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The Libertarian Party
The Libertarian Party nominated its most politically experienced presidential candidate to date, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld as its vice president candidate (Fuller, 2014). Having served as governor of New Mexico for two straight terms as well as becoming the pioneering former governor running on a minority party banner since 1980, the libertarians envisaged an exceptional 2016 performance in comparison to past electoral outcomes. Bill Veld similarly manifested commendable political experiences have served as Massachusetts governor for two terms as well as worked in the Justice Department as a US attorney (Fuller, 2014).
With two previous governors spearheading the party, pundits expected to witness conservative and Republican voters not comfortable with Donald Trump’s nomination to join the libertarian convoy (Fuller, 2014). Conversely, the Democrats unpopularity with Hillary Clinton as well as Bernie Sanders’ disaffected supporters anticipated to increase the Libertarian Party’s support for its presidential hopeful. With the party having 144 members in office nationwide and seven mayors across the country, the Libertarian is on an upward trend (Ames, 2013). This paper seeks to present a background of the libertarian Party, its political developments and influences, contributions, writings, political achievements and placement on the conventional ideological spectrum.
Principles of libertarianism govern the US political party renowned as the Libertarian Party. It support individual rights to the effect that people exercise fundamentally exclusive authority concerning own lives thus setting its doctrines against conventional regulatory, services and coercive influences associated with local, state and federal administrations (Carmines, Ensley, and Wagner, 2014, 9). Libertarianism is a political thinking considering individual liberty as theleading political value. It mirrors liberalism, the ideology closely related to John Stuart Mill, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith (Ames, 2013). Liberalism defines and by extension, justifies legitimate authority by government in light of known God given or natural individual rights. These include rights to freedom of speech, liberty, life, private property, association, equality under the law, worship, government by consent and moral autonomy (Ames, 2013). This implies that liberals consider the government’s purpose as protecting these rights as well as other individual rights to the effect that federal, local and state administrations only deserve powers to accomplish these objectives.
In 1971, Westminster, Colorado hosted the establishment of the Libertarian Party and introduced its pioneering candidate to run for the presidential elections of 1972 (Ames, 2013). In 1980, the party achieved commendable progress by appearing on ballots in the country’s 50 states. In that year, presidential candidate Edward E. Clark attained over 900,000 votes representing only 1% of the national vote (Ames, 2013). This made it the third main US political party. In every subsequent election, the libertarians have supported candidates garnering thousands of votes though not with the same feat witnessed in 1980 (Carmines, Ensley, and Wagner, 2014, 9). A number of its numbers won elections into state and local offices especially in the West. The party vied for majority seats in the House of Representatives in 2000 though gaining zero seats it attracted 1.7 million votes. Its national office posited in Washington D.C supervises affiliates stretching all sates in the country. Prominent adherents founded the Cato Institute in 1977, which is essentially a public-policy research foundation (Ames, 2013).
Political development and influences
In 2012, the Republican primaries highlighted the growing number of libertarian enthusiasts in the party’s youthful ranks. According to an article published in the Washing Post, the millennials are more inclined to incline to libertarian ideologies though it could take about two decades for this age set to exert greater influence on American society (Fuller, 2014). The Public Religion Research instituted poll release in 2013 indicated that 22% of American citizens leaned to the libertarian side of the country’s political divide. Of this percentage, 45% of libertarians in 2014 sided with Republicans while only 5% inclined to the Democratic Party (Fuller, 2014). 53% of libertarians remain staunch primary voters especially among the youth, a demographic concerned with invasion to privacy as federal and state governments look to acquire personal information data. Carmines, Ensley, and Wagner point out that, “Moreover, while their partisan attitudes and attachments are generally weaker than those of conservatives and liberals, most libertarians, populists, and moderates do identify with a political party, even if that party is not a perfect fit for their ideological orientations (7).”
Rand Paul, considered as the Party’s lighthouse relative to the libertarian movement actively advocates for issues that the federal and state administrations tend to take for granted. For instance, in 2014, this individual gained notable media attention for championing enthusiastically for civil liberty (Fuller, 2014). The American society responded in alarm after leaks associated with the National Security Agency highlighted the bleak nature of internet privacy. Rand Paul engaged in a class action lawsuit challenging the Obama government for the unethical collection of phone metadata by the NSA (Fuller, 2014). Since then, most of Paul’s public appearances revolve about the issue of civil liberties. The fugitive, Edward Snowden described as one of the libertarian millennial personalities. Increasing numbers of citizens are in agreement with the Libertarian Party especially in issues relating to civil liberties as much as most supporters do not identify fully with the libertarians (Carmines, Ensley, and Wagner, 2014, 11).
The Party notes that it is plagued by a discriminatory election laws and ballot access processes that potentially deny citizens significant choice (Carmines, Ensley, and Wagner, 2014, 11). For instance, a candidate seeking to vie for political office under the party’s banner must obtain thousands of libertarian signatures to show on ballots across the 50 states (Fuller, 2014). Without considerable reforms, such restrictive laws that require too much of aspirants only serve as obstacles to its progress.
The Libertarian Party: Political writings, political contributions or contributions to other fields of study
The Libertarian National Congressional Committee (LNCC) reports that the Libertarian Party considers itself as a start up such that it is still setting up foundations for greater political growth (Carmines, Ensley, and Wagner, 2014, 11). As a political enterprise with an intellectual influence dating back to the culmination of the Second World War, is guiding logic is concerned with ideas. As Ames provides, “They also discovered that a lobbying outfit which is today credited by libertarians as the movement’s first think-tank — the Foundation for Economic Education” (2013). As American society identifies with conservatives, the libertarians have emerged as a significant portion of the conservative coalition. Other than the complete obliteration of government, the libertarian movement seeks to have oversight addressing public issues like security, defense, and protection of citizens from violence (Carmines, Ensley, and Wagner, 2014, 13). It is critical to note that the libertarians do not agree with the conservative ideology on aspects like government deregulation, welfare reform, reduced taxes, anti-trust legislation, school choice, privatization and balanced budgets.
Placement on traditional ideological spectrum
The Libertarian Party recorded significant gains in the 2016 elections illustrating momentum in a positive direction. The notion of freedom of speech features strongly especially with regard to politics and in reviewing elected officials as well as federal, state and county administrations (Carmines, Ensley, and Wagner, 2014, 12). Another aspect involves taking the excessive powers borne by government and transferring them back to the people. Libertarians are essentially classic liberals strongly advocating individual rights to liberty (Carmines, Ensley, and Wagner, 2014, 13). This implies the need to constrain powers and scope accorded to government towards ensuring each citizen is granted freedom of action consistent with that offered to every other member of US society. Therefore, the Libertarian Party supports for American peoples to have such freedoms as to act or dispose property as desired within the limits of actions that so not impinge on freedoms equally availed to others (Carmines, Ensley, and Wagner, 2014, 13).
Libertarians on the left wing support for personal freedoms while placing much focus on equality, doing right and positive rights. It advocates for equality relative to social justice that calls for greater considerations to correcting social wrongs as opposed to taking on a laissez faire approach (Carmines, Ensley, and Wagner, 2014, 16). Left libertarians vouch for lesser powers by large banks, and corporations towards income equality and employee rights. There is the strong belief that a truly free market economic system can support the notion while stopping robber baron capitalism.
Right Libertarians are more inclined to conservative notions though do not agree with the notion of religious rights as perceived in the general American context (Carmines, Ensley, and Wagner, 2014, 15). This group of libertarians seeks the maintenance of existing economic and social privileges, conventional social values as well as prevailing economic and social hierarchies. Right libertarians are associated with national, social and cultural chauvinism.
As this essay has provided, the Libertarian Party boasts relatively young background as it came into being in 1971 though its philosophies date back to scholars like John Stuart Mill, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith. In its relatively short lifetime, the political developments, influences, contributions, writings, political achievements and placement on the conventional ideological spectrum have evolved significantly. The excessive government powers such as collection of citizen’s personal information have resulted in the youth having libertarian ideologies as opposed to those supported by the two chief parties. The Libertarian Party is therefore expected to continue developing on an upward trend especially as the millennial age set gains prominence through a more vocal political voice.
Ames, Mark. 2013. “The true history of libertarianism in America: a phony ideology to promote a corporate agenda.” Alternet, September. http://www.alternet.org/visions/true-history-libertarianism-america-phony-ideology-promote-corporate-agenda. (Accessed April 21, 2017).
Carmines, Edward G., Ensley, Michael J., and Wagner, Michael W. 2014. “Why American political parties can’t get beyond the left-right divide.” State of the Parties: 55-71. http://www.uakron.edu/dotAsset/e0ee0720-3e47-468e-ba73-7b69a19d8c28.pdf.(Accessed April 21, 2017).
Fuller, Jaime. 2014.”The rise of the libertarians — and what it means for politics.” The Washington Post, March 10. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/03/10/here-a-libertarian-there-a-libertarian-but-will-there-be-libertarians-everywhere-soon/?utm_term=.6711fcd9ffef. (Accessed April 21, 2017).
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