Progressivism and Libertarianism: A Happy Compromise

compromiseFrom time to time, both online and offline (AKA “The Real World”), I run into people who believe that in the absence of government, all of our problems would be solved. You can often find them online on some of the stranger forums at 3 AM or inserting themselves into unrelated conversation with bizarre comments about “lizard people,” the fluoridation of water or chemtrails. Now those are some of the examples of those who live a little south of sanity, but there’s plenty of people who subscribe to the idea that by shrinking government to the size it could be “drowned in a bathtub,” only then will our economy and society thrive.

The conversation usually follows a similar pattern. Random person I know who is a Ron Paul devotee: “We need to legalize prostitution, gay marriage and drugs. What adults do with their bodies is none of anyone’s business so long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else!” I’ll nod my head and agree. After all, I do have some pretty strong libertarian streaks when it comes to individual liberties and some social issues. Then I hear “the banks are all controlled by the Jews and the Illuminati” and in some more extreme cases, they’ll go on about RFID chips, lizard people and chemtrails. That’s when I know I’m not dealing with a rational human being.

But there are many people like myself that haven’t lashed themselves to the mast of blind one-party ideology, and know that a particular philosophy works in some places and not in others. There’s a lot of places where the paths of Progressives and many reasonable people with libertarian ideas do intersect, especially when we’re discussing government surveillance programs, finance and a few other issues. I think we can agree that wasting tax money on a failed drug war and subsidizing companies who are already making big profits is a bad idea. It’s not hard for us to come to the consensus that we shouldn’t be continuing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on the largest military the world has ever known, or allow the government to collect personal data on private citizens without a warrant. This is the “sweet spot”, the point from which liberals, libertarians, progressives and rational conservatives can operate without the hyper-partisan nonsense that leaves our government as useless and paralyzed as it is right now.

We have too many politicians, both Democrat and Republican who believe that government knows what is best for you. They want you to continually trade personal liberties for a false sense of security. On the opposite side of that, you have those who think that anarchy and everyone left to their own devices is somehow a plausible utopia that can exist in reality. The problem with either scenario is that both are completely unworkable and you end up with either an Orwellian state or complete chaos if you follow the ideologically pure train of thought to its’ inevitable conclusion. But somewhere in the middle is that sweet spot — a proper balance of government that is there when you absolutely need it and is staying out of your womb or bedroom as the Founders would have intended. It’s a shame that we haven’t taken the steps necessary to start moving toward that hybrid “liberaltarian” ideal, but it’s never too late to start.

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  • Charles Vincent

    Stunned silence….. I am not one to agree with either the far right or the far left, and I do thing both sides have some valid ideas…. I do think the author is right that the sweet spot is on that middle ground and I believe that is what the founders intended even though they knew government is an inherently destructive think to personal freedoms they knew it to be a neccasary evil. And the same is true of the other end of the spectrum.

  • Ken Moellman

    I am the chairman of the Libertarian Party of Kentucky. I just wanted to clarify that I have never uttered “lizard people” or “illuminati”, and I have never used racial terms to describe our banking woes. Please keep in mind that it is the less-than-sane among us (all people) who tend to be the loudest. However, I agree with the premise; people should work together where they agree. If we all focused on achieving the goals we agree upon, rather than being distracted by the wedge issues that politicians use to get (re)elected, we’d actually solve some problems.

    So we all agree — let’s leave consenting adults alone, no matter what their fancy.

  • I tell people I’m a socialist with anarchist tendencies. That throws ’em for a loop.