August 27, 2009

On Libertarianism

For a while, I wasn't sure of the whole placement of Libertarianism within the political spectrum. I figured, hey, they're just another kind of conservative, but that didn't explain why so many conservatives came down on Libertarianism so hard (for example, in Mike Huckabee's book X, he references libertarians quite a few times in a less than glowing way).

However, as I grew in understanding- and I am still growing- I came to realize that the general libertarian position was not as solidly conservative as I imagined. Although self-described conservatives and libertarians share positions and ideals, especially the important "Smaller gov is always better" principle, they also differ on quite a few issues.

For example, the American conservative position on gay marriage, cannabis legalization, and abortion is opposite the Libertarian Party's stated position. The libertarian movement seeks to maximize individual liberty, that's the definition of "libertarian". Now, that definition used to be taken by the term "liberal", and still is kind of in Europe and elsewhere, but that's irrelevant.

I'm going to attempt to explain a little of this. They generally oppose restrictions or bans on abortion because they are attempts by the gov to interfere with a mother's liberty, her choice, her freedom to do with her body and baby as she pleases (actually, one of the things that bugs me personally about abortion is often how only a mother can choose, but the father has to pay his share of the costs). So it's her decision whether or not to terminate the fetus.

Also, they oppose bans on gay marriage because the government has no right to interfere with what you do in your private life. Fine. And they also support the legalization of medicinal cannabis (marijuana) and even sometimes the decriminalization of recreational marijuana. Um, interesting.

Now, having said that, they, with conservatives, agree on several other issues, like smaller government, a flatter tax rate, more private health care, and opposition to gun control. So they are indeed "fiscally conservative" in their views, which is a common ground, and a sound one at that. However, they are also, in a general description, more "socially liberal", meaning they take the common liberal POV on social issues.

Having found out all this, I can understand the position of Libertarianism and why certain conservative groups are hostile, or at least wary, towards libertarians.

It occurred to me that I might actually be libertarian rather than conservative, but I realized I agreed more with how the conservative area of the political spectrum deal with social issues and foreign policy. Especially things like abortion, border security, and the "War" in Iraq. But on the whole, I can say I understand, and even respect, the Libertarian position.

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