Libertarianism In Tune With Students' Needs
Issue   |   Wed, 09/28/2011 - 02:25

Michelle Bachman wants constitutional bans on abortion and gay marriage to “fix” states like New York and Massachusetts, but elsewhere she hypocritically preaches for freedom of the states; Rick Perry wants to eliminate one’s individual choice to smoke marijuana yet he paradoxically opposes the health insurance mandate because it restricts individual choice. Conservatives ban civil liberties for “terrorists,” ban prostitution, pornography, free alcohol distribution and many other things they don’t like. Freedom for this, no freedom for that.

College students at Amherst are smart enough to see this hypocrisy — we criticize politicians for restricting our liberties every day. We know conservatives may be intolerant of liberty on one issue and yet have an intense flag-waving passion for liberty on another. We have seen that conservatives only love some of our freedoms, but not all, and we dismiss them for their hypocrisy. My question is, will the Amherst student openly shun this hatred of freedom when it comes from other circles?

Some nasty people absolutely hate individual freedoms (for other people) like Neo-Nazis and The Kims, but most people despise individual freedom only sometimes — when it conflicts with their agenda. Progressives, in a manner similar to conservatives, find individual freedom a little annoying (when it gets in the way of saving the earth and society from itself). Based on prior experience, they hope to ban your SUV, outlaw your incandescent light bulb, confiscate your family’s hunting rifle and limit your freedom to buy sodas, fast food and anything they decide is “unhealthy” or “unsafe,” letting government protect you from your dangerous self. They mandate that you give away more in taxes for social “utopian” programs you may not support, and they tie your livelihood to the whims of government program administrators and union bosses. These are a few of the oppressive components of the progressive agenda, which, when viewed as a whole, seem like disconcerted impulses that lack an ideological cohesion and infringe upon the individual freedoms which our liberal system of government and law protects dearly.

Unlike progressivism, individual liberty transcends the nitty-gritty details of issues with a broad, rock-solid political principle called libertarianism. We can always look at an issue with this principle in mind and ask ourselves how we can maximize or protect individual liberty in this area. Choice, civil liberties, individualism, tolerance and coexistence come together to form the core of a free people and the basis for libertarianism. With such appealing, reasonable and consistent principles, libertarians hope to capture more and more of the public eye.

College students have much in common with libertarians. Their freedom-based approach appeals greatly to our ideological instincts. Libertarians support the civil liberties of all citizens, including LGBTQIA and racial minorities. Libertarians oppose the War on Drugs, the wars overseas and the religious excess that turns off the mostly pacifistic, secular, liberal college population. Libertarians stand against other things, such as the red tape and thorny tax code that complicate the lives of any college student with hopes to start a club, non-profit or business before or after graduation.

Libertarians also understand that college students push the boundaries of individual freedom prescribed to us by law all the time. We frequently download things using quasi-legal means, exercise “free speech” online in ways that might be too free and defy certain laws prohibiting substance use for certain people. Libertarians in government respect a woman’s reproductive freedom and privacy (unlike many conservatives) and every individual’s freedom to defend himself (unlike Amherst College, which bans students from owning pepper spray and some penknives). Going even further than Democrats, Libertarians oppose the War on Drugs and national restriction of alcohol because these laws haul thousands of responsible Americans, often young and Black, to prison every year for hurting no one. Most Democrats in power won’t support de-criminalizing recreational drugs, and this is frustrating for the student majority seeking peace of mind; while the Obama administration raids medical marijuana clinics, libertarians like Ron Paul work with Democrats to sponsor bills in Congress to decriminalize it and protect unsuspecting college students like us from more unnecessary riot police, sting operations, and jail time — 132 arrests of partying Amherst students is enough for one weekend.

There are many libertarians in politics and their appeal is growing, sometimes to the confusion of Americans. Libertarian-leaning Governor Bill Richardson ran for President as a Democrat in 2008. Libertarian icons Rep. Ron Paul and Governor Gary Johnson are currently running for President as Republicans, garnering a large following and spreading the principles of individual liberty through their campaigns. The American media are currently too confused and frightened to discuss this new ideology that embodies the most appealing of progressivism and conservatism. Newspapers like The Telegraph note that American libertarians threaten to “construct a ‘leave me alone’ majority that appeals to independents” and jumble the default two-party system. This is something the left and right do not want to happen.

College students may be fed up with the two-party system that advocates for special interests and a fanatical base instead of what young people like us need. Establishment Republicans and Democrats are too busy shutting down the government to listen to the needs of students desiring less restriction in general, more liberty in life and a consistent and simple American principle that we can indiscriminately apply to sustain our democracy, Constitution and individual pursuit of happiness.

john hunt (not verified) says:
Thu, 02/23/2012 - 20:42

Excellent commentary. Libertarianism is not a new ideology, however. It is Jefferson's ideology, which he couldn't achieve fully because of the culture of 5000 years of human slavery hadn't quite yet been extinguished. Libertarianism is the ideology of most of our nation's founders. It is the absolute reason for America's success. America is now failing because it is no longer sufficiently libertarian, and the US government is now shockingly fascist. By fascist, I mean a government that does whatever it thinks is necessary, with no restrictions, and in which groups (corporations, unions, races, religions) conspire with government to transfer power from the individual to the group and government. The progressive/modern liberal/Democrat of today is commonly a purveyor of fascist ideology. The Republicans not uncommonly do the same, just with different controls stressed.
LIbertarianism is the same as "classical liberal" and mostly the opposite of the "modern liberal". Libertarianism is what LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGES were created to advance, but they sadly now mostly advance liberalism, the opposite concept.

The opposite of libertarianism is the narcissism of the progressives. These are people, such as Obama, who believe that they know what is best for people, and are so confident of it that they are willing to use the government's monopoly on the use of force to compel everyone to abide by their superior wisdom and views. When you combine charisma with narcissism, you get a tyrant. Beware.

Libertarians central tenet is that it is wrong to initiate the use of force, threats of force, or fraud. All else stems from this concept. An idealistic college-age student likely agrees with this core principle. I hope they can recognize this and start seeing that libertarianism, with a return to Constitutional supremacy instead of supremacy of moronic elected officials, is our one good path forward.