The Psychology of Libertarian Self-Esteem
The Libertarian Party includes members who are essentially what can be called Republican-lites. They believe in reforming the welfare-warfare state way of life under which we live. When they run for public office as L.P. candidates, their message is essentially: “I will do a better job than my Republican opponent to save and reform Social Security and Medicare, enact school “choice” and health-savings accounts, reduce taxes, reform the Federal Reserve, secure the border, deregulate businesses, reduce the size of government, decriminalize marijuana, help the national-security establishment to maintain a “strong national defense,” and get libertarian-leaning conservatives appointed to regulatory commissions.”
The big problem is that over the years, the Republican-lite, reform-oriented wing of the party has convinced the Libertarian wing of the party to join up with them in their support of reform measures. The Republican-lite reformers convinced the Libertarians that reform positions were necessary for political success. They said things like, “Americans are just not ready for genuine libertarianism and so we need to give them reform instead if we are to enlarge our vote totals and even get elected to public office.” Worst of all, the reformers convinced many Libertarians that the reform measures they were embracing were actually libertarian in nature.
Thus, over time, owing to the reformers, many L.P. campaigns, at both the federal and state levels, have come to resemble Republican-lite campaigns. For example, go and do a random survey of L.P. campaign websites, at both the federal and state levels. Examine their positions. I think you’ll find that many of them would fit very comfortably within the Republican Party.
I believe, however, that the vast majority of L.P. members are libertarians — that is, people who genuinely want to live in a free society, not in some warmed-over, reform-oriented serfdom. It is this segment of the Libertarian Party I wish to address.
We are Libertarians. We are not Republican-lites. We are not conservatives. We are not progressives. We are Libertarians. It’s in our DNA. We need to be who we are and who were were born to be. We need to be true to ourselves. We need to fight as Libertarians, not as Republican-lites. Our principles are our swords and our shields. That’s how we should go into battle against both Democrats and Republicans. The minute we drop our weapons and instead employ the statist principles of our opponents — the minute we become like them in the hope of garnering their vote — we are dead in the water, both freedom-wise and psychologically.
Over the years, the reformers have convinced Libertarians that some Libertarian positions are too radical for other people and, therefore, that L.P. candidates needed to compromise or conceal them in order to gain the approval of voters.
Nonsense! Libertarianism is the most glorious and noble philosophy that mankind has ever come up with. Libertarianism provides the only hope for extricating America from the many woes that have come with the welfare-warfare state way of life. In the political arena, the Libertarian Party provides the only hope for leading our nation —and indirectly the world — to freedom.
Contrary to what Libertarian reformers have long claimed, every single libertarian principle is an asset, not a liability or an albatross. All that is needed is for L.P. candidates to teach themselves how to competently present and defend all aspects of our philosophy to voters. That’s not an easy task, but there are no short-cuts to liberty, especially when the short-cut involves abandonment of one’s own philosophy in favor making the case for some sort of warmed-over, reform-oriented serfdom.
That’s not to say, of course, that voters will necessarily approve of libertarianism. It’s entirely possible that they will reject our philosophy and continue to vote for statism, either by voting for Republicans or Democrats, even if L.P. candidates defend our principles in a competent and professional manner. If that’s the case, then so be it. No one is guaranteed political success in life. But the worst thing that any Libertarian can do is to reject part of who he is in order to gain favor with the electorate. Once he does that, he has sacrificed his integrity and rejected an important part of himself in the process.
The ideal is a Libertarian Party consisting of members and candidates who are on the same page — proudly and passionately fighting for libertarian principles across the board in a consistent and competent manner. Then, however the votes totals come out, we can still feel good about ourselves and our party because we will have remained true to ourselves — true to who we are. We will be, once again, the Party of Principle.
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