The Republican Party, at least as it's currently constituted, wants government to intervene in social questions (like the Schiavo case) but not in economic questions (like setting a minimum wage). The Democratic Party wants to keep government out of social questions (stem-cell research is an example) but wants intervention in economic matters (e.g., Social Security).In order to make this statement, Glassman had to gloss over some factors. In Schiavo's case he ignores the entire debate over Terri's mental condition (did she have higher consciousness or not?) in favor of a blanket statement.
A bigger issue is stem-cell research. Glassman presents the Democrats as wanting to keep government out of it and Republicans as wanting government intervention. Implied is that Libertarians position mirrors the Democrats.
Their real position is the exact opposite. Glassman seems to have done his research by listening to Ron Reagan's keynote address to the Democratic National Convention. Reagan claimed that Bush had blocked stem-cell research and that Democrats would allow it.
The debate is not actually over stem-cell research, it is over federal funding for it. Bush was the first president to fund such research but only for stem-cell lines created before August, 2001. This limitation was a nod to Bush's belief that life begins at conception. The Democrats' party line is that life begins at birth so anything done to an embryo prior to that event is allowable. They would expand funding to allow new lines.
Libertarians, as a party, agree with the Democrats about when life begins. This is probably where Glassman got the idea that the Libertarian view is close to the Democrats.
The thing is that Libertarians, if they are true to their platform, do not believe in any government funding is proper, only private finding. Neither the Bush administration not the Democrats have any objection to privately funded stem-cell research so all three parties agree here., but the Libertarians would cut all government funding for stem-cell research. If the other two parties cared they could paint the Libertarians as trying to ban all stem-cell research. After all, Bush funded research with limits and is characterized as having banned it. The Libertarians' position is more extreme than that.
Glassman also mentions minimum wage and Social Security as areas where the Republicans and Democrats differ on economic policy. Again the difference between the two major parties and the Libertarians is stark. The fight over the minimum wage is over raising it or not. The Libertarians would abolish it. The fight over Social Security is over how future benefits will be funded for a government-run retirement system. Again, the Libertarians would abolish it.
I am bringing all of this up because Libertarians (not the more moderate Libertarian wing of the Republican party) tend to overlook the vast gulf between their positions and the political mainstream.
Surveys show that America is split down the middle by party. But imagine if either party took the consistent position of advocating a limited government role in both social and economic questions. Such a party could capture a clear majority of voters.On any important issue there is always a general feeling that the government should do something. Governments that seem unresponsive are voted out of office. In 1992 the economy was doing poorly and President Bush (41) did not seem to be doing anything about it so he was replaced by a candidate who said that he felt our pain.
That is why Congress felt the need to get involved in the Shiavo case and in steroid use in pro baseball. People see a problem and want to know that the government is doing something about it.
It is a very hard sell to tell people that the government should limit itself. Libertarians tend to be rather cerebral because of the long view required to resist "fixing" short-term problems. At the same time, Libertarians are too quick to condemn people for not taking this long view, or worse, thinking that government is the answer to all problems. They also tend to over-simplify issues as I showed above.
If the Libertarians are to advance from fringe-party status then they need to address these issues and learn to sell themselves better.