People often ask me what the difference is between libertarians and conservative Republicans. Many people believe the terms are basically interchangeable, and it is undeniable that libertarians and conservatives can come together on a lot of issues. Phyllis Schlafly was famous for saying “We need to be tolerant enough to let other people vote for our candidate for the reason of their choosing.” Similarly, I think conservatives and libertarians can work together on a lot of important policy goals. However, with all due respect to my libertarian friends, I would like to point out what I see as being the two biggest differences between them and conservative Republicans.
The first difference I see is a philosophical one. Libertarians want to remove any sense of morality from our government. They support abortion because they do not want the government defining whether babies are alive They support not just marijuana, but all dangerous narcotics because they do not want the government telling people what to do. Libertarians take the small government mindset conservatives have, but they remove any kind of moral restraint from the equation.
The second difference I see between libertarians and conservative Republicans is a practical one. Libertarians who identify with the political party of the same name ignore the fundamental mechanics of how our elections were designed to operate. Under our Constitution’s winner-take-all system, third parties just aren’t viable. Working within the current two-party system is the only way to make real change in America. I encourage all libertarians to support the viable candidate who most closely aligns with your views. Don’t throw your support away carelessly.
All of us who want to reduce the size and reach of the federal government have a lot in common. We all want to stop government from controlling our lives. However, there are important distinctions between the libertarian and conservative Republican mindset. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater by endorsing an unworkable vision that calls for removing all sense of morality. Let’s work together with everyone where we agree, but conservatives should not give up on important issues like abortion, drug legalization, and marriage.