“As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others” (2016 Libertarian Party platform).
Libertarians value liberty above all else. If you listen to the likes of John Stossel, you will hear valid criticism of both Donald Trump and Hilliary Clinton. Stossel advocates voting for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson. Too much government is the bane of the nation, according to the Libertarians. Their motto is “Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom.”
Libertarians are the largest American third political party and a popular alternative to the main party candidates who are generally not well liked. It is thought that Johnson and the Libertarians might actually poll 15 percent of the vote in the November election. Even Bill Bryant, the state’s Republican candidate for governor, has come out saying he will be voting for Gary Johnson because he can support neither Trump nor Clinton.
If the Libertarians do gain 10 to 15 percent of the vote in November, it will affect the election, siphoning off votes mainly from Donald Trump and strengthening the hand of Hillary Clinton.
Below are five key traits Libertarians value according to their website:
• Libertarians are purists. They know that the chance of their beating the two major established parties is very low. They vote for their candidate anyway because doing what is right is more important than winning. They value principle and consistency. Acting according to their principles is favored over gaining power. There are no “wasted votes.”
• Libertarians care about people. Since each person is unique those specific talents and abilities should be encouraged and developed. Having as little government regulation as possible does that best.
• Libertarians are patriotic and value America’s heritage of “liberty, enterprise, and personal responsibility.”
• Libertarians value freedom and independence. They favor a governmental system that allows them to practice those qualities.
• Libertarians value tolerance. “Live and let live” is their byword. They do not want to push around others and do not want others to push them around. As long as someone’s lifestyle does not harm anyone else, then people should be able to live as they please.
Most of us would agree with much of what Libertarians value and practice. I prefer to deal with what really is rather than what life should be. Purity is fine as an ideal, but we are imperfect creatures who have free will to choose the wrong approach and make wrong decisions, and we do so constantly.
Some people need help to attain their full potential. A strong government provides educational opportunities to allow for the less privileged and the oppressed. Human nature can be harsh and cruel and abusive. Bullies need to be controlled. Often government is the only resource that can protect us.
The problem with placing such high value on personal responsibility is that there are oppressors, greedy and irresponsible people in the world. Figuring how to get people to act responsibly is not an easy task and it often requires the strong hand of government to control and subdue those types.
Not all people value freedom and independence and tolerance. Some enjoy enslaving and abusing others who are too weak to stop them. Libertarian principles would allow for the rise of oppression against racial, religious and sexual minorities.
Finally, the emphasis on the individual over the common good for the whole is wrong. Our Constitution was created to provide a balance between personal rights found in the Bill of Rights, and civil virtue as found in the body of the Constitution.
Our founders studied past government structures when they created the Constitution. They learned from the lessons of oppressive past governments. Good government can only come from protecting the rights of the individual and at the same time being concerned for the common good.
Expect a high number of voters to choose the Libertarian ticket this November. Those who value individual sovereignty over voting for two very unpopular candidates will have their voices heard. The result of that freedom Libertarians value so much will not be to their liking, whether Clinton or Trump is the winner.