I am NOT a conservative

Ted Hamilton

After all of the “spirited” (angry) comments and e-mails about my column that ran Nov. 13, (“Robin Hood represents what is wrong with society”) I felt the need to point something out: I am not a conservative. Just because someone does not support the welfare state and promotes personal responsibility does not mean he or she is a conservative. I am a libertarian and while I do share some views with fellow columnist Matt White, we do not agree on everything.

Libertarians believe government should stay out of citizens’ everyday life as much as possible. This is something conservatives and libertarians share to an extent. Where both ideologies want to see government out of business, libertarians take it a step further and believe government should stay out of our personal lives as well. This means victimless crimes (i.e. drug use) should not be punishable by law. In a libertarian society, if you do not violate other’s rights than you are not committing a crime.

Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to place more of an emphasis on keeping with traditions and religions. Not that anything is wrong with that, but in the libertarianism ideology there is more of an emphasis on liberty and doing what makes you happy.

The major reason libertarians are lumped in with conservatives is ultimately because both groups used to believe in a smaller government. In recent years that has changed immensely with the creation of giant parts of government such as the Department of Homeland Security and invasive policies such as the Patriot Act, which is to civil liberties as Hitler is to Jewish people. We still have more in common with them than the liberals who tend to be largely statists. Liberals tend not to think people can take care of (or think for) themselves and believe the government should be involved in every aspect of life. We do not like to view people as ignorant and unable to take care of themselves.

Luckily the libertarian movement is growing. According to the Washington Times, the Libertarian Party has seen an 18 percent increase in membership between January and July this year. The American people are largely waking up and getting sick of the Democrats and Republicans because they are realizing there is not much of a difference between the two parties. There are a few policies here and there the groups actually differ on but largely the differences are small. Both parties are in the pockets of special interest groups and corporations, and regardless of what the Democrats like to say, both have been warmongers in the past. I do not need to point any further than to Vietnam or World War II for an example of this. Both parties have become corrupt and are more interested in getting money for their districts than actually passing effective working legislature.

The libertarian movement is not just a few crazy pot heads running around talking about “the man.” A lot of us do not do drugs but think if people want to mess up their minds, they are theirs to do so. Several of the founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, leaned toward libertarianism. Even now, the Libertarian Party is endorsed by people as influential as Clint Eastwood, Drew Carey and Dave Barry.

As the third largest political party in the United States, maybe the Libertarian Party, being different in ideology from liberals and conservatives, can break the duopoly the other two parties have on the system. Maybe there is hope for a break of the stranglehold the two large parties have on the throat of American politics and liberty.

Ted Hamilton is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].