Some Proposed Changes for the 2012 LP Platform

Changes that strengthen the defenses of our candidates are shown like this.

  • 1.0: informed competence is required to exercise a right
  • 1.2: drug freedom is not for children; self-ownership implies right to take risks
  • 1.4: oppose abortion subsidies and mandates
  • 1.6: qualify gun rights as being for peaceful adults
  • 3.5: parents may not abuse/neglect/endanger children

Changes that fix semantic bugs are shown like this.

  • Preamble: planks, not "pages"
  • 1.0: "choices in life" => e.g. "choices in his or her own life"
  • 1.0: "mean we necessarily" => "necessarily mean we"
  • 2.9: favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system

Changes that make general style improvements are shown like this.

  • 1.0: restate the non-aggression principle in terms of choice, and don't forget fraud
  • 2.2: change to "advocacy" in "environmental advocates and social pressure"
  • 2.4: "abolishment" => abolition, "legal requirements" => laws
  • 2.5: "halt" legal tender laws => "repeal" legal tender laws

Changes that give extra guidance to our candidates are shown like this.

  • 1.1: include the rest of the 1st Amendment: assembly and petition
  • 1.1: defend copying for personal use
  • 1.1: oppose bans on information/media technology
  • 1.2: defend voluntary information sharing
  • 1.4: oppose a broader range of procreation subsidies, bans, and mandates
  • 1.6: property owners may disallow guns
  • 2.2: instead of "sensible use"/"misuse" of resources, say polluters must pay
  • 2.3: advocate freedom of energy markets to induce conservation
  • 2.3: oppose government limits on liabilities for e.g. nuclear energy
  • 2.5: support prosecuting financial fraud, oppose socializing either losses or profits
  • 2.6: oppose evasion of liability through incorporation
  • 2.6: defend right to compete with government utilities
  • 2.9: advocate some more specific healthcare freedoms
  • 3.4: Migrants must pay their way and not trespass
  • 3.5: minors have the right to sue for emancipation


As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others. We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized. Consequently, we defend each person's right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power. The following planks In the following pages we have set forth our basic principles and enumerated various policy stands derived from those principles. These specific policies are not our goal, however. Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime, and it is to this end that we take these stands.

Statement of Principles

We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual. We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, all political parties other than our own grant to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.

We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life — accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action — accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property — accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.

Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.

1.0. Personal Liberty

Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. Fraud and the initiation of force are attempts to impose choices on others, and so should be banished from human relationships. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Our support of an individual's right to make choices in his or her own life does not necessarily mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices. The right to make a choice depends on both understanding that it has consequences and accepting responsibility for them.

1.1. Expression and Communication

We support full freedom of expression, assembly, and petition for redress of grievances. We and oppose government censorship, regulation or control of communications media and technology. We defend the right to freely reproduce original expression when doing so does not divert commercial benefit from the author to the reproducer. Limits on the use of information technology should be decided by contracts between producers and consumers. We favor the freedom to engage in or abstain from any religious activities that do not violate the rights of others. We oppose government actions which either aid or attack any religion.

1.2. Personal Privacy and Self-Ownership

Libertarians support the rights recognized by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Protection from unreasonable search and seizure should include records held by third parties, such as email, medical, and library records. We favor the freedom of association among private parties to negotiate how they use information voluntarily disclosed to each other. Only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed crimes. We favor the repeal of all laws creating "crimes" without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes. Adults have the freedom and responsibility to decide what media and substances they knowingly and voluntarily consume, and what risks they accept to their own health, finances, safety, or life.

1.3. Personal Relationships

Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no discriminatory impact on the government's treatment of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration, or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.

1.4. Procreation Abortion

Recognizing that when human rights begin abortion is a sensitive issue on which Libertarians can disagree in good faith and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should not restrict, subsidize, or dictate the decision to begin or end one's pregnancy. be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration. We hold this view not only for abortion, but also for birth control, fertility treatments, sperm and egg donations, surrogate motherhood, prenatal testing, stem cell therapies, cloning, and germline engineering.

1.5. Crime and Justice

Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property. Criminal laws should be limited to violation of the rights of others through force or fraud, or deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm. Individuals retain the right to voluntarily assume risk of harm to themselves. We support restitution of the victim to the fullest degree possible at the expense of the criminal or the negligent wrongdoer. We oppose reduction of constitutional safeguards of the rights of the criminally accused. The rights of due process, a speedy trial, legal counsel, trial by jury, and the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty, must not be denied. We assert the common-law right of juries to judge not only the facts but also the justice of the law.

1.6. Self-Defense

The only legitimate use of force is in defense of individual rights — life, liberty, and justly acquired property — against aggression. This right inheres in the individual, who may agree to be aided by any other individual or group. We affirm the individual right recognized by the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms, and oppose the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense. We oppose all laws at any level of government restricting the ownership, manufacture, or transfer of firearms and ammunition by peaceful adults requiring registration of, or restricting, the ownership, manufacture, or transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition. However, owners of property should be free to restrict how weapons are possessed or used on their property.

2.0. Economic Liberty

Libertarians want all members of society to have abundant opportunities to achieve economic success. A free and competitive market allocates resources in the most efficient manner. Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.

2.1. Property and Contract

Property rights are entitled to the same protection as all other human rights. The owners of property have the full right to control, use, dispose of, or in any manner enjoy, their property without interference, until and unless the exercise of their control infringes the valid rights of others. We oppose all controls on wages, prices, rents, profits, production, and interest rates. We advocate the repeal of all laws banning or restricting the advertising of prices, products, or services. We oppose all violations of the right to private property, liberty of contract, and freedom of trade. The right to trade includes the right not to trade — for any reasons whatsoever. Where property, including land, has been taken from its rightful owners by the government or private action in violation of individual rights, we favor restitution to the rightful owners.

2.2. Environment

We support a clean and healthy environment and sensible use of our natural resources. Private landowners and conservation groups have a vested interest in maintaining natural resources. Pollution and misuse of resources cause damage to our ecosystem. Governments, unlike private businesses, are unaccountable for such damage done to our environment and have a terrible track record when it comes to environmental protection. Protecting the environment requires a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights in resources like land, water, air, and wildlife. Pollution of other people's property is a violation of individual rights. The full costs of pollution must be paid by the polluter, even when the polluter is the government. Free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems. We realize that our planet's climate is constantly changing, but environmental advocatescy and social pressure are the most effective means of changing public behavior.

2.3. Energy and Resources

While energy is needed to fuel a modern society, government should not be subsidizing any particular form of energy. We oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production. A free market in energy is the best way to encourage consumers to conserve and producers to innovate. Insurance markets and the courts are the proper way to regulate risks and liabilities such as those related to nuclear power.

2.4. Government Finance and Spending

All persons are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor. We call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment abolition of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution. We oppose any laws legal requirements forcing employers to serve as tax collectors. Government should not incur debt, which burdens future generations without their consent. We support the passage of a "Balanced Budget Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution, provided that the budget is balanced exclusively by cutting expenditures, and not by raising taxes.

2.5. Money and Financial Markets

We favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types. Markets are not actually free unless fraud is vigorously prosecuted and neither profits nor losses are socialized. Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item. We support a halt to inflationary monetary policies and repeal of unconstitutional legal tender laws.

2.6. Monopolies and Corporations

We defend the right of individuals to form corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies based on voluntary association, as long as ultimate responsibility for each non-contractual liability of the firm is accepted by at least one of the individuals in it. We seek to divest government of all functions that can be provided by non-governmental organizations or private individuals, and we defend the right to compete with government utilities and services that have not been privatized. We oppose government subsidies to business, labor, or any other special interest. Industries should be governed by free markets.

2.7. Labor Markets

We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment. We oppose government-fostered forced retirement. We support the right of free persons to associate or not associate in labor unions, and an employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union. We oppose government interference in bargaining, such as compulsory arbitration or imposing an obligation to bargain.

2.8. Education

Education, like any other service, is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Schools should be managed locally to achieve greater accountability and parental involvement. Recognizing that the education of children is inextricably linked to moral values, we would return authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. In particular, parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children's education.

2.9. Health Care

We favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system. We recognize the freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want, the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care, including end-of-life decisions. People should be free to purchase health insurance across state lines and to shop for lower-cost insurance by voluntarily agreeing to higher deductibles or coverage restricted to health catastrophes. We oppose government rules that artificially bind health insurance to employment, hide costs from consumers, and subsidize use of insurance for routine care.

2.10. Retirement and Income Security

Retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. Libertarians would phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system. The proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals. We believe members of society will become more charitable and civil society will be strengthened as government reduces its activity in this realm.

3.0. Securing Liberty

The protection of individual rights is the only proper purpose of government. Government is constitutionally limited so as to prevent the infringement of individual rights by the government itself. The principle of non-initiation of force should guide the relationships between governments.

3.1. National Defense

We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.

3.2. Internal Security and Individual Rights

The defense of the country requires that we have adequate intelligence to detect and to counter threats to domestic security. This requirement must not take priority over maintaining the civil liberties of our citizens. The Constitution and Bill of Rights shall not be suspended even during time of war. Intelligence agencies that legitimately seek to preserve the security of the nation must be subject to oversight and transparency. We oppose the government's use of secret classifications to keep from the public information that it should have, especially that which shows that the government has violated the law.

3.3. International Affairs

American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups.

3.4. Free Trade and Migration

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a Freedom of movement should therefore be without constraints as long as migrants pay for any costs they impose on others, do not trespass, and pose no credible threat to security, health or property.

3.5. Rights and Discrimination

We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should not deny or abridge any individual's rights based on sex, wealth, race, color, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation. Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs — unless a jury finds abuse, neglect, or reckless endangerment. Children have the right to petition a court to establish their maturity and become emancipated, with all the rights of an adult.

3.6. Representative Government

We support electoral systems that are more representative of the electorate at the federal, state and local levels. As private voluntary groups, political parties should be allowed to establish their own rules for nomination procedures, primaries and conventions. We call for an end to any tax-financed subsidies to candidates or parties and the repeal of all laws which restrict voluntary financing of election campaigns. We oppose laws that effectively exclude alternative candidates and parties, deny ballot access, gerrymander districts, or deny the voters their right to consider all legitimate alternatives.

3.7. Self-Determination

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of individual liberty, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to agree to such new governance as to them shall seem most likely to protect their liberty.

4.0. Omissions

Our silence about any other particular government law, regulation, ordinance, directive, edict, control, regulatory agency, activity, or machination should not be construed to imply approval.

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