Just What the Heck is a Libertarian Anyway?

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As the Vice President of the Libertarian club here on the college campus, what I’ve noticed about the Libertarian Club is that there are a lot of diverse opinions in it.

There isn’t one straight-forward way that one has to be in order to be a Libertarian. I’ve asked people around our club as to what they think being a Libertarian is, or why they’ve come to the club and think the way that they do.

Despite the stereotypes of the mainstream media that paint Libertarians as a radical group that worships the U.S. Constitution of 1787 and that always takes part within all the militia groups, libertarians are actually reasonable people who have justifications for their beliefs rather than being against African Americans or the poor. We have anarchists, Democrats, Republicans, and civil-Libertarians in the club here.

As for me, I am an individual anarchist. I believe that government is wrong and immoral. I think that it takes power away from the people and that people need to have the power to do what they want to do. I want to maximize individual liberty and lift the restraints on society by the government. In my view, the government is involved in big business too often and if it were to stop we would have a much more free market than the one that we have today.

Senior Ross Feinberg tells people that he is a civil-Libertarian because he believes in social programs but deep down he is a full-blown anarchist.

“I hate people telling me what to do, and often times that is what the government does.” says Ross Feinberg. In a perfect society he says that we wouldn’t need government and that’s why he doesn’t like the idea of government. He says that Scott Camuto, the President of the Libertarian Club, got him interested in politics and he is the only Republican that he trusts.

We also have people who have political opinions that would be considered far from the norm in any normal political orientation. Wesley Rian, for instance, says that he is a believer in decentralization. Some people want for the government to be smaller and for it to be done on a local level. The belief behind this philosophy is that if things were more community oriented the people that are in charge would be able to be more responsive to the people.

“Conservative decentralism. Like everyone who isn’t an anarchist or a True Believer is some political messiah (Mussolini, Hitler, Obama, Ron Paul, etc.). I don’t trust anyone, but I differ from the mainstream in also not trusting groups of people. In practice, this means that I consider the primary role of governments to be regulating other powerful groups of people (read: corporations), and I prefer to have both of those groups as small and localized as possible, so that they are more easily held accountable and their inevitable mistakes are more easily dealt with,” says Rian.

The Libertarian party is different from the Republican party and is a separate, distinct group. They believe in negative liberties and they believe in fiscal responsibilities. The Libertarian ideology also is very diverse which might be why the Libertarian party has trouble organizing on a national level during election season.

Scott Camuto is the only Republican of the Libertarian club and the head of the college Republican Club as well. Scott doesn’t believe that the government should interfere with moral values and he thinks that they shouldn’t interfere with the economy at all. He also believes that there are few Libertarians in the Republican party, Ron Paul being one of them.

Republicans are more likely to argue in favor of programs like indefinite detention and tax collections. He says most Libertarians believe in “negative liberty” which are natural rights. But, they fall short in economic rights. He thinks that you have to be both a Republican and a Libertarian, and vice-versa, not just one or the other. The government is supposed to only have a very limited role here.

Scott isn’t saying necessarily that one has to be a Republican in order to be a Libertarian, but, that if you were a true Republican and you believed in the maximization of individual liberties, than you would be a Libertarian.

“I consider myself to be a minarchist-one who believes that the state has the legitimate role of protecting of protecting individuals from harm by other individuals or by a foreign threat. Any other role of government is an unacceptable intrusion in a person’s daily affairs,” says Scott.

As you can see, the libertarian ideology is far more diverse than most people think it is. Republicanism usually only has four different types of people in it: neoconservatism, the religious right, social conservatives and fiscal conservatives. The Libertarian party, however has a lot of different philosophies.

Usually the one thing that people are able to find common ground within Libertarianism is that they don’t like the role of the government and they think that what the government is doing is different from what it should be.