Many have observed that libertarianism has less attraction for middle-of-the-road Americans than for those people who inhabit the fringes, whose tastes–in just about everything–are unconventional.
There is nothing surprising in this.
When a person’s occupation, lifestyle, religion and morals are safe and respectible, the government tends to leave them alone, as long as they pay their taxes to the government.
These happy people have less reason to complain. They are the normal people. With the universal exception of the odd relative, they mainly hang around with other normal people.
The normal people tend to want the government to make sure that everybody else acts normal . . . or else.
Less-normal people may be excused for being attracted to a political philosophy that permits them their eccentricities as long as they don’t harm anyone else. A “Live and let live” philosophy will always have special appeal for people who don’t fit in.
This may give rise to the misconception that a libertarian society would force all the “normal” people to put up with the distasteful behavior of the not-normal people as they live in ways formerly suppressed by the government. This misunderstanding is understandable.
Freedom of association is a natural human right and includes the right not to associate with anyone for any reason. We need to understand, however, that a libertarian society would be more respectful of this right, not less. If our vision of a libertarian society is one where drug addicts lie in every street and tattooed couples fornicate on the sidewalks in some freak show straight out of an apocalyptic movie, we are not yet getting the point.
In a free society, we would have more control over our lives and neighborhoods and be better able to live as we ought. When government gets out of the social engineering business, people will take that responsibility on themselves, starting with the sort of community they wish to live in. There is a way to make this happen without aggressive government. The key is private property. That is the topic of my next post.