It’s easy, with questions like this, to get caught up in complexities and talk about economic systems, political theories and quote Hayek, Mises, and Friedman while passing out copies of Atlas Shrugged and chanting “End the Fed!”. It’s easy to make things complicated. But I find that keeping things simple is best, so in one sentence, the reason I am libertarian and not conservative, liberal, socialist or fascist, is this:
Except we live in a world that makes it impossible for IT to be so simple.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” I believe that he was making one very important point. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness pre-exists any government institution, entity or official. Regardless of governments or laws, those rights, and the freedom to pursue them, exists in nature, indefinitely, and without restrictions.
But while most people stop reading the Declaration after that one sentence, thankfully for us, Jefferson continued: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
I am also a Libertarian because I believe governments are necessary to protect our rights. Nothing more, and nothing less. That means no government should have the authority or power to encroach on our rights, as our own federal government is wont to do. Indeed, a government solely concerned with protecting rights is the only way for freedom to flourish. Lest we forget: rights preclude governments. The freedom to pursue happiness, for example, is rooted not in a government document, but in nature (i.e. endowed by our Creator).
Both the Republican Party and the Democrat Party are guilty of sanctioning government policies that violate this simple purpose.
When Democrats talk about the right of all Americans to have access to affordable health care, what they’re really saying is that the government should summon its authority to force upon me (and you) the obligation of paying for our neighbor’s medicine. Whether we want to or not.
When Republicans talk about the need to use military intervention during periods of unrest around the world, what they’re really saying is the government should take my (and your) money and send our friends and family into harm’s way for the sake of spreading an idea or showing might with no rhyme or reason or objective.
When Democrats talk about income disparity and reducing poverty, most of the time what they’re really saying is that the government should take money from those who are working hard to become prosperous, and give it to the underprivileged. Side note: To whoever says this “plan” does not just perpetuate a cycle of poverty, the New York Times just reported that except for Romania, the U.S. has the highest child poverty rate of any developed nation in the world.
When Republicans talk about the need to adopt a constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage, what they’re really saying is that they like limited government except when it comes to how two people on the other side of the country want to live their lives. But of course, saying “I have a right to health care” is so much worse than saying “I have the right to live in a society free of people I believe to have deviant lifestyles” (note: that’s sarcasm).
Inevitably, I feel it necessary to mention that my detractors would point out that while my theory is all fine and good, it’s not applicable in the Real World. “What’s your Libertarian solution to closing the income gap?” someone might ask. Or, “How would a Libertarian address this ridiculous system we have called ‘health insurance’”? I could go into all that, but doing so would take many more blog posts and frankly, detracts from the question at hand:
Why am I a Libertarian?
What I’m getting at here, less eloquently than I would have liked, is that there must be an objective standard by which governments operate that is not subject to the whims and wishes of men. Otherwise, freedom suffers.
Read other stories of why they became libertarians
Sophia de Tricht
Why I am a libertarian by Todd Jaros
Why I am Libertarian by Todd Jaros