Note: Although I make the argument that he is a fiscally responsible liberal, it does not mean that he may not be the best choice on the ballet! Vote your principles and conscience . . . always!
In the last twenty years, there have been some incredible options for disenfranchised voters to turn to in the realm of third parties. From Ron Paul, to Chuck Baldwin, to other true believing sincere individuals who want to give the American voter a chance to vote their beliefs and not for the lesser of two evils. Currently, the third most known party in America is the Libertarian Party. The ideas and doctrines, thanks in huge part to the presidential campaigns of Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012 have caught on and now it seems, the word libertarian is a utterance heard in living rooms across the country. The major problem with this rapid spread of a more active and hard core form of political awareness is that it is so young and vulnerable it could easily be co-opted, or misrepresented and if so, the growth of reason and principle in politics could become a flash in the pan.
What is a Libertarian
A libertarian is someone who believes in the philosophy of liberty and its well defined principles derived from the philosophy.
The reason there is so much confusion related to this word is because there are many factions related to the practical application of a well-defined philosophy. The spectrum runs from skeptical “right wing” converts, today called Paleo-conservatives, who hate neo-conservatism but are scared to allow too much freedom in society for fear of individuals making poor personal decision, to full-fledged voluntarist or anarcho-capitalists who embody the entire philosophy in their political activism to the point of having zero government.
What is “The Philosophy of Liberty”
There is a long answer and a short answer. For anyone wanting the long answer, there are already several very well written fictional novels by Ayn Rand that illustrate the philosophy in a brilliant manner including 3-hour radio speeches made by John Galt.
In short, the philosophy of liberty can be stated this simply: mankind has total ownership over their own bodies and over their own property. Period. That no person or entity has any authority to compel any other person or entity to act against their will, the wants, their needs, the beliefs or to do any act of aggression against any other person’s bodies or property because only that individual person has the authority and control over their own bodies and property.
Because individuals are the sole owners over their own bodies and property, whatever they decide to do with their body and property by clear consent and void of fraud, is their literal right to do so long as it does not include the initiation of violence against any other person’s body or property. The initiation of violence against others property and person is the definition of immorality in the world of the libertarian and that in this initiation of violence against another’s consent is the only situation in which justice is required because there is a victim in a situation that involved nonconsensual violence. A believer in liberty does not believe in violence, but does believe that force is a moral action if it is in defense of life, liberty, or property.
Beyond this fundamental idea, principle, or doctrine that mankind is sovereign over themselves, the philosophy of liberty also extends to the idea that there are inherent rights that mankind is endowed with that can be explicitly enumerated all based on the idea of life, liberty and property. Given libertarians believe in life, liberty and property, they too believe in the freedom of speech, religion, privacy, defense, travel, honest income, in being secure in property and person, in justice, truth, due process, reason, and of other procedures like the procurement of a warrant in the investigation of the initiation of violence. A libertarian also believes that personal decisions, so long as they do not include a victim, are for the most part, to each their own, especially if those personal preferences happen on or in private property for which all parties are consenting individuals. Finally, a key part of the philosophy is that everyone has a right to discriminate and to be discriminated against in the private market and that the opposite is true in the public sphere, there can be no discrimination.
The extension of this philosophy is that if there is to be a government, that the government must be formed to allow for simple and guiding laws over the public sphere, to protect the minority against the majority, to ensure that justice is given to those who had an act of fraud or violence committed against them, and to organize a common defense against foreign entities that may be attempting to initiate violence on a grand scale. A libertarian believes that if government acts outside of this strictly defined definition, then the government itself becomes the initiator of violence and is the greatest tyrant and suppressor quickly becoming saturated in fraud, theft, looting, special interests and shear aggression.
The Common Misconception
The most common misconception when discussion this philosophy with the uninitiated or unbelieving is, they say, that if something is not made illegal than it must be deemed to be good. This is simply not true. Just because something is not against the law does not mean that any individual is required to engage in that activity. From the freedom of choosing any medicine or drug for oneself, to selling body parts, to sexual preference, to any other personal vice or “sin” or bad habit, just because fines, prison sentences, prosecutions, police officer, or inherently guns are not involved does not mean that they are to be actively endorsed or promoted or forced.
Remember, libertarians firmly believe that discrimination is inherently a good thing. That any individual can choose where they want to spend their money and that any seller can restrict who they sell to, and that any buyers can unite and boycott any seller. This system of discrimination, void of any violence and guns and third party interference, allows for optimal outcomes to happen on both sides. If the local bakeries all sell to a single demographic, then it is good for the demographic to know who wants to sell to them and they will know that they will get the best product as both parties were consenting. For a buyer to hold a gun up to force a selling of goods and services is strictly in the realm of an initiation of violence and is completely immoral.
With this idea of discrimination and the right to not buy or sell in mind, if a drug is legal, it does not mean that it should be consumed. In fact, if it is an inferior product, the free and discriminatory market will quickly discover the danger and it will find no one to buy it. Also, libertarians very passionately believe in the right to free speech. If a person discovers a product to be bad, they have a right, almost a duty, to freely disseminate the information that the product is negative and should not be purchased. Drugs and alcohol, if legal, do not need to be consumed, and in fact, can be actively opposed by a libertarian through non-aggression methods. Once, though, the person who is against the drugs or alcohol get the government to outlaw those things, they then are initiating force and violence against others and are therefore the more immoral people.
Again, just because something is not illegal does not mean it is good, and in a free and liberal society, the greater immorality is to use the guns of the state to suppress the equilibrium of natural discrimination.
Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Candidate, is not a libertarian
Gary Johnson, repetitively and publicly claims that to be a libertarian is to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. This is a false definition and is highly destructive. This is a bastardization of the philosophy to the point that it may have the outward appearance of being accurate but it has a very dangerous practical application.
To understand why this definition is dangerous very simply goes back to the cliché, “two evils does not make a right.”
Remember, the year is 2016 that Gary is saying this definition of libertarianism. In this year, to be fiscally conservative means that you believe in a massive government, just a little less taxation, a little less entitlement, a little less spending but no true reforms. Absolutely, fiscally conservative really means, don’t raise taxes, cut some taxes, and maybe cut a little from the state programs to give out free money to the poor, needy, or in other words, the moochers.
This is not libertarian. In this day in age, a libertarian believes in fiscal REFORM. In bringing back the gold standard, in a balanced budget amendment, in absolutely no entitlements and no true massive foreign army constantly initiating violence against other non-aggressive sovereign nations. It is a radical approach to the fiscal world, it is in no way in line with what a conservative believes.
Now the even more egregious claim, that to be libertarian means to be socially liberal. Again, this is not 1776 where being liberal means to be a believer in personal liberty and freedom, it is in fact the opposite, it means to be hyper controlling over individual’s private life to the extreme opposite of culture. It means actively fighting for and promoting abortion, sexual orientations, use of potentially dangerous substances, in having the guns of the state push an agenda contrary to many peoples beliefs, religious views, consent, and possibly even detrimental to society as a whole.
Again, just because something is not illegal does not mean that a libertarian has to accept it, or adopt it, or promote it, or endorse it, etc. in fact, again, it may be there conscience that they non-violently do all in their power to oppose it.
This point can be drilled hard and over and over but the point is this, a libertarian does not fit into the “left/right” paradigm or spectrum. Just because a libertarian may not want to hold a gun to someone’s head to stop them from smoking a joint does not mean they want them to smoke the joint.
Gary Johnson, true to his stated belief that he is 50% liberal, literally wants to use the guns and violence of the state to force people to provide goods and services against their consent. He wants to change the social and cultural customs and majority beliefs by force. He openly calls for the use of guns and violence in the name of the greater good. He is an active believer against religion. He actively promotes abortion. At the very least, a libertarian may believe that life does not start until birth and therefore defers the decision to the mother but this is a minority opinion and even in this least situation, libertarians do not need to actively promote the merits of abortion. Finally, Gary Johnson wants everyone in America to smoke marijuana, he is the CEO of a joint company, he actively promotes drug use. Again, this is a liberal position, not a libertarian position.
It is a hard thing for those in the liberty movement to see such a benevolent, well defined and proven philosophy to be so dangerously altered. The silver lining is that with more and more attention being brought to the word libertarian, there is still a great opportunity for articles like this to correct the errors and an overall good being done!