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What is the Libertarian Party and what do Libertarians believe?
What is the Libertarian Party?
The Libertarian Party is one of the largest consistent third parties in the United States (some believe it to be the largest). Also called the ‘Party of Principle,’ Libertarians support the shrinking of the government in favor of increased private rights. Their self-proclaimed defining belief is “everyone should be free to do as they choose, so long as they don’t infringe upon the equal freedom of others.” In governmental matters, this means that they advocate the rights of the individual over the rights of the state.
The Libertarian platform stresses the right to and benefits of private ownership of material resources and property. They oppose any form of taxation and of government regulation of lifestyle, everything and anything from gun ownership to sexual preference. Libertarians are also in favor of a laissez-faire economic system.
What is the history of the Libertarian Party?
The Libertarian Party infamously began in the home of David Nolan in 1971. The party was created by people disillusioned with both the Democratic and Republican parties. The Libertarian Party was created to resemble both and neither of the dominant political parties; the beliefs of Libertarians are neither ‘left’ nor ‘right’ in they take a stance considered ‘left,’ ‘Democratic,’ or ‘liberal’ on some issues, and a stance considered ‘right,’ ‘Republican,’ or ‘conservative’ on others.
Since the early 70’s, the Libertarian Party has since grown to one of the largest third parties in the United States. They have endorsed nine presidential candidates since 1972 and have also achieved 50-state ballot access for their candidate four times (in 1980, 1992, 1996, and 2000), a status no other third party has achieved more than once. Over 200,000 voters are registered as Libertarian and over 600 people in government office identify as Libertarian.
Where does the Libertarian Party stand on current issues?
Though Libertarian’s themselves reject the 1-dementional spectrum of left and right to describe political parties, if defined in terms of conservative and liberal Libertarians are considered more “left” on social issues and more “right” on economic issues. Very basically, Libertarians believe that people should be in control of everything they do, from economic matters to social ones, as long as they are not infringing upon the rights of others. They support, for example, a free market economy, the right to keep and bear arms, freedom of speech, freedom of associate, sexual freedom, abolition of all laws that concern crimes which Libertarians believe do not harm or threaten the liberties of others (such as prostitution, driving without a seatbelt, recreational drug use, etc.), minimal government bureaucracy. They oppose drug prohibition, gun laws and regulations, and any military draft.
The Libertarian Party has also recently drafted an Iraq exit strategy (which is available to download from the Libertarian Party’s website, www.lp.org) that favors a gradual reduction in American troops in Iraq at the same time as an increase in the Iraqi security forces. Libertarians believe that by increasing the number of people in the Iraqi security force while also gradually removing American troops from Iraqi, they can move Americans out of harm’s way and remove them from the Iraqi political system, without creating a potentially dangerous power vacuum.
What are some main criticisms of the Libertarian Party?
The Libertarian Party is criticized by both the left and the right for different portions of its political ideals. Most often, however, the party is criticized for being contradictory and idealistic.