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How Do Libertarians Differ From Republicans and Democrats?

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I enjoy giving tips and advice to others on dealing with our Social Security Administration.

The Libertarian Party

The Libertarian Party is a relatively young political party with its creation occurring back in 1971. A look at when the Democrat and Republican parties were founded (1820s and 1850s, respectively) magnifies how new the party is.

It doesn’t take much to recognize the differences between Democrats and Republicans. We hear about it in our newspapers, online, or on our evening news.

The Libertarian party usually falls somewhere in the middle of the Democratic and Republican positions: Libertarians are fiscally conservative but socially liberal. On some issues, they lean a little bit to the right, and others they may favor the left. This might be why this party is growing. We have all heard how important the independent or moderate voter is, we just didn’t know what to call them until now.

Libertarian vs. Republican vs. Democrat Chart

Sample political chart showing where Libertarians fall in between the two big political parties.

Sample political chart showing where Libertarians fall in between the two big political parties.

Current Political Issues

Everyone has their own opinion as to what ails our country on any given day. The most common problems cited are the economy, foreign policy, the size of the government, and social issues. I recognize that there are plenty of other important issues, but these seem to be the main sticking points for our politicians right now.

Each side of the aisle has their core values that they will not compromise or sacrifice, sometimes at the expense of progress. I appreciate a person, even a politician, sticking to their beliefs, but we have all seen how an unwillingness to negotiate can bring things to a crawl...or even a complete stop.

Economic Situation

One of the big issues on our political scene is the economy. Politicians try to blame someone else for the economic downturn and assert their opinions on how to fix it. Naturally, the people on the other side of the aisle are completely detached from how the real world is struggling to get by; it doesn’t matter which party you affiliate yourself with, you know what I’m talking about.

Libertarians believe that the government shouldn’t have a hand in the economy, period. This position is non-negotiable. Democrats feel that the government does have a role in our economy. On this position, Libertarians lean more to the right of the political spectrum and would probably align themselves with the Republican position because they too feel the government should have minimal involvement. Any stimulus package or bailout would struggle to get Libertarian support but would probably enjoy favorable Democratic votes.

US Foreign Affairs

Foreign policy is another issue on which Libertarians agree more with their Republican counterparts than their Democratic ones. Democrats insist on working with the United Nations when dealing with an international crisis. If a country is aspiring to develop nuclear weapons (Iran and North Korea, for example), Democrats prefer to work with the United Nations as the international agency responsible for moderating these potentially dangerous situations.

Libertarians hold the opinion that agencies like the UN can actually restrict our ability to protect ourselves, both in the US and abroad. They feel that our country should be able to act in its own best interest, without UN oversight.

Ironically, many Libertarians did not support the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan that transpired after the 9/11 attacks. I can see their disapproval of the Iraq situation, but the Afghanistan one puzzled me because we went there to try to get the group Al-Qaeda, which attacked us. I can only assume that this opposition was more about the involvement of the UN. A Libertarian might want us to just go over there and take matters into our own hands.

US Government System

Democrats are more approving of the size of our government and are frequently accused of trying to find ways to keep growing. Republicans are constantly trying to find ways to shrink the government’s role by eliminating or cutting back on those programs. Libertarians probably side with Republicans on this issue. Libertarians believe that a majority of federal programs serve little purpose and are a waste of financial resources.

Most of us can remember when Al Gore was running for President back in 2000. To emphasize government waste, he mentioned that a toilet seat was purchased for $640. Anyone of us who have shopped our local hardware store can attest that toilet seats do not cost this much. This kind of waste is exactly what Libertarians want to avoid. In all fairness, all politicians talk about curbing government waste, but few actually follow through. Since our country doesn’t have a Libertarian in the House or Senate, we don’t yet know how they would vote on this issue.

Social Awareness

This issue probably is more in the middle than any of the other topics mentioned above. Democrats usually side with entitlement programs to help people who are in need while Republicans are more on the side of getting people off of these programs. Libertarians will have a more Republican side on this issue and actually would like to give individuals the opportunity to not participate in Social Security, a Democratic issue that they will not waver on; this feeds into their conservative fiscal roots.

Libertarians do get more Democratic on social issues; some of them fairly substantial. Libertarians are fine with legalizing drugs, gambling and prostitution. On the same sex marriage subject they have no objections at all if homosexuals want to marry. Their position is that the government shouldn’t be involved at all in these decisions that should be left up to individuals.

Party Overview

Even though these two political parties do share similar interests and positions there are very noticeable differences between the two. In my opinion Libertarians, overall, will support views more commonly held by the Republican Party. Obviously Libertarians will side with Democrats on some of the social issues that Republicans will not back but, as a whole, Libertarians appear to be more to the right side of the political spectrum.

Comments

Emma Vine from Texas, USA on August 19, 2014:

Thank you so much for posting an informative article on Libertarians. I consider myself one, and there are so many people who go "What's that?" when you tell them!

Jack Rotoli from Philly Metro on June 12, 2014:

Great article! I always considered myself a republican, or at least more conservative on a lot of issues. Then, one year, many moons ago when political conversations were actually allowed around the watercooler, a woman said to me, "You're not a Republican, you're a Libertarian."

David (author) from Idaho on April 25, 2012:

picklesandrufus - I concur; even though they kind of appear to be in the middle of the two big party's it sure seemed to be just a hair to the right. I think having Democratic principles on social issues helps them keep a more open mind to things. Thanks

David (author) from Idaho on April 25, 2012:

CM - I have no objections to everyone being on equal grounds. Thanks for your comment.

picklesandrufus from Virginia Beach, Va on April 25, 2012:

Interesting and informative hub. I think the Libertarian party has many more republican views than democratic, but they are surely more open minded than a typical republican. Nice work

CM Sullivan from California on April 24, 2012:

I feel the Peace and Freedom party has the people's best interest in mind. Everyone always says the Star Trek future should be the ultimate goal for Earth and human beings. No money, everyone is equal, tolerance for strange, alien cultures is commonplace and our human potential is being reached. Well this party's platform seems to mirror that utopian future's ideals so it seems we should start on that road. up and useful and interesting.