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Libertarianism: the modern day lost cause

COLUMN

The Parthenon

Published: Sunday, April 7, 2013

Updated: Sunday, April 7, 2013 22:04

Throughout the history of the United States, it is evident that we as Americans are pulled towards what is known as a lost cause. Things like the Confederate States of America, the separation of North and South Vietnam and the Republic of Texas are lost causes, things Americans have heavily debated for many years.

For the most part, the causes that have raised our interest have been like those mentioned above, conflicts of arms and international struggles, but today we find a new lost cause, and that is the Libertarian movement.

The idea of a major third party in the U.S. political system is a pipe dream, and has been idealized within the Libertarian Party and figures like Ron Paul.

The plain and simple truth is that a third party candidate will not get elected to the White House, at least not in our lifetimes.

Libertarians tend to sway more towards the Republican party, but the Republican party does not like Libertarians. When it comes to a major election, the very best a Libertarian A.K.A third party candidate can do is split the Republican vote, which of course is a good thing for my fellow Democrats.

To be a Libertarian is to “put the ideals of personal liberties above all else” or some close variation of that. Of course, that is far too simplistic, and while it is nice to say personal liberties above all else, it is not practical. I want the government in my life, because I like knowing that my elected representatives are watching out for me, and I will gladly and willingly sacrifice some of my personal freedoms if that is what is needed.

Some people are quoting Benjamin Franklin right now with “those who trade liberty for security deserve neither.” I wonder if perhaps Mr. Franklin would feel different if the British armies at Yorktown and New York City had been armed with nuclear weapons and AK-47s.

Perhaps the movie “The Patriot” would have been 90 minutes shorter had the British just fired a rocket launcher into Mel Gibson’s house. To use the arguments of men who died 200 years ago is not relevant.

Some of the smartest people I know believe in the Libertarian cause, but I sometimes stop and ask myself, what kind of world would we live in if everyone’s personal liberties were placed above everything else. That is not a world I think I would be comfortable living in, and I doubt  it is a world that many other people would be comfortable in either.

The third party dream is for the people who want to bring change but do not quite have a realistic way of doing it. To change the system you live in, you have to be willing to be a part of the system. Because third party candidates and Libertarians are not willing to do that, they will not get the chance to change our system, whether it might be for the better or for the worse.

Ross Whitford can be contacted at whitford@marshall.edu.
 

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