When I tell most people I am a libertarian, they assume one of two things: 1. This guy is an ultra-right-wing nut, or 2. this guy is an ultra-left-wing nut. I get asked almost every day what exactly I believe and what most libertarians believe.

My co-authors here at TCC are asking these same questions: over the last few weeks, I have seen my fellow writers both praise and shun libertarianism, and attempt to understand what many see as the flaws in its arguments.

Ultimately, you should research the facts on what being libertarian really means, and what libertarians truly believe in. Freedom of choice. Individual responsibility. Minimal government. It sounds like exactly what most conservative Republicans–and liberal Democrats–tout off. According to the Libertarian Party of The United States, “we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.”

Many conservatives find me too liberal because of my stances on gay rights, drug decriminalization, and abortion. Many liberals find me too conservative because of my stances on gun rights, education, deregulation of the private sector, and abortion. My stances on these issues reflect not only my personal beliefs and upbringing, but the views shared by many libertarians. In an interview with Reason.com, Greg Gutfeld explains how he became a libertarian. “I became a conservative by being around liberals and I became a libertarian by being around conservatives.” You hit the nail on the head there, Greg.

The last year of my life has been a confusing, contradictory discovery of my political views. Fortunately, your friendly neighborhood libertarian friend is now here to to share those experiences and explain everything. Maybe through this piece you, too, will find out you are a libertarian. Don’t be afraid of it. Come out of the shadows.

“So you are a very strong Christian, yet you believe two, consenting adults, regardless of sex, gender or otherwise should be allowed to marry?”

Yes. In fact, if I want to marry my dog, let me. The government should stay out of marriage all together except for the Justice of the Peace signing that marriage license. I also believe that if you are married in one state, no matter what their policy is on gay marriage, you should be respected as married in another. The federal government should make no mandate of states to legalize gay marriage.

“Alright, but I bet you only want marijuana legalized so you can go smoke pot with all your friends.”

I have never touched the stuff. I have no interest in smoking marijuana. An image I always receive from conservatives is that libertarians are all drug addicts. Not true. Penn Jillete, a noted libertarian and magician, supports marijuana legalization, but admits to never drinking or doing drugs, and then continues to call President Obama a hypocrite for flip-flopping back and forth between his stance on legalization. The federal government should make no mandate for the legalization or continued prohibition of certain drugs.

“What about gun control? What about preventing a horrible thing like Newtown from happening again?”

The sick, twisted, disgusting, sad excuse of a human being that committed this crime is lucky he shot himself in the head. There’s a special place reserved for you in hell, my friend. What happened at Newtown was an utter tragedy. Unfortunately, gun control wouldn’t have stopped the tragedy. It just leads to more crime: look at Detroit, or Chicago. This map details the percent of murders involving guns. Let me preface this by saying that while many states set gun laws, it is ultimately in the hands of police of local cities to prevent gun crime. Refer to the Second Amendment on this one.

“What about abortion? Or birth control?”

This is where most libertarians make enemies on both sides. First, I was raised in a strong Christian home. We went to church every Sunday unless someone was sick, dead, or dying. Then we went to church even more. I was taught through the church that murder is a sin of the highest degree. I was also taught through years of school that life begins from conception. Within days, a baby’s heart begins to beat. At 21 weeks, that baby is fully formed, with all of the functions necessary to sustain life outside the womb. Abortion is a disgusting crime against your fellow man.

That being said, I do not have the right to tell a woman, or a man involved, that the mother cannot have an abortion. However, the procedure should not be paid for by the taxpayers. If a woman wants an abortion, it is on her, her husband, her father, her baby-daddy, or whomever, or the good “charity” of friends, to pay for it. If a woman wants to take preventative measures such as taking the birth control pill, that is her choice. I have no moral disagreement with this. But again, not on the taxpayer’s dollar. The federal government shall make no mandate on the right of a woman to have an abortion, nor shall it allow abortions on taxpayer monies, federal, state or otherwise.

There is a multitude of other issues that I could discuss at length. Ultimately, I believe that humanity is intrinsically good. While many people may view this as naive, I do not see it that way. Much of what is funded by public money can be funded by the private sector. But, it is their choice to do so.

Therein lies the key word in much of libertarian philosophy: choice. Many people view libertarians as heartless or cold human beings, who do not care about the troubles of others. Not true. Again, charity is a great feeling. I am more than happy to buy food for a starving family. In my current condition, I may not be able to do that, but I hope that one day I can. I have spotted many a friend for McDonald’s, with the hope that if the need arose, I would be repaid in McDonald’s, Taco Bell, pizza, etc.

There are some libertarians who believe that no government at all should exist. I disagree with this: there needs to be some form of government to be in charge of basic things like national defense, the upkeep of roads, the coining and printing of money, the regulation of interstate commerce (albeit low, preferably), and the maintaining of foreign relations. Libertarianism is best viewed as classical liberalism through the modern world view.

Liberals in the United States want more control over business, personal choice of healthcare, gun selection, and what kind of car you drive. Conservatives want more control over marriage rights, women’s health, and big business (though they have different ways of going about this). In the end, Libertarians will cease to be understood by either party, because neither fully reflects our views. I believe in the coming years, however, a strong Libertarian candidate will emerge through one of these two parties. But until that time comes, we who call ourselves Libertarians will be relegated back to the cultural hermit hole we reside in, scouring the blogosphere looking for people who criticize us.

And watching Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld. Because Gutfeld is our leader, and Pinch is our mascot.

Sorry, Penn.

Alex Braud | Maple Woods College | @BraudAlex