How I Became a Libertarian

 

Since we just launched this podcast, and we want people to get to know us, I thought I’d do a post about my trek toward libertarianism. It’s a bit of a schizophrenic journey, but in order for you to understand where I’m coming from, I want to lay it out for you. Maybe your story is similar. Maybe you’ll gleam some kind of inspiration that no matter how entrenched you think you are, or need to be, in one of the two major parties, there is an awakening that’s possible within each of us. A realization that we are worthy of a life that’s unfettered by a small group of narcissistic ruling elites. My eyes have been open, but it took a while.

The Cliché College Liberal
Yep. I’m not proud of it, but in college, I was your typical liberal. Well… typical in 1991 standards. Today’s liberals have seemed to have collectively dropped a really bad batch of acid and now advocate policies that would have made the liberals of the early 90s cringe.

When I was a freshman and sophomore, I was pro-choice, believed that welfare was necessary to help the poor, thought the government needed to do something about healthcare, etc. I even voted for Bill Clinton because of his charismatic charm and seemingly optimistic view of society. But I realize now… I knew nothing about the world.

Luckily, my father was a staunch Republican and a pretty learned expert in economics. He even taught a college night course in economics for a brief period. So while I was liberal, there was that part of me that thought, “Yes. We need welfare, but people on it should do everything they can to get off it ASAP.” I kept noticing that other Democrats were constantly bucking responsibility on behalf of the poor, minorities, etc. In their minds, there was very little responsibility for these people to bear. The wrongs inflicted by society were too great to overcome and we owed it to provide for them as a society.

As time went on, that viewpoint wore very thin.

I remember that Clinton was big on his universal healthcare policy, and I remarked to my dad, “Well, I guess healthcare shouldn’t be free… I just wish it didn’t have to cost so much.” To which he responded, “Well, how much SHOULD it cost?” That was a pivotal moment because I realized I really didn’t understand why healthcare, or anything for that matter, was expensive or cost what it did, and how other factors might be at play. It was at that point I became more interested in economics, and luckily, my father had a lot of reading material for me.

A Republican is Born
After reading more about economics, I kind of had a religious awakening. I realized economics was pretty much THE important issue. If we screwed up the economy, all these other issues – abortion, gay marriage, etc. – are arbitrary. When you can’t put food on the table, whether a transgender person can use their bathroom of choice seems hardly worth your consideration.

Now I was a Republican and extremely anti-Clinton. However, there was always something about the Republican Party that irked me. This was the time of the evangelicals who ran the party, so there was a lot of talk about abortion, etc. Although I was a Republican, I was still pro-choice. I just felt no one had the right to tell a person what he/she should do with his/her body. But again, economics was my primary issue, so I didn’t put as much emphasis on social issues.

Libertarian-Leaning
As the ‘96 election drew closer, the Republicans were failing to really speak to me. Bob Dole was the presidential candidate, and he was hardly inspiring the political warrior in me.

I remember watching Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher one night, when he referred to himself as a libertarian. I think it happened to be the same year that Howard Stern ran for governor of New York as a libertarian. So I looked into the party. From what I gathered, they were fiscally conservative, and socially liberal. Boom! That was me! I realized then, even at a very basic level, I was a libertarian.

I did not vote for Dole and instead voted for Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party candidate. I had no idea who he was, and now that I do, I wish I paid more attention to him. But at that point, I just wanted to vote the way I thought best represented me.

A Wrong Turn… WAY Wrong
By 2000, I was still a libertarian in the “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” sense. But looking back, I was more anti-Democrat and willing to vote in any way I thought would keep them from bring down the country further. Remember that in 1994, the Republicans had won both the House and Senate, and they even got Clinton to sign off on welfare reform. Plus there was a balanced budget by the beginning of the new century.

George W. Bush ran for president that year. I didn’t know much about Bush, and I didn’t really watch the debates closely. All I knew is that this was an opportunity to get a Republican president, Congress, and Senate. So I abandoned the Libertarian Party and voted for W.  I thought, “This is it. Now we’re going to undo the damage the Democrats have done over the past several decades!”

Oy.

I don’t need to tell you that is NOT what happened! While I was still a loyal Republican for the first few years – I regrettably supported the Iraq war because the news propaganda convinced me that Saddam Hussein was a legitimate threat and probably was in on 9/11 – I became more wary of Bush as he passed farm subsidies and expanded Medicare, among other things. The man continued to do what he could to grow government.

I’d say it was about 2005 when I really started getting fed up. By the time of the financial crash of 2007-08, and the bailout of the big banks, I’d had enough. I knew it was time to reconnect with my libertarian nature.

I began going to local Libertarian Party meetings, reading more about the philosophy, etc., and I became more and more disenfranchised with the two major parties. I realized I couldn’t go back… ever.

Ron Paul
Need I say more? Ron Paul came along in 2008 and made me realize what a powerful message and what powerful principles real libertarianism had to offer. There was no going back. After 2008, I got to hear Dr. Paul speak in person, and his extraordinary candor and knowledge were inspiring.

I learned from him about the non-aggression principle, and it was like another religious awakening. I knew I finally had the foundation by which to live my life: Don’t hurt other people, and don’t take their stuff. My god. If everyone lived by that creed, we’d have as close to a Utopia as the human race has ever been.

I’ve not waivered since 2008, and in fact, my education has brought me to anarcho-capitalism. I won’t bore you with my reasons for adopting this particular philosophy. This post is already long enough.

So this is really just a brief (yeah, I know it wasn’t so brief) overview of my journey. It’s actually a bit more nuanced. As you listen to the podcast, you’ll get greater insight into my thoughts and perspectives on economics, social issues, politics, foreign policy, etc. So be sure to tune in each week. Join our conversation by reaching out to ask questions or submit comments.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

 

– Jon

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