Though I am not a Libertarian, it bothers me to see issues posing as libertarian that are not really libertarian. Since I want people to think more clearly about public policy, I think it is worth addressing the problem.
A lot of ink has been spilled (or pixels wasted) on how there is a growing “libertarian movement” in the United States. Pat Buchanan, for example, spoke for many when he claimed that both the legalization of marijuana and the desire to own “assault rifles” with magazines that hold as many as thirty rounds was evidence of “a deeply libertarian trend.”
While there is some evidence of Libertarian thought becoming more popular in this country, I would argue much of it is overblown. Take marijuana as an example. The President upset some people and made others happy when he spoke about it recently:
“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” he told The New Yorker. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol”.
Some of this I can excuse as pushback against past “reefer madness” types of propaganda put out by the establishment to justify their war on drugs. But a government that has to put out pro-marijuana propaganda to justify not punishing marijuana users is likely to be just as delusional as a government putting out anti-marijuana propaganda to justify jail time for people caught smoking a joint.
I don’t want a government that requires propaganda in favor of any choice that is legal for residents to make.
The fact that the president used tobacco as a comparison to marijuana really demonstrates the problem. The same society that is increasingly tolerating and de-criminalizing marijuana continues to demonize and marginalize tobacco. “Public health” advocates continue to try to penalize tobacco and tobacco producers even more. Why? As far as I can tell from the rhetoric we don’t yet have big corporations producing marijuana products (though it is only a matter of time), but such corporations have been in charge of tobacco for a long time. These corporations are treated as groups who somehow make people smoke. You would think that the ongoing practice of smoking marijuana might make people rethink the method we use to blame tobacco producers. Obviously, even without advertising or even legality, people have continued to smoke Marijuana.
The point here is that, if you think the state should legalize an option only when that option is harmless or good for you, then you are obviously not being libertarian. Right or wrong the libertarian position is that the government should leave people alone to either wreck their own lives or achieve success according to the decisions they are rightfully free to make.
This applies to other areas.
There was a time when people who opposed laws against homosexuality used libertarian rhetoric. “It is none of the government’s business,” “keep the government out of the bedroom” etc. But that was all a lie. People didn’t legalize homosexuality because they believed people were free to do right or wrong with other consenting adults. They legalized homosexuality because they believed it was good and healthy for some people and deserved to be promoted. Now same-sex “marriage” rights are being imposed on the states by the Department of Justice. And of course all of this has been pushed through the public schools for years as a positive and healthy lifestyle choice.
What I am saying is this. If you think there are many valid and healthy lifestyle choices which should all be legal, then you are not a libertarian; you’re just a Liberal. If you think there are evil and self-destructive lifestyle choices that should be legal, then you are a libertarian.