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Libertarian Vs Republican Compare and Contrast
Good Day Brenda Durham. As I understand it a Libertarian is the most purist in form of "liberal," in the eighteenth century sense of that word. Classic 18th century liberalism is different from modern-day liberalism (particularly in America, which seems to be a bit out of step with the rest of the world in terms of the usage of political terminology). Eighteenth century liberalism has to do with negative liberty -- the right of individuals to be totally free from the coercive control of anyone else. That is all. It means that no one can make you do anything and no one may encroach upon your person or property. Libertarians see this path as the one leading to the most ideal kind of liberty. Modern-day liberalism, once upon a time used to be associated with the Democratic party... It has to do with positive or affirmative features built upon a certain, I say, a certain amount of negative liberty -- modern-day liberalism sees this as the more ideal path to liberty. This is because this philosophy believes that one cannot truly be free if she does not have equal access to eduational opportunities, economic opportunities; she cannot truly be free if she faces gender, sexual orientation, or racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination -- she cannot even adequately protect herself from coercion (of the volatility of the "free market," for example, plant closures, etc.) without some infrastructure like that in place. The American Republican party, mainstream "conservatism" in the United States is actually a kind of hybrid of 18th century conservatism and 18th century liberalism. Now we have to ask: what is conservatism; what does it mean to be a conservative? Modern-day conservatism is a derivative of 18th century conservatism. Eighteenth century conservatism is about the maintenance of social stability. Crucial to this was the maintenance of the social structure, the hierarchy. This kind of conservatism viewed excessive social mobility as a threat to social cohesion. If people did not know their place, anarchy might break out and lead to the ruination of all civilization. In America, elements of these two ideologies made an alliance -- much like the Unitarian and Universalist churches made an alliance to form the single Unitarian Universalist organization.
Why did 18th century conservatism and 18th century liberalism make an alliance? Conservative realized that the stance of negative liberty of "liberals," with respect to economic matters and private property, would be very useful in maintaining what was, in their view, social stability. "Liberals" realized that the insistence on status quo of the conservatives provided a nice symmetry with their "live and let live" position, their insistence that no one have coercive control over you.
If you oblige people to remain in their particular socioeconomic spheres, in perpetuity, generation after generation -- you severely restrict the number of actors who can exercise any restraining, restrictive, coercive control over you whatsoever -- this might be especially useful to you if you are a member of the upper classes. This fusion of liberalism and conservatism is one reason people might say that George W. Bush would have been called a liberal in another time -- and we might add that from the point of view of some "movement" conservatives, the administration of Bush was indeed far too "liberal." This label is used against him with respect of the huge amount of government spending (on military and national defense) and big budget deficit his regime accrued.
A Libertarian is an undiluted liberal in the 18th century sense. She is "live and let live" across the board, from economic matters (deregulation, war against taxes, etc.), constitutional issues (particularly on Bill of Rights they take an absolutist position of things like right to bear arms, freedom of speech [note the case of Citizens United in which the Supreme Court ruled that corporations may spend unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns]); I believe they are against any law that restricts freedom, as they see it -- they are not fans of such things like the Patriot Act and so forth; they are for gay rights, I think, and they believe that homosexuals should be allowed to serve "openly" in the military, etc., so on and so forth.
Remember, a libertarian is "live and let live" across the board; and they are against anything that might limit freedom as the see it (negative liberty). Conservatism is comfortable limiting freedom (negative liberty) if the policy serves the greater good, from their point of view, of maintaining social stability. So, a conservative (more or less mainstream Republican) will be more comfortable with, say, something like the Patriot Act.
Yes, it might be said that the legislation limits freedom (negative liberty to be free from coercive control); however, from the point of view of the conservative, the international threat of fundamentalist, extremist, Islamic-driven terrorism is a far, far greater threat to the American and Western European civilization and the world than some invasions of privacy here and there. The act serves the purpose of social stability, in their opinon, and this is paramount over preserving certain privileges.
Therefore, there is not a perfect alignment between Libertarians and Republicans, but there are some areas of natural cooperation.