GUEST VOICE: What Do (Those Goofy?) Libertarians Believe?
Hello there, Dr. E here: At a time when what the GOP actually stands for and who is truly invited to be deep in their tent besides those who can give money for various campaigns, and what the Democrats stand for and who is invited to be in the front row in their tent besides being solicited for dollars for their various campaigns (seven solicitations in today’s snail mail alone, some from each side, enough to make voters’ heads spin like Linda Blair’s)… I asked Rachel Hawkridge to give us an overview re: current state of Libertarian-land.
Rayhawke, as we call her, is a straight-talking friend who helped me with contacts while I covered the Libertarian Convention in Denver for The Moderate Voice in 2008. Though the following article does not necessarily represent TMV nor its writers or editors’ points of view, Rayhawke’s take on war: We don’t hit first, but we will hit back: hard! can be understood as one winning phrase bespeaking a part of Libertarian thought.
What do (those goofy?) Libertarians believe?
I’m Rachel Hawkridge, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Washington. I also sit on the Libertarian National Committee. I’m both the most conservative person you’ll ever meet, and the most liberal. I’m a grandmother and political activist whose issues include Anti-War, the Second Amendment, hemp/cannabis, and marriage equality .
Lately, several people who claim to be Libertarians have gotten huge amounts of publicity, and they don’t represent Libertarian views very well. Many people don’t seem to have heard about what Libertarians actually do believe.
I’d like to share with you just a little of what Libertarians are about. The 10 word summary: fiscal responsibility, personal freedom; let people make their own choices, as long as they don’t hurt anyone else and they take responsibility for those choices. Oops, 25 words. I’ve always talked too much.
First, Libertarians believe in freedom.
The freedom to conduct our lives without restriction, as long as we’re not hurting anyone else. We believe that, for the most part, the services we use should be financed with “user fees”, and that taxes are robbery. Some of you are now thinking “those people are crazy!” If anyone other than government takes your money at the point of a gun, what do you call it?
Non-aggression, not pacifism
First, in order to join the Libertarian Party, we sign The Pledge. Some people refer to it as the Non-Aggression Principle or Zero Aggression Principle. “I certify that I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.” This is not a pledge of pacifism, we believe in a strong self-defense. We don’t hit first, but we will hit back.
We believe that we have no business messing about outside of the U.S. We would never start wars anywhere. We don’t need “peacekeepers”, nor can we keep the peace anywhere. As soon as the troops leave, conflict breaks out again. That’s why we have troops in other countries 65 years after World War II ended..
In 2007, there were more than 1000 US Bases and/or Military Installations in 156 countries around the world. Libertarians would bring home all troops from all over the world, and close our foreign bases. Some areas are sensitive, withdrawal will take some time and tact in some places, but we would withdraw as quickly as possible.
Libertarians believe that peaceful people should be able to travel freely. Ponder this for a moment – if we weren’t passing out welfare checks, food stamps and free health care for people who don’t have any money, and it were easier to get here legally, we wouldn’t have any “illegal immigrant problem”. If all it took was a job, a place to live, some money and a sponsor (like it used to be), we’d know where all the immigrants were, and there would be no drain on hospitals and state coffers.
We’d end it. Prohibition causes an underground market and creates massive organized crime. Prices are artificially high, and since users are already breaking the law just to use drugs, it’s not a real big step to deal, to steal, or to break even more laws. Making it legal for adults to use drugs recreationally would end all the costs associated with pursuing, prosecuting and imprisoning non-violent drug offenders… all this being paid for by taxpayers. Some of the attraction would go away for thugs and rebels. Because prices would plummet due to increased supply, crimes by users searching for money for drugs would also disappear. Very few people find dealing cigarettes to be an attractive proposition – anyone can buy cartons of cigarettes in any convenience store, grocery or gas station.
Very few people rob a convenience store buy a beer or pack of smokes. Since alcohol and tobacco products are manufactured by reliable companies, we no longer have cases of people cutting red wine with bull’s blood or pipe tobacco with dried oak leaves.
I don’t remember any cases of crooks cutting Tylenol or Cymbalta with baby laxatives, corn starch, vitamin C powder, sugar or talcum powder. Antibiotics and pain meds are standardized doses – each pill is the same dose, and it is very rare for patients to be poisoned by an unexpectedly strong pill. (We have regular “outbreaks” of overdoses due to overstrength street drugs.) Legalization would end most of the problems associated with diluted (cut) product, whether it is cut with toxic materials, cut too much, or not cut enough.
Prohibition has not prevented or ended drug use. Many believe that prohibition increases the number of users. Prohibition never works. Never has, never will.
Libertarians treasure free speech. I think most of us would say that a person who cries “fire” in a crowded theater has created a hazard, and that may be criminal or actionable. We cannot make obnoxious or offensive speech illegal – there is no free speech if offending someone is prohibited.
Pro-Choice on everything
Most Libertarians believe that forcing other people to conform to our standards and morals is just one more form of aggression. Prohibition didn’t work with alcohol, and it didn’t work with abortion, either. The question is not whether there will be abortions, but whether they will be in hospitals or on back alley pool tables.
From a purely moralistic perspective, Christians believe that God gave us free will. If something is unavailable, or kept from us, was there any choice involved? And if we didn’t make the choice, it’s not a moral decision. The only moral decision about abortion is to be able to obtain an abortion, and to choose not to. When men take choice away, they are literally playing God – taking dominion over the lives of others.
Firearms for free, peaceful people
It’s not the legal user/owners of firearms who commit crimes. When I open carry my revolver into my bank, most of the employees realize that very few people intent on crime carry their firearm openly, without covering their faces.
Our Second Amendment was a method of making sure that we were never again defenseless against a tyrannical government. Attempts by the British to disarm the colonists resulted in a dogged determination to never again be subject to that tyranny.
Firearms are not the cause of crime, as Switzerland so ably demonstrates. Despite one of the highest militia gun ownership rates in the world, the Swiss gun crime rate is so low that statistics are not even kept.
Bailouts, and other corporate welfare
Since Libertarians don’t believe in any kind of welfare, and we believe that all people have equal rights, no self-respecting Libertarian would ever condone any kind of corporate welfare, whether it’s the use of eminent domain to steal property, special tax treatment, or bailouts. We believe that businesses ought to succeed or fail on their own merit.
Government should not be involved in business; neither protecting business from competition, giving breaks to some, nor creating or protecting monopolies. The only role for government in the market is to outlaw and prosecute force or fraud.
Constitutionally limited government
While Libertarian thought ranges from an almost totally voluntary form of government to something much more authoritarian than my standards, most of us are willing to settle for a government that is actually limited to Constitutional powers.
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution lists specific powers of Congress, including the power to establish and maintain an army and navy, to establish post offices, to create courts, to regulate commerce between the states, to declare war, and to raise money. It also includes a clause known as ‘the Elastic Clause’ which allows it to pass any law necessary for the carrying out of the previously listed powers.
The voluntaryist end of our spectrum believes that even the post office, currency, courts, and private security (police) could do the job better and less expensively than government.
All of us believe that there should be laws against force and fraud, and government should not be able to regulate personal, private behavior that does not injure the rights, person or property of others. Of course, there should be no “sovereign immunity” for government agents, which is predicated on the British concept that “the sovereign can do no wrong”. Obviously, early Americans rejected sovereign immunity, only to have it reinstated and adjudicated at the Supreme Court in 1951.
Find answers in love and freedom, not force
Libertarians are very caring people. We want all people to be free and happy, and believe that when allowed to make their own choices, people are more satisfied with their lives.
We believe that most of the problems we face today can be addressed without the use of force. Dr. Mary Ruwart outlines many of the problems and Libertarian solutions to them in Healing Our World.
Freedom is not clean, neat and safe. As a matter of fact, freedom can be damned messy – scary and chaotic. And the results are worth every bit of it.
We are not liberated until we liberate others. So long as we need to control other people, however benign our motives, we are captive to that need. In giving them freedom, we free ourselves.
– Marilyn Ferguson, THE AQUARIAN CONSPIRACY
Standard disclaimers – many of my fellow Libertarians will have differing beliefs. I have shared mine here, which I believe to be fairly common within the movement. There is a wealth of information out there, if you would like to learn more.
Some of my favorite sources:
The Advocates for Self-Government Take the Quiz!
Act In Peace and Liberty,
Chair, Libertarian Party of Washington
Libertarian National Committee
Region 7 Representative
“When the truth is replaced by silence”, the Soviet dissident Yevgeny Yevtushenko said, “the silence is a lie”.
CODA from Dr. E: the above image is a cap proposing medical marijuana for wheelchair bound people. The leaves of the plant make up the spokes of the wheel. In my help to vets, including chair-bound vets at the VA for decades, there is often nerve pain in the body from not only sitting so long, but also from the condensation of the spine from those years of sitting. Often there is wasting away of the gluteal muscles which can make a person literally be sitting not on flesh, but on thin supperated flesh over pure bone of the pelvis and thigh bones. Some vets have had their legs amputated in order to literally use the flesh of the legs folded back and sewn to where the buttocks wore away, so that they can continue to sit instead of spend all the rest of their days lying down.
Though I personally do not want to see the young or anyone live a life of daily dissolution being stoned, I have to say that the demonization of a medical drug that allows calm and is often anti-anorexic, as well as giving relief from certain kinds of pain without removing the person’s senses entirely, is something that ought never have occurred. Those who suffer ought have any and all remedios available to them that are effective and safe. Many of the members of the libertarian party have been vocal about this matter, and are to be noted for that. Although I am not a libertarian, I would go further and likely be thrown out of all political tents by saying I think also, a plant like Cannabis, that is a palliative and grows wild at the side of the road, should also, be free to any and all who need it medically. dr.e