Growing up, politics and political parties were never things that I really considered or thought much about. The government was nothing more than a faceless, abstract figure above me that made laws and ran the country. I didn’t know (or care) much about it at all. My stance on politics was mostly influenced by my father, who would frequently go off on one tangent or another bitching about those “damn Democrats” and their “socialist” ideals. Overall, I would just blindly nod and agree. I didn’t really hear what he was saying, I just knew that if I dared say anything to the contrary I would be subjected to an even longer lecture. For all intents and purposes, I considered myself a Republican for my sanity’s sake.
Around the middle of high school, however, things changed. I begrudgingly began to believe that I was, in fact, what my father detested. Democrat. It wasn’t something I talked about, because I didn’t want to be disowned and kicked out of my family, but I started having some pretty liberal views. Gay marriage? Marijuana? Abortion? All were subjects that I found I had a very Democratic view on. In my mind they should be legal, because what the hell gave the government the right to tell these people what to do? I mean, I’m not gay, I don’t smoke weed, and I would never get an abortion, but I didn’t think that no one else in the world had the right to.
Thankfully that all started to change when I realized that my dad was completely right: liberals are crazy. If socialized medicine wasn’t proof enough, the BS with minimum wage and gun control certainly helped me see the light. In that way, Republicans had it right, but I was caught with another dilemma. What the hell was I in the political world? Was I some mutant hybrid cross between Democrat and Republican or was I something completely new? Well, I wasn’t vain enough to think that I was quite so unique, so to solve the problem I simply registered as “Independent,” and assumed that, in time, I’d figure something out.
It wasn’t until September 25, 2008 that I did. After being dragged to a meeting for a club to keep a friend company, I sat back and listened to a long and complicated lecture on a theory I’d never even heard of before: Anarcho-captialism. My first initial thought (upon hearing the word “anarchy,” which has always had a negative connotation in my book) was, “What the hell kind of club IS this!?” But the more I listened, the more I learned, and at the end of the meeting I pulled my friend aside and asked her what exactly Libertarianism was.
In a nutshell, this is what I’ve figured out. Libertarians value the right of the individual. Every person, regardless of sex, age, race, or any other quantifying factor you can think to label another human being as, has three essential rights: to life, liberty, and property. Basically, I have the right to live my life the way that I want to as long as it does not interfere with the rights of the people around me. I can do what I want to myself and my property, but I can’t touch a thing you have without your consent.
And this isn’t only on the personal level. It goes for governments as well. The government has no right to say that gays can’t marry, that I can’t own a gun, that the kid down the street can’t smoke pot, or that we all have to buy into a socialized healthcare plan. In essence, the government should keep its nose out of my business, and as long as I’m not doing anything that interferes with another person’s rights, I’ve done nothing wrong.
The more I learned about Libertarianism the more I began to realize that the political stance that I stood under did have a name. I was no longer some random, nonidentity. I was a Libertarian.
I won’t even pretend that I know absolutely everything there is to know about Libertarianism. I’m still a freshling to the fold. But the more I learn the more I agree, and the wider my scope of comprehension becomes. Libertarians are just as varied as every other political party. They range from hardcore Constitutionalists to dedicated Anarcho-Capitalists. As I spend time with the people in Students for Liberty I continue to figure out what exactly it means to be a Libertarian. We don’t always agree, but we can usually agree to disagree, and overall we all stand by the same, basic Libertarian values.
It’s a system that works for me. In fact, it’s the only system that I’ve been completely satisfied by, and I’m still finding out about it. Regardless, I can say this:
I am proud to call myself a Libertarian.