Print out a membership form for the Libertarian party (as opposed to simply registering Libertarian which you are free to do) and you are asked to affirm the following statement with your signature:
“I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.”
It’s a powerful statement and it guides every decision libertarians make about policy. What do you think of this statement? Would you be willing to sign it? The Libertarian party is a party of principle. The Democratic and Republican parties ask for no similar statement when you join.
The American Heritage Dictionary says a libertarian is “one who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.” I first realized that I agreed with these principles when I noticed that the government just isn’t very efficient with most of the things it does. If you need to borrow $100 and you call me up and ask, then when I give it to you, it costs me $100 and you get $100. If we involve the government then we’ll have to fill out some paperwork and pay the people who thought of the forms, designed them, printed them, handed them to you and me and filed them. It might end up costing me $150 or more just to hand you $100.
Later, it occurred to me that the further government is from my door the less influence I can have. If I don’t like what’s going on in Louisville, Colorado where I live I can go to the city council and raise my voice. There’s no guarantee that my opinion will be heeded but it will surely carry more sway than in Washington. That’s not surprising either. Our central government in Washington attempts to meet the needs of as many Americans as possible. Louisville only needs to satisfy the needs of 18,000 people (18,715 as of July 2002)
I kept finding examples in my experiences and the more I thought about it the more I noticed that my views aligned with libertarians. I’ll likely discuss them now and again in this blog but more importantly, what about you? Do you think our government spends your money wisely? Did the Democrats spend your money better than the Republicans are doing? Are you satisfied that the $200 billion spent in Iraq is spent well? How about the $200 billion for Katrina victims? Would private charities be able to accomplish what we need there? Was the money you and I were taxed for FEMA and the department of Homeland Security well spent (1 billion in R&D alone in 2004)? In 1929 when Herbert Hoover was in charge of rebuilding after the flood of the Mississippi river he did so overwhelmingly by appealing to private individuals to donate their time, money and muscle to rebuilding. This leadership helped him to be elected president. Compare that solution to president Bush taking the credit for the $200 billion in our tax dollars the administration will spend to rebuild the Gulf coast. Today, I don’t need to donate to rebuilding in New Orleans because President Bush will take that money out of my pocket and spend it for me. I won’t get to choose whether to fund the rebuilding of levy or funding of a faith-based school and neither will you.
Many of us are dissatisfied with the Democratic party and (at least in my circle of friends) we’re disgusted with the religious controlled, socially conservative state of the Republican party. We’re tired of politicians motivated to feed themselves with larger programs and bigger government and we’re equally tired of a government that puts it’s nose into our bedrooms and wonders which library books we’re checking out.
The Libertarian party is the socially liberal, fiscally conservative party that you’ve been looking for! Sure, the party is filled with quite a few extremists. One wonders what it is about a political party that attracts both gun nuts and pot heads at the same time (it’s about individual freedom in both cases). But we don’t have to let those things be the defining issues for the Libertarian party that they are today.
Many of us call ourselves “independents” perhaps because we’re unhappy with either of our choices. Alas, there is little power in being an independent. The whole point of political parties is to leverage the power of many like-minded people to forward our views. I don’t agree with everything the Libertarian party says or with every candidate. But I am tired of throwing away my opinion and my votes on the lesser of two evils. Maybe you are too.
Reason.com: An excellent magazine. Equally disparaging of Democrats and Republicans and in general a voice of reason(!) in today’s partisan media.
Worlds smallest political quiz
The quiz is lame, the questions are leading, but it’s interesting just the same.
Libertarian party of Colorado: Great stuff right along side ravings. Like any political party. Admit your Libertarian when people ask, register Libertarian or even join and maybe we can take it back from the extremists.