Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Democrats and Republicans are both libertarian...kind of

Today was my first day in a political science class which is based around American Political Thought. One thing that is interesting to look at with the history of political thought is how the 'liberal' of the 18th century is really the 'libertarian' of today.

Sadly, some people in the class didn't really understand what the modern day libertarian is. One kid explained it as "I want the government out of my life!" and said Ron Paul was a good example of a present-day libertarian. He also pointed out how they are a fringe group that has not had much major impact, at least recently.

My professor pointed out something that is very interesting. The present political set-up (and where libertarian political thought is today) has its roots way back when the original 'liberals' split. The Republicans essentially reject the libertarian view of the government being out of society as they are in favor of such things as pro-life, against gay marriage, keeping marijuana illegal, etc. while the Democrats take the other route and think that the government should regulate the market heavily. Both have libertarian sides to their stances, and they vary from person to person (for example Ron Paul is pro-life, while some Democrats would oppose legalizing marijuana, etc.).

The two points I want to leave you with are:
1) Libertarian political thought has influence on both modern-day liberal and conservative ideology, and really is not quite as 'radical' as some might believe.
2) It is inaccurate to say that libertarian political thought has been attempted already, but has failed. The total package has never been implemented, only parts of it have been.

What I am most excited about is how libertarian thought has and will continue to gain influence in the Republican Party. They will be forced to appeal to this growing group. Even if full libertarian ideology will never be fully implemented, I think that the whole Ron Paul Revolution of 2008 (now the Campaign For Liberty) has created an explosion of libertarian activism.

What exactly is libertarian political ideology? I'll save that for another day.


Anonymous said...

One aspect of Libertarian politics that neither major party seems to be interested in is the idea of small government. I couldn't support the Republican party through the most recent elections, simply because it seems that both major parties are looking for big-government solutions with very little actual variance in policy.

DC said...

I couldn't agree more. As Michelle Bachmann recently said, the biggest blunder of the Republicans this past election cycle was having our candidate supporting the bailout! That is what really put me over the edge was the fact that I don't disagree with McCain's foreign or domestic policy.