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Self described libertarians are one of the most sought after demographics in American politics. True libertarians, CATO cheerleaders and Goldwater babies, tend to be wealthier, more politically active, and fiercely loyal to candidates and their parties.

These are the statistical traits that have for so long tied libertarians to the GOP.Lady Liberty

Yet talk to anyone who seriously subscribes to the ideology and they will tell you just how disillusioned they are with both political parties, in fact they always have.

“I’ve never been happy with the GOP”

or

“The Democrats could never be small government.”

That last concept, small government, is so antiquated, so irrelevant, that the idea that it is still considered an attainable goal is laughable. Many will cite Ronald Reagan as a hero of small government, and they’d be right in a sense. Reagan oversaw an enormous amount of deregulation while in office, freeing up so much money that he quintupled the size of the military.

The military doesn’t count as the government? Since when?

The truth of the matter is, in a liberal-republic such as ours, eliminating government oversight can never, ever happen. If libertarians were serious, they would advocate for the privatization of the military, of the post office, of fire departments and the police. In America, there isn’t much talk about privatizing our most basic institutions, is there?

Canvassing libertarians will proudly wear t-shirts with pot leaves, hoping to entice stoners all over the nation to let go of their Hot Pockets and get out to vote. They cite a firm belief in gay rights, yet most of the most prominent libertarians on the GOP side either publicly oppose granting these rights to stay in office, or they stay silent and hope people won’t notice.

Have libertarians failed the GOP, or is it the other way around?

I argue it is neither, libertarians have failed libertarianism. How can a true believer elect a party that brought the Patriot Act TWICE, suspended habeas corpus indefinitely, and has done more to harm gays, immigrants, students, intellectuals, and small businesses, all of whom are considered constituents to the true free market cause, more than any other so-called advocacy group?

The answer is simple, American libertarianism speaks from the heart but acts from the pocket book. For all of the hot air that the GOP version of the movement makes about freedom, they almost always vote their wallet first.

If libertarians truly believe that the only suitable role for the government is the defense of the people, then doesn’t a basic guarantee of healthcare fall under that category? Why can’t the government act as a broker on behalf of its citizens?

The Department of Defense negotiates with weapons manufacturers on behalf of the Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen in the Armed Forces. Imagine what would happen if each and every service member were instead forced to purchase their weapon individually from a weapons manufacturer. In times of peace, those who couldn’t afford a weapon simply wouldn’t get one, but if war were to break out a weapon would have to be produced on an expedited basis and funded by tax dollars.

This is precisely what happens with healthcare. Those with no health insurance, the vast majority of whom simply cannot afford it, don’t go to the doctor until they are incredibly sick. A simple cough that could have been treated with $40 worth of antibiotics now becomes $5,000 in hospital care to keep him or her from dying. See my point?

The government could act as a broker between insurance companies and tax payers, giving them vouchers with which they could choose their own unique healthcare plan from the exact same companies that are offering care right now. These companies would be forced to compete for government contracts, just like military contractors do.

Small businesses would no longer be forced to pay outrageously high premiums (right New Jersey?) just to keep their employees insured, since a smaller amount would go to the federal government instead. Employer provided health care is unfair to small businesses who are already operating on razor thin margins.

Medicaid, Medicare, Plan D, all of these are doomed to fail. Government cannot subsidize healthcare and still offer good service…it can, however, use its size to bring competition to a fair level.

It is in this spirit that I argue the Democrats, not the Republicans, offer the most promising platform for true libertarians. Look at the GOP with an honest perspective and try and say that freedom can exist in a party moving more starkly to the right every day. Within the Democratic party there is room for discussion. The election of libertarians like Sen. Jim Webb of VA, the position of pro-business Dems such as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and the embrace of conservatives such as Sen. Bob Casey show a party that is willing to evolve.

The Democrats are not an organized political party, they bash heads, bicker, fight and argue. It might be disgraceful and it might be unprofessional at times…but it’s freedom.

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