Glen Beck is repeating his call for Rand Paul to start a third party. This would be news, of course, if 1) third parties had a snowball’s chance of surviving a Texas summer, 2) Glen Beck hadn’t already said this before, and 3) Rand Paul was inclined to leave the GOP — which he isn’t. It amuses me that the very same people who want to scream and whine about libertarians only being interested in pacifism and vices are suddenly looking to libertarian-leaning Paul (and the people who believe like him) to either bail out the GOP and/or bail out the country.
I’ve written here several times before that I grew up in rural Deep East Texas, one of the last bastions for the yellow dog Democrats, to conservative parents who proudly voted GOP every time they could. I, too, thought libertarians were those crazy Ron Paul-ers who ran around screaming about how all wars were illegal. It was only in the last year I realized that while I had to vote GOP for national elections, the party itself no longer represented me. I am not an anarchist. I did not support the Occupy Wall Street movement. I believe in rules, and that law and order are great things for a civilized society. So, for those of you who think libertarians are anarchists, Occupiers, or are only interested in being a libertarian because of the free marijuana, unlimited abortions and gay marriage, here’s a quick primer.
First and foremost, many libertarians believe the United States Constitution is one of the most perfect documents ever written and government should operate within the parameters spelled out within. If people don’t like the rules, there can be amendments, but until such time, we must operate by the existing rules.
Within the Constitution, we have the framework for a small, limited federal government that respects individual freedoms and liberties, states’ rights, and the free market. All this time, Ron Paul has actually been right: there is no Federal Reserve in the Constitution.
President Ford said, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take everything you have.” We are seeing this play out now. Our government has become Hobbes’s Leviathan, and it is eating everything. Why? Because so many people now turn to the federal government for relief for things that used to be handled at the family, church or local level.
The Founding Fathers advocated a small federal government for a reason — a large federal government is a behemoth with no oversight or accountability. Medicare made over $28 billion in fraudulent payments in 2011, even with their supposed fraud checks in place. Imagine how much more efficiently this could be handled at the lowest level, rather than a centralized bureaucracy, riddled with fraud. Imagine how much more efficiently anything not spelled out as a responsibility of the federal government could be handled at the lowest level. Imagine if we restricted our foreign policy to its Constitutional limits and didn’t employ our military as peacekeepers around the world.
The Tenth Amendment gives the powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution to the states and the people. To conservative libertarians like myself, this means that the federal government has no business overriding the states on issues like abortion, gay marriage, the legalization of marijuana or mandating national healthcare insurance.
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson notes that all men are created equal, and that we are endowed by the Creator with unalienable rights, among those being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Bill of Rights further enumerates these rights, but does not restrict your rights to those specifically listed. As an adult, your liberties are almost boundless, until you come to the infringement or restriction on someone else’s liberties.
This is, in a nutshell, the essence of libertarianism: you’re an adult and you don’t need someone else telling you what to do as long as you’re not engaged in behavior that would harm others. You know better than a bureaucrat in Washington. This is why libertarians can espouse such conservative principles such as being pro-life, yet also be pro-marijuana legalization and pro-gay marriage.
Finally, imagine the American economy without government interference. This is what the free market would look like. Libertarians know names like Mises and Bastiat (and Hayek, too!). They know that once the government begins meddling in something, it inevitably ruins it, and no amount of government can ever truly repair the damage.
Such is the state of the American economy. Think for a moment, about how if government wasn’t propping up green energy, or if it would get out of the way and let American companies drill for oil domestically, how it would then impact our foreign policy and our military spending.
Of course, just as there are nuances among Republicans and Democrats, there are nuances among libertarians. There are certain core principles libertarians agree with, they just argue to the extent. I have pro-choice libertarian friends, for instance. But a true libertarian will not be a socialist, because of the extent to which the government is necessarily involved in the economy then.
Libertarian principles — those espoused not just by Rand Paul, but by Rose Wilder Lane and, yes, even Ron Paul — are going to be critical to the survival of the GOP. It’s time we all learn to work together.
Image: Congressman Ron Paul; author: Bbsrock; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license