Why I Am Not a Liberal

Chances are, I often come across as a liberal. In fact, my writings against the Founding Fathers can seem like something from an Anarcho-Socialist publication. And if I have to fill out a form where the choices for political identification are “liberal,” “conservative,” or “moderate,” well, I’ll go with the liberal label. But these sorts of labels are often oversimplifying. I do not consider myself to be a liberal as the term is generally understood. I am against national health care. In fact, I am to the Right of Ann Coulter, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich on that issue. All of them are fine with forcing people to buy health insurance whether or not they want it. I, however, oppose health care mandates, except for children. I am in favor of allowing businesses to replace striking workers. I believe that the federal stimulus and bailouts were mistakes. I favor privatizing Medicare and Medicaid. I am against farm subsidies. I believe that America would have been better served to stay on the Gold Standard. I think that in the vast majority of cases, eminent domain is a form of legalized theft, and rent control does more harm than good. I favor requiring a balanced budget. I believe that pressuring banks to give out loans to people who could not afford to pay them back played a role in the recession. I think that as long as the public is properly warned, the food industry should be able to put whatever they please in products and sell it to willing consumers. If a person wants to drink a forty ounce soda, that is their decision. I generally oppose gun control measures, believing that they are as ineffective in keeping our streets safe as the death penalty or the War on Drugs. Most of these are not positions that a lot of liberals hold. In general, American liberalism, like American conservatism, trusts government too much and wants to give it too much power. I am very wary of government and want to keep it small. In fact, I had to block ads for Koch Brothers internships, because I liked a small government page on Facebook. According to the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz,” by the libertarian Advocates for Self Government, “Liberals usually embrace freedom of choice in personal matters, but tend to support significant government control of the economy. They generally support a government-funded ‘safety net’ to help the disadvantaged, and advocate strict regulation of business. Liberals tend to favor environmental regulations, defend civil liberties and free expression, support government action to promote equality, and tolerate diverse lifestyles.” So while liberals support small government in many areas, they also support big government in many others. Unfortunately, at some point, many liberals started buying into right-wing rhetoric in that many of them began to inaccurately describe themselves as all around supporters of big government and criticize conservatives for not being pro government enough. This problem was showcased when Pete Stark, a Congressman who takes libertarian positions on immigration, foreign policy, pot, gay marriage, and the Patriot Act, basically said that there were no limits on the power of the federal government. In short, it’s hard to be a liberal and be as distrustful of the government as I am. That, in a nutshell, is the main reason why I identify as a “liberaltarian” in the tradition of Mike Gravel, Jesse Ventura, Paul Tsongas, and arguably George Carlin. While I support a larger role for government than most pure libertarians desire, I am far too fiscally conservative to be called a liberal. The aforementioned political quiz scored me as a liberal but put me very near the boundary between liberalism and libertarianism on the political spectrum. It is an open question whether I am closer to being a liberal or a libertarian, and figuring it out is rather unimportant. It is enough to say that my political philosophy is basically a melding of liberalism and libertarianism. I believe that equal rights are paramount for any free society and that any government that discriminates against citizens based on immutable traits like race, gender, or sexual orientation loses its right to exist, that markets should be mostly free of government intervention, that individual liberty should be highly valued, that our environment should be protected, that a nation’s military should be for defense and not attack, and that there is a role for government in promoting equality for all people regardless of the aforementioned immutable traits. This ideology includes both liberal and libertarian principles.

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