Libertarianism Informed By Cynicism

Because of Washington gridlock and events like the recent government shutdown, it seems sentiments like the one below are making the rounds increasingly on Facebook and other social media:

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I don’t know how anyone can look at what’s been going on in Washington this week and think, “Sure! Let’s give those people more control over our lives!” – Radley Balko

And more and more of your friends and family are likely displaying greater depths of cynicism when it comes to politicians in Washington D.C. and even our system of government. And there’s definitely no shortage of reasons for this cynicism. I’ve said it in the past and I’ll say it again, I’m a very cynical person, especially when it comes to people in positions of power, but I’ve made a conscious choice not to allow this cynicism to rule over my decision-making or stop me from supporting what I know is right. It’s just too easy to use sarcasm combined with pessimism and simply decide you are above it all, proclaim yourself a libertarian, and call it a day. And if liberals and Democrats don’t find a way to convince young people that government can be a source of good, I’m afraid we may lose a generation to libertarianism informed by cynicism.

In direct response to the cynical sentiment displayed above, I say this:

People can come up with nifty statements, but that doesn’t mean the premise is worthy of consideration. When I look at Washington, I’m able to look past the Republican incited gridlock on Capitol Hill, and see that there are many people working in government who are actually doing their jobs. I won’t allow 535 members of the House and Senate to define what government is, or diminish the good that government can do. We are capable of so much more if we stop the demonizing and live up to preamble’s “We the People.” And I will certainly be careful not to conflate public service with loss of freedom.

I’m not condoning what passes for governing in Washington, particularly in congress, but people need to realize that one of the two major political parties in this country is causing more of a problem than the other. And I say that as a liberal, not as a Democrat. I’m not a huge fan of political parties, but I will be honest when I say I’m near 100% certain to vote for a Democrat over a Republican based entirely on where the two parties sit in 2013. But this confidence in who I will vote for is not based on a deep-seated love of the Democratic Party, it’s simply pragmatism.

The fact is this: There is one party that believes in government and that government can be a source of good, and there’s another party that believes government is evil and part of the problem. — And I don’t have to tell you which party is which because regardless of what party you identify with, you already know. — When you believe government is the problem, you probably will not be the most highly motivated person to make sure government actually works. Therefore, when I see the gridlock and the dysfunction in Washington, I can’t help but think many (although not all) Republicans think this is a good thing, since it proves their narrative that government is the problem.

But if you are going to be cynical and decide libertarianism is right for you, which party are you going to vote for in the next election? It seems if you are a libertarian, it’s highly unlikely you will vote for the Democratic Party. So by voting for Republicans, and offering your tacit approval of their obstruction and their hate for government, are you not fueling the very thing that is making you cynical in the first place?


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