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.