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Libertarians and Neo-Progressives Aren’t That Different (Part 2)

Libertarians and neo-progressives agree on an array of topics, but differ on a few key principles, including economics and gun rights.

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By Francis Folz | United States

Last week, I examined how libertarians and neo-progressives share common roots that run as deep as the anti-war movement in the 1960’s. Considering how libertarians and progressives have found common ground in the past, is it any wonder that libertarians and progressives find themselves together on so many present issues? After all, former Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson once stated he found common ground with unabashed social democrat Bernie Sanders close to 70% of the time.

I believe one reason why it is quite prevalent to find common ground between libertarians and “democratic socialists” is because both sides share similar sentiments. At their cores, there is a sincere passion to uplift as many fellow citizens as possible and to achieve peace. It is often the means by which both sides believe it is best to achieve their underlying, intended goals that diverges the ideologies.

Although progressives advocate for a single-payer, authoritarian health care system, libertarians and progressives tend to agree that health care is too expensive and there are some common sense, capitalist ways to make health care more affordable. Both sides tend to agree on removing some of our costly, crony regulations, like the prohibition on purchasing drugs from other countries or the inability to buy insurance plans across state lines.

Progressives and libertarians also find themselves sharing opposition to America’s neocon foreign policy. Both sides acknowledge America’s foreign policy is often made up of expensive mistakes that only benefit the military industrial complex. Although progressives favor participation in multi-national organizations like NATO and the U.N. to achieve peace, both groups prefer a more humble approach to American interventions. 

Both groups also champion civil liberties and civil rights, although how they are addressed sometimes differs. In regards to civil rights, neo-progressives tend to have collectivist mindsets and indulge in identity politics. This contrasts tremendously with libertarians who believe in liberalism and in empowering everyone via individualism. Bernie’s supporters, however, join forces with libertarians in defense of civil liberties. This includes our universal right to privacy and the defense of human rights activists like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

The size and scope of government is often where libertarians and Sanders-democrats digress from each other the most. Although both groups promote personal freedom and responsibility, especially in regards to reproductive care and drug usage, neo-progressives contradict those sentiments by bolstering gun control. In some cases, they even limit free speech. Whereas libertarians view government as a necessary evil that must be limited and restrained, neo-progressives believe the government’s role must be very robust in order to accomplish all desired outcomes.

I genuinely believe the hearts of today’s “democratic socialists” are in the right place. However, the majority of their “solutions” require a large, controlling state which makes countless decisions for the citizenry via regulations. I don’t question the intentions of those who fight for $15 an hour. After all, with the high costs of living, in part the fault of poor monetary policy, who can live off of $7.25 (less after taxes) an hour? However, neo-progressives fail to see how large corporations laud the prospects of running locally owned companies out of business through the consequential high prices and labor costs. 

Socialism means well. After all, the intended goal of democratic socialists is to elevate the poor and the middle class. However, in practice, socialism never succeeds because humans are inherently greedy, especially when entrusted with resources, influence, and power. Our founding fathers recognized that corrupt attribute of humanity. Therefore, they constituted a liberal government, limited by the citizenry, the states, and the judicial system. It is time we find common ground with one another and work together towards restoring liberty and prosperity.


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