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Keywords: libertarian party | united states |
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image by Roberto Leibman, 15 February 2000
Though the party has not officially elected a flag, libertarians often use a liberty statue surrounded by stars. Another flag often encountered among libertarian circles is the "Don't tread on me" flag. I have also seen a flag with a penguin (the un-official mascot of the Libertarian Party, the Liberty Penguin, kind of like the donkey or elephant of the democrat and republican parties.
Roberto Leibman, 15 February 2000
A thumbnail definition: In the U.S., the Libertarian Party denotes a belief that the powers of government should be very strictly limited, e.g. to foreign affairs, national defense, law enforcement, etc. Libertarians believe that government has no business providing health care, old-age pensions, managing the economy, etc., etc. Libertarians, unlike anarchists, believe in the rule of law, but they are very much against the legislation of morality. Libertarians support drug legalization, for example, on the theory that people have the right to do what they want as long as it doesn't injure anyone else. But they have no problem with laws against murder, robbery, rape, etc.
Tom Gregg, 28 February 2000
That is pretty close. I am a member of the Libertarian Party and we believe very much in the rule of law as designated by the powers of the U.S. Constitution and the state constitutions - so long as they are in obeyance with the Federal Constitution. The Federal government does have the power to influence that portion of the economy that crosses state lines, as those powers are mandated in that document. We also believe the Federal government has the power to set up judicial systems (including trial by a jury of your peers), customs taxes, provide for national defense, treat with other nations so long as U.S. sovereignty is respected, and deal with the protection of its citizens on affairs that also cross state lines.
All other things are reserved to the states to handle.
We also believe in equal rights and protections for all but special rights or protections for none - all are equal under the Constitution. The private sector can almost always do things better, more efficiently and far cheaper than the government can do them and one of our platforms is to privatize much of the things the government does today. The reason here is that the government has no accountability while the private sector, with its profit and efficiency motives in place, can do things better and, if they don't work out, shut them down.
We also believe firmly in the Bill Of Rights which grants free speech, a free press, freedom of religious practice as well as keeping the government out of religion (a strict separation of church and state), freedom to keep and bear arms (which goes far deeper than just having them for defense, both personal and for national reasons - but also to keep the government in line - as, I believe Jefferson stated, "Where the people fear the government you have tyranny, where the government fears the people you have liberty."), protection against self-incrimination, reserving those powers not given to the Federal government (which, if you read the Constitution, are not that many!) to the states, protection against having troops live in your home, and a few others. The document would not have passed state muster back when it was written (1787) unless the Bill Of Rights was added to it.
The United States was begun by libertarians and we count as our heroes Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Payne, among others. The belief that we have in the states doing things better than the Federal government holds very true for us, as well as having the Federal government obey the laws of the Constitution. We view government as the servant of the people designed to conduct the people's business - but they only rule over us until we withdraw our consent to be ruled by them. Hence the belief in secession in American history (and still a party plank of the Libertarian party by the way).
That is it in a nutshell basically - other than we have belief in people as individuals, and that they have inalienable rights to protect them - but they also bear the enormous responsibility not to infringe on others and to take care of themselves rather than depend on government to take care of them for them. That is the way it used to be in the United States - until presidents cranked up the era of massive Federal government.
Hope this helps explain libertarians to you.
Greg Biggs, 28 February 2000