian moment.
Those of us who think individual liberty is a guiding principle for public policy have lived through dozens of libertarian moments. While these have never reached a tipping point where the actuality of libertarianism is realized, these have not been failures. The truth is that most libertarians will inherently be anathema to the idea of a political party. It creates poor incentives, requires virtue signaling and coercion around accepted principles that don't mesh with the value of individual liberty. There is an accepted difference between big L and small l libertarians. All of us should vote Johnson/Weld to shake up the party duopoly, but we should focus our primary efforts in places we can win: selling our principles effectively through policy issues until people hear our narrative and realize it is their's.
If a majority of Americans describe themselves as "fiscally conservative, socially liberal", then a majority of us embody the kindergarten version of a libertarian. While the puritanical flare in the libertarian community is great for principle, it doesn't help drive the benefits of our message forward. Where we can see a lot of movement is in supporting policies that are marketed as fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Take gay marriage. Most libertarians, myself included, feel that the government shouldn't be involved in marriage. Instead of saying remove the government from marriage, say "I want you to be in control of your marriage. Don't let the government define your love and family." Rand Paul got close, but it was a wedding cake iced in religious frosting.
The libertarian nominees, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, seem to understand that they need to pull from both the right and the left in order to hit 15% in the polls, and adjusted this verbiage in the first CNN Libertarian Town Hall to say: "fiscally conservative and socially tolerant." This is a more accurate description of libertarianism, but it fails to resonate with the political marketplace. If you have the chance to truthfully embody what the people describe, then choose that! Politics is selling policy through a message. Like any good salesman, you need to close the deal.
It's one of the reasons Trump has been so successful at gaining media attention: he's the best political marketer we've ever seen in a long time. Obama is charismatic, but no where near as quick. Trump's problem is that he doesn't have the product to back it up. Marketing is about the presentation and response from opponents, and he's simply better and understanding and maneuvering with the media because he was shaped, formed, and became addicted to the power and control over his brand he had. The saying, "fake it until you make it" rings true here.
There's just one problem: he's made it, but he's still a fake.
What libertarians can do is not appropriate the behavior of Trump, but rather his ability to control and change the narrative. We've done a terrible job at explaining the narrative without coming across as tin foil hat wearing gun nuts who speak in platitudes instead of political solutions.
As authoritarianism and crony capitalism appear to be the singular choice we're faced with, libertarians must do a better job of communicating, convincing, and caring about the American people who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Trump's ability to weave a narrative convincingly, however false and inconsistent, is a skill lacking from almost every prominent Libertarian Party politician we've seen on a national stage. If we're ever going to have a libertarian moment, we must get the rest of America to realize the story, policies, and society we're selling. Until we get to be as good of marketers as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Ronald Reagan, our moment will be nothing more than a thought that passes every year.