According to Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, libertarians want to go outside without any clothes on and smoke pot. Although I wouldn't oppose someone doing that, I'm rather insulted that he believes that's all I aspire to do in life.
When I dive into libertarianism, I usually think and espouse the concepts of personal responsibility, economic freedom, limited government and leading a life where coercion is not acceptable. When I think about libertarians, I usually picture the likes of Ludwig von Mises, Murray N. Rothbard, F.A. Hayek, Ron Paul, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand (though she objected to libertarianism) and perhaps to some extent Thomas Sowell.
For those who have a paucity of knowledge regarding libertarianism, they usually picture roads with no lanes, people sitting in their homes doing drugs and a residence or commercial property engulfed in flames without any firefighters putting it out. Indeed, to anyone who has studied the political ideology, this is utter nonsense.
This week, one particular politician deeply disappointed me because he certainly should know better. Tea Party favorite Rand Paul claimed that he is not a libertarian who is “advocating everyone go out and run around with no clothes on and smoke pot.” Instead, he’s a “libertarian Republican” and a “constitutional conservative.”
Huh? This is how Rand Paul, the son of the grandfather of the Tea Party and the rejuvenator of the libertarian movement, depicts the philosophy of peace, freedom and prosperity? A bunch of stoners sauntering around the streets butt-naked? I mean if he was talking about hipsters I’d understand, but a movement that quotes Thomas Jefferson, Henry Hazlitt and Frederick Bastiat? If this was anyone else, like Los Angeles mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti, I’d realize the ignorance, but a guy who has been exposed to the ideas of Austrian Economics and non-intervention his whole life should certainly know a whole lot more.
Judging by Paul’s record since entering the Senate, he has shown hints of libertarianism, but the rest of his voting patterns and statements have been in adherence to the Republican status quo: sanctions against Iran, supporting drones and hints of endorsing amnesty for 12 million illegal immigrants.
Although one could argue that Paul is simply playing politics and trying to appease too many people, it can be safely concluded that he is certainly not his father nor has he ever tried to be. But libertarians must comprehend that the Kentucky Senator is not a spokesperson or representative of libertarianism.
Unfortunately for libertarians in the United States (or Canada for that matter), there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of elected representatives in Washington right now that follow the principles and virtues of libertarianism or even the concepts of Austrian Economics, non-intervention and letting people do whatever they want as long as they don’t impose their will on other people.
Furthermore, Paul’s description of libertarianism was downright insulting and disgraceful because the ideology is a whole lot more than that.
Ever sit down with a libertarian and have a conversation about the Federal Reserve, the Austrian theory of capital and interest and the business cycle? How about talks on the many failed notions of American history, such as the government saving capitalism in the early 20th century, war stimulating an economy and the solvency of Social Security? They’ll be be sure to tell you that Hebert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt certainly prolonged the agony, they’ll cite the Broken Window Fallacy and they’ll talk about the $120 trillion unfunded liabilities and expenditures in the United States.
If anyone has spoken to a libertarian, they’ll know that libertarians are quite conversant when it comes to domestic and foreign policy. They most likely listen to the likes of bestselling author Tom Woods, economist Robert Murphy and publisher Lew Rockwell. (No, libertarians don’t sit at home all day watching “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” “Reefer Madness” or “The Big Lebowski” on YouTube.)
Speak to any libertarian today and if they’re asked about their viewpoints, it’s pretty much certain they’ll talk about economic freedom rather than doing weed. Of course, I don’t have a problem with anyone doing drugs. Essentially, we live our life the way we want to: I don’t smoke, drink, do drugs, gamble or watch pornography, but if my neighbors, the owner of the convenient store down the street or the guy who serves me my Tim Hortons coffee at 12:30 wants to do it then so be it.
Just please, when talking libertarianism, don’t make outlandish depictions.
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