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If Everyone is a “Libertarian”, What’s the Point of Being One?

If Romney is a libertarian, then what the hell is the point of being a libertarian.

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By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

In a recent email, Craig Bowden revealed that members of the Libertarian Party are actively trying to recruit Mitt Romney to the Libertarian Party.

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So is Mitt Romney right for libertarians? Can he achieve the victory that we need and usher in a world full of libertarians? Maybe he could, and for the sake of argument let us all believe for a moment that Mitt Romney has effectively turned everyone into a libertarian. Supposedly, this would be a glorious day. It would be the day the Libertarian Party leadership can wipe the dust off of its hands and pat itself on the back. The wine coolers will flow and celebration shall ensue. Every man, woman, and child on earth now bears their libertarian identity publicly and proudly.

The only problem with such a reality is that we are not completely sure what libertarian would even mean in that scenario. In a world where Mitt Romney (and Bill Weld, for that matter) is considered libertarian, the meaning of libertarianism comes into question. Samuel Edward Konkin III gave three definitions of “libertarian” in a debate, talking about the implications of each winning out. The first was a definition that fit the desires of anyone – you are a libertarian if you simply describe yourself as one. The implications of such a world are no better for liberty than the status quo. Konkin narrates this hypothetical reality:

If everyone simply adopts a label, what has changed? The word liberal has faced a similar demise. The modern mostly-apolitical American individual would probably classify themselves as a liberal.

Who wouldn’t be a liberal? Liberalism is cool.

But what even is a liberal? That name has lost every bit of weight that it possibly could. It is a meaningless political term that confers merely a vague outline of an individuals political standing.

Once upon a time, liberal meant something akin to libertarian. It meant someone who values freedom above all else. It meant someone who recognized state violence for what it was and saw it necessary to limit it. It meant someone who saw the market as a superior way to command resources throughout the populace when compared to centralized state planning.

Not it means a probably-Democrat who wants free healthcare, college, and whatever else fits the mood that day. As Hans Hermann-Hoppe stated, the word “libertarian” may soon meet a parallel demise.

A libertarian is not just someone who calls themselves a libertarian. That would be a useless term, then. Libertarians want nonviolent conflicts to be settled nonviolently. Libertarianism should be beautiful. It should mean that the wars end, the markets become free, and that gay married couples protect their marijuana fields with 3-D printed fully automatic assault rifles. It means that The Federal Reserve doesn’t bail out the banks that act less responsible than a teenager with their parents’ card. It means that 70 innocent people don’t get firebombed in Texas just because their religion is weird.

No doubt Mitt Romney fails to meet these standards. As TJ Roberts stated:

It is quite clear that Romney is not a libertarian. He’s not even a conservative. Mitt Romney is a big government shill who should never be welcome to the Libertarian Party. This, unfortunately, has escaped the minds of “pragmatists” who think libertarianism is just centrism. In case it isn’t obvious enough, being anti-Trump does not inherently make one pro-liberty.

Freedom has not won when everyone wears a little pin that says “libertarian” If every single person in the status quo decided that they should now be called “libertarian,” we would be no better than we are before. Libertarian pragmatists should quit bending our principles to fit every backward state-loving view they encounter when trying to spread the message.

If the term “libertarian” meets the same demise as liberal, I will be dropping it. There would be no point in carrying the “libertarian” flag any further. If this sad day truly does happen upon us, I will have to carry on this ideology of nonviolence without the same name, and I will watch as the term is put to shame.


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  1. […] Or it could leave the core of the philosophy behind, nominating people like Johnson, Weld, and even Romney. Either way, the libertarian ideas lose. Even if the party […]

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  2. A moderate Republican does not a libertarian make! I am very open to people becoming more libertarian as they mature. However, I am skeptical of socially moderate Republicans and lower tax democrats. A libertarian is a not a lukewarm political variety. We are on fire for liberty. If Romney is evolving into a libertarian then I welcome him.

    Reply

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