What is a Libertarian?

Over the years, I’ve been asked “What is a Libertarian and why should I vote for one?” If you ask ten Libertarians, you might get ten different answers. Our core value is individualism – free thinking. Our natural inalienable rights are guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. Some of those are listed specifically and the 9th Amendment states that list is “not to be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Libertarians advocate protection of all our natural rights.

I’m also asked what our position is on different issues that come along. To answer that question, first consider a few basic questions. Ask yourself in general, how you view other people. Consider those people you encounter every day. Are they generally good, decent, honest folks, who would share what they have with someone in need and help another who was in danger? Or, are they bad, scheming, selfish, and look the other way and not want to be involved in helping others in need? Next, ask yourself who should make decisions about people’s welfare? Are the people you know capable of making good decisions, or should they be prevented from doing so to protect themselves?

There are only 4 possible outcomes (Labels are as used today):

  1. Folks are good and should be responsible for their own welfare. (Libertarian)
  2. Folks are good but society (government) should be responsible for their welfare. (Liberal)
  3. Folks are bad and society (government) should safeguard from bad decisions they make,
    folks are however responsible for their own welfare. (Conservative)
  4. Folks are bad and society (government) needs to control them. (Authoritarian)

That’s it. Yes, it appears simplistic. There will always be grey areas. Free thinkers will disagree on finer points, naturally. However, the Libertarian’s position on any topic can typically be found by determining what solution would put the most faith in people and require the least government involvement.

With individual freedom, of course comes responsibility. Unfortunately, Americans have become dependent on the state. The expectation is that government will solve issues. It’s easy to understand why. Government takes a chunk of everyone’s earnings right off the top through income tax. Add property tax, sales tax, license fees, tolls, etc. and it averages out to almost 50% of everyone’s income. I use as a reference taxfoundation.org. You will work for over five months before your pay is yours. Why then are people still hungry, homeless, uneducated, and without adequate health care? Is our system broken? Why is our country on the offensive around the world? Shouldn’t our defenses be better than anyone’s offense, especially considering what we pay for it?

The ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. You can take that step by voting for Libertarians. Libertarians can’t just turn a switch and make it all better but Libertarians will shrink government whenever and wherever possible. We will enable the American spirit of independence, innovation and generosity, by getting government out of the way, respecting your right to make decisions for yourself, and stopping government from confiscating the fruits of your labor. It will take time, but if you find that you agree with the Libertarian philosophy, that people are generally good and should be making the decisions about their lives, then register as a Libertarian, take a stand with us and make a statement with your vote. You’ll never regret it. Principles are powerful things.

David Olsen
Chairman, Genesee County Libertarian Party.