Over the past few years, the Republican Party has faced internal tension with fervent Tea Party supporters, often causing conflict in debates over spending and the appropriate time, if ever, to back down to the Democrats. Some Republicans agree that with our debt so high, it is time to dig our heels in and demand financial competence, while others worry that the increased polarization stifles progress. This development within the Republican Party pales in comparison to overwhelming new trend in American politics: libertarianism.
Libertarian candidates and platforms seem to be the newest and hippest trend with America’s youth, and some Republicans consider these individuals an important part of the conservative voter base. Ron Paul, a libertarian himself, even participated in the 2013 Republican nomination debates. In fact, conservative leaders like Ted Cruz publicly appreciate the Libertarians’ presence and views, which according to Gallup polls, amounts to about 41% of the Republican Party. But in others’ perspective, libertarianism is the easy way out.
The voters in my generation feel enormous pressure to accept the liberal social agenda on one hand, while on the other hand, fiscal conservatism seems only logical. I would argue that many young people in America today label themselves as Libertarian merely by default: despite personal opposition to parts of the liberal social agenda, it is easier and more acceptable to compromise, because the left’s coercion is intimidating. In today’s political climate, challenging an issue like abortion creates a “War on Women,” and who wants to be labeled as anti-women, whether justly or not?
What will happen to the Republican Party, and thus states under Republican leadership, if the Libertarian voters base continues to increase internally? Young Libertarians see themselves as harmless to the system, but some of their views are radical and dangerous to society.
Virginian Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis, for example, blatantly states his approach to drug reform includes “legalizing marijuana in Virginia” and “decriminalizing harder drugs.” From his perspective, legalizing marijuana and other drugs distributed will curb the violent crimes in Virginia. By making the sale of these drugs legal, he believes that there will be less cause for violence. Sarvis’s solution to crime is decriminalization. What kind of a message does this send to society, particularly to those already engaging in illicit activities? His message encourages the public to disregard appropriate logical boundaries set by the government that are meant to protect the people. Sarvis’s policies on drugs will set the state of Virginia on a dangerous track where drugs will infiltrate our families and schools even more so than they already do.
I do not claim Robert Sarvis’s views accurately reflect the views of all libertarians, but the decriminalization of drugs is a common feature of libertarian platforms. The infiltration of drugs into our communities is not a part of the Republican Party platform, nor should the Party adapt to accommodate the social agenda of the libertarians. Fiscally, the libertarians have some good points, but we should not forget that there is a reason we have separate political parties.
Elizabeth Marcello | William and Mary | @eliz_mariah