We’re the “black sheep” of the political realm, folks who fit in with neither the left nor the right and are poorly understood by just about everyone else. While we think our views are perfectly reasonable (and correct, thank you very much), we often find ourselves having to explain over and over again just what it is that we believe. While more people are coming to identify as libertarians as they move away from the traditional left-right paradigm, others are not so sure where on the political spectrum they belong.
So how do you know if you’re a libertarian? Well…
1. The left and the right hate you
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about being a libertarian is how both the left and the right seem to hate you. The left can’t stand your economic views and willingness to stand up for people’s civil rights, regardless of who those people are, and the right can’t stand, well, your willingness to stand up for people’s civil rights. You constantly feel like a liberal around conservatives and a conservative around liberals. Your support for the Second Amendment and the rights of neo-Nazis to speak freely is sure to get you labeled a “white supremacist” by one side, while your support for the LGBT community, marijuana legalization, and limited government makes you a dirty hippy to the other.
2. People constantly confuse you with your anarchist friends
We’ve all been accused of being completely against government at least once, and while it’s true that most libertarians are for limited government in order to maximize freedom, we’re not typically for the total abolishment of government — that’s an anarchist thing. Libertarians generally believe in maintaining a small government primarily for judicial purposes, while anarchists believe government should be completely eradicated, placing their faith in private police or militia groups instead. But no matter how many times you explain this to acquaintances, most of them will probably ignore you.
3. You roll your eyes whenever someone trashes the free market
Let’s be honest — this one happens all the time. Whether it’s in casual conversation or after you tell someone you’re a libertarian, we’ve all experienced the mind-numbing rants against the free market. “The free market isn’t effective!” “Capitalism has killed more people than socialism!” “But, what abut income inequality?” “You don’t care about the poor!” Are you even a libertarian if you don’t spend at least half your time explaining how capitalism works to people who think using the state to take all your stuff is a moral imperative?
4. The NAP is practically sacred to you
The non-aggression principle, or NAP, is a staple of libertarian thought that tends to find more favor among pacifist liberals than it does hawkish conservatives. Libertarians are decidedly against intervening in other countries, against war, and against fear-mongering war propaganda, especially when it’s coming from the president. It’ll be a cold day in hell before anyone manages to convince you that U.S. intervention in Afghanistan is the correct course of action, and you wish diplomacy could be used more often as a means of settling international disputes. Just how many billions of tax dollars has the government spent on killing innocent people in the name of “freedom,” anyway?
5. You think taxation is theft
Speaking of tax dollars being spent on killing innocent people, you’re probably a libertarian if you believe taxation is theft. When the government is taking more and more of your hard-earned money and threatening to throw you in prison if you don’t comply, how can taxation be considered anything else? While some people say you’re bound to pay taxes as part of a social contract, libertarians reject this idea, believing that what you personally work for is yours to keep.