In America, there are two major political parties, Democrats and Republicans. Within those parties are dozens of smaller distinctions of ideologies that have unique ideas and have different goals and focus on different areas. This concept is ever-present in the Republican Party. The red party could be broken down into the Tea Party, the evangelicals, paleo conservatives, moderate republicans, the Christian right, and the libertarian contingent. Libertarians have the most peculiar spot on this list because they have a lot of ideas that are antithetical to the mainstream republican ideas. Libertarians by definition are a group of individuals that believe liberty is the most important principle of politics. So, they are for less government involvement, the enforcement of the constitution, the rights of the private citizen and free-market capitalism. In a way, they epitomize the expression laisse faire. Essentially meaning “hands off”. They have an inherent distrust of government in their current state and want to expand liberty to as far as it can go. The interesting part of libertarians is their ideas on policy, it seems to go against what both major parties lobby for. They are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Libertarians are pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and approach egalitarianism with this hands off attitude. Same is true for their economic policy. They want the private sector to be able to do what it wants and from that, they believe, the most economic prosperity can occur. Government involvement is minimal.
A common question that is bound to arise when thinking about libertarianism is “Why do they align with the Republicans if they are for socially liberal ideas?” That is the eternal question of the libertarian platform; who to align with? In the current American system, a party must get behind one of the major parties in order to get their policy pushed into law. It is anyone’s guess as to why they have been lead into republicanism. However, there are a few potential ideas. One could surmise that it was because the leadership of the party continues to align with the Republicans, this could be due to friendship, networking or whatever state they live in. For example, Ron Paul has been the most prominent Libertarian politician in America for a long time. Ron Paul has always been Republican and has even run that way for president a few times. So, naturally, when the next big libertarian figure comes in they are likely to align with who they know. In this case, Rand Paul, Ron Paul’s son, has followed a path like his father. Maybe libertarianism has found home with republicans because they value fiscal frugality to be more important to them then social policy. They are clear about what they want but maybe not the hierarchy of importance. Most likely, though, is that they feel more comfortable with Republicans. Libertarianism comes off as very moderate by going to two extremes and therefore splitting the difference. However, it really is a conservative platform. They want socially liberal ideas because they want less government involvement. That is conservative. For example, they want gay rights because they believe that it is not the government’s job to say who a person can love. Classical liberal ideas believe that the government should guarantee these people’s rights. It is a stark difference. Conservatives aren’t quite as welcomed on the left currently and so the Libertarians rest on the right wing.
Clearly there is a positional crisis in America for libertarians. To get what they want they have to pick their poison and risk not getting what they truly want. That may explain why they have risen as a third party and sometimes are represented separately in national elections. Gary Johnson being the most recent advocate. Hopefully, this trend continues. No matter how a person feels about privatization or their ideas on government ideology, diversity is key to a productive electorate. People need to be able to voice their opinion and hear different viewpoints. That is part of the reason why this post is being written. By exposing libertarianism people will be able to be challenged and reaffirm or deny their ideas. That, in turn, makes their ideas stronger. People should hear everyone out and be dynamic with their knowledge and ideas. Libertarians have interesting ideas that could be fantastic but they could be viewed as idealistic and as utopian, in its own way, as socialism. What do you think about libertarianism? Is it a great idea that will breed the most happy population where everyone lives their lives how they please? Or is it impossible to trust people to live their life how they please and the government should be guiding or controlling people in their personal lives? That’s up to the individual.