On North Carolina’s Civitas Institute’s blog, Cameron Harwick provides a clear and concise description of the libertarian approach to democracy: democracy is bad because it is collective:
we have a mechanism for giving people what they want – and that isn’t the political process: it’s the market…. The more things we subject to the political process, the more people lose. And that is unambiguously bad.
In other words: deciding by fiat that there is no social or common good leads very directly to the subsidiary claim that democracy itself is bad. But in many of the examples offered in the post, individual decisions have nonreducible social effects. Perhaps the most immediately relevant of these is the health care mandate, since uninsured individuals represent social costs both because they tend to show up for care when sick even if uninsured, and because of the moral hazard problem. But busing for desegregation, taxing for public goods, and so on are all examples where democratic decision making may well result in a better decision than aggregate individual decision making, even from the perspective of individuals. Harwick’s post lays out this position nicely, and thereby demonstrates the silliness of the libertarian approach. It’s a very similar argument to that in Pincione and Teson’s absurd book, Rational Choice and Democratic Deliberation, which pursues very much the same argument: that deliberation is bad because democracy is bad.
Note that this question goes directly to the other conversation going on here, since the tenability of the libertarian position rests on the question of whether collectivities are ever more than the sum of their individual parts. Generally, sociological theory and research suggest that, indeed, they are often more than the sum of their parts. It is therefore reasonable to expect sociologists to reject this libertarian position at greater rates than nonsociologists.