Frequently Asked Questions

Ask a new question
Cancel
Basic FAQ
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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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

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!

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!

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. 

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.

The Libertarian Philosophy
In a nutshell, the Libertarian Philosophy is simply: “Live and Let Live”

It is exactly the philosophy our founding fathers espoused in the Declaration of Independence and implemented in the US Constitution (including amendments, of course).

If you understand and like these two documents, you pretty much are a Libertarian!

“Live and Let Live” More Fully Defined

The freedom each individual enjoys should be maximized; that is, an individual is free to do anything s/he pleases, as long as it does not materially infringe upon the equal rights of other individuals. 

Along with great freedom comes great responsibility: if an individual does infringe upon the rights of others, s/he will be held personally accountable

Social and Economic Liberties

Individuals are free to engage in whatever social behaviors they wish without interference. 

On the “flip side,” no one may impose his or her preferred behaviors (religion, morals, opinions, etc.) upon someone else. 
Economic freedom means the right to own private property, the right to keep the fruits of one’s labor and the right to freely trade goods and services (which is the free market system).

An Important Distinction

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 would not dream of doing yourself, but they must be allowed as long as they do not materially affect other people in any adverse way.

Separation Of Church And State

Libertarians insist upon strict separation of church and state (as built into the Constitution by our founding fathers). 

"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say that there are 20 gods or no God" – Thomas Jefferson 

Libertarians occasionally are accused of advocating atheism, but this is absolutely not the case. They neither advocate nor disparage any particular religion and strongly defend the freedom to practice any religion or no religion.

The Libertarian Pledge – Minimize the Use of Force

As a principle of Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism,” she stated (circa 1955) that the only justification for the use of force is as a response to a prior initiation of force. 

Libertarians take the following similar pledge:
“I certify that I do not advocate the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.” 

This means that Libertarians are very peaceful, unless attacked (in which case they are definitely NOT pacifists and will defend themselves).

Laws Are Force

Laws are a use of force (via their enforcement agents). Laws must only do one of two things:

  • Punish the prior initiation of force (e.g., murder, kidnapping)
  • Prohibit actions by individuals which obviously would materially infringe upon the equal rights of other individuals (e.g., theft, fraud, breach of contract); this balance must be drawn very carefully.
Government

Individuals have original power (inalienable rights, etc.).

Individuals got together and agreed to form a U.S. government and delegate to it certain very limited powers (defined in the Constitution).

But individuals are still sovereign, NOT the state. As Jefferson put it, people should not fear the government, the government should fear the people.

The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect individual liberties

  • Provide for common defense against external enemies
  • Keep individuals from stepping on each others’ toes
  • Guarantee equal protection/treatment under the law
  • Do these things at minimum cost (lowest possible taxes)
Oops, Too Much Government !

Our founding fathers warned that governments have a very strong tendency to grow uncontrollably in both size and power.

When government grows, individual liberties inevitably are proportionately reduced:

  • Tons of laws and regulations with unbelievable complexity
  • Onerous confiscation of wealth through taxes, eminent domain and inflation
  • Invasion of privacy / spying (in the name of “protection”)

This has already happened big time. Our government is way overstepping its Constitutional limits. This must be reversed before it is too late. The Constitution must be heeded.

Why Governments Do Not Spend Wisely

It is not that government spending does no good at all. Sometimes it doesn’t, but sometimes it does. 

However, a government does not produce any wealth and can only spend what it confiscates from its citizens. 

The negative effects of forcibly removing this wealth from the private sector must be considered (but never are). The same amount spent privately almost always produces more benefits than when spent by the government. 

Wise (efficient) spending is when you buy something for yourself with your own money. Contrast that with 536 politicians spending your money to buy something for somebody else!

A Big Reason Why Government Must Be Kept Very Small

Individuals and businesses operating under the free market system cannot consume more wealth than they produce or they will lose money and automatically be forced out of existence. 

Governments do not have to make a profit and are not subject to the self-correcting controls of the free market system. No matter how wasteful they are, they can (and do) simply confiscate more wealth by raising taxes. They never go out of business!

Logically Consistent

Libertarian positions are based on solid principle and logic; there is nothing that requires any “great leap of faith.” Everything flows logically from the principle of maximizing and protecting liberty in accordance with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The result is that Libertarians cannot be neatly labeled “left,” “right,” “liberal” or “conservative.” They consistently advocate both economic and social liberty!

Help-Board
Create membership for a person with no record in our database in CiviCRM
  1. In the CiviCRM Component, you should verify that the record doesn't exist as you will get an error in the next step if you try to create a record with the same email address. Go to Search then find Contacts. Search on last name and/or email address to find their record. Assuming  you don't find it, go to Step 2. If you do find a record follow the procedures describing how to add or update a membership for an existing record.
  2. Go to Contacts (next to Search at the top of the Civi screen) and select New Individual. Complete all relevant information. Address information is below in a separate group. Be sure to select County as this is obscured until you click on the Address block. Once complete, save the record using the button at the top or bottom and you will be presented with record to which you can now add a membership record.
  3. Click on the Memberships tab, then the Add Membership button. Select the membership type (Member, Subscriber, etc); indicate some informative description is source e.g. 'Convention'. Put in the date of the membership as the Start Date. You can leave End Date blank as the system will calculate that.
  4. Click the box for Record Membership Payment. Select type (Member Dues); correct the date if necessary; indicate whether paid by check, cash, etc and indicate the check number if appropriate. Note that it is assumed if they are going to pay by credit card, they or you will use the front end Join form to do so not doing it here.
  5. Check to send a receipt to the member if you want this done.
  6. Click on Save at the bottom of the screen and they will be added immediately as a new member.
Create membership for a person with an existing record in our database but with no existing (expired) membership record in CiviCRM
  1. In the CiviCRM Component, you first need to find the record you want to update. Go to Search then find Contacts. Search on last name and/or email address to find their record. If you don't find it you should follow the procedure describing how to add or update a membership for an new record not in our database.
  2. Click on the appropriate record you wish to update. You will be presented with the record details to which you can now add a membership record.
  3. Click on the Memberships tab, then Add Membership. Select the membership type (Member, Subscriber, etc); indicate some informative description is source e.g. 'Convention'. Put in the date of the membership as the Start Date. You can leave End Date blank as the system will calculate that.
  4. Click the box for Record Membership Payment. Select type (Member Dues); correct the date if necessary; indicate whether paid by check, cash, etc and indicate the check number if appropriate. Note that it is assumed if they are going to pay by credit card, they or you will use the front end Join form to do so not doing it here.
  5. Check to send a receipt to the member if you want this done. Insure that the Payment Status is marked Completed but it should default to that.
  6. Click on Save at the bottom of the screen and they will be added immediately as a new member.
Create membership for a person with an existing record in our database and with an existing but expired membership record in CiviCRM
  1. In the CiviCRM Component, you first need to find the record you want to update. Go to Search then find Contacts. Search on last name and/or email address to find their record.
  2. Click on the appropriate record you wish to update. You will be presented with record to which you can nowupdate  a membership record.
  3. Click on the Memberships tab, then for the Membership you wish to update (there should only be one), cliik on the Edit link. The member type should already be selected and an old Start and End date should exist.  Indicate some informative description is source e.g. 'Convention'. Put in the date of the new current membership as the Start Date. The End Date should be completed as one year less a day from the start date (e.g, with a start date of 3/21/2016 the end date should be 3/20/2017).
  4. Click the box for Record Membership Payment. Select type (Member Dues); correct the date if necessary; indicate whether paid by check, cash, etc and indicate the check number if appropriate. Note that it is assumed if they are going to pay by credit card, they or you will use the front end Join form to do so not doing it here.
  5. Check to send a receipt to the member if you want this done. Insure that the Payment Status is marked Completed but it should default to that.
  6. Click on Save at the bottom of the screen and they will be added immediately as a new member.
Why do I get an error message when I log out of the web site front end?

In order to log out properly, you must first go to the home page, then click on the logout button.