-ADY "A Regular Guy On The Issues"
Being a libertarian does not simply equate to “leave it all up to the states”
First of all, you should read this primer on states’ rights before continuing forward. Also, states do not have rights, only people have rights.
Heard all too often from far too many people is that libertarians only want limited government at the federal level, but they’re fine with the state and local governments trouncing all over people’s rights. The sort of people being talked about here can most accurately be described as constitutionalists, but even then these types of people rarely understand the US constitution.
There are two things that need to be understood here, the first being that libertarians want a government at every level that does one thing, that is secure and protect the natural rights of all people equally by providing them a venue of recourse against aggressors. This would be the judicial system. The other thing that needs to be understood is that next to the people, the second best thing to protect our rights is a constitution which limits what governments can do. It is because of this that libertarian types strive to understand and enforce the constitutional roles of each level of government.
Something to keep in mind is that the majority of libertarians are not “pure” by any sense and are more pragmatic while using libertarian principles as a guide. While a person will say that they are opposed to for example Social Security as a federal program because the federal government is not provided this power by the constitution, they may or may not be opposed to it at the state level. A person with deeper libertarian beliefs is going to also oppose such a program at the state level, though they will recognize the legitimacy of the state to implement such a program due to the constitutional roles of government.
Touching on a highly sensitive subject, there is no official libertarian stance on abortion simply because the matter is so intricate that there are a number of views on the matter. What some libertarians will argue though is that the federal government is not granted the authority to regulate abortion and due to this the constitutional role of government dictates that this be a state issue.
However, even as people advocate this be a state issue and not a federal one, they will still advocate for the right to an abortion, though there are others who want to either restrict abortion or eliminate it. These people make up a minority though. Others will argue this does fall under federal jurisdiction. In short, it’s a mixed bag.
Marriage is another issue that seems to confuse people when it comes to libertarians. The grand majority of libertarians believe that government on all levels has absolutely no business being involved with the matter of marriage. This is another area where libertarians can be split on the matter. One group believes it is a federal matter because pragmatically this is the only way to treat all people equally under the law. Others believe that this is not a matter that the federal government has any jurisdiction over except in cases where state laws do not treat people equally. Those who believe states are able to make laws concerning marriage in any way they choose are not libertarians, this is a firm assertion regardless of what anyone claims.
Many libertarians are constitutionalists and indeed understand the constitution far greater than many self-proclaimed constitutionalists. There are those who are not constitutionalists though and are this way because they either do not understand constitutional roles of government or believe the constitution is a faulty document. Of course there are those who do support the constitutional roles of government and still believe the constitution to be a faulty document. It’s very hard to pigeonhole these people on such matters.
In short the grand majority of libertarians believe in limited government at all levels, a government that does not restrict people except to make laws criminalizing force and fraud, and constitutional roles. The government which is closest to the people is going to generally be the most efficient at delivering government services and will also be the easiest to impact as an individual rather than some large entity a thousand miles away. So yes, libertarians support the proper constitutional role of government and states’ jurisdiction while opposing discrimination at every level. This also means that libertarians support the federal government stepping in to ensure that state laws are not used in a discriminatory manner.
Again, I urge you to read this primer on states’ rights in order to get a far better understanding of the subject and the views of those who advocate states’ rights, or what is better termed as states’ jurisdiction.
By: Stephen Carter