by Mike Christodoulou
The idea of "left" and "right" is an anachronism. It stems from the actual seating positions of the two parties that existed in the Parliament of Merry Old England.
Today, we recognize that the political spectrum is much more complicated than that. Measuring with just two issues: Personal freedom and Economic freedom, we can divide politics into at least four sectors: Libertarian, Republican, Democratic, and Authoritarian. (See The World's Smallest Political Quiz). If you throw in additional, high-level issues, the chart stretches out into multiple directions -- which, by the way, is very difficult to draw.
So you can see that limiting yourself to thinking of politics simply as "left" or "right" severely restricts the choices you can consider. Instead, listen to all the different groups and find the one that closely matches your own opinions.
Let's start with the modern definition of "liberal". The original definition referred to those who favor personal liberty, but nowadays it refers to those who mostly agree with the Democratic Party, even in their vehement opposition to personal liberty in many areas. Today's "liberal" wants to allow you to persue your personal life as you please (except in areas of school choice, doctor choice, "politically correct" word choice, food choice, where you smoke, where you park, and more and more other areas), but then they want to take away your money or control how you spend it.
A "Libertarian" (somebody who subscribes to the ideals of the Libertarian Party) favors freedom in all aspects of your life. You should be able to live your life as you please (as long as you don't violate the rights of others) AND you should be able to spend the money you earned in any way you want.
Libertarians, unlike other political parties, have a clearly defined platform, and a clearly stated philosophy by which to derive that platform. Plus, we're always happy to explain our position, without any hemming, hawing, or "I'll have to study that issue and get back to you."
How much of the Libertarian philosophy should you have to agree with before you consider yourself a Libertarian? 50%? 75% 90%? Have you never voted for a Demoblican or a Republicrat you agreed with only 51% of the time? Do you refuse to vote for a Republican if you disagree with his stand on abortion? Do you disregard the Democrats if you don't like what they have to say about immigration?
When it comes down to it, you need to find the party that most closely matches your own views. You can't hold out for a party that matches you exactly -- that would be a Party of One!
This is just absurd. If you resolve to only vote for the candidate who will win, what's the point of voting at all? Why not just wait and see who the winner is, and then proudly declare "Yup! That's who I voted for!"
It is a complete fallacy to assert that your vote doesn't count. Every vote counts! A vote for your candidate -- even one who doesn't win the election -- helps in several ways:
In the 1992 race for U.S. Senator from Georgia, the 4% vote received by the Libertarian candidate was enough to throw the election into a run-off -- and influenced the final outcome. In an atmosphere which is designed to discourage any third party candidate from getting on the ballot, a vote for the Libertarian candidate helps maintain the numbers required to keep the party eligible for the next election. It adds one more voice to those of the people who want to say "We want these ideas heard!"
If you are not voting your conviction then you'll be either not counted or counted as something you're not -- THAT'S throwing away your vote!
Interestingly enough, this is the one issue that draws the most attention. Simply stated, Libertarians do not condone or promote the use of drugs. We simply assert that as long as a person is not harming anybody through his actions, what he puts into his own body is nobody's business but his own. (See also "Should We Re-Legalize Drugs?")
This philosophy is consistent with the rest of the Libertarian platform. We believe that the role of government is to protect its citizens from those who would hurt them or otherwise deprive them of their rights; not to protect them from the sight of those whose activities might "offend" them; and certainly not to protect them from their own stupidity.
These are the opinions of Mike Christodoulou, Cypriot@Concentric.net, and even though they sound almost exactly like the positions of the Libertarian Party, the current staff of the party has not reviewed them (so far as we know). However, you can easily visit the web page of the Libertarian Party for official statements of its policies and positions.