Fear is the stalwart and eternal ally of tyranny, and sowing division is the surest way to make people afraid.
Today, many Americans aren’t motivated by the candidate they vote for, but rather by fear of the candidate they are opposed to. As politicians push division to gain more power, libertarians should be working to unite Americans against authoritarianism.
Division is the fuel that nourishes tyranny; feeding it will only starve the liberty movement.
Talk of “national divorce” has grown as Americans are being driven apart by political wedge issues designed to keep them afraid of the “other”.
The opportunity for libertarians in this moment is not to celebrate divisions but rather to remind Americans of the principles that inspired the creation of a government; these allow people of vastly different beliefs to co-exist peacefully together.
It’s time for a broader discussion about why national divorce is not a pro-liberty solution. Fundamentally, for any change in the structure of government to be pro-liberty, it must move us towards more individual liberty, not away.
The real political divide is not between red and blue states, but between rural and urban areas which often have very different values and ways of living. Though in many ways they are opposites, they depend on each other materially.
Libertarians provide an alternative to the current discourse by saying that we should not draw borders between people who disagree, but that we should draw borders between people and their government. Decentralization of power is a good thing, decentralization of people banding together to restrict powers is a bad thing.
Some say that people have a right to live with whatever gun/taxes/immigration laws they want, and that national divorce would reduce “forced associations”. But this a wholesale rejection of libertarianism, which believes that human rights are universal and must be protected.
The idea that these new governments created by national divorce would obtain proper consent to take an individual’s rights away is without evidence. Nor does the smaller voting population make it more acceptable to restrict people’s rights. Libertarians completely reject the notion that when 51 out of 100 vote to take away your rights, it is more acceptable than 501 out of 1000 voting to take away your rights. Your rights are yours, always.
The libertarian solution allows localization of choice for policies and leaders without removing the rights protections provided by the federal government.
It allows us to ensure that people, whatever their beliefs, may trade freely with each other, travel, buy and sell property, form contracts, speak freely, and every other thing consenting people who own themselves may do without harming others, all while being protected equally under the law.
Libertarians should not be arguing for a national divorce with messages like “people have a right to oppress themselves” or ”they don’t have a right to be free.” We should be an unapologetic voice reminding people that natural rights are universal and are granted by no piece of paper or government.
Libertarians offer the only non-authoritarian option, where individual liberty is paramount, not the collected money and power of interest groups. Libertarianism is not pro-localized statism, it is a rejection of all statism. A national divorce leading to multiple separate fragments of a formerly United States would only further embolden authoritarians in the Democratic and Republican parties.
There is an argument to be had for secession, but it must serve the purposes of protecting and advancing individual liberty. National divorce does the opposite.
Our messaging should be a stark contrast to what the rest of the country is being told. As Republicans and Democrats focus on increasing the divisions and fear between Americans, libertarians have an opportunity to show America the best version of itself.
A version of America held together by our common belief in the natural rights enumerated in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, that have survived for the last two and a half centuries while other countries around the world have dissolved or fallen apart.
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This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.