You Can Be Progressive. You Can Be Libertarian. You Can’t Be Both.

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Did you watch the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld video ad and think huh, that doesn’t sound half-bad? Or have your family or friends been posting it, gushing that it’s the best political ad ever?

Do you consider yourself progressive, but find yourself wondering whether the Libertarian ticket is the way to go this time around?

You’re welcome to vote that way. But you don’t get to call yourself progressive while you do it.

Fundamentally, libertarians and progressives do not agree on the role government should play in our lives. Libertarians would get rid of some of the most important progressive reforms of the last 100 years.

They would privatize social security and Medicare.

They would eliminate progressive taxes like the income tax.

Libertarians fetishize the second amendment, saying that remedies after the fact are sufficient to protect us from gun violence. Please let the families of those murdered at Sandy Hook and Orlando know that there’s an after-the-fact remedy and that someone is being held responsible for those horrific mass murders.

Progressives understand that if we can balance freedom of speech with a restriction against shouting fire in a crowded theater, then we can figure out how to apply the explicit admonition that our militia be well-regulated without trampling on the founders’ intent.

Libertarians also believe that charity should replace social welfare programs 100%.

How many charities do you know that are fully funded, never ask for donations, and could scale up to handle everything the government does?

Progressives say that government has a crucial role to play in taking care of the most vulnerable citizens. Those programs are an investment in equitable citizenship. Libertarians are all about the bootstraps, overlooking the fact that some people lack shoes.

Less government sounds nice until something goes wrong.

Good government is easy? It’s is a great slogan if you’re selling something. 

Easy is not a word any former president has applied to his description of the job.

Progressives believe in using government as a tool for building and supporting the common good. Libertarians believe the common good is what happens naturally when people simply live the life they want to live with a little bit of personal responsibility.

You can believe that one of those ideologies is right and one is horsefeathers. But you can’t vote libertarian and claim to be progressive. 

This has been a public service announcement from someone who will scream if one more person posts a link to that not-as-clever-as-everyone-thinks-it-is ad.




About Author

Andrea Greer

Andrea, an activist, fundraiser, feminist, writer, and baker, is not as tall as you think she is. She's been at this a long time, and wants to know what you are doing to make the pie higher and raise more hell. Her mother would like you to know she's got a law degree.

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