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Subject: Libertarian Party FAQ: Commonly Asked Questions

This article was archived around: 5 Sep 2002 09:41:11 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: libertarian/party
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Archive-name: libertarian/party/common-questions Posting-Frequency: monthly
TEN ANSWERS TO COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY [Adapted from a flyer distributed by the Libertarian Party.] 1. What is a Libertarian? To put it simply, Libertarians believe that you have the right to live your life as you wish, without the government interfering -- as long as you don't violate the rights of others. Politically, this means Libertarians favor rolling back the size and cost of government, and eliminating laws that stifle the economy and control people's personal choices. 2. Are Libertarians liberal or conservative? Libertarians are neither. Unlike liberals or conservatives, Libertarians advocate a high degree of both personal and economic liberty. In a sense, Libertarians "borrow" from both sides to come up with a logical and consistent whole -- but without the exceptions and broken promises of Republican and Democratic politicians. For example, Libertarians agree with conservatives about freedom in economic matters; in favor of lowering taxes, slashing bureaucratic regulation of business, and charitable -- rather than government -- welfare. But Libertarians also agree with liberals on personal tolerance; in favor of people's right to choose their own personal habits and lifestyles. 3. How big is the Libertarian Party? By almost every measure, the Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in America. We're active in all 50 states, and there are hundreds of vigorous state, county, and local Libertarian organizations. Despite unfair and restrictive ballot access laws passed by the Republicans and Democrats in many states, there are already more than 224,000 registered Libertarians in 26 states around the country -- a number which has jumped by 100% in the last eight years. 4. Do Libertarians win many elections? More and more all the time. Right now, there are over 300 Libertarians serving in elected public office (plus hundreds more in appointed positions). We've elected Libertarian State Representatives in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Alaska, mayors in 11 states, and more than 60 city and town council members in 22 states. Other Libertarians serve on school boards, as city commissioners, on town budget committees, as judges of elections, and in a wide variety of other elected offices such as city treasurer, district attorney, and sheriff. According to Congressional Quarterly, these Libertarian officeholders "give the party a status no third party has enjoyed in decades". There have been Libertarian candidates for president and vice president on the ballot in all 50 states in the last three presidential elections -- an achievement unmatched by any other alternative party. In 2000, more than 250 Libertarians ran for US House of Representatives, the first time in eighty years that a majority of the seats were contested by any party other than the Republicans or Democrats. Libertarian candidates for US Senate received more than one million votes, 3.3 million Americans voted for at least one Libertarian candidate, and at least 35 Libertarians were elected to public office. 5. What is the party membership fee for? Your annual membership payment -- which gets you a subscription to our monthly newspaper LP News -- helps finance our work to spread the word about the Libertarian Party. With your help, we can keep the media informed; run Internet, radio, and magazine advertisements; and send information to more Americans. We also support Libertarian candidates in winnable races; promote pro-freedom legislation at the federal level; provide resources to our state and local organizations; and much more! 6. Why do you ask me to sign a membership statement? Libertarians are working to reduce the role of government in society. A government that was concerned only with protecting individual rights would no longer be initiating force to achieve the political or social goals of politicians and special interest groups. That's why we ask new Libertarian Party members to sign the statement (on the membership form) -- to remind us of the need to reduce the power of government, and to dedicate our political efforts towards achieving that goal. One other question commonly asked is: Does this mean that Libertarians don't believe in the right of self-defense? No. The key word is that we don't advocate the _initiation_ of force. We believe all individuals have the right to use appropriate force to defend themselves, their families, and their country. 7. What kind of people join the Libertarian Party? People like you. People who used to be Republicans, Democrats, and independents -- from all walks of life. They have joined us because they realize that we're the only political party working for their personal and economic liberty. Another question we sometimes hear: Is political extremist Lyndon LaRouche in the Libertarian Party? No. LaRouche has never been associated in any way with us. He runs for office as a Democrat. 8. Why don't I hear more about the Libertarian Party? The media have been slow to realize that the Republicans and Democrats now have serious competition. But, as the party becomes more successful, we're attracting more and more favorable attention. For example... Former Senator William Proxmire (D-Wisconsin) said: "The Libertarian Party is a breath of fresh air ... They are offering a clear alternative." The Investor's Business Daily wrote: "Long consigned to the political wilderness... libertarians are seeing their ideas accepted by state and local governments, once the undisputed turf of Democrats. Regional governments increasingly are adopting free-market policies originally developed by libertarian thinkers, making what were once considered extreme views part of the mainstream." Hugh Downs, formerly of ABC's 20/20 said: "All the really good ideas belong to Libertarians." The Hill in Washington, DC wrote: "The Libertarian Party provides a case study in how a grassroots organization works to establish itself as a third voice for a frustrated electorate." The Los Angeles Times wrote: "Libertarianism has contributed much to defining American political thought. Libertarian themes are part of contemporary political discourse." 9. Are Libertarians having an impact on American politics? Libertarians all around the nation have been actively defending Americans' rights on a wide range of issues: Tennessee: "If it weren't for the Libertarians, I believe we'd have an income tax by now," said Nashville talk radio host Steve Gill. The Tennessee Libertarian Party played a major role in a coalition that blocked a new state income tax in 2000 and 2001. Alabama: In 2001, a Libertarian city councilman in Adamsville repealed a city ordinance requiring citizens to get a permit before doing minor home improvement work. Colorado: Libertarians rallied to defend the First Amendment rights of shock-rocker Marilyn Manson, after politicians considered cancelling his June 2001 concert. "Manson's lyrics are revolting," said Libertarian Ari Armstrong. "But using government to shut out messages that some people find offensive is a terrible precedent." Washington state: Libertarians helped pass I-747, a 2002 initiative that capped property tax increases and will save $1.8 billion over six years. On issue after issue, in all 50 states, Libertarians are successfully defending the Bill of Rights, free enterprise, free trade, private charity, and individual liberty. 10. Should I join the Libertarian Party? Ask yourself: Is government too big or too small? Are taxes too high or too low? Does the government regulate my business too much or too little? Does the government control my personal life too much or not enough? If you agree, like most Americans, that government is too large, too expensive, and meddles too much, the Libertarian Party is for you!