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Monday, April 19, 2010

What Is A Libertarian?

By Daryl Luna, Editor at:
*In Defense of the Constitution*

Libertarians are those weird little guys who lurk in their parents’ basement—spouting out conspiracy theories, smoking funny things, and reading books many have never even heard of, right?

Well...some libertarians are those odd little guys and gals. But even more libertarians are average men and women, grandpas and grandmas, artists, business professionals, blue-collar workers, teachers, students, and people from all walks of life. Libertarians are everywhere you look. Some openly identify as such; others need to be alerted to the fact.

I am convinced that the average person on the street is open to libertarian principles. And many of them are libertarian to one degree or another. Perhaps it would take some explanation and flushing out of the issues for folks to identify as libertarian, but liberty is a popular idea. Most people want liberty and the government out of their business, however many do not realize that this is libertarianism.

Sure, there is some empirical data to back up the claim for libertarian popularity. But as with all empiricism, the data is not flawless. For example, there are reasons that the majority of those who take the World’s Smallest Political Quiz obtain a “libertarian” result. It is often promoted by libertarians, it was created by libertarians, and it is on the Internet—that favorite hangout of libertarians everywhere. But that cannot explain all results or the still-large numbers of people who are surprised to find out their libertarian leanings every time the test is taken.

To be honest, surprise over libertarianism is something that I come across often. Perhaps it is because "libertarian" has become somewhat of a dirty word. Earlier in my life I had trouble embracing the term myself, but that was based on a misunderstanding of the term. When one finds out what libertarianism is all about, however, I am convinced that it is a concept that will be embraced by many. Its central tenants already manifest themselves in a number of people.

The ideas of liberty are popular. People, for the most part, believe that they should be free to run their own lives, maintain their own property, and not suffer the violation of their liberties. Likewise, if you asked the average person on the street whether or not they should commit an act of aggression against another, they would stand on the side of peace.

Where most people go off track is in the consistent application of libertarian principles. Why many do not self-identify as libertarian is that they share libertarian positions but do not consistently hold to them. They claim to be for limited government, but allow the government to be involved in unacceptable areas. They claim to be for non-aggression, but they are quick to be hawkish in matters of war.

Does this mean that these people cannot be brought over to the camp of libertarianism? Absolutely not! In fact, there is hope for all who truly believe in limited government and personal responsibility to accept the call to libertarianism. All that is needed is for someone to challenge them to live within their own worldview. If they are truly committed to the principles they say they are, then they must embrace the cause of liberty.

But what about those who think they aren't committed to any political view at all--the average Joes who could care less about politics? I think that these people can be the best candidates for libertarianism. Ask them their views, hear them rail against something not being "any of the government's business," and see where they really stand on the issues even if they don't think they are "political." What you will find is folks with libertarian leanings who just haven't been involved in the political process. We've seen evidence of this in many Tea Party activists.

Okay. So not everyone with libertarian sympathies are true, consistent libertarians, but they have the potential to be. Even more important that that, we see that the ideas of liberty are popular and always ready to be mobilized around. Ron Paul didn't create liberty-lovers; he mobilized them. Tea Parties didn't birth limited-government, free marketeers; they awakened them. Perhaps we can further awaken and mobilize our neighbors for liberty. Perhaps it it time for you to consider whether you might actually be a libertarian.

Don't forget to visit Daryl's blog:
In Defense of the Constitution

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