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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Libertarianism is the Now

Politico ran a story yesterday about the continuing ascent of libertarianism in the mainstream of politics. These types of articles have been running for a while now, but for once, those of us who have sanely and consistently argued for greater individual liberty can have a reason to be hopeful.

For once, libertarians were not conflated with the Tea Party.
Libertarianism is what most Americans believe, whether they know it by that name or not.

And for once, this poll asked the question that prevents misunderstandings about what libertarianism really consists of. As politico reports, sizable portions simply do not know what the word libertarian means:
The poll surveyed all voters, not just those on the right, and overall 27 percent said they didn’t know enough to offer an opinion of libertarianism. About 40 percent of 18-to-32-year-olds view the word “libertarian” favorably, although about a third don’t know what it means.
You can't blame them, really.

The "l" word has been batted around by everyone from Glenn Beck to Bill Maher, and while I admit that at times both of these guys have expressed libertarian sentiment on some issues, calling oneself a libertarian on this issue or that, while simultaneously expressing more clearly authoritarian views, leaves the observer confused as to what "libertarian" really means.

That's why I was hopeful when I read this Politico article, because:
Told that libertarians generally believe individuals should be free to do as they like as long as they don’t hurt others and that the government should keep out of people’s day-to-day lives, 58 percent of the full national sample said they agree.
Once you are willing to express libertarianism in the basic, common-sense foundations that support the idea, it's actually not too unfamiliar. And a clear, nearly-fillibuster-proof majority of Americans support this concept; that people should be left to their own devices so long as they don't hurt others.

In other words, and like I've always suspected: libertarianism is what most Americans believe, whether they know it by that name or not.

P.S. The article is based on a poll conducted by FreedomWorks , which, although officially listed as a conservative/libertarian think tank, appears to have asked clear and impartial questions as evidenced by the linked report. By all fair measures, I don't have any reason to think this is some sort of libertarian-boosting push-poll.

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