Oh hi. My foreign policy agenda that supports Large Volunteer Military, Empire of Liberty and Total Free Trade often gets me falsely accused of Conservatism. But actually, to copy the title of a book from someone I look forward to reading from called Friedrich Hayek, here is Why I Am Not A Conservative, along with some ideological education on the difference libertarians like me have from conservatives.
According to Webster Dictionary, a libertarian is
- a person who believes that people should be allowed to do and say what they want without any intrusion by the government
while a conservative is
- a person who believes in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society
My belief in a purist application of the Bill of Rights can get me called a Constitutional Conservative, by this definition. But the contents of the Bill of Rights prove that to be a US Constitution purist is to be a libertarian rather than a conservative.
This is going to be the longest section of this post I assure you.
At least in the United States, libertarians give priority to individual freedom, the free market and the minimal state. And also in the US, conservatives give priority to American traditions, Christianity & Judaism, Anti-Communism, and American Exceptionalism as well as Western supremacy.
As a libertarian and an atheist, I can get behind a good majority of American traditions, and I totally endorse Anti-communism, American Exceptionalism and Western Supremacy.
Pew Research Center does a lot of work on researching libertarians and a lot more on researching conservatives vs progressives, and by the way progressives are not liberals.
In Search of Libertarians by PRC
Beyond Red vs. Blue in 2011 by PRC
According to PRC alone there be a long list of contrasts between a conservative and such libertarians as me:
- Libertarians are 63% registered to vote as Independents while Conservatives are 84% Republicans
- Libertarians are bigger college goers (71%) than Conservatives are (62%)
- Libertarians are more than twice as millennial (19%) as Conservatives are (8%)
- Libertarians are surprisingly more favor American interaction with foreign societies (43%) than Conservatives (37%) but equally as likely to oppose (54% of libertarians and 54% of conservatives)
- Libertarians are divided on whether American action abroad makes foreign problems better or worse (47% think better, 46% think worse) while Conservatives stand out in mostly thinking US action abroad makes foreign problems worse (55%)
- Libertarians predictably favor free trade (68%), and many conservatives oppose it (51%)
- Libertarians are almost half secularist (11 religious moralists to every 9 secular moralists) while Conservatives are deeply religious (9 religious moralists to every 1 secular moralist)
- Libertarians are very respectful to the LGBT community (71% say LGBT people should be accepted by society), while Conservatives generally aren’t (85% say LGBT people should be discouraged by society)
Gallup Polling also indicates in this PDF that a fifth of everyday America calls itself libertarian and a quarter of everyday America calls itself conservative. If everyday America is made up of 320 million people, this means there are 80 million conservatives and I am one of 64 million people in the libertarian category.
The social contrast between libertarians and conservatives is that libertarians individually espouse a colossal diversity of social policy philosophies while refusing to force their social policy ideals into law. Whereas conservatives by definition value tradition and ‘family values’ over individual freedom, and they have only recently began to take the libertarian attitude of refusing to force their social policy ideals into law.
Something both conservatism and libertarianism have in common is they both have factions in their movements wherein the libertarianism faction and conservatism equivalent are similar but not synonymous.
Let me start with the libertarian vs conservative contrast I am happiest to take a side of.
Neolibertarians and Neoconservatives both are adamantly the Pro-Military, Pro-NATO, Pro-Israel, America-loving wings of their respective movements and favor foreign policy agendas based on Thomas Jefferson’s foreign policy theme “Empire of Liberty“. In Domestic Policy, both are strongly in favor of legal equality and in favor of social egalitarianism. The domestic policy difference is neolibertarians like me are socially strictly purist constitutionalists and fiscally we are hardcore free market people, while neoconservatives are quite the moderates and centrists on US constitution and on free market economics. And the foreign policy difference is neoconservatives think spreading democracy is enough to bring freedom to the world, while neolibertarians like me are much more holistic in that we think to spread democracy alone is not enough and that we should only force-convert a tyrannical regime into a free society if that tyrannical regime is directly a threat to America or any of her friends.
Next we address the one that I am most abstinent from
Paleolibertarians and Paleoconservatives both are the anti-military and anti-egalitarian wings of their respective movements, and furthermore they both tend to be very skeptical of NATO and of America’s good traits. The difference is paleolibertarians are more likely to consider free markets and the constitution to be more important than opposing social egalitarians.
Also there is the economic side
Fiscal libertarians and Fiscal conservatives both focus on economy, and share endorsement of low taxes, free markets, balanced budgets and free trade.
But what about social issues?
Social libertarians and Social conservatives both focus on society, and they can agree on keeping government out of the social life of people, but while Social libertarians want to legally replace government with free market in regard to social policy, Social conservatives are more likely to want to legally replace government with the Bible in regard to social policy.
To Finally Answer the question
The reason I am not a conservative is because I do not want to force my social policy views onto anyone. My social policy views are based in market liberalism, which at least to me means that if a lifestyle choice or civil liberty is not in the Constitution, then the government should neither ban nor make any rules about the market for it and instead the market for it should rise and fall according to the laws of supply and demand. For examples, the Markets for these should rise and fall according to the laws of supply and demand:
- Food Trucks
- Sugary Drinks
- Alcoholic Drinks
- Plastic Bags
- Revealing clothing
- Google Glass
- Light Bulbs
- Trans Fat
- Consenting Adult Porn
- Fetish material
- Online Gambling
- Video Games
- Recreational Drugs
- Bit Coin
- Marriage (Gay or Traditional)
- Stem Cell research
- College Education
- Health Insurance
- Nonprofit Charity
- Vapors (as in the smoking devices)
- Planned Parenthood funding
Matter a fact, you can already see I believe that the markets for controversial social activities and individual choices that are not mentioned by the Constitution should not be interfered with by government and should instead be something the individual citizens decide the status quo of on free-market basis of supply and demand.
I do hope I did not write too much to answer the titular question. If not, then you get where I am always going with the difference between a libertarian like me and a conservative. But if you think I did put way too many words into one question’s answer, then I am okay with that. I have no problem with people thinking I could have used infinitely fewer words to answer this question. But all in all, thanks for the read,