Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Case for Libertarianism – Part Two “The Big Tent”

Over the past eight years our Republican brothers and sisters have managed, at the national level, to alienate a considerable percentage of their constituency. In an effort to rebuild their party after the "meltdown" of 2008, there has been considerable discussion surrounding the need to rebuild the "Big Tent."

The "Big Tent" refers to the attempt of a political party to be inclusive of many different viewpoints, something with which the Republican Party has always struggled. The stance they have taken on issues such as abortion, and gay marriage, to name but a few, have pushed many away. Now the emphasis to remake the party has become almost an obsession, the "Big Tent" is falling down and must be repaired.

Does the Libertarian Party need to also expand its tent? How do we fair on these "wedge" issues? Our National platform states:

1.4 Abortion - Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.

1.3 Personal Relationships - Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the rights of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships.

This last issue is particularly illustrative of the general attitude Libertarians hold regarding that which is often been termed, for lack of a better phrase, "Gay Rights". Within the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, there are the Log Cabin Republicans and the Stonewall Democrats, who seek to further acceptance of their views and opinions within the framework of their two respective parties, albeit with little or no success. The Libertarian Party does have the Outright Libertarians and this excerpt from their FAQ explains the relationship between the Libertarian Party and their organization:

Does Outright's positions on "gay issues" differ from the Libertarian Party?

In substance, no. Currently, every one of our positions are consistent with libertarian principle and the Libertarian Party Platform (Neither Log Cabin Republicans nor even Stonewall Democrats can say this). However, we and the LP do sometimes disagree on the approach.

For example: The LP takes a hard line on Hate Crimes Legislation, as legalized discrimination against the victims of some violent crimes in favor of others. Outright opposes Hate Crimes Legislation but understands, sometimes first hand, why it is so popular and seeks to show GLBT people that the legislation is not only discriminatory but flawed even when it actually includes us! The LP's approach is often hard hitting and direct to the central issue. Outright's approach is more understanding, we are more willing to explain the failings of government solutions and to show how some things that look good for us on the surface may actually work against us. But one thing to keep in mind: the national LP has never taken a negative stance on the inclusion of GLBT individuals in any legislation that secures equal rights for GLBT people, whether marriage, military service, taxation, etc.

So I ask again, does the Libertarian Party need to expand its tent? No. In fact we don't even need a tent. There is room enough under the sun for all who cherish Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Case for Libertarianism – Part One “The Wasted Vote Syndrome”

In my many conversations with non-Libertarians I have often heard voters state that they would support Libertarian Candidates but are afraid of "wasting their vote". This is one of the great myths surrounding Libertarian Candidates.

What is a "wasted vote"?

Some would say that a "wasted vote" is a vote not cast. Based on current voting trends, this certainly makes a great deal of sense.

Another "wasted vote" is that vote which is cast solely out of habit. It is not unusual to hear a voter say, "My Great-Grandfather always voted for Party X, my grandfather and my father always vote for Party X, therefore, I'm voting for Party X." It reminds me of the phrase "Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of the past are destined to repeat them." So I ask, if your great-grandfather was a horse thief, and your grandfather and father are horse thieves, should I trust you to look after my horse?

Others might argue that a "wasted vote" is a vote for a candidate that has absolutely no chance of being elected, i.e. a Libertarian or other minor party or independent candidate. By voting for one of the two major parties they feel that their vote might actually make a difference. For many of these voters they feel that even though each candidate is far from ideal, one is a little less onerous than the other. The problem here is quite obvious; the lesser of two evils is still EVIL! What does it matter if we have tax and spend elected officials as opposed to borrow and spend elected officials in charge? Either way, our nation's economic health is placed in jeopardy. Let's not even begin on the threats to our precious rights and the rule of law. Evil is Evil.

All it takes is the courage of your convictions, the desire to stand up and vote for the candidate who cares more for this nation, its Constitution and its people instead of building a career on the taxpayer's dime or maintaining the "Statist-Quo", a candidate who is principled, a candidate who belongs to the only Party of Principle, a Libertarian.