Brooke Reaves: What Is Libertarianism?

By Brooke Reaves 09.08.2016 blog

**It is important to make the distinction between Libertarians and libertarians, or those who actively identify with the Libertarian Party, such as Gary Johnson, and those who just subscribe to the libertarian philosophy, though they identify with another party, such as Ron Paul. I am an independent libertarian, but in the election of 2016 I support the Libertarian Party’s candidate, Gary Johnson, for the presidency.

Libertarianism is free will. Libertarianism is the philosophy of optimists of the human condition. Liberals and conservatives, despite their multiple differences, both believe that government interference is necessary for people to be able to live cooperatively in a society. Libertarians, however, believe that ultimately most people are good people who just want to live their lives however they want and don’t need to be told how to do that. Of course, this raises the question: Why DO we think government interference is necessary to regulate the economy, society, morality, etc.? I mean, I am not an anarchist; I’m merely a minarchist—I think the government has very few jobs (military, immigration regulation until the elimination of welfare, perhaps some environmental regulation, among a few others) that are actually necessary for it to do.

I mean, let’s be real, what has the government ever done that it hasn’t screwed up in some way (education, healthcare, civil rights, economic regulation)? Ultimately, I think the government has four duties: to protect life, to protect liberty, to protect the pursuit of happiness, and to protect property. To me and other libertarians, the government does not have the right—I mean this in the most literal way—to go beyond those bounds.

Libertarian views when it comes to the economy are very simple; we believe that anything that inhibits the free flow of trade and commerce should be eliminated. As a libertarian, I believe in free market capitalism and Austrian economics. I think that, for example, if an exchange between two people is deemed mutually beneficial by them, there is no reason the government or any other sort of institution should stop that. Why should it be stopped? I think that the imposition of regulation by the government that inhibits free will in the economy (or anywhere) is the worst form of immorality. After all, why should a few people in suits in Washington, D.C., tell us what types of exchanges are allowed between us? Don’t we—as the ones involved in the exchange–have the right to decide that?

All of this explains the libertarian view on the minimum wage. Essentially, a minimum wage is a way for the government to say that certain jobs, just because the employer wants to pay less than some arbitrary amount, should not be allowed. What if the prospective employee wants to take the job? The employee is getting money, and the employer is obtaining someone to do a job; this is a mutually beneficial exchange. Imagine this: I want to pay someone $6 an hour to answer the phone in my corporation. That someone wants to take the job, and I am willing to pay him, but I am not allowed to do so because the government says so. That’s totally uncool.

When it comes to society, libertarians are consistent with their views on free will and individual liberties. Essentially, we believe that people should live their lives however they wish to do so. The only limit to one’s free will is the limitation of another’s free will. This means that I can do whatever I want unless I decide to take away the free will of another; so, murder, theft, etc., would still be illegal. Libertarians believe that, for example, if gay people want to get married, then they can; marriage isn’t an issue in which government should be involved at all and it should be entirely deregulated.

So, libertarians are even more socially liberal than Democrats. Ultimately, we think that it’s not okay to tell someone else what to do in their own lives; after all, what gives one person the authority to rule over and regulate another person’s life and liberty?


  1. Grace

    One question: so do Libertarians support Abortion? No one in this election is talking about it much, largely because they want to avoid the topic. But Brooke, what do you think about it? I’m curious to know. I’d love to talk to you. Thanks!

  2. Paige Hutchison

    I am a libertarian and Gary Johnson is a way better candidate than those on the republican or democratic side.

  3. Bria

    You should feel free to vote for anyone you want, and just because democrat and republican are the most known that doesn’t mean that people have to vote for them

    • Brooke Reaves

      Hi Bria! I agree that people should vote for whoever they think should be president. However, many people don’t vote for third-party candidates not because they disagree with their political views or philosophies, but because they don’t think that third-party candidates, such as Johnson, have a legitimate chance at winning the Presidency. My issue is that people will choose party allegiance (such as voting for Trump merely because he is the Republican nominee or voting for Clinton merely because she is the Democrat nominee) over their principles, and, to me, that’s very sad. Thank you for your comment! If you’d like to find out more about what I think, go to my blog at

  4. Lauren Delaney

    Hey I go to ashland middle school and I want to be on channel 1

  5. Wyatt

    i think gary johnson sould not be presdent becase i think the girl should be presdent

    • Brooke Reaves

      Hi Wyatt! Thanks for your comment! I’d love to be able to talk to you. Why do you support Hillary? Thanks, Brooke

      P.S. If you want to know more about what I think, follow my blog at

  6. Nic Bourgault

    This article has helped me chose my side. I’m a libertarian.

    • Brooke Reaves

      Hi Nic! Thank you so much for your comment! I’m really glad and grateful that I was able to help you transform your views. If you want to know more about libertarians and what I think, I have a blog at

      Thank you!

  7. Joseph Partain

    I like the explanation (and the minarchy)! What are you doing to support Johnson, and how to you respond to differing opinions with Johnson?

    • Brooke Reaves

      Hey Joseph! Thank you so much for the supportive comment! I live in a small town, and I’m active in my local Libertarian Party (even though we’re small in size, we’re big in heart and passion). We’re currently working on a few different ways, such as passing out flyers at the community college, of advocating for Johnson locally. Personally, the opportunity that Channel One’s Team OneVote provides is my best and most effective way of supporting Johnson. Honestly, there are many ways in which I disagree with him and Weld. He wasn’t my first choice for President; first I supported Rand Paul and then Austin Petersen. There are still things that I severely dislike about Johnson, and I think he isn’t truly a libertarian in some of his ideas and policy proposals. However, what matters to me is that 1) he is a LOT better than Trump/Clinton/Stein and 2) he is a libertarian in most ways and certainly he’s less of an authoritarian and more of a libertarian in comparison to the other options. I hate to use the “lesser evil” argument, but it’s applicable here. Johnson isn’t perfect, but I think he is a choice who will ultimately support liberty if he’s elected. When people disagree with me about him, that’s what I tell them. I’m actually working on a blogpost about my views on him right now, and it will soon be up on this website and on my blog, Check it out! Again, thank you for your comment. -Brooke

  8. Leah

    “I do think its right that gives the little people enough time to vote so when its time for them to vote they will look back & say I already voted”

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