Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Love Me, Love Me, Love Me, I'm a Libertarian!

A friend of mine asked about my political beliefs today. I promised her a blog post to attempt to explain them. Comments and questions are welcome, with bonus points for anyone who can identify the reference in my title.

When I was 18, I registered to vote. I had never been especially politically savvy up to that point, though I believe I had some lofty ideals about how the world should be. My father was registered as a Democrat and my mother as an Independent, so I registered as a Republican to be different from them. I don't remember having any real sense of what that meant, but I was excited to do it.

I would describe my political views during my college years as moderately liberal. I was what my father called a "tree hugger" and I spent some time as an angry, man-hating feminist. By the time I met my husband, I had a pretty good chip on my shoulder. His ability to defuse me was probably the main thing that drew me to him. He and I also shared anti-establishment inclinations. The year we were married we voted for Ross Perot in the presidential election and harbored the hope that a strong third party would arise to really shake up the system.

Around that same time, I had a personal spiritual reformation of sorts. I undertook a good deal of religious study across many belief systems and solidified my core testimony of my LDS faith. It was on the heels of this that I became a mother for the first time. My philosophy as a mom pushed me more into conservative territory and I really felt like I identified myself as a Republican for the first time. Unfortunately, I have never been happy with any Republican presidential nominee. I find it really distressing that I enter the voting booth having to hold my nose and vote for someone based on the fact that I consider them the least repugnant choice. Feeling so disenfranchised has made me reexamine my political views over the years, which brings me to where I am today as a defiant libertarian.

What this means for me is that individual freedom is paramount. Agency is the gold standard. Laws should protect liberty rather than take it away. I do not believe in a paternalistic government that imposes a standard of conduct on my personal behavior. I should have the freedom to fail and to do so spectacularly if I choose. I believe you should have that freedom, too, but that I should not be compelled to subsidize your behavior and protect you from whatever negative consequences may arise from it. I do not believe the government has the right to take my money by compulsory taxation and spend it on other people, no matter how noble the cause. Morally I believe I am obligated to take care of those less fortunate than me and do not feel I should abdicate that obligation to the government. I believe in a free and unfettered market in which big companies are allowed to fail, small companies are free to flourish, and the consumer's wallet is the only regulator. I believe that I have the right to own a gun without having to account for it to the government. I believe in individual responsibility and accountability and that generosity and morality cannot be legislated.


  1. "Love Me, I'm a Liberal," song by Phil Oaks?

    Beautifully put, as usual. Thank you. I think I am a Libertarian too. However, I shirk my duty as an American by remaining politically almost completely inactive. It's not that I don't care; I care too much. In conversations I listen and make the occasional ambivalent comment; I am turned off because of my helplessness and anger at all of the crap that goes on every day in our government. I find it all downright irritating and upsetting.

  2. Ochs, but yes, you are correct.

    I agree with you, too. Sometimes you just have to look away from politics in order to maintain any sense of optimism in the world. But it's my defiant streak that keeps me active in the whole business.

  3. Kimberly told me that you were a Tea Party radical. I am so happy to read otherwise.

    Your eloquent explanation makes perfect sense, and you blog is a great read.

  4. Ah, that's because Kimberly knows I have a mad crush on Glenn Beck.

    Glad you like the blog.