A shift in ideology
Libertarians have a tendency to come from a right wing background. It’s not unusual for conservatives to find themselves easing over to libertarianism since many conservative espouse some fairly libertarian ideas, like how it’s not the government’s place to do a lot of the things they do. Me? I came from the left. At one time, I honestly didn’t see a problem with socialism in the least. I got better though.
So what caused this shift in ideology?
To start with, it was actually a left-leaning television show called The West Wing. Aaron Sorkin, who would be hard to define as anything not on the left, filled his fictional White House full of colorful Democrat characters. I was a Democrat at the time, so I was completely cool with the show being put together in such a way.
Early on in season one, Sorkin introduced a character names Ainsley Hayes. Hayes, a beautiful and intelligent Republican, was probably there as a token character to appease the people who were convinced that the show was about indoctrinating people. Early on, there was a conversation between Hayes and character Sam Seaborne, a typical Ivy League elite. Seaborne argued that Republicans only cared about one of the ten amendments that made up the bill of rights, while Hayes fired back that sure, while they conveniently chose to ignore the Second Amendment.
The discussion shifted my then thinking on guns. I’ve always loved firearms, but was willing to accept curtails on them for the betterment of my fellow man. That one moment on a television show of all things started shifting my thought processes. I couldn’t get behind the inconsistencies anymore. It was fiction, but it had hit a nerve. I started opening my mind up to other possible alternatives to policy positions I had held for years.
I made a shift to more libertarian positions on most things, but welfare was one I just couldn’t get behind. My previous position had been more about the children of welfare parents than the parents themselves. They didn’t chose to not work. Hell, they couldn’t work in the first place. Why should they suffer?
I’ve said before, and in several places, that my full shift to libertarianism came by way of Atlas Shrugged. I’ve since read it four times. However, Rand’s words from the fifties, her envisioned ideas of people who expected handouts, sounded a great deal like the people I had heard on television arguing that they deserved their welfare money. They had been receiving it for years, they needed it, and it was theirs. It rang incredibly true to me and I realized that socialism destroys the individual desire to achieve.
The idea of taking an idea and making it a reality happens in every economy. One of the most versatile firearms in the world, and most reliable, is the AK-47 and its variants, which came out of the Soviet Union. Great ideas will happen regardless. However, they thrive best when people can name their own rewards for their actions. Medals aren’t the same thing as knowing your child can go to Harvard, Princeton, Yale or anywhere else they want to go without a penny of debt. Parades are awesome, but they don’t let you see places you have never seen on trips of a lifetime.
There’s more than that though.
Socialism destroys the individual’s desire to do much of anything. The natural human reaction is to do as little as possible for as much as possible. It’s built into our DNA, passed down for thousands of years. It’s not likely to change either. When people know they won’t lose their jobs no matter what, they do almost nothing. They don’t need to. And yet, socialism generally teaches that people have a right to a job, regardless. Hmm.
Once I started seeing this, I couldn’t help myself. I honestly don’t believe the government has a place in telling us what we can and can’t do if it doesn’t hurt someone else. I don’t see why government needs to be so large and take so much money from individuals and even companies, except that it insists on doing things it has no business doing.
All that played into me becoming a libertarian. Yes, I’m on the outside of American politics, but I’m at least home.