The recent government “shutdown” has made some folks realize how little we need the federal government to control our everyday lives. It also reinforces the notion that more government in your life isn’t always the answer, but also, it reminds me of why we are libertarians – we believe in people over governments.
First, I want you to think of all the times that you have tried to talk to someone about your political viewpoint. Think about the dialogue you had and how the other person reacted to your libertarian beliefs. I find, often, when I mention to someone that I am a libertarian, I generally get one of two responses from well-reasoned, rational individuals:
“You are too naive and the world doesn’t really work that way.”
“You are being too idealistic about people and humans need rules, regulation, and restriction to function.”
I am sure you have as well. Even as a teenager, this reaction always bothered me. It seems to come from both the left and the right – in equal proportion – and it seems to engulf every aspect of political debate. Whether it is the economy, welfare, gun control, third parties, foreign policy, or any other hot button topic of the week – I’m always too “naive” and “idealistic”.
If I say that heavy taxation causes a deadening effect upon the economy, then I do not understand that people need the services the government provides to survive – and therefore taxes, even when exorbitantly high, are necessary.
If I state that social programs (welfare, medicaid, social security) are all government handouts that “give a man a fish, but do not teach them to fish for themselves”, I am too idealistic to assume that people can make wise financial decisions in their lives or maintain skills that make them desirable on the job market.
If I suggest that foreign intervention in other people’s lives for our profit leads only to resentment and aggression against us, I am being yet again too naive and we must fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.
And the list goes on, and on, unfortunately.
I am always, and consistently, dumbstruck by this argument. It is gleefully uttered, usually with a condescending and dismissive tone, as if it somehow denigrates my reasoning to that of a child or some other simpleton unable to comprehend the vast complexities of human behavior. At every turn, the notion that humans must be controlled in all aspects of their life (financially, socially, and religiously) is creeping into our government, slithering into our homes, and no one seems to care — as long as their political party sponsored it. It seems that these individuals do not mind trampling on the rights of the people as long as they inflict on others their will “for the greater good”.
And it hits me: both left and right genuinely believe people are evil, dishonest, and will trespass against their neighbor without constant supervision and control. They believe the people must be controlled, whether through something as obvious as gun control and forced subsidization of social programs or less obvious like the war on drugs, abortion and religion in schools — it’s obvious they believe their way is the only way. Not only is it the only way, but you will obey and accept it by the force of the gun.
However, to be a libertarian, one believes that people regulate themselves without government involvement in virtually every facet of our lives. In order to do that, you must believe that people are inherently good. You must believe that the vast majority of people will not mass murder hundreds of innocent people with firearms, will not rob banks, be greedy and avaricious, and find their own religious path in life. Sadly, this is a scary notion to most who believe in either political party.
Truthfully, it should be scary to them - you have just announced that their party is not needed.
What a terrible world these individuals live in. People are not inherently evil regardless of what the religious right wants us to believe. People are not too stupid to take care of themselves regardless of the self-aggrandizing left tries to force us to support. So, I have come with a new response to those who believe I am too naive or idealistic about my fellowman: good, I am glad I believe in humanity, if I didn’t believe that most people were good and capable of reasoning, why would I choose to live in the same society? Why not return to caveman days, for civilization has clearly bred degenerates and miscreants, unfit to share space with one another.
So join with me in staying naive and idealistic. It might be the only shot for a better tomorrow we have left.