Constitutional Libertarianism

Constitutional Libertarianism

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Constitutional libertarianism

Ahhh, libertarianism.  It encompasses so many things.  At it's heart, it holds that people should not be forced or coerced into doing things they don't want to do or that will harm them.  Just like any other ideology out there, it spans a range of ideas that go from one extreme to another.  In the case of libertarians, one extreme is that of accepting or tolerating government to some degree.  The opposite extreme is to accept or tolerate no formal government of any kind.

Also like any ideology a great majority of it's adherents operate somewhere in between.Speaking for myself, I cling to what is called "Constitutional Libertarianism".  Yes, it does lie closer to the tolerating government side of the spectrum.  However, personally, I think that the U.S. founding documents are probably the most inspired and inspiring approach to people living and working together in a shared society where some type of government is unavoidable but is the best way to the stewardship and defense of individual's natural rights.  Perfect?  Nope, never gonna happen.  As close as imperfect and fallible people can get?  Most likely.

I used a phrase above that I think ultimately describes the Constitution and founding documents as well as the concept of constitutional libertarianism.  It is about a shared way of living and working together in a society that creates government specifically for the primary task of being a steward and defender on individual natural rights.

The point is to make sure every person is able to equally AND equitably practice those rights and protect them from ALL threats foreign AND domestic.  Possibly most so domestic.

I look at the government as, if doing it's job the way it is supposed to be done, as making sure individuals, social, religious and even governmental groups cannot or do not interfere with any individual getting on with their life, as they see it, as accepted and defined by them, the individual.

The role of government is NOT to protect people from themselves.   In actuality, it's not to protect people themselves at all.  It is to protect people's rights.  That is an important distinction.  When the Constitution talks about providing for the general welfare of people, it is not talking about doing anything "for" people such as feeding, clothing, educating, sheltering, etc...  It is talking about making sure that people are able to do those things for themselves, in the way they choose to do it, IF they choose to do so voluntarily without others interfering or infringing on their rights and ability to do so.

The Bill of Rights, while the argument has been made that it should be necessary, does exist and taking the good and bad potential of it, essentially spells out how the stewardship and defending of those rights is to be handled.

For example, the First Amendment essentially ensures that people can speak their mind, hold their own beliefs and follow the pursuits they deem right for them.

The Second Amendment ensures that people are able to protect and defend their life and at the same time sustain their life.  Keep in mind, the Second Amendment relates to all weapons, not just guns though that too often gets lost in the discussion.

You get the idea.  The intent of the founding documents is to make sure people can have their natural rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, among others (like ownership of property which is actually part of the right to liberty.  From liberty people are automatically assumed to own themselves.  Our life is our own thus we have have the consequential rights to freedom, we have the right to own not only our life but the things we do or make in our life which is the crux of the right to own property.

Capitalism is at it's simplest form, free trade.  People have the right to free trade in order to sustain their lives by obtaining products and services that they own and can own in order to have shelter, food, clothing, education, and any number of things that contribute to their right to pursue happiness in their own life.  We can't always make or do everything ourselves so we need to have ways to obtain those things we cannot do or make ourselves in order to attain or achieve success in survival, self improvement and advancement, etc...

Again, speaking for myself, I believe wholeheartedly in the U.S. founding documents.  I believe that they exist and are designed to create and maintain a system that acts as a steward and defender of individual natural rights.  I believe that the government, as sated in the Constitution, is meant to be delimited to specifically those activities and pursuits and otherwise is meant to stay out of people's lives as much as possible.

Yes, I know people are often corrupted and that many people try to cheat and game the system for their own personal gain and advantage.  It is a system based on an ideal and implemented by imperfect people.  It is bound to fail from time to time.  Just because it is bound to have failure and that people will fail to live up to the standards doesn't mean it isn't a worthwhile pursuit.

I admire my anarchist fellows within the libertarian spectrum who insist that government is not necessary and that society should be able to function with people living up to their best potential.  However, I also believe that people not being perfect can be counted on to not live up to their best potential and due to that, there needs to be a system to defend the defenseless and help keep things moving according to the principles laid out in the founding documents.

That's just my two cents.

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