Why I Am Libertarian

I’ve gotten a couple of comments on my blog (so far only from my wife and her best friend, but it’s a start :-). One definitely interested me. Initially I was going to reply as a comment, but I definitely want to put some of my political beliefs in my blog, so I’ll reply as a blog posting instead of a comment.

Some excerpts from the comment:

have you ever heard of/read: Libertarianism, a Primer

I didn’t realize you consider yourself Libertarian. I respect that a lot since I feel that our loss of rights for the sake of Government handling our responsibilities has been suffocating lately! They just love to grow themselves, don’t they? And there’s not a darn thing we can do about it! Well, other than whine and vote for Ron Paul.

I have not read “Libertarianism, a Primer”, so I can’t comment on it.

My “conversion” to libertarianism really started shortly after graduating from high school when I read Atlas Shrugged for the first time (I’ve read it several since then). I have some minor issues with the book itself. It’s a little long winded. Okay, I take that back. At well over 1000 pages, it’s a LOT long winded. Even so, the philosophy and ideas presented in that book are so important, and so dead on that I cannot see anyone reading it and failing to appreciate it.

As I read that book, I realized that government control of the economy, or personal freedoms, and (perhaps worst of all) morality is a direct route to loss of personal liberty.

Although I had those beliefs (or at least, the beginning of them), they were not well formed, and I wouldn’t have called myself libertarian at that point. Over the years though, I’ve spent a great deal of time formalizing my political beliefs. I’ve studied some of the political statements of the founding fathers. I’ve familiarized myself with several political parties and philosophies. The greater understanding I have of my political beliefs, and the more I know about the things that made this country great, the more importance I place on personal liberty. For me, personal liberty is the factor that overrides all others when making political decisions. The Libertarian philosophy is the only one which agrees with that. I am therefore, completely and unreservably libertarian.

I would recommend the recent book “The Revolution: A Manifesto” by Ron Paul. It’s a fairly simple and enjoyable read, and it presents many of the ideas of libertarianism in a very contemporary setting, so it is much more accessible to people.

As far as Ron Paul, he’s an interesting wrinkle in how I may vote in the upcoming election. I hope it’s completely unnecessary to say that I will not be voting for McCain or Obama. For me, it will come down to Bob Barr (the libertarian candidate) or Ron
Paul (if he’s on the ballot).

Ron Paul appears to me to be a libertarian who actually wants to get elected, so he calls himself a republican in order to increase his likelihood of getting votes. Bob Barr appears to me to be a republican who does not agree entirely with the party, so he calls himself a libertarian. Ron Paul’s actual stance on most issues is almost entirely libertarian. Bob Barr’s has been very republican in the past with a relatively recent shift towards libertarianism.

If they’re both on the ballot, I’ll probably vote Ron Paul. He’s demonstrated that he’s a libertarian but he might actually draw enough support to implement some of his ideas. Otherwise, I’ll vote Barr. I’m not 100% committed to this course at this point however.

With respect to the comment “there’s not a darn thing we can do about it”… my response is this:

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. — Thomas Jefferson

As long as we go along with the flow, the current course that this country is taking will continue. If you disagree with the course that the country is taking… if you disagree with the political views of the candidates… if you disagree with the laws that are being passed, that opinion must be voiced.

As long as we continue to vote for the “lesser of two evils” (whichever candidate of the two you consider the lesser evil), we’ll continue to get (at best) the lesser of two evils. Vote for the person who supports your liberty (which almost certainly means voting third party). Tell people you’re doing so, and tell them why you’re doing so. If we stop being silent… we’re doing something. It may not be a lot (and it may not be enough), but it’s a start.

Voice your opinion about the laws being passed. Write to your representatives. It’s very easy at this point since there are any number of “contact your representative” web pages which can be used to send email to the appropriate people containing your views.

And I’d like to say something to all those people who have a “Proud to be a Democrat” or “Proud to be a Republican” bumper sticker (or flag, or shirt, or whatever). I’m proud to say that in the past 20 years, I have not voted for a Democrat or Republican presidential candidate. I’m not sure what it is you’re proud of, but I know what I’m prout of. I am proud to have voted for people who I thought would protect personal liberty: both mine AND YOURS!

I would like to add one sidenote about Atlas Shrugged.

A common complaint about the philosophy presented in Atlas Shrugged is that it seems at first glance to be critical of acting charitably to people who are in need of help, or of trying to do the right thing for personal spritual or moral beliefs. And it may be true that Ayn Rand (a self-proclaimed atheist) presented some of those ideas in such an emphatic manner that they can be taken that way. As a very religious person, who believes in acting in a moral way, and in the responsibility to help others, I can understand this complaint, but do not find that her philosophy contradicts mine. Her philosophy was that we should be free to behave in such a way as we find good, and to do those things which make us happy (so long as we do not harm others), and that the government should not force a set of moral beliefs on the people. In other words, while I find it admirable that someone would voluntarily help someone who was in need, I find it dangerous (at the very least) that the government should be able to say “this person is in need, and you WILL help them or you WILL go to jail” (and this is exactly what the government does when they take taxes from us and use them for any number of social programs). I do not oppose the social program… merely the use of government force in their operation.

Anyway, enough about politics for now.