Apparently libertarianism is becoming a thing. Huzzah, we’ve broken into the mainstream Media! The libertarian leg of the Republican Party has become much more influential over the last two years and I can’t help but think it’s great. Whether existing politicians are shifting their positions or new people are participating in the public policy process from the liberty movement, we should be thrilled. Maybe we can slow the growth of government just a little bit!
I only hopped on board the small “l” libertarian train a short while ago myself. Throughout high school I was a party line Republican. I agreed with pretty much the entire platform on social and economic issues. I talked about how we should all strive for a small government, read magazines like Newsmax and National Review, and thought everything Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity said was truth. Like a good dogmatic conservative I mocked anyone expressing libertarian ideas as naïve hippies.
“Civil liberties? That’s how the terrorists win!”
“Gay civil unions? Homosexuality is a sin that will destroy traditional marriage!”
“Nullification? I’m pretty sure that’s racist.”
On and on. That point is, I’ve changed my views quite a bit. Eventually I started noticing the inconsistencies between my small government rhetoric and the policies I believed in. I came to realize that both social and economic policies of mainstream conservatism did not match up with how I spoke of wanting a limited government. It was time for an honest reevaluation of my thinking. I didn’t necessarily think that state power was a bad thing but I continued to explore how the expansion of American government often limited economic opportunity, perpetuated conflict, and restricted people from doing activities that harm no one. I questioned the dominant narrative and concluded that I needed to start looking outside the traditional discourse.
Slowly I morphed into a libertarian. It didn’t happen all at once: drug policy was a tough issue for me, I didn’t understand why anyone would want to drink raw milk, and when I saw Ron Paul speak about the gold standard my freshman year of college, I think I made some crack about William McKinley. Not that any of those issues are litmus tests for being libertarian; it’s just another step in the process for me. I learned a lot over the past few years and try to learn more every day. But there you have it: my abridged conversion story.
Again, I’m glad to see more people question state power and identify with the broader liberty movement. Enough people have hopped on the band wagon to start making inroads in traditional politics. There are many issues with the Republican Party and their relationship with liberty advocates so who knows what the future holds.
My next post will follow up with more about my thoughts on the liberty movement within the Republican Party, the two party system, and achieving policy victory.