This article appeared originally at The Garrison Center here.
With the next US national election only a little more than ten months away, you’ll soon be hearing from, and about, candidates of all parties. America’s third largest party, the Libertarian Party, will likely run more than a thousand candidates for local, state and federal office. Some of them, mostly at the local level, will win. As a voter, you owe it to yourself to know what the candidates asking for your vote are all about. So here, in a nutshell, is what the Libertarians are all about.
New members of the Libertarian Party, at the national level and in most state party organizations, must sign a pledge as part of their enrollment: “I certify that I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.”
That pledge is reiterated and expanded upon in the Libertarian Party’s Statement of Principles. In shorthand, we refer to it as the Non-Aggression Principle or the NAP.
It means exactly what it sounds like it means. It means exactly what you were probably — hopefully! — taught as a child by your elders and instructors: Don’t assault others. Don’t threaten others with violence to get your way. Don’t steal other people’s property. The only moral use of force is in defense against those who START a fight.
These are the most basic rules of any sane society, and most of us carefully follow those rules in our daily lives. At some point, however, the institution we call “government” successfully carved out an exception for itself.
If you or I demand money at gunpoint from another, it’s called “armed robbery” and treated as a crime. If government agents demand money from us, and abduct and cage us if we refuse to cough up, it’s called “taxation” and somehow magically becomes “legitimate.”
If you or I break into a neighbor’s house and rifle through his medicine cabinet, it’s called “burglary” and treated as a crime. If government agents burst into that neighbor’s house, find medicines they don’t approve of and haul the neighbor off, it’s called “drug enforcement” and somehow magically becomes “legitimate.”
And so on and so forth.
But aggression is never “legitimate,” even if the aggressors carry shiny badges and receive government paychecks.
Next year, the “major party” candidates will offer up all kinds of excuses and justifications for aggression. They’ll try to convince you that they’re running your life and taking your money — at gunpoint and on pain of imprisonment for resistance — for your own good.
Only the Libertarian Party’s candidates will assure you: “We certify that we oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.” And that’s why only Libertarian candidates deserve your vote.
Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.