There can be no doubt that Republicans attempted to elevate their standing in the polls rather than elevate their adherence to principle when they pushed Medicare prescription drug coverage through Congress in 2003. Read James Bovard's chronicle of the events in Congress. Unbelievable. Take note especially of how Republicans who stood on principle were blackmailed by fellow Republicans.
The results were laughable (were socialism not so tragic). A CBS News/New York Times Poll asked two years later:
"Regardless of how you usually vote, do you think the Republican Party or the Democratic Party is more likely to make prescription drugs for the elderly more affordable?"
Republican Party - 18%
Democratic Party - 61%
All the labor Bovard describes -- not just in Congress, but the propaganda designed to "educate" voters on the benefits of the Republican prescription drug plan -- produced zero results in the polls. Is this because voters are not rational?
The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies: Bryan Caplan
Or is it just because voters listen to the "small government" rhetoric of the Republicans and don't hear about all the socialism Republicans vote for in smoke-filled rooms?
The Libertarian Party bills itself as "the party of principle." But many Libertarians think like Republicans. They think that if Libertarians appear more moderate (less principled) that millions of voters will vote Libertarian.
True leadership means standing on principle and educating and inspiring others to follow the principled lead. If nobody is ready to follow the path that leads to liberty, it's irrational for leaders to claim to be in favor of socialism just to get their votes, while secretly pledging to move toward liberty once in office.
L. Neil Smith describes "the inevitable cowards and temporizers" within the Libertarian Party who demand "that we 'radicals' (defined as those who remain consistent to the principles that are the reason for having created the Libertarian Party in the first place) 'tone down' our rhetoric and pursue a policy of lying to the public about what we believe, so as to fool them into becoming free."