Frequently Asked Questions

Are libertarians liberal or conservative?

Libertarians are neither, and yet in some ways, libertarians are both! Libertarians tend to be liberal on social issues and conservative on economic issues. They advocate a high degree of individual liberty and responsibility in both the social and economic areas. On the personal or social liberty side, libertarians say that people (or groups or governments) do not have any right to restrict what other people may do as long as the equal rights of others are not being violated. Economic liberty is severely reduced when governments confiscate a large chunk of what people have earned for themselves, and when governments attempt to micromanageage the economy with myriads of complex (and frequently conflicting) laws, regulations, taxes, subsidies and bureaucracies. In both areas, we need much smaller, less intrusive government and simpler, lower taxes. Think of libertarians as people who practice a live and let live policy and are fiscally responsible!

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Why waste my vote on Libertarian candidates?

If you want smaller less intrusive government and lower taxes, you are wasting your vote if you don't support Libertarian candidates. Libertarians consistently adhere to the fundamental principles of our country's founding fathers and our Constitution. These are the principles that made our country great. The serious problems we are now experiencing are escalating because these principles are being abandoned. Republicans and Democrats do not adhere to any principles (unless you consider increasing their power a principle). They say whatever they think will get them elected, but once in office, they do whatever they like; and this always results in growth of government power, intrusiveness, corruption and waste. A vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil. Historical evidence over the past fifty years reveals that there so little difference between what Ds and Rs do when in office that we effectively have only a one-party system. So, if you think about it, you are really wasting your vote if you vote for Rs and Ds (except for the precious few who do have some reasonable principles). Think how much better you will feel voting for principled candidates who mean what they say and who will uphold their oath of office.

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Aren't all libertarians atheists?

Absolutely not. There are libertarians of all religious stripes. Religion is a private matter completely up to the individual. Libertarians strongly support freedom of religion. Consistent with both religious freedom and our Constitution, libertarians also insist on separation of church and state.

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Why would I want to register Libertarian and not be able to vote in (D or R) primary elections?

The most important thing is to be a libertarian in philosophy, and to actively support and vote for libertarian candidates. The second most important thing is to actively support the Libertarian Party by contributing and/or volunteering. Registering to vote as Libertarian certainly does help the LP increase its political clout and gain media coverage. However, some libertarians do register with other parties in special cases where one party substantially always wins general elections and there is some value in voting in that party's primary. That value needs to be weighed carefully against the obvious benefits of registering Libertarian.

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How do Libertarians differ from Republicans?

Libertarian positions always have a solid foundation based on fundamental principle and logic. Libertarians say what they mean and mean what they say. Their behavior in office is entirely consistent with their campaign statements. The Republican Party is an awful mess. Their members range from very conservative to quite liberal, and there are even a few libertarians in the mix. Republicans adhere to no comprehensive, clearly stated philosophy and principles. In general, Republicans advocate fiscal responsibility and Libertarians definitely agree with that. However, Republicans are quite willing to use government force to impose their religious and/or moral code on everyone else. Libertarians advocate a voluntary society and say that force must never be used to achieve social or political goals.

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How do libertarians differ from Democrats?

Libertarian positions always have a solid foundation based on fundamental principle and logic. Libertarians say what they mean and mean what they say. Their behavior in office is entirely consistent with their campaign statements. The Democrats are a mess. Their members range from extremely liberal to moderately conservative, and there are even a few libertarians in the mix. Democrats adhere to no comprehensive, clearly stated philosophy and principles. In general, Democrats tend to advocate more social freedom than Republicans; libertarians agree with that concept, but feel Democrats depart from it in too many cases. However, the huge problem libertarians have with Democrats is their penchant for meddling with (and screwing up) the free market, and their willingness use the force of government to take what people have earned and give it to those who have not earned it (including their political cronies). Libertarians advocate a voluntary society and say that force must never be used to achieve social or political goals.

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How do libertarians differ from conservatives?

Conservatives advocate fiscal responsibility and say they want smaller government; libertarians concur with that. Most conservatives insist that the Constitution should be strictly interpreted and obeyed as the supreme law of the land that it is; libertarians heartily concur. However, conservatives have no compunction about imposing their religious and moral beliefs upon everyone by the force of law; that is where libertarians part company with conservatives. Libertarians advocate a voluntary society and say that force must never be used to achieve social or political goals.

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How do libertarians differ from liberals?

Liberals generally advocate a reasonable degree of freedom in social/personal matters; libertarians concur with that. Liberals believe the Constitution should be "liberally" interpreted (twisted to fit whatever they would like to do); libertarians abhor that and insist upon a strict interpretation and the rule of law. Liberals favor a huge state, confiscatory taxation and liberal use of government force to achieve their ends; this is where libertarians really part company with liberals. Libertarians advocate a voluntary society and say that force must never be used to achieve social or political goals.

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Aren't libertarians extremists?

Nope, libertarians are just normal real people. They do, however, strongly agree with the concepts and principles espoused by the founding fathers of this country. These principles are timeless and are embodied in what was and still is a ground-breaking document, The Constitution of The United States of America. Their worth has been very clearly demonstrated in comparison with any other form of government in the world. The founding fathers recognized that governments have an extremely strong tendency to grow uncontrollably, so a primary function of the Constitution is to protect individual liberty by strictly limiting the powers of the government. Our Constitution is the supreme law of the land and, as such, it ought to be strictly obeyed, as every elected official is sworn to do. To make exceptions to its protections is to step out onto the slippery slope upon which our country has slid to its present deplorable position. So, when we are talking about important basic principles, it's not a bad idea to stick to them extremely closely. One could say that extremism in the defense of liberty is a pretty good thing. On the other hand, moderation in the pursuit of justice is not a very good idea at all. As another example, would you rather deal with an extremely honest person, or a moderately honest one?

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Are libertarians anarchists?

No. Libertarians want a strong, but very small and strictly limited, central government much like that defined in the U.S. Constitution by our founding fathers. Think for a moment about the nature of any government. It is force; pure force and nothing else. Governments pass laws. Laws are force; they are enforced, ultimately by pointing guns at those who disobey. As George Washington put it, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." Libertarians say that force must not be used to achieve political or social goals. That means that the only appropriate laws do one or the other of just two things: 1) they punish those who have initiated the use of force against others (e.g., murder, assault, etc.); or 2) they prohibit or limit actions by people that clearly would infringe upon the equal rights of others (e.g., fraud or breach of contract, generating pollution that fouls another's property, etc.). Libertarians definitely support strong laws and enforcement in these two areas because they protect peoples rights. On the other hand, libertarians strongly oppose any laws aimed at political or social goals because they unjustifiably restrict people's freedom. Unfortunately, there are tons of laws restricting freedoms that need to be repealed. Many people are wrongfully incarcerated for victimless "crimes." The myriad of laws that tinker with and disrupt the operation of the free market economy are especially insidious. "Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others." Ayn Rand

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What will happen to the less fortunate when our government is reigned in to its Constitutional limits?

Substantially all of them will be just fine and will almost certainly fare better than they do now under our nanny state. Governments currently confiscate about a third of what Americans earn. Yet voluntary private charity is surprisingly alive and well. Americans willingly contribute to all manner of causes from the resources they have left. There can be little doubt that private charity would more than make up for the loss of government welfare if, say, 5% of earnings were confiscated instead of 33%. Not only would people be much more able to contribute, they would be more inclined to do so, knowing that they can't slough off onto the government something that really should be a personal responsibility. More importantly, government confiscation of wealth combined with its complex thicket of regulations and subsidies is a severe drag on economic growth. The free market would explode with growth rates double or triple the 2% to 5% per year growth that our economy now struggles to achieve. A rising tide floats all boats, so people of all income levels would enjoy increasing standards of living that would quickly outstrip any affordable welfare program. Most importantly and apart from the practical benefits, replacing government force with voluntary charity and the voluntary free market is morally correct and results in a more civil society. No one has a right to forcibly take what you earn and give it to someone who did not earn it. A gang of people does not have the right to do so either. A gang of people hiding behind a government still does not have such a right!

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Why is the free market the only economic system consistent with libertarianism?

The free market system is the only economic system that is completely voluntary and does not involve the use of any force. It is the kind of economy that arises spontaneously when people are free, honest and peaceful. At the heart of the free market system is the voluntary exchange; actually, billions of them happening every day. Something almost magical happens each time a voluntary exchange occurs: value or wealth is created. Suppose you exchange $100 of your hard-earned money for, say, some clothing. Obviously, you valued the clothing at more than $100 or you would not have made the exchange. Similarly, the previous owner of the clothing valued it at less than $100 or s/he would not have agreed to the exchange. Note that both parties to a voluntary exchange come out ahead; this is guaranteed, but it is only guaranteed when the exchange is completely voluntary on both sides. Thus, a $100 voluntary exchange satisfies more than $100 of wants. All economic systems other than the free market involve force, nearly always government force. Not only is the free market the fairest system, but it has clearly demonstrated that it is by far the most powerful engine of wealth creation. The free market system harnesses natural and normal rational self-interest to most efficiently satisfy everybody's wants. The way you improve your situation and get ahead in a free market economy is to do a good job of satisfying other people's wants!

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What about morality in a libertarian world?

Morality, like religion, is a personal thing. Most religions define or include a closely-coupled moral code. However, it is entirely possible to derive a perfectly fine moral code completely independent of any religion as Ayn Rand has done. Many such moral codes are similar, but they definitely are not all the same and sometimes they have big, glaring differences. Libertarians fiercely defend anyone's right to practice and preach any moral code they like, so long as they do not force their moral code upon anyone else. Remember, the core of libertarianism is that force must not be used to achieve political or social goals! Libertarians want a free, open and voluntary society where people may do whatever they like as long as they do not materially infringe upon anyone else's equal rights. Just because you agree that individuals are free to engage in any behavior that does not infringe upon others does not mean that you approve of all of them. There are many behaviors that you may even find objectionable and wouldn't dream of doing yourself, but they must be allowed as long as they do not adversely affect others in any material way. 

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What Can I Do To Help

 All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.“ Thomas Jefferson Tyranny has already gained a big foothold, so it is very important to do something! Available time, financial resources and talents vary widely from person to person, but there is no doubt that there are significant things that you can do which fit your abilities. Here is a partial list of possibilities: Practice and preach libertarian philosophy. Your LP organization can help you with materials and training on the most effective ways to spread the word. Comment on current events from a libertarian perspective. Wear libertarian apparel. Display libertarian bumper stickers. (See LP Stuff on www.LP.org.) Support and vote for Libertarian Party candidates and the candidates of any party if they truly embrace libertarian principles. Don't waste your vote on the "Demopublicans." There is not a dime's worth of difference between what most D and R candidates will do after elected. Support the local, state and national LP organizations financially to the extent of your ability to do so. Volunteer your time to work for the local and state LP organizations they will be delighted to have you whatever your abilities or background. They will show you how you can help on a committee that fits your talents or just working in your neighborhood. Change your voter registration to Libertarian to send a powerful message that you stand for the principles this country was founded upon. As a Libertarian Party candidate, run for any office for which you may be qualified.

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