More Libertarians than many realize

The same 1980 political survey I sighted last year in a letter to the editor about populists, also gave figures for libertarians in our population. The survey identified 23% of independents, 29% of Republicans and 7% of Democrats as answering sample questions in such a way as to ideologically label them as libertarians.

A dictionary definition of the word "libertarian" is "a person who advocates liberty, especially with regard to thought or conduct. Also, a person who maintains the doctrine of free will."

I believe it is helpful for those who follow national politics to have an understanding of the libertarian philosophy. While the 1996 Presidential election is coming up, it seems an ever growing percent of the population feels uncomfortable with both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Many of these people are not apathetic just because they are not liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans. It's because, knowingly or not, they are libertarians.

I know how these people think because I was once a full-fledged libertarian myself, back around 1979 and 1980. I can drop names of libertarian economists and social thinkers the way a sports enthusiast can drop names of professional athletes, while adding all of their major accomplishments. By still having some libertarian blood running through my own veins to this day, I often find myself in agreement with some of their positions on the issues.

In the second half of this letter, I would like to examine the philosophy of libertarianism with the readers.

Libertarians want maximum individual choice on social issues as well as fiscal issues. They believe each individual should "live and let live." (This doctrine is known as laissez faire.) Their main focus is on individual rights, not on "improving the family and society" as conservatives are accused of placing their focus.

Libertarians want government & liberals to stay out of their business transactions and they want government & conservatives to stay out of their bedrooms. They refer to the latter area as personal liberties or victimless crimes. Individual rights can only be achieved if government (at all levels) keeps it's power hungry totalitarian nature to regulate human beings to a bare minimum.

Libertarians see as legitimate only two primary functions of government: 1) To protect people from criminals within a country and to protect people from enemies from outside of a country; and, 2) To enforce contracts, which people freely engage in with one another.

Three of their favorite writers are: Ayn Rand (author of "Atlas Shrugged"), Murray N. Rothbard (author of "For a New Liberty"), and Robert J. Ringer (author of "Restoring the American Dream" and "Looking Out For Number One").

Libertarians are like conservatives in that both are for a free-market economy and against a regulated and planned economy. Both are for property rights and against a socialist redistribution of wealth. Both are for a minimal government and against the welfare state.

Libertarians are like liberals in that both believe in few limits imposed on personal liberties -- each person owns his or her body and can do with it as he or she wants as long as they don't directly hurt others, especially critical puritanical busybodies. Moralists and religious people should stay busy managing their own behavior and get their eyeballs out of other peoples' key holes.

More people believe this way than most people realize. So keep a watchful eye on libertarians in America. Along with populists, they represent the so-called swing votes in American politics.

--Kenneth J. Wolf #46 (09/12/95)

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