Reject your political party: The Libertarian Party
Reject Your Political Party Series
As I mentioned in the introduction, I’m only going to focus on a total of three parties: The Republicans, the Democrats, and the Libertarian Party. Obviously, I chose the first two because they are the two major American political parties and both have rich and sordid histories from which to draw examples of their collective evils. So why did I choose a relatively new and comparatively insignificant party as well? I chose to also include the Libertarian Party for a couple of reasons: First, it is the fastest growing political ideology due largely to the escalating wars, taxes, and police state coming from both the Democrats and Republicans. Second, the Libertarian Party attracts both former Republicans AND former Democrats, something most other third parties cannot do. (Most Constitution Party members are disgruntled Republicans, most Green Party members are disgruntled Democrats… You get the idea.) Third, I agree with most of the Libertarian Party’s platforms, and I think one must be the most critical of himself.
Libertarian Platform and Stated Positions
What does the Libertarian Party purport to stand for? At its most basic, it claims to stand for smaller government. (The libertarian philosophy is the intellectual heir to classical liberalism.) The reason a lot of Republicans jump ship and join the Libertarian Party is because they realize the truth that the Republicans are not, and have never been, the party of smaller government. I’m not going to get into that here, because I already explained it in my post about Republicans. Penn Gillette, the famous illusionist and an outspoken libertarian, describes the libertarian philosophy as “Take a right on money and a left on sex.” That’s a humorous paraphrase of the description “fiscally conservative, socially liberal.” As in any political philosophy, there are as many variations as there are adherents, but most libertarians can agree on the major points. Here’s a brief overview:
On war: The US should not be an empire with military bases all over the world and should not meddle in the affairs of foreign countries. The preferable method of interaction between nations is peaceful trade.
On business: Big corporations benefit from taxpayer bailouts at the expense of the middle class. The incestuous relationship between large corporations and the federal government should be severed and business should be made to compete in a market free of government regulation, engineering, and rewards/penalties.
On welfare: Federal welfare programs have institutionalized poverty and created a class of citizens completely dependent on handouts. The poor are then exploited as political pawns during election season. Welfare programs should be abolished and replaced with private charities.
On taxes: The federal income tax is unconstitutional and should be abolished. Some libertarians want a flat tax instead, some want to abolish income tax completely.
On social issues: The federal government should stay out of all transactions between consenting adults. Social evolution should be organic, not state-mandated and directed.
Better minds than mine have written extensively about all these topics, and more. (See my Links page for some good resources.) With the advent of the internet, libertarian writings are more available than ever in all of human history. For those who do not trust consolidated power, and for those who believe in the non-aggression principle (basically the Golden Rule), the libertarian philosophy is, at the very least, a great place to start thinking about our relationships to businesses, our communities, and other nations.
The libertarian philosophy is the only philosophy that is intellectually and morally consistent. If it is wrong for citizens to murder others, it is wrong for the government to murder and call it “war.” If it is wrong for citizens to steal, it is wrong for government to do it and call it “taxation.” If it is wrong for citizens to kidnap, it is wrong for government to do it and call it “rendition.” You get the idea. It is a good policy, not for governments but for all people, to treat others as we want to be treated. If you don’t want your kids to be murdered by a drone missile, then don’t support your government doing it to someone on the other side of the world.
Of course, libertarianism is not perfect; no societal organization is perfect because they are all created by fallible human beings. Small government always leads to the largest government because a free market creates tremendous wealth. Those in the government, like in any other organization, wish to grow and they can do so more rapidly when more wealth is available to be taken from the productive members of society. This is not just a minor problem with the philosophy. Another inherent flaw is that libertarianism is mostly rational. Human beings have shown that we can be rational, but we can also be wildly irrational and erratic. Libertarianism largely fails to account for the irrationality inherent in humans.
How the institutional Libertarian Party is inherently against libertarian philosophy
Libertarianism’s bigger flaws come not from its philosophy but from its organization. Specifically, the organization of the Libertarian Party that was founded in 1971. I believe its very existence is a violation of its principles. Since it is a political party, its aim MUST be to get elected to government positions and achieve power to impose their ideology. That’s what political parties do, it is their only purpose. I think the aim of achieving political power is anti-thetical to what both the libertarian philosophy and non-aggression principle teach. (This is why many make the distinction between a libertarian, and a Libertarian.) You cannot turn the mafia into the Salvation Army by infiltrating it. I think libertarians are better off rejecting state power altogether as all power corrupts. (And absolute power corrupts absolutely.)
From a pragmatic viewpoint instead of a philosophical one, the Libertarian Party has been a complete failure. Has the size of government grown or shrank since its inception in 1971? This should be obvious, especially in the Bush-Obama era. See the chart below for an overview or government spending to GDP. How many political offices has the party consistently held? I don’t know the answer, but it is negligible. How much private money has it wasted trying to become part of a system that is supposedly against everything the party stands for? Again I don’t know, but I think libertarians are better donating to private organizations that are working to nullify laws (such as the Tenth Amendment Center) and educate people (such as the Mises Institute) instead of to a party that is trying to become part of the oligarchy.
How some libertarians, including me, sabotage the message
It’s fascinating to me that many who call themselves libertarians are also conspiracy theorists. (I’ve touched on this point before, here.) I think this is harmful to the liberty movement because it makes libertarians, already an outlier in the political discussion, seem gullible, incapable of rational thought, or just plain crazy. Many people will be turned off to all of a conspiracy theorist’s arguments, regardless of their strengths or weaknesses. The best way to illustrate this point is with an analogy: Pretend a man is charged with murdering his wife. There are two eyewitnesses to the crime, the man has no alibi, and the DNA and other evidence is very strong against him. In order to convict this man, should the prosecution try to convince the jury that this man probably killed his wife because he killed Kennedy? Of course not. The prosecution should clearly outline his guilt using the concrete evidence and testimony against him. It’s the same with the state. Why try to prove the government was behind 9/11, or Kennedy’s assassination, or the Boston Bombing when so much other evil is concretely evident to all? No one denies that the US government is the only government to use nuclear weapons on a civilian population. Why focus on 9/11 truth when the Hiroshima and Nagasaki truths are staring us all in the face?
Another way libertarians dilute or destroy the pro-freedom message is by pretending they know things they don’t know. (I have been guilty of this one from time to time–remember, take the plank out of your own eye so you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.) Often, those supporting the state will say things like, “Who will build the roads?” or “Who will protect us from terrorists?” If you are a libertarian-leaning person and know about these topics and have developed good answers to these questions, feel free to discuss. (For example, I worked with government transportation departments for seven years, so I love getting the “roads” question.) However, if you don’t know about a certain topic, it’s alright to say, “I don’t know.” That’s actually one of the points of libertarianism–that you and I ultimately don’t know what’s best for other people and do not wish to inflict our opinions on others through the violence of government decree. (As an aside, both of the questions I posed here have been answered, in depth, by libertarians. The links I provided are just one of many possible solutions. Again, in a free society, there are no “one size fits all” solutions.)
The Libertarian Party presents itself as an alternative to both the Democrats and the Republicans. Jaded Republicans will like the party’s free-market platform and fiscal conservatism, while jaded Democrats will like the party’s anti-war platform and social liberalism. The problem arises not in the philosophy but in the organization and action plan. The Libertarian Party, by its very existence, legitimizes state power. Like all other political parties, the Libertarian Party aims to use government power to impose its will on the people. This runs contrary to the philosophy of libertarianism which prefers social change, progress, and financial exchanges to come from private individuals and free markets instead of state power and corporate monopolies. The Libertarian Party has done a lot to educate the people, but has failed to rein in government. In my opinion, those who adhere to the philosophy of liberty are better off rejecting ALL political parties. Better to vote with your wallet than at the ballot box. Better to support organizations that are fighting the system rather than trying to assimilate into it.
Reject Your Political Party Series
A Disclaimer About My Politics
Thanks for reading this post, I hope I challenged you in some way. Agree with me? That’s cool. Disagree? Even better. I’m just a random guy on the internet, voicing his opinion (at the time of writing this blog post – check the date; opinions change as more facts and experience are gathered). But imagine if I had the political power and will to force you to agree with me! That would be terrible, and that’s the point of voluntarism and non-aggression. You should not be forced to agree with me. Please extend me the same courtesy.
“The word ‘politics’ is derived from the word ‘poly’ meaning ‘many’, and the word ‘ticks’ meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’.” -Larry Hardiman
Political Blog Posts
- The Democrats Don’t Deserve Your Vote
- The Republicans Don’t Deserve Your Vote
- The Libertarians Don’t Deserve Your Vote
- Democracy ≠ Freedom
- I Don’t “Feel the Bern.”
- Confessions of a Public Servant
- Leaders vs. Rulers
- Libertarianism is Better Than Progressivism
- Why I Do Not Vote (And Neither Should You)
- The Traffic Court Swindle
- Top Five Reasons I Don’t Argue Politics on Social Media
- Why Meaningful Debate is Impossible
- Dos and Do Nots for the Liberty Minded
- “There ought to be a law…”
- A Defense of Fugitive Slaves
- Conspiracy Theories are Dumb
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