Last week, Thoughts on Liberty writer Cathy Reisenwitz spoke about the dangers of libertarians aligning themselves with conservatives. I know that there are a lot of people in the movement, and here on TOL, that agree with her and Gina’s sentiments. But I’m not one of them. As the GOP currently stands (there are more “McCains” than there are “Pauls,” and even the Pauls aren’t perfect), I do not advocate that libertarians all vote Republican. However, I also do not advocate branding all conservatives as freedom haters, as I believe some are wont to do. What could that possibly do for the libertarian revolution other than shrink it?
Before I came to my way of thinking, I moved through cycles of the Republican Party. As personal freedom became more important to me, I did more research. I began seeing the word “libertarian” more and more often. As I clicked through links about what libertarianism is, a light went off. “Hey,” I thought, “maybe that’s what I am.” Now I’m blogging for liberty-oriented websites and attending libertarian conventions.
If the first few pieces I saw were libertarians bashing conservatives, though, I might have instantly become defensive and the liberty movement would have lost a member, perhaps forever. Tribalism is an active facet of society. Regardless of whether someone is becoming disgruntled with their “tribe,” their sense of identity within said tribe is important to them. If they are first met with criticism of their group, they will likely become defensive – imploring them to dismiss other ideas instead of feeling encouraged to explore a new ideology.
We should stop putting people through purity tests to decide if they’re really libertarian enough. We need to be welcoming everyone to the party—after all, isn’t the party supposed to be about personal choice? Libertarians are known as the party of “no.” No; you do not love liberty enough for us. No; that policy isn’t necessary. No; the government cannot do that. While these things may be true, why do we not present ourselves as the party of increased freedom? And while we’re at it, why are we not warmly welcoming every person who even shows a slight interest in liberty?
Vlogger Julie Borowski is often berated in the comments of her videos for not being libertarian enough and occasionally talking favorably about Republicans; however, she’s brought countless people to the liberty movement – including myself. So why are some bashing her rather than thanking her? I love the Libertarian party now, but for a while, I struggled with coming to terms with the party because of people like those commenters. They simply came off as pretentious and that is definitely not inviting.
I am not coming close to suggesting we all vote GOP. I am suggesting that we should refrain from bashing them, or anyone else for that matter. Let’s become the party of “yes” and praise conservatives for the good policies that they do enact. It’s time for libertarians to stop their ideological tests and truly become the party of different voices for liberty.