Conservatives that no longer feel welcome in the GOP family have begun courting new political partners. But alarmingly, they’re not simply searching for a new party. They’re considering changing their fundamental political worldview allegiance. One of the prime ideological candidates appears to be libertarianism.
At first glance, libertarianism seems to be the natural fit for disenfranchised conservatives. It’s small government, pro-liberty, and doesn’t come with the baggage of traditional conservatism.
But before you jump ship (or at least before you sign on to the crew of a new libertarian ship), due diligence is critical. What is this political ideology really supporting? A few important considerations:
Libertarianism is essentially capitalist liberalism.
There is a reason that libertarianism is a distinct political ideology from conservatism. It is completely different. There may be some points of apparent agreement—Libertarians are for small government and capitalist economic philosophy—but the worldview premise for this apparent agreement is entirely different from conservatism in rationale. Libertarianism is also diametrically opposed to conservative moral principles for society.
Libertarianism is the philosophy that government exists as a necessary evil and should exist in the barest form simply to referee social relationships. The simple definition is “a person who believes that people should be allowed to do and say what they want without any interference from the government.”
“Liberty” and “freedom” are redefined under a Libertarian philosophy. Where conservatives understand that the sole legitimate role of government is to preserve and protect our unalienable rights, libertarianism defines liberty as the individual’s subjective right to define reality for him or herself. Liberty equals extreme tolerance in the libertarian paradigm.
As one libertarian put it, “This then means, necessarily, that libertarians are ardent advocates for the free market, which is simply a process by which people are interacting peacefully with each other for mutual gain.”
Libertarianism is just one step away from anarchy. Government exists in the barest and most minimal form only because it is necessary to enforce the individual’s right to behave however he pleases. Libertarian philosophy embraces “argumentation ethics,” a position that any ethical position other than the “non-aggression principle” is logically incoherent. This non-aggression principle is considered one of the fundamental tenants of libertarianism.
Adherence to capitalism and small government is the only significant distinction from liberalism as a political philosophy. This is why many “moderates” view themselves as Libertarians. They are not full Democrats or socialists (believing in bigger government and entitlement programs), but squarely align with liberalism in all social and moral issues.
Libertarianism is not consistent with biblical values and constitutional conservatism.
Libertarianism’s root worldview is Secular Humanism (the same as liberalism) and the idea that the truth of reality is subjective to each individual person to define for themselves. The only greater “good” is creating a society that allows every person to live however they desire.
Advocates for libertarianism actually specifically state that the non-aggression principle is not rooted in any principles of morality or “should” but rather it is chiefly concerned with an individual’s property rights.
According to Dr. Walter Block, professor of economics at Loyola University, “[L]ibertarianism is a theory concerned with the justified use of aggression, or violence, based on property rights, not morality. Therefore, the only proper questions which can be addressed in this philosophy are of the sort…”
You want to be gay married? Go for it. Government shouldn’t stop you. You want an abortion? Your right to define any right. Your male neighbor wants to “identify” as a woman and go into the locker room with your daughter? Neither you nor government should stop him. There is no True (with a capital T) morality in a libertarian paradigm.
Thus, society becomes purely a social construct in order to peaceably navigate and referee unavoidable interactions with each other. In the libertarian worldview, exactly like liberalism, there is no universal truth by which government must conform itself. Moral arguments are relative, and what is “good” for you may not be “good” for me.
While liberalism believes that the government is the sole arbiter of defining the greater good in society and conservatism believes that natural law defines good and God is the sole arbiter, libertarianism believes that each individual is the sole arbiter of truth for himself.
Libertarianism subscribes to the idea that each person is free to ordain and establish “the good life” for themselves however they see fit. The government exists solely to protect their wealth and prosperity, but cannot in any way tell them what to do or how to live.
Questions of morality or any values-based argument is subjective, self-determinable, and autonomous in the Libertarian ethos. A constitutional republic is an absurdity to the Libertarian philosophy and Libertarianism is ultimately inconsistent with conservatism.
We don’t need a new ideology. We need to understand constitutional conservatism.
Regardless of the state of politics, voters, or party candidates, our ideology remains consistent. Remember, we chose conservatism because it is the most consistent with the Christian worldview, our American system of a constitutional republic, and the best way to implement true liberty in a society.
We might simply need a new party, candidate, or reformation that reflects our sincerely held beliefs and political ideology. But we cannot presume that the woes of the Republican Party call into question everything we know to be true ideologically within conservatism as a worldview.
Constitutional conservatism needs an understood ideological definition so that its proponents understand the inherent conflicts with other political philosophies.
Constitutional conservatism is the political philosophy that the sole proper role of government in any society is to preserve and protect every person’s unalienable rights through the right to self-government. We the people elect and ordain our leaders, who share a balance of limited powers and are vested with the inherent authority to legislate and enforce law consistent with this mandate.
Our Constitution exists to provide limited powers to the elected, representative leaders to discharge their duty to the people of preserving and protecting our rights. This includes the right to legislate in accordance with Truth and morality.
Regardless of the state of politics, voters, or party candidates, there is never a time to abandon Truth or the political ideology that conforms to Truth.
While certainly each individual Libertarian may not subscribe wholesale to the Libertarian ideology, it’s not surprising that many members do not actually know the full philosophical belief system. We are all familiar with so-called conservatives who individually are not actually conservatives. We need to look at the philosophy itself, not the faithful adherence of each individual member that claims its cause.
Be wary of the lure of Libertarianism philosophy. We are constitutional conservatives and America was founded to be a moral constitutional republic.
Jenna Ellis is an attorney, professor of law at Colorado Christian University, and international speaker.
Email Jenna at firstname.lastname@example.org