A recent conversation about individual liberty brought about a realization that my personal connection with conservatism could actually be more associated with libertarianism. I feel a little off balance as to why this had not occurred to me before. It was not the first time the subject had been raised. I remember many years ago a political sparring buddy, J C Bowman, suggested the libertarian connection. Thinking back, his perception must have been gleaned from the many conversations we had regarding conservatism. At the time I was certain he was misguided. Not so any more.
Readers of my editorial opinions will have gathered that my satisfaction with the Republican Party has completely eroded. I used to be a proud Republican until I became closely involved in Bradley County politics when local Republican leaders exposed their self-serving and devious traits. Soon I became aware of similar shenanigans at the state and national levels. Leaders of the Republican Party at all levels did not seem to share the values most important to me so I started to use conservatism as my calling card. I no longer felt good being associated with the Republican Party. For years after that I have happily described myself as a conservative when all along it appears I was a libertarian.
I had always admired people like Ron Paul and John Stossel who's ideas spoke to me on a basic level, but I never considered myself as having libertarian principles. I thought libertarians were pacifists and never believed that pacifism could ever work in the real world, and I wasn't sure of legalizing drugs although I could understand the reasoning behind it. Both were associated with the Libertarian Party, or so I believed. I believed that with exceptions like these, the rest was mostly conservatism, so I must be a conservative. I should have known better and paid more attention to what J C Bowman had said all those years ago.
I was doing research on the subject of individual liberty and came across some interesting facts. First, Europeans do not consider American republicans as conservatives. Although what Europeans think is usually not important to me, they did link republican principles closely to liberal ideals, a fact that had become self evident to me but lost to most Americans. They also linked the conservative values I had grown to embrace, with libertarianism which I had not. Then the pacifism edict that had played so heavily on my mind, did in fact prove not to exist because libertarians do not believe in pacifism, they believe aggression should not be initiated, which is not the same thing. If you are attacked it is okay to fight back. They believe in a strong national defense but not invading others for political reasons or having military bases all over the world threatening people who have not attacked us.
I found the following description of what a libertarian is during my research. It was penned by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, during the process of granting the Advocates for Self-Government status as a nonprofit educational organization. "Libertarianism is a philosophy. The basic premise of libertarianism is that each individual should be free to do as he or she pleases so long as he or she does not harm others. In the libertarian view, societies and governments infringe on individual liberties whenever they tax wealth, create penalties for victimless crimes, or otherwise attempt to control or regulate individual conduct which harms or benefits no one except the individual who engages in it."
Being a government agency, the IRS fell short of declaring libertarianism as favoring smaller, less intrusive government with its only task as defending the safety of America and its citizens, but the description is a far cry from the present day republican philosophy or republican style conservatism. I tried to find a concise description of the philosophy of republicanism and could only find vague wording about traditional values and resistance to change.
Someone once said that he likened the Democrats and Republicans as the legs of a blind man. One left and one right but going in the same confused direction. Libertarians were like his guide dog, leading him through the darkness to his desired destination. I wonder how many Americans believe they are part of the blind man when in fact they want to guide this nation in the right direction.
If you believe you have less in common with the Republican Party and its style of conservatism than you once thought, it may be you have been a Libertarian conservative all along. After all these years I discovered I was.
That's what I think. What do you think?
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