Politics loves to label people. You are a conservative, liberal, libertarian etc.
Some people don’t mind these distinction and will proudly call themselves a liberal democrat, a conservative republican or a liberty loving libertarian. But the feeling I get from talking to people and reading about the political state of America is that people are becoming less and less comfortable identifying solely with one group. Evidence of this is the fact that “independent” is the fastest growing party in America as people leave the democrats and republicans and continue to ignore libertarians (although less and less so). Many people are realizing that their political opinions do not fit nicely into either political party.
For instance I meet lots of young people who are disillusioned with liberal economic policies, but can’t get themselves to support a republican party that is anti-gay marriage. A libertarian reading this is no doubt thinking “duh! These students should wake up and smell the liberty and become libertarians who believe the government shouldn’t be involved in the economy OR private lives.” The problem with becoming libertarian is that many people are not comfortable with Ayn Rand and thinking that altruism is bad for society (this is what many people associate libertarianism with, even if it isn’t entirely true).
Even though I call myself a conservative for the most part, I do not feel that comfortable stating this fact to people without a few caveats. So in the spirit of caveats I will lay out the flaws I see in each ideology:
Liberals– As the past 8 years have shown, liberals just tend not to be good at governing. They think that a new government program is all that is needed to solve society’s woes and they peddle the lie that if only we taxed the rich enough all of our fiscal problems would go away. Their economics are just wrong and they seem to think that every single thing that they don’t like is either racist, sexist or some other “ist” that they can make up on the spot. That being said, I admire the compassion of liberals and their desire to help those who are often forgotten in society.
Conservatives- As the past 2 elections have shown, conservatives are terrible at connecting with people and winning their support. They come across as callous and selfish. Part of this is because they let the other side define them during elections, but part of this is also because there are too many conservatives that aren’t compassionate and understanding enough. I happen to think that the average conservative is as compassionate as a liberal, but you would never know it by the way they speak. You shouldn’t base your politics on attacking “welfare queens” just like liberals shouldn’t base their politics on attacking the rich. Also, our society is quickly becoming more gay friendly so conservatives need to follow the Pope and start being less judgmental. That being said, conservatives’ message of small government, morality and hard work are all good values for a society to have, and lead to better governance (except all of the times conservative politicians decide to spend almost as much as liberals).
Libertarians- My problem with libertarians is mostly on a philosophical level, and I don’t want to delve too much into it here. The short version though is that libertarians in their hyper-rationality often see people as merely economic beings who are always rationally thinking about how to better their economic position. In this view not enough room is left for things like higher meaning, emotions and values. Essentially there is not enough room for God. That being said, I see some hope in libertarianism because I admire their rational outlook on things that is essential to crafting good policy.
In conclusion, I know that I just made stereotypical caricatures of these points of view, but at the end of the day I don’t think they are too inaccurate on the whole. That being said, I see myself as having the compassion of a liberal, the values of a conservative and the rationality of a libertarian.