The freedom of individual choice is the most crucial principle that the libertarian ideology rests upon. Nobody has the right to force a decision upon another person. Coercion is the ultimate evil that begets a turn to authoritarianism. Because of this, it is of great importance that libertarians from all walks of life champion the core ideals of personal liberty, freedom of choice, and individual rights. Historically, Libertarians have consistently chosen to participate in fights against coercion and for individual liberty, even when they may disagree with what someone might do with those rights.
The biggest example of advocacy for liberty in America would be our revolution. Leading up to that pivotal July night in 1776, the talk of independence was empowered by a talk of democracy and separation from a tyrannical monarchy. These beliefs, while widely accepted today, were radical and insane during their time. Were the libertarian school of thought present at such discussions, where would we stand? Clearly, the answer would be in favor of separation from Great Britain.
In the years after the Revolution, slavery became an issue that was an affront to human dignity that would soon divide the nation. Would the principled libertarian side with the slave owners or with the abolitionists? Irrefutably, we would support the complete abolition of slavery even if it would eventually plunge us into civil war. When we choose to stand up for the freedom of others, we are helping ensure freedom for ourselves too. As Russell Means said, “I want to be free. It’s easier for me to be free if you’re free.”
In more recent times, what about when the United States established internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II? Civil liberties are not suspended even in times of war, especially when they are unnecessarily trampled by policy decisions fueled by hysteria and fear rather than rationale. To be consistent in our platform, the modern libertarian would unequivocally reject this policy that was based solely on race.
If our current rendition of the American Libertarian Party was present throughout these examples, it would fight tooth and nail to ensure that freedom rings true for any person in the United States.
We now turn to the present age to our next fight, where we must give unrelenting support on the shores of a new attack on individual choice. Just twenty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that substantive due process and an inherent right to privacy protect homosexual activity in the privacy of one’s home. LGBTQ+ Libertarians rejoiced around the country as one weapon of the government’s armory of oppression was disarmed. During this time when the concept of substantive due process was understood to provide widespread protections to individual choices, many new protections were afforded — such as the right to contraceptives, same-sex marriage, and abortion.
Early last year, the Supreme Court reversed the abortion decision, protected by Roe v. Wade, under the guise that the Constitution did not infer a protection to abortion. The first chip of substantive due process was eroded, setting up more fights down the road. Justice Clarence Thomas would even specifically write that the Court “should reconsider all […] substantive due process precedents,” including the case that upheld private homosexual sexual activity and another that upheld same-sex marriage because they are, “demonstrably erroneous.”
Libertarians must continue to defend the right to privacy and equal treatment under the law for LGBTQ+ people, especially with a member of the Supreme Court taking direct aim at same-sex marriage and decriminalization of homosexuality. While issues around LGBTQ+ rights have become part of the culture war conflict, libertarians see this as a matter of individual liberty and protection of personal choices. Libertarians oppose the government regulating and criminalizing the choices of peaceful people.
Individual liberty is not a matter to be voted on by any government body, it is a freedom endowed at birth by nature of being human. The government should not be empowered to decide for itself whether it will respect the personal decision of a person’s sexuality, it must be dictated and required to respect it.
If we are to continue with our struggle for liberty, we must maintain the fight that we would have fought for in the past historical examples provided. The Supreme Court has set the stage for the next fight to be in their chambers, now we must continue our unrelenting advocacy for liberty.
This piece solely expresses the opinions of the author, and not necessarily the Classical Liberal Caucus as a whole.
The Classical Liberal Caucus is dedicated to promoting classical liberal principles, involvement, and professionalism in and through the Libertarian Party. Join and help us make liberty classical again.