Libertarianism is an American tradition that has been around since the founding of the United States. Now, I am not speaking of anarchists, but of Libertarians or people who believe that government should exist, but only in a minimalist fashion.
If you ask a Libertarian who their heroes are, you will get a wide variety of answers. Barry Goldwater, Milton Friedman, Ron Paul, Ayn Rand, John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Glenn Beck, Thomas Malthus, Adam Smith, are just a hand full of names that inspire the values that build the foundations of Libertarianism.
What are these values? They vary from person to person, even among those listed above. Rand considered herself an Objectivist, but many Libertarians still hold the ideals she taught. Former Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater was really more of centrist. When you research his stance on certain political issues, you can tell he does not take certain liberties seriously.
Despite that, I have found that there are a few common themes. Self determination, individual responsibility, and personal freedom and liberty are just a few that bring Libertarians together. All of that makes sense to those who desire maximum autonomy.
Rugged individualism is one of the values that this country was founded on. The ability to chart your own course and take care of you and your family’s needs has a nice ring to it. However, charting your own course has a lot of responsibility, but if you are willing to work at it and take the good with the bad, you can go far.
The Libertarian Party is America’s largest third party. It was founded in 1972 during the administration of President Nixon due to concerns about the Vietnam War, getting off the gold standard, among other things. The party was founded on ideals that value free market capitalism, civil liberties, a non-interventionalism foreign policy, and reforming the welfare state. Their first candidate was a little known philosopher named John Hospers. Since then, they have nominated such people as Congressmen Ron Paul and Bob Barr.
In modern times, however, the Libertarian Party became known for one thing, opposition to the War on Drugs. That has since morphed into advocacy for making recreational drugs legal. Since then, their goals have shifted and moved to outright drug advocacy.
Their party, while having good intentions, has chosen to abandon some of its core principles, similar to the Republican Party under Reince Priebus’ chairmanship.
In 2012 and now 2016, the Libertarian Party nominated former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson a former Republican. Johnson became popular as an icon of the movement and later as a candidate.
However, it has become abundantly clear that Johnson is not, in fact, a Libertarian. If you look at his position on carbon taxes, religious liberty, immigration reform, and his 2016 running mate’s stance on gun rights, it is clear that Johnson is nothing more than a centrist similar to Barry Goldwater.
When you really get into a discussion with his supporters, they claim that they hold true to the values of Libertarianism, but when you ask them about it, you get a very different story.
As I stated earlier, self determination, individual responsibility, personal freedom and liberty are three of the biggest values Libertarians share. However, some of these modern faux supporters want higher taxes, an increase of the welfare state, climate change legislation, open borders, and even gun control.
Now I am not saying there should not be a debate about values, there should be an honest and open debate, but when you take stands against the very principles you claim to espouse, that is different. In fact, there is a school of thought called Socialist Libertarian. Socialism and Libertarianism are incompatible. While the former seeks to increase government control, the latter wants to restore it to the people.
Now I am not saying faux Libertarians adhere to this, just that the similarities are striking. Religious, personal, and social liberties are all up for grabs? That is not Libertarian at all.
Libertarians need to refocus and decide what school of thought they want to follow. Are they going to follow their founding principles or just what is popular in the moment? If they do the latter, they will find themselves in the same situation that the GOP finds itself in today. They should stick to their original principles and hold true to them.
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