On Why I’m a Libertarian

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The current path of our nation is deeply troubling. We now live in an era where civil discourse is no longer civil, and where well-intentioned discussions divide more than they unite. Given this political climate, it is crucial to assess not only our public officials, but ourselves. According to recent Gallup polls, the average gap between the viewpoints of the two dominant parties has increased from 15 percentage points to 36 points. Given this data, we need to reevaluate our political stances, as doing so could change the country’s direction. It is too often nowadays that we are identifying ourselves within a two-party system, creating a polarizing and hostile environment. This is why I believe that we need to establish the Libertarian Party as a significant presence in American politics, as it holds beliefs that embody the mutual interests of the American people.

 

Libertarians, at their core, believe in these fundamental principles: personal and economic liberty, self-responsibility, a free market and a limited government. Self-responsibility entails being held accountable for your own actions and having each person determine what they deem is fit to do with their lives. Libertarians understand that a free market means free people who are allowed to decide how and where they spend their money.

 

On key issues, libertarians run on an agreeable platform: fiscally conservative and socially liberal. At their core, libertarians champion liberty as their guiding principle, which means that they believe in a government that stays out of an individual’s private life. For example, according to the official Libertarian Party website, lp.org, libertarians believe that a person’s identity (sexual, racial or otherwise), should have no impact on how the government treats an individual, and that “consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.” Libertarians call for a government that is limited to core responsibilities, such as a national defense and protecting an individual’s rights to life and property. This also means that the federal government should not spend wastefully, and that federal programs such as welfare and social security should be significantly limited or completely abolished. In the short sense, a libertarian is socially liberal but fiscally conservative.

 

The Libertarian Party is not without its flaws. Some critics of the Libertarian Party argue that the removal of federal programs, such as welfare and social security, would do more harm than good. Although it’s a fair point, we have to acknowledge that, at the very least, we need a way to decrease federal spending on social security and welfare. According to the Pew Research Center, the federal government spends about 65 percent of its budget on social insurance programs, including social security and welfare, yet we only spend three percent on education. Those who favor the government being in charge of social programs may have a tough time with this, but they should also consider that the money we spend on social programs could be better spent on programs such as veteran benefits and education, which don’t get nearly as much funding as they should.

 

The importance of being a libertarian is crucial in 2017. According to the most recent Gallup polls, about 72 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going on in the U.S. Consequently, this means that Americans are seeking viable solutions to change the course of the country. According to the website uselectionatlas.org, the Libertarian presidential nominee for the 2012 and 2016 election years had the most votes out of any third-party candidate. This data shows that there are a growing number of people who support the Libertarian Party and are embracing the idea of libertarian public officials.

 

To be able to consider yourself as a libertarian is to declare that the government and its officials need to change their priorities, and that you are not confined to the two dominant parties in control of the country. As a libertarian, you believe, above all else, that liberty is the right of all people, and that liberty holds an irreplaceable value that is only equal to life or death. Although the issues we face, whether old or new, can never be truly resolved by one party, the Libertarian Party offers the most sensible solutions that bridge the concerns of Republicans and Democrats. This is why I am a libertarian, and why I am a proud member of USF’s own Young Americans for Liberty. If you think you might be a libertarian yourself, I urge you to come to a meeting, or at the very least, examine your own values and beliefs and see if the Libertarian Party is right for you.

 

Paolo Sayas is a freshman politics major.

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