***To each his own disclosure. This is an opinion post and is not a statement of official party position or party platform***
You don’t have to be a pure libertarian to be Libertarian. (the big L vs the little l debate won’t be settled here). If you’re curious and don’t know what the heck the difference is, the Capital L generally refers to the Libertarian Party (). Lowercase l refers to the ideology, which includes anarchists, minarchists (the LP is minarchist), left libertarians, right libertarians (the LP is right libertarian), etc. I am not a pure libertarian, never have been, never will be. I am a Libertarian, a badge I proudly wear even if pure libertarians roll their eyes at some of my viewpoints. I imagine that many of you are also Libertarians but have been scared away by some of the radicalism of some pure libertarians. Don’t be turned away from expressing your Libertarian views just because you don’t feel the same as a pure libertarian on the issues of taxes, roads, guns, wars or whatever else.
Too often you have heard the term “taxes are theft”, and in a pure libertarian point of view they are theft. However, as a Libertarian I have come to realize that the statement “death and taxes” is true and that just calling them “theft” isn’t going to reduce them nor eliminate them entirely. Calling a thief names when he has a gun to your head demanding your wallet might not work out well. So how can I, as a Libertarian, deal with taxes and rationally support the idea of paying them?
Since taxes are necessary to support the policies of our government, we need to look at those policies and support those that do the most good with the least harm. If a policy is bad, we must work to have it changed or repealed. We need to be vigilant against government waste as well as watching out for government excess and overreach. We must ensure that government doesn’t spend more than it collects, so if you don’t believe in a balanced budget you are not a Libertarian. Last of all you must support the ideas of fairness in taxes. While tax breaks are great, too often they are used as a tool to unfairly reward one group or special interest at the detriment of everyone else. For example, granting tax breaks to billionaires to build sport stadiums, even if it creates jobs, is not Libertarian.
If you are an anarchist, you are not automatically a “Libertarian”. Can you be both? Yes. Anarchism is one of the many philosophies that occupy our party but is not the only one we have. Being a Libertarian means you strongly support self-ownership and voluntary association, but quickly realize these rights in our society are limited by certain acts; Be it the Constitution “statutory law” and by common law and no one is truly 100% free in present society. So while the libertarian side of me might want to walk down the street naked, smoking a blunt, drinking jack, carrying a rifle, and resisting anyone who tries to interfere with my rights to self-ownership, the Libertarian side of me realizes I need to work to educate others about personal freedoms and work within the rules to change the laws before attempting to do so.
Can you be a Democrat or a Republican and still be a Libertarian? My answer is a resounding no! While Ron Paul is often cited as a libertarian, associating yourself with Democrats and Republicans means that you support some ideas that are fundamentally opposed to libertarianism. While as a Libertarian I am forced to accept taxes as a necessary evil and accept government laws that limit my rights self-ownership, to use any of them as a tool to enforce my views upon someone else is absolutely wrong. Both the Democrats and the Republicans use government as tool to push their agendas. For example, I might believe that living wages are a great idea as it lifts people out of poverty, but to pass laws or to collect taxes and redistribute wealth to achieve such a goal is not Libertarian. I might also believe that a strong defense is necessary, but to deficit spend in order to build a bigger navy is not Libertarian, as all deficit spending is taking away rights from future generations without their consent.
So how do you know that you are Libertarian without embracing pure libertarianism? I would start by viewing the Libertarian Party platform (https://www.lp.org/platform/) if all or most of these principles apply to your way of thinking then you are a Libertarian. I have looked and “taxes are theft” is nowhere to be found in the platform, sorry purists.
So you might be a Libertarian, now what? We have way too many pure libertarians already taking up the position of armchair quarterback. So we need Libertarians who will show up when we have meetings, join us in events we either host or participate in, and help spread the truth about Libertarianism; that we are not here to abolish all government and spread anarchism but are here to protect your rights to life and liberty from government overreach.
Chair- Denton County Libertarian Party
**Edited by Rob Gammon 4/13/2017 (added context and detail)