As many Americans are moving toward being independent and away from the Democratic and Republican political parties, some are wondering, "Am I a libertarian?" and "What is a libertarian?" Libertarianism is growing dramatically in America and many are latching on to the label due to its popularity. With that growth in popularity comes many myths and misunderstandings as to what it means to be a libertarian. And what's with the capitalization seen with the 'L' in libertarian and sometimes it is not?
One does not have to belong to the Libertarian Party to be a libertarian, though it is good way to keep abreast of what is happening in libertarian circles. If you are a member of the Libertarian Party, then you would describe yourself with the capital 'L'. If not a party member than you could use the small 'L' to note you believe in the philosophy of libertarianism, however choose not to be a member of a libertarian organization.
Who is a libertarian?
There are a growing number of popular libertarians including Neil Peart from the band Rush, Angelina Jolie, actor Kurt Russell, Jennifer Aniston, rapper Big Boi, Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame, Vince Vaughn, Kurt Loder, Drew Carey, John Malkovich to name just a few. Then there are many more celebrities who may not identify themselves as libertarians, however speak as if they are libertarian when being interviewed such as Wesley Snipes, Denis Leary, Alice Cooper, Tom Selleck among many others.
Am I a libertarian?
One way to find out if you are a libertarian is to take the non-partisan 'Worlds Smallest Political Quiz'. A libertarian is someone that believes in maximizing personal freedom and is willing to absorb the responsibility that goes with that freedom.
Just like in the worlds of liberals and conservatives, libertarians have a wide spectrum of beliefs when it comes to the practicalities in today's political world. For instance Neil Peart now calls himself a "bleeding heart libertarian" and illusionist Penn Jillette calls himself "a hardcore libertarian" as he wants everything legal. Like me, Jillette also refers to himself as an "anarcho-capitalist."
Libertarians believe in a small form of government which acts to defend its citizens.The Libertarian Party platform states, in part, "The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society."