I get a lot of questions: if you’re such a TROOOOOOOO conservative, why aren’t you a Libertarian? Don’t you know that Libertarians like RON PAUL!!!!! are the only TROOOOOOOOOOO conservatives? If the Republicans don’t let RON PAUL!!!!! influence the agenda, then they’re doomed, I tell you! DOOOOOOOOOOMMMEEEEEDDDDD!!!!
First – let’s address a couple of issues. I am not a Libertarian… however, I was once registered as a Libertarian. Mostly out of irritation of what I was seeing in some local and state politics, I abandoned the GOP for 3 1/2 years in the early 2000’s and I felt that the Libertarian Party would be, in part, a good fit. Sure, there were elements of disagreement, but at least I had a party home and wasn’t one of those dumb ol’ unaffiliated voters. And then I found out a few cold, hard facts… namely that the Libertarian Party was about as stable as a 13-year-old on heroin. You had the war between the small-l libertarians (who weren’t libertarian enough for the tastes of the rest) and the Big-L Libertarians (who were the troooooooooo guardians of Libertarian thought) – and get along they most certainly did NOT. It was like a bunch of socialists debate why socialism had never worked trying to convince the other group that it was just because the right brand of socialism had never been tried. To quote from one of my favorite comedies, it was like watching a bunch of retards trying to hump a doorknob.
Bu the bigger problem with Libertarianism isn’t in the people involved: it’s in the philosophy. Like I said, I was only a libertarian (small l, I’ll admit it) for so long before I had to admit the follies of the philosophy. Interestingly, those follies seem eerily similar to follies I assign to socialism.
At this point, the libertarian folks I know are probably shaking their fists at the screen, angrily typing up responses that sound like a mixture of Ayn Rand and the Unabomber Manifesto, mixed with a few RON PAUL!!!! references. Do yourself a favor: wait until I’m done, m’kay? Shut up and read for a minute, because then you’ll have a lot more ammunition to prove how wrong I am. Or, maybe you’ll learn something.
- Libertarianism is a great theoretical concept. In theory, the idea that people should live and let live with a minimum of government involvement, earning their just rewards as the result of their investment, responsibility, and willpower is an attractive theory.
- It doesn’t work. No libertarian society in history has ever thrived. Ever. I mean, I hate to bring up Somalia, but… well… Somalia.
- The primary error libertarianism makes is ignoring human nature. While it’s nice to presume that given freedom, people will rise up and take responsibility and those that don’t will fall and thus survival of the fittest will leave the best standing in the end… life doesn’t work that way. This is not a good world we are in. People are not vending machines that you can stick quarters in and get responsibility out. The sad fact is that the world is set up in a way that allows people who are successful to abuse those who are not – and those who are successful are not always so because they are better at what they do, more skilled, more responsible, or more knowledgeable. Sometimes, the cream that rises to the top is spoiled.
- American Libertarianism tends to rely on what it calls a “strict constructionist” interpretation of the Constitution. The problem is: there is no such thing. The very phrase should give it away: it’s an INTERPRETATION. Interpretations vary from person to person because interpretations are individualist. If I had an identical twin and we were raised exactly the same, had the same education, and had exactly the same job, income, and family life – our interpretations would still be different because we are ultimately individuals. For Libertarianism in general and the Party in particular, if you don’t toe the line, you’re an outcast. The amount of groupthink expected of a philosophy that prides itself on individual liberty is ironically staggering.
- It’s important at this point to illustrate why Libertarianism came about. The philosophy of libertarianism developed in the 20th century out of Objectivism as a reaction against statist socialism. And while I can admire the stance against statism and socialism, libertarianism is ultimately as extreme of a position as those it opposed. The problem is that as an opposition to an extreme, Libertarianism is itself an extreme. Extremes aren’t necessarily bad or good, but they are, for lack of a better term, uncomfortable. If we’re honest with ourselves, Libertarianism has more in common with anarchist thought than it does with conservative thought.
- And then we have the TROOOOOOOOOOOOOO believers, aka, the Libertarians. And honestly, one cannot judge Libertarianism fully without considering the effect it has on the philosophy of its followers. If I believed in a religion that caused a large portion of people to think that blowing up school buses was a good idea, people would question my own and my religion’s sanity – and rightly so. Having said that, Libertarianism, perhaps more than any other American political philosophy, has a stronger tendency to attract and promote conspiracy theories than any other system. And I don’t mean fringe stuff like the anti-Federal Reserve ridiculousness… I mean the black-helicopter-contrails-UFO-Mayan-calendar-the-system-is-going-to-fail-next-week nutballs. If so many of these folks are attracted to Libertarianism, there must be a reason why. I’m not saying where there’s smoke, there’s fire…. but there sure is a lot of smoke.
Got it? OK. Now, having said all that, I do admire some elements of libertarianism. I believe that smaller, more efficient government is a good thing. I think a reduction in taxes will spur economic growth. I think there are times our attention needs to move away from international matters and towards home. I think the war on drugs is a waste of dough. I think that what responsible, adult people do in their own homes with their own naked parts is between them and God. These are good things with a consistent viewpoint and you should be proud of them, Libertarians.
But… there are other things that are not good. Isolationism doesn’t work. Laws on certain kinds of behavior are there for a reason. Law enforcement is necessary. A social safety net to help those in their most desperate hour is a good thing. Conspiracy theories are usually rejected by the educated community for a reason.
And in case you’re wondering, no, our founding fathers were not Libertarians. They were a mishmash of political philosophies that worked to build a land based on liberty, not libertarianism. Get over it. Even more interestingly, the woman considered to be most responsible for American Libertarianism – Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum, aka Ayn Rand – herself rejected Libertarianism for some of the exact same reasons I do. Probably right before she wrote a 2,000-page screenplay about railroad tycoons.