Frenemies: Why Democrats and Libertarians Are Like Oil and Vinegar

(I would like to preface this article by stating that I realize I am likely to make enemies in both the Democratic and Libertarian camps, and that this article will attempt to represent the internal struggle that most moderate, centrist Americans face daily. I would also like to point out that technically, I am registered “unaffiliated,” in hopes that one day I will find a  party I can more fully identify with.)

The ancient debate of liberty vs. equality motivated the founders to undertake the endeavor of establishing the United States of America. In contemporary politics, this debate is often lost in the partisan bickering that is, quite frequently, the same point rephrased and repeated back. However, the growing Libertarian Party is the party of liberty and should they or their ideas rise to power, the Democratic party would be free to once again infuriate Libertarians by setting themselves in opposition: standing for equality.

You see, the Libertarian Party and the Democratic Party already agree on a number of issues (regardless of the methods to achieve them). For instance, Democrats and Libertarians can agree that the war on drugs is a failure and has succeeded only in padding the pockets of participants in the “Prison-industrial-complex,” or that peace is better than endless war. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, and there are many things that Libertarians and Democrats disagree about (social programs, size of government, etc.).

Although I am probably more aligned with the Democrats than the Libertarians, I argue that Libertarian policy and practice are far closer (and more beneficial) to the Democratic platform than that championed by the Republican Party.

Back in the day of “plant a bush back in texas” and “somewhere in Texas there’s a village missing its idiot” bumper-stickers, the Democratic Party was free to bash on the administration for its war-mongering (the Iraq and Afghanistan “wars”), freedom restrictions, energy policy, and more. Now, in our “post-racial” society with a Democratic president, the liberals have everything they had hoped for, right?

No, as it turns out. In many ways, Obama has been the continuation of the Bush administration with relatively few minor differences. Now, to toe the party line means you cannot criticize the president, even though he has been anything but the standard-bearer of “hope and change” in actual policy. Sure, the media fails to give him credit for what he has accomplished, but in many major ways his leadership has been anti-climactic.

Meanwhile, the venerable Dr. Paul has been slowly but surely making waves in American politics with libertarian principles. Unfortunately for the nation, he attempted to use the Republican Party for a pulpit and alienated the freedom-minded liberals who may have voted for him rather than Gov. Gary Johnson on the Libertarian ticket – a far less recognizable figure and name. The past is past, though, and what-ifs do not advance the movement.  

Paul’s young Libertarian supporters have even been compared to the hippies of the sixties who happened to grow up and form the “radical left.” However, those former hippies are left in opposition to the current “radical right” – Republicans. I would much prefer the radical-left to support equality and the radical-right to support liberty, something the Republican Party is loath to do unless it is in support of guns.

We currently have a two-party system that cherry-picks when to stand for liberty or equality, and many Libertarians will be quick to point out that the Democratic Party is as bad or worse than the Republican Party on this. My point is not that the Democratic Party, as it stands, is ideal or even good, but instead that we are left with a hypocritical jumble of policy dictated by tragedy and circumstance.

In my view, the nation (and the world even) would be far better off with two distinct options for party choices. Should the Libertarian Party rise and replace the Republican Party, or even simply “corrupt” it from within, the American people will be far better off. Libertarian policy-makers will be conservative in the realest sense, and hold true to the constitution as well as core American values. In opposition, Democratic policy-makers will be progressive and push the limits to expand what it means to be American. Each party will prevent the other from overreaching in either direction and at every election the American people will have a clear choice: do we want more liberty this year, or more equality?

This question can never be asked as we stand, and voters are left dissatisfied with both parties because neither current party truly stands for a side in the debate over liberty and equality.

This is not an intensive article, and by no means do I believe that Libertarians and Democrats of the future will be any less supportive of their respective views when they disagree. However, I do strongly believe that both parties would benefit from the growth of the Libertarian Party - and thus the return of its ideals to the American conscious.