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Political Typology

Most of the American political punditry envisions a one dimensional political spectrum (a line from "left" to "right"), and seems not to know where to place libertarians on this line.  Below is a depiction of this linear model of American political thought, from Pew Research.

Where are libertarians on this line?  Nowhere to be found.  Exactly as the status quo in DC wants it.  For our whole lives we have been trained to see politics in this way.

But political thought exists on more than one dimension:  libertarians recognize this, and see a two-dimensional world, with an X-axis that depicts the willingness to use government to limit personal and civil freedoms, and a Y-axis that depicts the willingness to use government to limit economic freedoms.  People don't ideologically fit on a line, they are arranged on a plane with two dimensions.

Accordingly, in the chart shown to the left (known in libertarian circles as a "Nolan" chart), Leftists (aka liberals or progressives in today's lexicon) typically emphasize the avoidance of governmental interference in personal and civil freedoms, while aggressive employing such interference in economic freedoms to achieve redistributionist goals. 

Rightists (aka conservatives or traditionalists in today's lexicon) are shown as the opposite, typically emphasizing the avoidance of governmental interference in the economic lives of citizens, but using government to enforce cultural norms, even those that do not rise to the level of breaches of non-aggression (e.g. personal drug use, sexual orientations, peaceful street protests, etc.).  

While America clearly started as a very libertarian experiment in self-government, over the years it has veered from left to right in cycles of ever-growing government involvement on both axes.

The media portrays American history as swinging left or right like a pendulum every four to eight years, and if you only see politics as a conflict along a one-dimensional line, or if that's how the media explains it to you, then you start to believe it.

But the reality is that each of these swings has moved us further and further away from the libertarian roots of our founding.  When FDR took advantage of the Great Depression to institute massive expansion of government through federal agencies and departments, we not only swung away from economic freedom, but towards greater central control by what has become a federal leviathan.  When Richard Nixon ushered in the War on Drugs, we not only swung away from personal freedom, but likewise towards greater central control by that same leviathan.  Presidents Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama and now Biden have swung us "leftward" but also upward towards Statism;  Presidents Reagan, Bush and Trump swung us "rightward" but also upward towards Statism.  The emphasis of that giant federal leviathan shifts, but it always grows larger.  And when it grows larger, the rights of individuals are always lessened.  More government always equals less freedom.

(And at the risk of blowing your mind, there is a third political dimension: international engagement.  With isolationists on one extreme and interventionists on another.  Just another realm in which both of the parties have expanded government authority and have created a perpetual war machine.  But save that for a later discussion.)

Back to the two dimensional model.  I like to use the example of Lombard Street in San Francisco to illustrate what is really happening.

Lombard Street is that quirky, curvy street in San Francisco. If you drive it, you see that each driver must frequently turn left and right.

But the general direction is neither left nor right.  It is down.  It is the perfect analogy for our long descent into authoritarianism and away from our libertarian founding ideals.

And note, just as with Lombard Street, government will allow you to turn left and right.  But it won't let you go back up the hill.

We think in every election we are choosing between Left and Right.  But both parties are taking us on a one-way street towards Statism.  And that's why I am a libertarian.  If we are to recover the greatness of our Republic, we will have to defy government (and its subservient media) and charge back up that one-way street.

One of the measures of success of this campaign will be the lighting of this brushfire.  Both of the major parties believe in a huge, all-powerful State headquartered in Washington DC.  They just have different goals for using it.  I'm a libertarian because I share neither vision for how that leviathan is to be used. 

We must dismantle it if we are to restore our freedom.  Vote Libertarian.  Vote Bob King for Texas-21.


Paid for by Bob King for Texas-21
Kristin Abel, Treasurer
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