So, what are the basic principles of libertarianism (quotes from the Texas Libertarian Party website)?
"The Libertarian Party of Texas, following the footsteps of our nation’s founding fathers, seeks full respect for the constitutional rights of all people without hindrance from any person or entity."
"Every human being is inherently free to live and act as he or she sees fit, pursuing his or her happiness as long as they respect other’s rights to do the same."
Current political thought is that the citizen is just one part of a larger group. In the progressive perspective, you are to act for the "common good," even if that short changes you. The conservative movement, while certainly more individualistic than the progressive movement, want to control your actions as part of a "societal norm," generally towards a classical moral norm.
Personally, I am a Christian, and I try to live my life by Judeo-Christian values. However libertarianism is individualistic - no one has the right to force their values on another. It is one important aspect of our Constitutional government that seems to have been lost.
Now, I'm no anarchist. There is a specific and limited purpose to government.
"Government’s principal role is to protect your freedom and your constitutional rights of Life, Liberty, and Property, all crucial rights for building a free and prosperous society. Government should be the necessary size to efficiently support this constitutional duty and effectively maintain the rule of law."
The United States is not a democracy. Democracy is mob rule. Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner. The U.S. is a Representative Republic under the Rule of Law (Constitution). This is the only way to guarantee the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority.
Against my own better judgement, let me give you a local example. Smoke Free San Angelo recently got an ordinance passed that takes away property rights of private business owners. The election approved the ordinance by about a 60-40 margin of voters. It has been approved by the City Council, and is now to be implemented in about a month.
Many people, even those who voted against the ordinance, feel that since the voters approved the ordinance the city council was duty bound to enact it. I argue that the city council, nor the "majority", have the right to tell an individual what that individual can allow in their private business. In my opinion, the city council, in their duty to protect the rights of ALL CITIZENS, should not have enacted the ordinance as written. It enacted an ordinance that took away rights from one group of citizens with a vested interest in their business in favor of another group of citizens without.
Whether or not you agree with the smoking ban, the principle that a small group of people can use government to make others give up their own rights is plain wrong. Just because a majority decides "x", doesn't mean that it should be enforced.
So, what is government supposed to be doing?
"The protective force of government must only be used in response to attack, fraud, or other initiation of force against an individual, group or government by another individual, group or government."
"Government was not conceived as an intermediary for voluntary and contractual relations among individuals; it should only be concerned with the prevention or rectification of acts of fraud. Nor was one of its purposes to redistribute wealth or provide special privilege to any group. All people are equal under the law, free to deal with one another in a free market system, respectful of individual rights."
Our current form of government has veered so far away from the initial intent of the Constitution that many people may not even believe the above statement. It certainly doesn't resemble the current state of affairs.
Government's job is to keep us from screwing with other people. It's job is to ensure a fraud and force free arena for individuals to consensually interact with others for our own mutual benefit. It is there to protect us from external threat and from fraud. That's pretty much it. In Article I, Section 8, the Constitution lists the enumerated powers of the federal government. There are about 19 specific powers listed. Section 9 defines specific limits on the powers of the federal government.
Homework assignment: Lets all take a little time over the next two weeks an rediscover the Constitution of the United States as amended.
((Next time, we'll get more in depth into the platform issues of the Libertarian Party.))