I’m rehashing an old subject, trying to update it for publishing in the Austin Liberator. As I pointed out in the recent blog post The Vote, I pulled the lever next to “L” again this year, just as I have for the last 10 plus years. I do this because I vote my conscience, rather than worry about wasting a vote.
The only wasted vote is the vote cast for a lessor evil, rather than being cast for a greater good. I vote and refer to myself as a Libertarian, and I do it with pride.
I am a libertarian because I believe in the concept of limited government. When I mention this fact to someone, I usually get the response “But you’re really a Republican, aren’t you?” Nothing could be further from the truth. I tolerate conservatives, but I’m not one of their kin.
Before I discovered the Nolan chart (http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html) and through it the LP, I was a staunch yellow dog Democrat, like my parents and grandparents before them. I believed that government was there to help, and that social freedoms could be taken for granted under the Democrat’s benign rule. However, I was at a loss to explain why the drug war persisted (with tacit Democrat support) or why the term “Politically Correct” was ever coined (by a Democrat) Even when the Democrat’s dominated the legislature and Democrats held the Presidency, social liberty never increased.
When the Republicans came to power, they talked of reducing the size and expense of government. My fellow Democrats cried over this, but I could not understand how reducing government, and the tax burdens on the people, was necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. Having more of my money to dispose of as I wished seemed like a good thing to me. Having less government interference in my life was one of my goals, as well. I thought I might have something in common with Republicans after all.
Strangely, the cost of government never got smaller, even when the Republicans dominated the legislatures, and a Republican held the Presidency. The Republicans did reduce taxes, but the debt burden passed on to the next generation of Americans went through the roof. I started to think that the politicians were not being truthful with us; and if they were lying to us about their intentions, then what else were they lying to us about?
When I was told “read my lips” and then watched taxes rise anyway; and when I heard “It depends on what the definition of is is” used as an excuse to cover the questionable activities of a president (activities that were the least egregious of the impeachable offenses that he could have been charged with) I began to see the truth that I know today: If a politician has words coming out of his mouth, he’s most likely lying.
I discovered something else in the course of nearly 30 years of following politics: Government is a weapon. It is a loaded gun that you point at wrong doers to make them stop what they are doing. That is the only ‘help’ that government can give; and it doesn’t even do that cheaply. If you want government to do something for you, then you are employing force to get it done.
Everything that government does can be done by private industry better, faster and cheaper. The fewer government run programs, the less force that is present in our system; less force means more freedom.
Jefferson, Adams and the others who founded this country understood this. The Democratic party (I was told) was the party of Jefferson. Because of this, I was a Democrat. What I did not realize was that the limited government principles of Jefferson and the founders were abandoned by the Democrats in the 1940 election; which brings us back to the Nolan chart, and the LP.
Chart the beliefs of the founders, and nearly to a man they will turn up Libertarian; Jefferson was solidly so. When I took the test, I too charted as solidly Libertarian. It has been more than 10 years since I took the test, lodging protest votes against the two major parties, discussing issues with fellow libertarians; and it’s been only recently that I have come to the realization that I was indeed a Libertarian in belief, and not just a political misfit.
Ask any libertarian why they are what they are, and you will get a different story. Some are former Republicans and some, like me, are former Democrats. Most of them are of the younger generation, fresh out of college and worried about the future they face at the hands of an ever-expanding federal government.
If there is a core libertarian belief, then this is a good portion of it; that government at least return to constitutional limits, and be responsive to the people who fund it. That force not be employed except in response to force. That we are all capable of governing ourselves, just as has been done throughout our history.
These were the beliefs of our nations founders; and because I claim these same principles as my own, I must be a libertarian.
I have revised my view several times since this piece was written; suffice it to say, I am no longer libertarian. I reject the label, and most of the philosophy behind the label. The reasons for this are complex, and I haven’t quite worked it all out and written it down yet. Still, I’m certain that Libertarians are aspiring to something that I see as dystopic in nature. But that is another story, I hope I get around to writing it.