By Scott Tibbs, January 24, 2009
A letter to the editor in the Herald-Times on January 6 made a false claim about me, saying "his Web site claims that he's a Libertarian." In fairness to the author, it is possible that he may not have capitalized "libertarian" and that the H-T did it for him. Nonetheless, the proper noun indicates that I am a member of the Libertarian Party, which I have never claimed to be. I am a Republican, and I have been a Republican since I stopped identifying with the Democratic Party when Bill Clinton (who I supported in 1992) took office.
What I have said on many occasions on this site and elsewhere is that I am a philosophical libertarian. In general, I believe that the government that governs least governs best and that free market solutions are preferable to government programs. I am very disturbed by the so-called "Patriot Act" as well as the use of paramilitary force in police raids, which I consider to be a serious threat to our liberty. There are quite a few philosophical libertarians in the Republican Party, and libertarianism played a significant role in the Republican Party's takeover of Congress in 1994.
I am a Republican because I believe the Republican Party is the best option for implementing public policy that is philosophically libertarian. My concern with the Libertarian Party is that a third party tends to drain votes from the party it resembles most. We saw this in 2002 when a Green Party candidate for Monroe County Council drained 15% of the vote from the Democrat, causing the Republican to win with a plurality. I think it is counterproductive for a Libertarian to oppose a Republican who is an advocate for smaller, less intrusive government. This is why I supported Mike Sodrel and John Hostettler over their respective Libertarian opponents over the years.
That does not mean that I am a blind partisan, however. I have supported Libertarian candidates in the past instead of the Republican, and most likely will do so again in the future. I supported Rebecca Sink-Burris for U.S. Senate in 1998, Jim Billingsley for State Representative in 2002 and Bob Barr for President in 2008. If the Republican candidate is not acceptable ideologically, I will not vote Republican out of blind partisanship. I am not a Republican to advance the political careers of a clique, I am a Republican to advance a set of principles. I am a conservative first.