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What is a Libertarian?

The chairman of the Libertarian Party of Michigan tells us more about the party's views.

What is a Libertarian?

I often get this question from individuals and the media alike. And what I have learned is a short simple answer doesn't always seem to work. But I will try again.

Libertarians by nature are seekers of individual rights protected by limited governmental laws from both fraud and aggression here and abroad, with government's only role being to enforce the contracts made between people.

Now you can, if you are like some, extrapolate that to the Nth degree and say we want anarchy or lawlessness. But nowhere in there did I say that. Often times, I think it is easier to say what we are not.

For example: We are not hypocrites. We are not asking for money from the government for some pet project while denying someone else the fruits of their labor by forcing them to give to my project or idea, etc. This is denying the individual their liberty for the benefit of another or a group. You see your efforts are an outcome of your work with your environment and, as such, a product of your liberty. You see politicians do this often enough to carry favor for the people who put them in office. By doing such, though, they are using and abusing the role of government. Worse yet: It is unconstitutional to do. But I fear as of late that concept is a dirty work.

You see, Libertarians see government as the last resort to settle disputes - because it is a blunt weapon. It always relies on force and you have little or no recourse to protect yourself. Try to tell the IRS next time that you don't want to pay. Or that you don't want your tax dollars going to foriegn countries, etc. You will quickly find that you have no say so and, worse yet, you have no choice.  

In our world, that is a bad thing. In the wrong hands, government is a thing that we have to protect ourselves against and our founding fathers designed a document that limits the powers of our government, not expand them, just to ensure that very thing. Which I'd like to point we as Libertarians couldn't agree more with.

Another is we are not all drug dealing or, for that matter, drug using members of society. But that comes back to the hypocrite thing. We are not about to tell someone you can't do this drug or that drug because we don't like them, all the while drinking caffeine or smoking tobacco or alcohol, etc. You say those are legal. And I say so...your idea is some drugs are okay versus others. Or is it that you can be responsible with this drug or that? That in our book is a conflict of interest. As we believe, you are of the freedom to choose that which you put in your body. Whatever the substance. We believe you own your person. But with that freedom to choose comes the consequences of that choice. Good or bad.

I think at this point you are starting to get the idea.

In closing, there are many things we are not and many that we are. And as I write here week after week, my goal is you introduce you to them. Until then, visit the state's website or contact me on Facebook.  I look forward to you getting to know and understand us.

In Liberty for the Republic,

James H Lewis II
Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Michigan
517-375-9829
www.mi.lp.org

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sue Czarnecki April 04, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Ron Paul is a famous Libertarian & inasmuch as this party is about NO government in our lives, Mr. Paul is all about telling women what they can & can't do with their bodies. So how does this follow, exactly ????
James H Lewis II April 04, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Hi Sue Dr. Paul's personal opinion is nothing to do with what the government's jurisdiction is. His personal position is such that he is pro-choice. But he feels it is not within the realm of Federal Powers to dictate any of it. I am guessing you issue comes from how he would repeal Roe v. Wade. That is only due to his being consistent in his position about the constitution of the US. As such reversing Roe V. Wade would be one as he feels it is the job of the state to regulate that at best. But even then it would be a issue to be debated among each of the states.
Jordan Genso April 04, 2012 at 07:55 PM
James, Wouldn't a repeal of Roe v. Wade result in an unconstitutional outcome as soon as one state tried to take away a woman's right to privacy, as it would violate the 14th Amendment's right to equal protection under the law. If you value individual rights, as I do, then the federal government does have a role in protecting those rights from the encroachment of the state government. It's my understanding that prior to the 14th Amendment, many of the libertarian arguments in favor of states' rights were valid, since the Constitution dealt with the powers/limits of the federal government alone. But with the 14th Amendment, the constitutional limits were then applied to the states as well. For example, prior to the 14th Amendment, state governments did have the ability to establish a state religion, but once the 14th Amendment was passed, the states lost that ability because they were then bound by the 1st Amendment.
James H Lewis II April 04, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Jordan I don't think that is is a privacy issue. But you do bring a good point to be considered under the 14th amendment.
Seymour Concerned April 04, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Very good article, James. I can't stand the hypocrites who rail against big government while supporting the trillion dollar War on Drugs. I feel 75-90% of Republicans and Democrats have no idea what Liberty means.
Jordan Genso April 04, 2012 at 08:26 PM
I'm not quite sure how you don't accept that there is a privacy issue involved? To make things clear, Roe v. Wade *limits* the power of the government. It limits the government from being able to forcibly monitor a woman's pregnancy from conception to birth. As you said in your post: "[The government] always relies on force and you have little or no recourse to protect yourself." If Roe v. Wade was overturned, that would give more power to the government to force women to inform the government of their pregnancy status at all times. If a woman did not want to inform the government of her pregnancy status, she could be criminally liable. Roe v. Wade says that "no, the government cannot force a woman to disclose her private pregnancy information under threat of criminal punishment." True libertarians should be incredibly thankful that Roe v. Wade puts that restraint on both the federal and state governments. It prevents a potentially massive intrustion on numerous individual rights.
Jordan Genso April 04, 2012 at 09:11 PM
While I am a Democrat, I do find myself agreeing with Libertarians on some social issues. Ending the "war on drugs" is an obvious example. And I also can find some agreement with them on the use of our military. But I view government as needed in order to protect the people from the abuses of business. Rather than a "buyer beware" mentality, I see it as being justified and constitutional (Interstate Commerce Clause) for the government to regulate business, even when no explicit contract is made between parties. I of course feel there needs to be limits on those regulations, but I can't outright reject the notion of regulations the way that some Libertarians seem to. What really bothers me though is the Libertarian approach to the environment, at least as "Libertarian" seems to be defined in today's American politics. James, since there is no contract involved when it comes to the environment, where does the Michigan Libertarian Party stand on the government protecting said environment?
ConcernedParent April 05, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Libertarians have faith in the underlying rationality and selflessness of human beings. And here are the 2 glaring fatal flaws in a Libertarian system.
Kellie Etterman April 17, 2012 at 01:52 PM
@ConcernedParent Are you saying that the human race is neither rational or selfless? Maybe you aren't giving us all enough credit.
ConcernedParent April 17, 2012 at 02:03 PM
@Kellie, sadly, even a cursory analysis of history proves me right. Of course there are individuals who break the mold. But in groups, people pretty much suck!
Ronald Wolf April 17, 2012 at 06:22 PM
A Libertarian is a breed of cat that defies definition. Kind of reminds me of the tale of the blind men and the elephant. One truism is that while attractive on some issues these cats are extremely dangerous to those that do not meet their standards.
Jordan Genso April 17, 2012 at 06:34 PM
"these cats are extremely dangerous" Signed, Mr. Wolf :-)
Matt Guarnieri April 17, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Who is John Galt?... Basically saying, "What does it matter?" The experiment of "A Republic" is lost. The idea of individuals retaining their individuality, abilities and fruits of their labors to do with as they please has been destroyed, thus destroying the ambition, drive and opportunity of generations of individuals for the welfare of those that can not or will not produce. The "United States of America" has been changed to "USA", the mention of individualism is replaced with a generic acronym to obscure the original purpose of the name. When created, it was the individual states that determined the rights of their citizens and the federal oversight was only to provide protection as a republic, the states determined what powers the federal government would have. Somewhere along the way the federal government decided it should decide the rights of all citizens and tell the states what they should be allowed to do. The individual state just like the individual person no longer has as many rights as when the concept of a republic was developed and those individual rights are eroded further on a daily basis.
Jordan Genso April 17, 2012 at 10:28 PM
"Somewhere along the way the federal government decided it should decide the rights of all citizens and tell the states what they should be allowed to do." Matt, I can help you out there, identifying when the change occurred (although you misrepresent the result). It was on July 9th, 1868, and it was caused by the passage of the 14th Amendment. Well... the 14th probably had nothing to do with that strange "United States of America" v. "USA" concern you seem to have, but it absolutely did change it so that the states did not have as much power as they had prior. It gave the federal government greater ability to protect the citizens from the states. If you want to argue that is a bad thing, I would be interested in seeing such a position explained. And if you want to go back to the way the country was when we were founded, you just have to get the 14th Amendment repealed. Also, what evidence are you using when you state that "[t]he idea of individuals retaining [the]... fruits of their labors to do with as they please has been destroyed"? From what I can tell, the most affluent in our country have never had a larger percentage of the wealth since the gilded age, which would contradict your claim that their ability to retain the fruits of their labors has been destroyed. So I don't know what you're basing that statement on.
Ronald Wolf April 19, 2012 at 04:41 AM
That somewhere along the way was our civil war Jordan. Power is a pendulum and the premise of our democracy is to conteract that pendulum with three branches of government. My somewhere along the line is putting the finger on the evolution of our electoral college system that has degenerated along with our two party system that by the way has nothing do do with our constitution and bill of rights. Nixon was probably the our first president to have Napoleonic ambitions since Andrew Jackson. Eisenhower saw it coming as well, Bob Dylan even wrote a song about it, This country is being parted out and sold on the international market by the same special interests who choose who we CAN vote for. And even then our votes are powerless against the electoral college. By the way these same interests that include big oil have infiltrated with lobbyists every branch of government. Was this the plan of our founding fathers? I think not.

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