Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Libertarian Majority?

Political Spectrum
For a little over a year I have considered myself a "Libertarian." Or rather, a little over a year ago, I learned the word Libertarian and decided that it was a perfect description of the way I have felt for my entire life.

I also figured I was somewhat alone on this one.

How could I not? We live in a broken two party system. There are campaign financing laws in place that prevent independents and the like from getting a loud enough voice. When elections come around, you have only ever heard of the Democrat or GOP options.

Whenever I tell people that know anything about politics that I am a libertarian, they generally look on me as if I had just told them that I don't believe in god. To them, I was the annoying kid in the sandbox that was messing up their play time with my ideals.

I have, however, always intuited that there are a lot more libertarian minded people out there, like I used to be, who are equally frustrated at not fitting into the two party scheme.

Well, according to a recent report on the Official Website of the Libertarian Party, my intuition may be correct. After wading through an overabundance of Prom metaphor, you get to the following blurb:

Let's take a look at some of the numerical potential Libertarians have, though. In a recent Cato Institute Study, David Boaz and David Kirby found that 13 percent of the voting age population and 15 percent of actual voters are libertarian. While not enough to win an election outright, in the words of Boaz and Kirby, this amounts to "about the same share of the electorate as the 'religious right,' and a larger share than the fabled 'soccer moms' and 'NASCAR dads.'"

Everyone doesn’t have to be a "perfect libertarian" (whatever that is) in order to pull the Libertarian lever, though. Expanding on the 13 to 15 percent number that Boaz and Kirby used, last year the Gallup Organization (once again) found that 20 percent of Americans are libertarian, while 27 percent are conservative and 24 percent are liberal.

Well, that's pretty equal. But it gets even better...

In another survey, Boaz and Kirby used the widest brush possible to define libertarians in the American public. While the survey results were overly broad in scope, they do indicate that the numbers potentially exist for Libertarians to win elections around the country.

"We also asked a new question. We asked half the sample, 'Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal?' We asked the other half of the respondents, 'Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, also known as libertarian?'

"The results surprised us. Fully 59 percent of the respondents said 'yes' to the first question. That is, by 59 to 27 percent, poll respondents said they would describe themselves as 'fiscally conservative and socially liberal.'

"The addition of the word 'libertarian' clearly made the question more challenging. What surprised us was how low the drop-off was. A robust 44 percent of respondents answered 'yes' to that question, accepting a self-description as 'libertarian.'"

The last time I checked, 44 percent represents significantly more votes than are required to win a three-way political contest.


This goes to show you that 59% of Americans share many of my sandbox disrupting ideals (granted, even if you are skeptical of the number itself, the very idea that about half of the country are would-be libertarians is astounding). Furthermore, the 44% shown by the other sample explains that perhaps people aren't as afraid of the moniker as once thought.

So, perhaps, if the party can get itself together, maybe we can start fixing the political mess this country finds itself in.

This begs the question: Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, also known as libertarian?

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