I’ll state up front: I’m an UNAFFILIATED voter. I used to be a Democrat (in spirit) growing up and in college, mostly because that’s what my family was. Then when I actually started earning some money and got more involved with the church (i.e. I went on Sundays), I registered as a Republican. But that didn’t last long either because I wasn’t very happy with the Republican record either, so I registered as “unaffiliated” before the 2004 election. Unaffiliated does not mean Independent. That’s a party, while I’m not in any party.
Since I only seem to consider my political views around election times, I didn’t give a thought to finding a party that stands up for what I believe in. Actually, it’s only recently that I’m learning more about my own beliefs and where I stand on various issues.
As you may have seen in a few of my recent articles, I’m not very happy about our current economic situation. I also question things online and offline such as America’s foreign policy, use of our tax money, and immigration policy. Well, I stumbled onto a third political party that actually seems to agree with how I see many issues.
This is not an endorsement of any political party. Rather, since I’m nervous about electing either of our major party candidates into the White House or congressional seats, I want to offer you a look into an alternate.
Voting for a Minority Party
The first thing I asked when I thought about a third party is “Wouldn’t I just be throwing my vote away?“. Well you can look at it a few ways. First, no vote is a throw-away. I voted Republican in the last presidential election, but I live in Maryland, which is strongly Democrat. You can say that if you’re a Republican in Maryland, or in California, or a Democrat in Texas, that you’re throwing your vote away.
Why even bother to go to the polling station to vote on November 4 when you know your vote won’t help your party or your candidate? Well:
Casting your vote shows that there IS a voice and interest in that party or candidate. If you truly support a candidate, then casting your vote shows them that they didn’t run for nothing. That the party, and even that candidate, should try again. And here’s another reason to vote:
There’s more on the ballot than just the presidential election. While our federal system is f-ed up with this stupid electoral college deal, our local elections aren’t, and that’s where your voice (via your vote) is heard the most. Most states also have important voting items such as allowing slot gambling in-state, or creating a state constitutional ammendment against gay marriage. This isn’t just about the president you know.
Smaller Government, Lower Taxes, More Freedom
You would think that headline should go with the Republican party, right? But with this last administration, we’ve seen our government grow incredibly, while also witnessing our freedom and “natural rights” disappear. I admit that I thought the Patriot Act was right at first because I was afraid of terrorists and wanted them rooted out. But then I learned more about our Bill of Rights and the Constitution and learned why people were up in arms about this bill.
So whose motto is that (the heading up there)? It’s the
The who? What’s a Libertarian? Yeah, I had those same questions, and I’m in the process of finding out more myself, but here’s some basics about the party and their candidate, straight from their website (www.lp.org), with my own emphasis added.
The Libertarian Party is America’s third largest and fastest growing political party. Libertarians engage in a variety of projects, working for everyone’s liberty on every issue.
The Libertarian Party was created in December of 1971 by people who realized that the politicians had strayed from America’s original libertarian foundation, with disastrous results. Their vision was the same as that of America’s founders — a world where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, a world of peace, harmony, opportunity, and abundance.
Libertarians are practical; we know we can’t make the world perfect. But, it can be better. Libertarians will keep working to create a better, freer society for everyone. As William Allen White said: “Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others.”
- Substantially reduce the size and intrusiveness of government and cut all taxes.
- Let peaceful, honest people offer their goods and services to willing consumers without a hassle from government.
- Let peaceful, honest people decide for themselves what to eat, drink, read, or smoke and how to dress, medicate themselves, or make love, without fear of criminal penalties.
- The U.S. government should defend Americans and their property in America and let the U.S. taxpayer off the hook for the defense bill of wealthy countries like Germany and Japan.
Libertarians believe in the American heritage of liberty, enterprise, and personal responsibility. Libertarians recognize the responsibility we all share to preserve this precious heritage for our children and grandchildren.
Libertarians believe that being free and independent is a great way to live. We want a system which encourages all people to choose what they want from life; that lets them live, love, work, play, and dream their own way.
The Libertarian way is a logically consistent approach to politics based on the moral principle of self-ownership. Each individual has the right to control his or her own body, action, speech, and property. Government’s only role is to help individuals defend themselves from force and fraud.
The Libertarian Party is for all who don’t want to push other people around and don’t want to be pushed around themselves. Live and let live is the Libertarian way.
Libertarians and Today’s Issues
So from those snippets of information, I originally thought “hmm, interesting, but are these people just gun-toting anti-government crazies or do they really stand for something reasonable?”. Luckily that have more detailed information on many of the big hot-button topics of today. The emphasis is not my own (it’s from their website):
The Libertarian Party is working every day to cut your taxes. By contrast, professional politicians from the other parties just want more of your money, and are busy increasing the size of government.
With less government and lower taxes, you could keep more of what you earn. It would be easier to start new businesses, build new homes, and fuel stronger economic growth.
Just Defend Our Rights
Libertarians believe that if government’s role were limited to protecting our lives, rights and property, then America would prosper and thrive as never before. Then the federal government could concentrate on protecting our Constitutional rights and defending us from foreign attack. A federal government that did only those two things, could do them better and at a small fraction of the cost.
How Can We Cut Taxes?
Instead of tending to the basics, government has grown into a bloated conglomerate of political services that gets larger every year — with no end in sight. For example, politicians spend millions of dollars to urge people not to smoke — while spending more millions to subsidize tobacco farmers. They send billions overseas for foreign aid — while the federal deficit swells. They spend millions to subsidize public art — while working families struggle to pay their taxes.
Politicians also run trains, bail out savings and loans, construct houses, sell insurance, print books, and build basketball courts — you name it! But the fact is, every service supplied by the government can be provided better and cheaper by private business.
Privatize And Cut Taxes
All over the world, governments are busy selling airlines, power plants, housing, and factories to private owners. Where inefficient government bureaucrats lost money and squandered tax dollars, hard-working private owners now make profits and create new jobs. Why can’t we do the same thing in America?
Defend America: Cut Taxes
Military expenses are over $250 billion a year! A large percentage of this is spent overseas to defend wealthy countries like Germany and Japan — who then wallop us in international trade. Let’s take them off military welfare. We can defend America better and save at least $100 billion a year in taxes.
Stop Bailing Out Industry
No one has the right to cover his losses at taxpayer expense — and yet wealthy corporations demand exactly that. The federal government has bailed out railroads, banks, and other corporations with your tax dollars. This must stop!
Replace Welfare: Cut Taxes
The bulk of your welfare tax dollars goes to pay the handsome salaries of well-educated welfare workers. The poor get little from government welfare except meager handouts and a cycle of despair. Let’s get government out of the charity business. Private charities and groups do a better and more efficient job of helping the truly needy get back on their feet.
Why An Income Tax?
Before 1913, federal income taxes were rare and short-lived. America became the most prosperous nation on earth. The U.S. Government did not try to police the world or play “nanny” to everyone from cradle to grave. People took responsibility for themselves, their families, and their communities. That is how the founders of America thought it should be. And it worked. It can again!
Securing Your Retirement
Politicians in Washington are stealing your future. Every year, they take 12.4% of your income to prop up their failed Social Security system – a system that is heading toward bankruptcy.
If you are an American earning the median income of $31,695 per year, and were given the option of investing that same amount of money in a stock mutual fund, you would retire a millionaire – without winning the lottery or a TV game show. That million dollars would provide you with a retirement income of over $100,000 per year – about five times what you could expect from Social Security. Even a very conservative investment strategy would yield three times the benefits promised by Social Security.
Libertarians believe you should be able to opt out of Social Security and invest your money in your own personal retirement account. An account that you own and control – one that politicians can’t get their hands on.
Republicans and Democrats say it can’t be done – that your Social Security taxes are needed to pay benefits to today’s retirees. Instead of letting you invest in your own future, they want you to have faith that someone else will pay your benefits when it comes time for you to retire.
Although most won’t admit it publicly, their “solutions” to the Social Security crises all come down to some combination of tax increases and benefit cuts. Libertarians know that there’s a better way.
Countries like Chile, Mexico, Britain, and Australia have successfully made the transition from their failed Social Security systems to healthy systems based on individual retirement accounts. In Chile, over 90% of workers have opted out of the government-run system. It’s time America did as well.
The federal government owns assets worth trillions of dollars – assets that it simply doesn’t need to perform its Constitutional functions. By selling those assets over time, we can keep the promises that were made to today’s retirees, and to those nearing retirement, while freeing the rest of America from a failed Social Security system.
Libertarians will introduce and support legislation to give you that choice, and put you in control of your own retirement future.
From across the political and ideological spectrum, there is now almost universal acknowledgement that the American social welfare system has been a failure.
Since the start of the “war on poverty” in 1965, the United States has spent more than $5 trillion trying to ease the plight of the poor. What we have received for this massive investment is — primarily — more poverty.
Our welfare system is unfair to everyone: to taxpayers who must pick up the bill for failed programs; to society, whose mediating institutions of community, church and family are increasingly pushed aside; and most of all to the poor themselves, who are trapped in a system that destroys opportunity for themselves and hope for their children.
The Libertarian Party believes it is time for a new approach to fighting poverty. It is a program based on opportunity, work, and individual responsibility.
1. End Welfare
None of the proposals currently being advanced by either conservatives or liberals is likely to fix the fundamental problems with our welfare system. Current proposals for welfare reform, including block grants, job training, and “workfare” represent mere tinkering with a failed system.
It is time to recognize that welfare cannot be reformed: it should be ended.
We should eliminate the entire social welfare system. This includes eliminating AFDC, food stamps, subsidized housing, and all the rest. Individuals who are unable to fully support themselves and their families through the job market must, once again, learn to rely on supportive family, church, community, or private charity to bridge the gap.
2. Establish a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions to private charity
If the federal government’s attempt at charity has been a dismal failure, private efforts have been much more successful. America is the most generous nation on earth. We already contribute more than $125 billion annually to charity. However, as we phase out inefficient government welfare, private charities must be able to step up and fill the void.
To help facilitate this transfer of responsibility from government welfare to private charity, the federal government should offer a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for contributions to private charities that provide social-welfare services. That is to say, if an individual gives a dollar to charity, he should be able to reduce his tax liability by a dollar.
3. Tear down barriers to entrepreneurism and economic growth
Almost everyone agrees that a job is better than any welfare program. Yet for years this country has pursued tax and regulatory policies that seem perversely designed to discourage economic growth and reduce entrepreneurial opportunities. Someone starting a business today needs a battery of lawyers just to comply with the myriad of government regulations from a virtual alphabet soup of government agencies: OSHA, EPA, FTC, CPSC, etc. Zoning and occupational licensing laws are particularly damaging to the type of small businesses that may help people work their way out of poverty.
In addition, government regulations such as minimum wage laws and mandated benefits drive up the cost of employing additional workers. We call for the repeal of government regulations and taxes that are steadily cutting the bottom rungs off the economic ladder.
4. Reform education
There can be no serious attempt to solve the problem of poverty in America without addressing our failed government-run school system. Nearly forty years after Brown vs. Board of Education, America’s schools are becoming increasingly segregated, not on the basis of race, but on income. Wealthy and middle class parents are able to send their children to private schools, or at least move to a district with better public schools. Poor families are trapped — forced to send their children to a public school system that fails to educate.
It is time to break up the public education monopoly and give all parents the right to decide what school their children will attend. It is essential to restore choice and the discipline of the marketplace to education. Only a free market in education will provide the improvement in education necessary to enable millions of Americans to escape poverty.
We should not pretend that reforming our welfare system will be easy or painless. In particular it will be difficult for those people who currently use welfare the way it was intended — as a temporary support mechanism during hard times. However, these people remain on welfare for short periods of time. A compassionate society will find other ways to help people who need temporary assistance. But our current government-run welfare system is costly to taxpayers and cruel to the children born into a cycle of welfare dependency and hopelessness.
The Libertarian Party offers a positive alternative to the failed welfare state. We offer a vision of a society based on work, individual responsibility, and private charity. It is a society based on opportunity and genuine compassion It is a society built on liberty.
How do I feel about the Libertarian Party
I liked what I read, but I needed to learn more because these are pretty big changes compared to our current economy and culture. While we all seem to expect civil liberties and freedom to do as we wish, but with the protection offered by the government, we (myself included) tend to balk at the idea of letting private industry, or my fellow men and women, be given so much responsibility in our country’s growth and safety. But is that the right way to think?
I’ve stated through this site, before I even knew about the Libertarian Party, that I think welfare just enables the poor to stay poor. I’ve also stated that our citizens need to be more responsible and accountable for their actions and decisions. I know there’s certainly good affects in my own life regarding social security, medicare, and medicaid because it helps my grandma. But I also see she has no incentive to do much more than sit on the couch and watch TV. She’s wasting away mentally because she has no reason to get outside and stay active. There’s more to the story, but I’m using it to illustrate the good and bad of social security.
So who is their candidate?
Libertarian Party Candidate 2008: Bob Barr
Ok, at least I’ve heard of Bob Barr before, but where? Bob Barr was formerly a Republican representative from Georgia from 1995-2003. He has switched to the Libertarian Party for the same reason that you or I might switch: he wanted more than what the two major parties offered. While he held Republican viewpoints, he didn’t agree with how his party was acting and was recruited to the Libertarian cause.
He has come out against and apologized for some of his former votes, such as for the Defense of Marriage Act, the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq and a number of other decisions because he was “standing by his party”. I can identify with this “flip-flopping” because as more comes to light about a situation, you can make a more informed decision about it. At the time, you can only work with what you have. Granted, the “flip-flopping” was the main reason I voted against John Kerry in 2004.
I do like much of what I read about the Libertarian Party, so I watched a number of clips on YouTube from Bob Barr. I invite you to do the same to see what you think of the man and the party.
While I still need to read more about my various choices for this election, on the federal, state and local levels, I’m surprised that I didn’t know about the Libertarian Party before. Knowing my slow progression from liberal to conservative and now to the middle, I might not have been very receptive to the ideals of the Libertarians until now anyway.
Now that I’m seeing the effects of government intervention in my life more directly, I’m not liking it. I’m seriously worried that there’s absolutely no oversight into how my tax money is being spent, or whether I ever see its effects. I thought the Republicans were against big government, but apparently I was wrong. I like that the Democrats are for social justice and liberty, but they’re helping to kill our future economy along with the Republicans. I don’t like either party’s candidate’s credentials much.
So now I have another option, so I thought I should let you know too. See what you think for yourself and feel free to let me know.