I was probably always a libertarian and just didn’t know it.
My Youthful Persuit of Truth and Freedom
Independent and Unconventional Me
From a very young age, my parents insisted on raising me to be independent and to do things for myself. Thanks to them, I have always greatly valued independence and self-sufficiency.
For as long as I can remember, I have been skeptical of the establishment and critical of conventional ‘wisdom’. At a very young age, I was tested for giftedness and was placed in ‘gifted and talented education’ classes where critical thinking, higher order thinking, and problem solving skills were emphasized. In those small classes, I was grouped together with my opinionated nonconformist peers. In that environment, our uniqueness was a gift instead of a curse. We may have been seen as weird or rebellious outside of those classes, but inside those classes we flourished and there were no questions we weren’t allowed to ask. We were encouraged to use critical analysis, the Socratic method, to question ‘authority’ figures, and to think for ourselves. This experience provided the framework for the way I think and learn, and offered validation for my unconventional approach to things.
When I turned eighteen, in 1995, I intentionally did not register to vote, even though everyone was already talking about the upcoming 1996 presidential election. Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Ross Perot, and Pat Buchannon really didn’t do anything for me. I didn’t trust any of them. (I had never heard of Harry Browne—the Libertarian Party candidate—at the time. It wasn’t until many years later that I would learn about him.) I was in college in ’95, questioning everything, and I was certain, at that time in my life, that even politicians with the best intentions were not in a position to improve my life any better than I could on my own. I felt that for the most part, they did not represent me or my values, and that often participation in electoral politics just made things worse.
Making my Voice Heard
A couple of years later, however, while at the DMV, my boyfriend at the time, who was several years older than me—and who is now my husband of almost 20 years—suggested I take that opportunity to register to vote since we were already there, that way I could make my voice heard and send a message to the powers that be. He explained that he registered as a Republican when he turned eighteen because he felt it was the party that aligned most closely with his views, although he didn’t agree with everything they were doing. I was a very young adult at the time, not yet confident in my ability to articulate my controversial political and philosophical views, and really didn’t feel comfortable discussing them in front of all the other people waiting there at the DMV. I worried that my boyfriend thought I was being immature, or that perhaps he thought I was uninformed. Truthfully, I hadn’t yet put much effort into fleshing out all my reasoning and arguments for abstaining from registering to vote. I felt like I was being put on the spot to make a decision right then and there. So I gave in, against my better judgement, and I registered that day as a Republican.
Tragedy Strikes and The Empire Strikes Back
A few years after that, in 2000, George W. Bush became the 43rd President of the United States. Less than a year later, our nation was collectively traumatized on September 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 people lost their lives due to acts of senseless violence. I remember feeling numb as I watched it all unfold on live television. The footage and images from that day still bring me to tears. It didn’t take long for the war drums to start beating, for civil liberties to be lost, and for the rise of the American police state in response.
I watched as anyone who so much as asked a question about the official narrative, or pointed out a hole in the official version of events of that fateful day, was labeled a “truther,” as if seeking the truth is something to be ashamed of.
“Truth is treason in an empire of lies.”
The attacks of September 11th were answered with further loss of life and liberty with the start of the endless ‘War on Terror’ and drone warfare, Guantanamo, the unpatriotic PATRIOT Act, the ineffective Department of Homeland Security, and the TSA (which has failed to stop a single terrorist attack).
Finding Truth and Freedom in the Free and Uncensored Internet
Starting somewhere around 2003/2004, I became active online, and I began to discover independent media sources and social media. I was a young stay-at-home-mom with three small children. When I’d find a rare moment to myself—when the girls were napping and I didn’t have housework to tend to—I’d poke around online and check out the news on alternative media sites. Congressman Ron Paul was a recurring guest featured on many of those sites in interviews, and his House floor speeches were often linked to as well. I loved the way he always spoke so candidly about the things no one else would talk about. Those were the things I was interested in and seeking answers for.
Ron Paul warned about our government’s military intervention in the middle east potentially causing blowback that would put our own men and women in direct danger. He spoke out against the failed War on Drugs. He also warned of an upcoming housing bubble that later burst in 2008 and caused home values to plummet across the nation, hurting millions of poor and middle class American families (including my own family).
Ron Paul’s political method was using the bully pulpit to educate anyone willing to hear the message of liberty and consider it. He was starting “brushfires of freedom in the minds of men” and women, and he’s the reason I began calling myself a libertarian.
“Speak up, speak often, and don’t worry about those that at this point cannot understand, as they can never un-hear what we tell them.”
By the mid-2000’s, I had become very active online and became interested in independently researching things and checking out independent media sites. Around this time, I gave up watching 24-hour cable news and replaced the mainstream media propaganda machine with vetted alternative media sites for all my news and information.
In 2006, I enrolled in school online to learn a new trade that would allow me to earn money working from home, and enable me to contribute to my family’s income. Part of my course-work focused on effective internet research. Learning this skill has proved invaluable to me. I used my upgraded internet research skills to research further into libertarian philosophy and other libertarian thinkers in any free time I had. Bastiat‘s The Law (written in 1850 by a French economist) really resonated with me. If you haven’t read it, you owe it to yourself to check it out. It’s short and easy to understand. Bastiat wrote about how everyone has a right to protect themselves, their liberty, and their property.
The Ron Paul rEVOLution
Ron Paul for President 2008
In 2008, I supported Ron Paul for president. He wanted to End the Fed, end the wars and bring our troops home, end the War on Drugs, get rid of mandatory minimums, the PATRIOT Act, the IRS, the TSA, restore due process, and uphold the Constitution. When the RNC wouldn’t let Ron Paul and his supporters into the convention in 2008, he held his own counter-rally in a stadium filled with thousands—less than ten miles away from the RNC—and came out on stage like a rock star, with the crowd chanting End The Fed! It was incredibly moving!
The Takedown of a Local Libertarian Rising Star
Ron Paul endorsed an Arizona man named Brian Miller for Congress in 2010. An endorsement from the good doctor himself was enough to convince me that Brian Miller was the right man for the job. Of course, I researched him and the other local candidates as well, but I felt energized that a local man might really be able to shake things up here, where I live. And did he ever!
On May 5, 2011, a 26-year-old Marine and Iraq war veteran was gunned down in his home by a SWAT team. (This happened in the city I live in.) Jose Guerena told his family to hide in the closet after his wife heard noises outside the house while he went to check it out. The Marine went to the door with his rifle, but the SWAT team unloaded 70 rounds into him, killing him. Guerena never fired a shot. In fact, the safety on his rifle was still on. No drugs were found, and he had no criminal history. Jose Guerena was denied due process. The SWAT team that arrived at his house that day served as judge, jury, and executioner, and Jose Guerena bled out in front of his wife and 4-year-old son.
Brian Miller, chairman of the Pima County Republican Party had the audacity to send out an official GOP email called “We are all Jose Guerena.” In it he wrote, “It is my hope that this tragic event will lead to a renewed discussion of the policies that routinely lead to heavily armed and militarized local police invading private homes and a renewed interest in the civil liberties codified in our Bill of Rights.”
Local Republican leaders publicly rebuked Brian Miller, ordered him not to speak in public, demanded he resign, and even went so far as to lock him out of his office—all because he dared to ask for a new discussion of militarized policing, and a renewed interest in civil liberties.
Ultimately, in September of 2013, police agreed to pay Guerena’s wife and children a $3.4 million settlement for gunning down Jose Guerena. As for Brian Miller—the local libertarian who dared to speak out about our eroding civil liberties and the militarization of local police—he had already faded away.
Ron Paul Delegates Mistreated at 2012 Arizona Republican Convention
At my state’s local Republican convention in 2012, I watched live as the shenanigans unfolded, Ron Paul delegates were unfairly treated, police were called on peaceful people, and lights and air conditioning were shut off in the middle of a vote.
Ron Paul for President 2012 & My Subsequent Breakup With the Two-Party System
In 2012, I supported Ron Paul for president again, and this time I brought my husband on board. He was just as fired up about Ron Paul as I was. I watched the Republican National Convention streamed live, and saw them change the rules at the last minute in an attempt to prevent future grassroots efforts. I saw how they blocked Ron Paul delegates from being seated. I saw them cut off microphones when Ron Paul’s votes were being read. I watched the teleprompter display being streamed live as John Boehner, read the words being prompted, “In the opinion of the Chair, the “ayes” have it” before the actual voice votes had even been cast!
That day it became clear to me that the Republican Party, and the two-party system was like a bad boyfriend I needed to break up with. I changed my voter registration the very next day, and registered as a Libertarian. I wanted to send a message loud and clear to the Republican Party—and the whole two-party system—that I’d had enough of their games and I wasn’t going to play along anymore.
Living Free After the Ron Paul rEVOLution
Refocusing My Efforts and Getting Back to the Business of Living!
I began reading everything I could get my hands on. One of the first books I read at that time back in 2012 was Rothbard’s The Ethics of Liberty. It challenged some of my long-held views, and reshaped the way I think about individual liberty. I owe much of my growth as a libertarian to Murray Rothbard’s work.
I also decided then that I’m not willing to wait around for the political process to improve my quality of life—that’s my responsibility. I had raised my voice time and time again with principled votes—as had many others—but the nation state would not listen. I realized that the nation state exists above and beyond the presidency and other elected offices. I don’t need to communicate my wants and needs with the state, and the state is not interested in having a dialogue with me anyway. If I want things to change, I’ll have to change them myself. If I want to live free, I’ll live free. I don’t need permission to do that; I’ve been free since the day I was born.
Libertarianism in Theory and in Practice
I became fascinated by various peaceful methods of direct action—hands on ways real people like me can live free right now. In his book called Democracy: The God That Failed, Hans Hermann-Hoppe advocated for peaceful strategic withdrawal. In 2015, Jeff Deist gave a talk at the Houston Mises Circle laying out specific direct action methods for peacefully withdrawing. He explained how it begins at home; how it begins with you. He gave another excellent Mises Circle talk called Four Ways to Build a Free Society. I love both the Strategic Withdrawal and Building Hearts and Minds options!
In Wendy McElroy‘s book, The Art of Being Free, she makes the case that the best way to fight back against tyranny is to build freedom for ourselves and our loved ones. Here’s one of my favorite excerpts from her inspiring book:
“…it is important not to forget “the business of living,” the challenge of investing in those things and people I care for rather than in strangers for whom I advocate. The personal is what sustains you; strangers can drain your life away.
And, so, the closing words of “The Art of Being Free” are … Make space for the “business of living” — the areas of life that allow you to say “Here, the state is nowhere to be seen.””
—Wendy McElroy, The Art of Being Free
I want to live and prosper as freely and peacefully as I possibly can—right now. So I do that in as many ways as I can by living out my libertarian principles. Here are some of the ways I’m living free today:
- I’ve chosen to be self-employed and work from home so that I can provide for myself and my family, while staying home with my kids.
- With my husband, I’m raising three young independent critical thinkers who give me great hope for the future! After learning about Peaceful Parenting, I incorporated it into my own parenting style and shared what I’d learned with my husband.
- I tend my little organic urban garden to grow my own organic food and minimize trips to the grocery store. I even grow some medicinal plants. I research ways to incorporate permaculture methods so I can grow even more in my limited space. I’m also researching ways to incorporate both active and passive water harvesting into my garden scheme so I can use less water and be less reliant on city water. I plan on raising backyard chickens to have a clean, organic protein source.
- I love and care for my pets who bring me so much happiness. I feed them a holistic diet, and they’re all in great health!
- I work on optimizing my own health and wellness like detoxing my home, my water, and my food. I research effective home remedies for minor ailments and share them with others.
- I’m frugal, and I try to be an ethical shopper. I do my research on the products I buy, and I buy the best I can afford.
- I support grassroots movements, especially local ones.
- I maintain continuous education with online learning. It’s amazing what you can learn online for free these days!
- I read constantly, and write about what matters to me.
- I network with others in my community, and with like-minded individuals both in person and online so that we can support one another and win over more hearts and minds.
“One of the political beauties of libertarianism is that it is a populist ideology. It deals with fundamental rights that are possessed by all human beings; it defends everyone’s life, liberty, and property equally. It says to the poorest, most disadvantaged person in society, “You have the same due process rights as a billionaire.” Libertarianism is profoundly non-elitist. It is profoundly the politics of the everyman.
Grassroots movements are the path from here to there.”
—Wendy McElroy, The Art of Being Free
Freedom is our birthright. We don’t have to wait for a free society to be created. We have only to live free right now in as many ways as we can, and in doing so, we are living in the free society we’ve been hoping for.
Live free with me.