Progressive or conservative; what matters is the individual. To be libertarian means to support the individual rights of every person, no matter who they are, or how they live their lives. From the hardcore statist Democrats who want the government involved in every facet of our lives, to the Republicans who act like champions for the individual but decry heresy at every disagreement; both are entitled to their opinion. So why do libertarians get attacked so much for criticizing one party or the other? The answer is long, but very simple.
Neither party truly cares about your individual rights. Democrats are often referred to as godless, gun-grabbing, big government loving un-American heretics by Republicans, while Republicans are often referred to as racist, violent, warmongering Bible thumpers by Democrats. Therefore, in the eyes of the opposition party, they feel like they are feeding you a better line by telling you all that is wrong with the other side of the aisle. This is textbook identity politics.
Democrats attacking gun ownership makes no sense and is also inherently hypocritical as it is this party that is ostensibly pro-choice. One is apparently the right of the individual, and one should apparently be regulated by the government. Republicans, in turn, argue that guns are an individual right but that being pro-choice is sinful and murderous. Again, one is apparently an individual right, and one should be controlled by the government.
On the subject of the individual right to possess firearms, let us put a creative spin on this. Vehicles require car insurance and a driver license to operate – why is this not an individual right? Why are these things required? Both sides argue, well: car accidents. By transitive property, the right to own or purchase a firearm that requires a background check now is all that should ever be required when owning and operating a vehicle requires the same fees that you pay already. This is minimal government at work, which makes the absolute most sense in a society that utterly cannot seem to do without.
While Democrats want to interfere here on the matter of gun rights and ownership (we will refer to this as big government), it is Republicans that wish no interference. When you drive your car to work, you go about your day without a second thought. And you accept all the responsibility when you get behind the wheel, every day. And gun owners accept the same responsibility to own and operate a firearm. As Republicans say, “shall not be infringed.” Indeed.
On the subject of the individual right to choose an abortion, it is a complete role reversal. It is in this instance Republicans that desire big government – to minimize or eliminate said choice; while Democrats want no interference from the government whatsoever, or as the saying goes, “my body, my choice.” Very poignant.
In both of these examples, it is none of your business what the individual does in their daily lives. That is what it means to be libertarian, and why everyone should re-evaluate how they approach conversations with those they disagree with. If everyone understood true individual rights, we would all live just a little bit happier every day.
Above all else, I refuse to pledge allegiance to any presidential candidate on the merit of being the lesser of two evils when both will always enact this same level of duality. Four years or eight years, the hypocrisy of the opposition party never stops, and the campaigns of misinformation never quit.
It was John Locke who famously put forth “Life, Liberty, and Property” as imperatives of a just society. And to the big government, of which you defend, property is all you ever are or will be.
Stay happy. Stay free. Stay American.
* Tristan Barker is a computer engineer from South Carolina, who has lived in the midst of the most hardcore supporters of both parties at various times throughout his adult life. He is best known for his sarcasm, and not being afraid to tell the truth, even when the truth hurts.