Archive for the ‘Introduction: READ THIS FIRST!’ Category
I’m a libertarian, and a member of the Libertarian Party.
Oh, no. Hide your women and lock up the silverware; one of those crazy third-party people slipped out of his parents’ basement long enough to get internet access and a blog. Oh, the humanity. Stop, drop, and roll. Duck and cover. Don’t walk – run.
Why would anyone be a libertarian, you might wonder. I mean, clearly a third party is just for the lunatic fringe. Obviously if someone can’t find a home in the vaunted, consistent, reliable, trustworthy, moral fiber-saturated and generally sterling Republican or Democrat parties, something must have gone horribly wrong in their upbringing. At the absolute least, paralyzed political apathy is considered preferable to being in a party that “will never win” an election. But, out of curiosity, you might’ve taken that dangerous risk to ponder on the meaning of libertarianism. You might’ve even asked a libertarian, shouting between your panicked sobs from behind a safely dead-bolted front door, something like, “WHY?! WHY DO YOU DO THIS?! WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”
How nice of you to ask!
One of the biggest draws libertarianism had to me – and I’ll get more into how I became a libertarian later on – is that it is built upon the principle of self-ownership. In other words, you own you. Your life is your own to do fundamentally whatever you wish, so long as your decisions do no harm to others. So, for example, if I were a homosexual, even if that made other people queasy and uncomfortable, according to libertarian principles nobody would have any right whatsoever to infringe upon my romantic or sexual relationship with another consenting adult. Despite a wealth of individuals who disagree with or dislike homosexuality or gay marriage, my homosexual relationship would not, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, “pick [their] pocket nor break [their] leg.” In other words, it does them no harm. Put bluntly, merely being uncomfortable with something does not give you, me, or anyone else the right to regulate someone else’s personal behavior. To suggest that you, me, or anyone else did have that right would be to claim that we had a greater right to an individual’s life than they did. As a philosophy and a political platform, libertarianism leans heavily on self-ownership as an eminently logical, moral, and practical belief.
Of course with self-ownership comes individual responsibility: you are responsible for you. After all, if you’re not accountable for your own decisions, successes, and failures, how can it be said that you own yourself? Nevertheless, there are probably more myths and misconceptions about libertarians stemming from that statement than any other, and that is most definitely a topic for another day.
And speaking of myths and misconceptions, let’s tackle a few right now:
So, you guys are, like, Super Republicans, right?
No. It’s popular for politicians in the current anti-incumbent climate to claim some libertarian leanings or call themselves “libertarian Republicans,” but it’s generally a crock. Libertarians are fiscally conservative (like Republicans claim to be, but never, ever are), and socially liberal (check your gay rights scorecard if you think Democrats are socially liberal with their control of the House, Senate, and Presidency). You can view some of today’s major issues through the eyes of a libertarian via the link below; most if not all of these will be discussed on this site over time:
Don’t you guys hate minorities, people with disabilities, the elderly, and poor people?
Nope. Libertarians believe that all people – regardless of their age, ethnicity, health, gender, sexual identity, socio-economic status, religion (or lack thereof), etc. – have equal rights, period.
Ah-ha! I caught you! Rand Paul said something like he was against the Civil Rights Act of 1964!
He’s a Republican congressional candidate from Kentucky. His father, the legitimately famous Ron Paul, is a Republican congressman who ran for President as the Libertarian Party nominee in 1988. So that’s about the extent of Rand Paul’s libertarian credentials.
I will say that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a more complicated issue than you’d think, in terms of unintended consequences stretching into the year 2010. There are definitely parts of it that the Libertarian Party objects to, though bigotry has absolutely nothing to do with it. Like many libertarian political positions, this sort of thing can take a few minutes to explain in order to get the point across. This is a consequence of being intellectually honest and consistent; we explain rather than playing on emotions, fears and biases. Unfortunately we live in an era of empty, manipulative, 5-second image-driven sound bytes, so I understand that you might not be used to hearing principled discussion that directly addresses topics – even sensitive ones. If you’re interested about libertarianism (or you just hate everything I’ve said so far), feel free to openly question everything. Debate is encouraged, not suppressed, among libertarians.
But you’ll never win an election anyway, so why should I care?
Libertarians can win if they get votes, and I emphatically contend that it’s more important to support who and what you believe in than to settle for the “lesser of two evils” at the ballot box, as if that’s some kind of sound choice. And frankly, libertarianism is going to be increasingly important during out lifetimes. Individual dissatisfaction with our political system is sky high, and we are so far over our heads in national debt that the word “crisis” is an understatement. There is absolutely no way at all that we can continue the mentality of “I want X, so I deserve X from the government.” Libertarianism is a functional, consistent, and principled approach to the problems our society faces, and this blog seeks to demonstrate that.
So you guys are anti-government. How original.
We were so into that before it was even cool! Humor aside, we’re not contrarian. We do like to focus on how to get by with less government – as in less taxing, less spending, and less intervention into the lives of others. It’s not a knee-jerk thing, and I’ll be exploring specific topics in the future.
There’s no practical way to briefly summarize why we look at obviously failed government programs – that some people are made to depend on and others are made to pay for – and see a complete waste of resources and humanity, while the Republican and Democrat parties just whistle loudly, look the other way, and promise us something else ridiculous that’s going to lead us to salvation (Wars that make the Middle East love us! Universal Health Care that won’t cost anything!). As a rule, libertarians acknowledge that “government” is inherently more wasteful, inefficient, stupid, brutal, lethal, and coercive than the free market is or could ever be. In the free market, you have choice. When tax time comes, you don’t get to opt-out of lunacy – you just go to jail if you don’t pay up.
From here on out I’ll be discussing libertarianism as a whole, as well as news, political topics, various questions and points of debate that you send me, and anything else that deals with the political scene – particularly through the eyes of a libertarian.
Finally, a good post to get started on is this: Libertarians and Your Money