|This platform is organized around the enduring liberties that the LP defends. In his 1971 essay "The Case for a Libertarian Political Party", David Nolan divided those liberties into the two categories of his famoust Nolan Chart — personal and economic — and that timeless distinction is the best way to organize our Platform's assertion of human liberties. That leaves a handful of other issues — relating to foreign policy, franchise, and democratic procedure — that can collectively be labeled "Securing Liberty", since the correct policies on these issues will safeguard all personal and economic liberties equally. Thus this platform has three sections: 1) Personal Liberty, 2) Economic Liberty, and 3) Securing Liberty.|
Table of Contents
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. 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
|This draft shows the fix for the SoP proposed by the Bylaws Committee.|
We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge all aggression against 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. Our support of an individual's right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.
1.1. Expression and Communication
We support full freedom of expression and oppose government censorship, regulation or control of communications media and technology. We recognize that freedom of communication does not extend to the use of other people's property to promote one's ideas without the voluntary consent of the owners. 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 and Bodily Privacy
|This plank is about your personal privacy and your freedom to control your body in any way that doesn't affect other people. PlatCom balked at recycling 2004 language about "the right to commit suicide", so Ruth Bennett suggested this new language.|
We support the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. 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. We support the right of terminally ill, mentally competent individuals to end their lives.
1.3. Personal Relationships
|This plank is about your freedom to use your body in non-aggressive consensual acts or relationships with other people. Our baseline is just all three sentences from the Principles section of the 2006 Sexuality and Gender plank. Outright Libertarians Chair Rob Power recommends calling out the four topics below, the coverage of which elsewhere in the 2006 Sexuality and Gender plank was not succinct enough to recycle. He points out that military service is not a "right". The word "discriminatory" is to avoid quibbles about e.g. unisex bathrooms.|
Sexuality or gender should have no discriminatory impact on the rights treatment of individuals by government, such as in marriage, adoption, immigration, or military service. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have legitimate authority to define or license personal relationships.
1.4. Crime and Justice
|This plank is about the criminal justice system, and is not for listing all the many kinds of activities we would decriminalize. The "principal" fix avoids over-commitment to a theory of justice that might fail to prosecute e.g. the murdering of a recluse with no friends or family.|
The principal purpose of a justice system is to provide restitution to those suffering a loss at the expense of those who caused the loss. 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 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.
|Many Libertarians would restrict weapons sales to people convicted of violent aggression. The fix below allows (but does not mandate) such restrictions.|
The only legitimate use of force is in defense of individual rights — life, liberty, and justly acquired property — against aggression, whether by force or fraud. This right inheres in the individual, who may agree to be aided by any other individual or group. We affirm the right to keep and bear arms. We oppose all laws at any level of government requiring registration of, or restricting, the ownership, manufacture, or transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition. Individuals have the right to possess any weapon except those so powerful (such as nuclear or biological) that their mere possession puts the surrounding community at risk. We oppose the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense.
2.0. Economic Liberty
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. We oppose all government interference with voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should be allowed 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.
2.1. Property and Contract
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. Property rights are entitled to the same protection as all other human rights. We oppose all controls on wages, prices, rents, profits, production, and interest rates. 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 and Resources
|Many Libertarians chafe at the idea of a purely tort-based approach that gives a green light to any pollution whose cost is less than that of a court action. The suggested fix leaves room for a broader class of market-based approaches, without saying that a purely tort-based approach is necessarily inadequate.|
Pollution of other people's property is a violation of individual rights. We support the development of an objective system defining resource rights as individual property rights. The laws of nuisance and negligence should be modified to cover damage done by air, water, and noise pollution. We favor including in market prices the measurable costs that products and actions demonstrably and physically (not psychologically or sociologically) impose on non-consenting third parties. Environmental awareness and the voluntary responses to such green pricing are the only fair and effective ways to stimulate the technological innovations and social changes required for protecting our environment and threatened ecosystems.
2.3. Government Finance and Spending
|This plank places no limit on how much government might be privatized, or on how many kinds of taxes we would abolish. The suggested change permits (but does not require) our candidates to support legislative formalization of the fee structures that would probably arise in anarchotopia from class-action suits anyway.|
We favor continuously reducing taxes as the functions of government are privatized or made voluntary. All persons are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor, and it is unjust to tax people in order to finance benefits for other people. We oppose any such tax, as distinct from fees for pollution, congestion, consumption of unowned resources, or government services not yet privatized. We call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution. 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.
2.4. Money and Financial Markets
We favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types. 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, the repeal of legal tender laws and compulsory governmental units of account. We call for the abolition of all regulation of financial and capital markets. Regulation of financial and capital markets should be limited to prohibition of force and fraud.
2.5. Monopolies and Corporations
|This is the place for any talk of antitrust, incorporation, and "natural monopolies" (i.e. network utilities involving roads, pipes, or wires). This language neither rules out nor requires that all such utilities will be privatized.|
We advocate a strict separation of business and State. We seek to divest government of all functions that can be provided by non-governmental organizations or private individuals. We defend the right of individuals to form corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies based on voluntary association. We oppose government subsidies to business, labor, or any other special interest. Industries should be governed by free markets and held to strict liability.
2.6. Labor Markets
We support the right of free persons to voluntarily associate in, or to establish, labor unions. We support the concept that an employer may recognize a union as the collective bargaining agent of some or all of his employees. We oppose governmental interference in bargaining. We call for the abolition of government agencies that restrict entry into any profession. No consumer should be legally restrained from hiring unlicensed individuals.
We advocate the separation of education and State. Education, like any other service, is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality and efficiency with more diversity of choice. We support an end to government operation, regulation and subsidy of schools and colleges. As an interim measure to encourage the growth of private schools and variety in education, including home schooling, we support tax credits for tuition and other expenditures related to an individual's education.
2.8. Health Care
We advocate the separation of medicine and State. 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.
2.9. Retirement and Income Security
Retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. Participation in Social Security should be made voluntary. The proper source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.
3.0. Securing Liberty
The principles which guide a legitimate government in its relationships with other governments are the same as those which guide relationships among individuals: no individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government.
3.1. National Defense
We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should 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 Bill of Rights provides no exceptions for a 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
|The suggested change avoids giving a green light to systematic targetting of Americans abroad, while also not giving blanket protection to Americans who travel to dangerous places.|
The important principle in foreign policy should be the elimination of intervention by the United States government in the affairs of other nations. American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world and the defense — against attack from abroad — of the lives, liberty, and property of the American people on American soil Americans within U.S. jurisdiction or engaged in prudent international travel. 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
|The 2006 language was vague ("unreasonably") and self-contradictory ("unrestricted" vs. "control"). The suggested change makes immigration analogous to native birth.|
We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Migration across borders should be without constraints, provided that migrants do not trespass, are not a threat to security, health, or property, and are sponsored by someone (perhaps themselves) who can afford to assume the same responsibility for their resource impact and congestion impact and subsistence needs as parents do for native children. 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 threat to security, health or property.
3.5. Franchise and Discrimination
|The subcommittee's baseline draft platform is silent on abortion. The suggested change below claims the undefended high ground on this issue, as all rival parties (D, R, GP, CP) are absolutist about personhood starting at either conception or birth. 60% of Americans, and probably most Libertarians, think it starts somewhere in between.|
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, without interference by government — unless they are abusing the children. While Libertarians have good-faith differences on the abortion issue, a majority of us believe that a fetus starts deserving legal protection sometime after the first trimester and before birth. We support the right to terminate one's pregnancy during the first trimester. We do not oppose requirements that ending a pregnancy in the third trimester must leave a healthy fetus alive if that is feasible.
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. Constitutional Government
|Ron Paul's campaign has demonstrated the importance of invoking the State's own constitutional apparatus against it. Even though all recent LP presidential hopefuls — Browne, Nolan, Russo, Badnarik, Kubby, Phillies, Smith — have campaigned on a return to the Constitution, past LP platforms offer almost no language on constitutionalism for recycling.|
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. Problems should always be addressed in the most local and voluntary way possible, which ideally is the level of the peaceful honest individual. We support a strict interpretation of the Constitution and enforcement of the Tenth Amendment rule that the federal government has no powers beyond those delegated to it by the Constitution. We support the repeal or overturning of all Acts of Congress outside the narrow powers delegated to it in the Constitution, which are primarily national defense and providing an impartial judicial system. We oppose the President initiating military hostilities in the absence of a declaration of war by Congress.
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.