So in talking with .justin he saw that I have started thinking about classifying myself as a libertarian instead of a Republican and he wanted to know more about what a libertarian is.
First of all, a bit of history. Way back when during the conception of our country most of our founding fathers were considered "liberals" in that they stressed the importance of human rationality, individual property rights, natural rights, the protection of civil liberties, constitutional limitations of government, free markets, and individual freedom from restraint. Thomas Jefferson called these our "inalienable rights." This viewpoint is often referred to as "classical liberalism" which holds that rights exist independently of government.
Starting in the late 1800's and finalized during the 1920's and 1930's a movement begin within American politics (culminated by one Franklin D Roosevelt, perhaps you have heard of him?) that changed the definition of "liberalism." In the United states socialists did not want to be called socialists (it brought connotations of communism and marxism [and some would argue rightly so]) so through time the socialist party corrupted and co-opted the name liberalists. This is why a "liberal" in Europe is often actually what we in the United States would call a "conservative" while what we call a "liberal" in the States is referred to as a "socialist" in Europe.
So a libertarian is one who holds to the beliefs of "classical liberalism" which should not be confused with modern liberals.
So now we know the history of what a libertarian is, what exactly does a libertarian believe? Here are some quotes that describe libertarianism:
The basic premise of libertarianism is that each individual should be free to do as he or she pleases so long as he or she does not harm others. In the libertarian view, societies and governments infringe on individual liberties whenever they tax wealth, create penalties for victimless crimes, or otherwise attempt to control or regulate individual conduct which harms or benefits no one except the individual who engages in it."
-- definition written by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service
"Libertarianism is what you probably already believe… Libertarian values are American values. Libertarianism is America's heritage of liberty, patriotism and honest work to build a future for your family. It's the idea that being free and independent is a great way to live. That each of us is a unique individual, with great potential. That you own yourself, and that you have the right to decide what's best for you. Americans of all races and creeds built a great and prosperous country with these libertarian ideals. Let's use them to build America's future."Or my favorite of them all:
-- David Bergland
"Libertarianism is what your mom taught you: behave yourself and don't hit your sister."
-- Dr. Kenneth Bisson
1. Each individual has the right to his or her own life, and this right is the source of all other rights.I am still not positive I am ready to make the full jump to the Libertarian party, I really need to figure out exactly where I lie politically, but for now I am definitely Libertarian leaning.
2. Property rights are essential to the maintenance of those rights.
3. In order that these rights be respected, it is essential that no individual or group initiate the use of force or fraud against any other.
4. In order to bar the use of force or fraud from social relationships and to place the use of retaliatory force under objective control, human society requires an institution charged with the task of protecting individual rights under an objective code of rules. This is the basic task, and the only moral justification for, government.
5. The only proper functions of government, whose powers must be constitutionally limited are:* settling, according to objective laws, disputes among individuals, where private, voluntary arbitration has failed6. As a consequence of all the above, every individual -- as long as he or she respects the rights of others -- has the right to live as he or she alone sees fit, as a free trader on a free market.
* providing protection from criminals
* providing protection from foreign invaders