Donkeys, Elephants, and Rinos! Fitting names for the zoo like behavior of many in Alaska’s political environment where Democrats are running as Independents and Democrats claim they are running as conservatives, leaving Alaskan’s confused with their heads spinning as they try to make sense of it all. This mix-up likely stems from politicians and candidates not adhering to political party platforms which adds to the confusion regarding the definition of a libertarian.
What is a Libertarian? A Democrat, a Republican, a conservative or a liberal? How do you get to the truth and to the core of a candidate in order to understand who they “really” are? Many vote R or D out of tradition without understanding what their respective candidates actually stand for.
In order to understand our form of government and the division of parties we must begin with Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. It states “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government…” It is my belief that in order to maintain and strengthen our freedoms, individual civil liberties and success we must sustain our Republican form of government. And, over time, it has become overwhelmingly apparent that this is best done through the implementation of Libertarian principles.
As I reflect upon my own upbringing, I have always been fiercely independent and self-determined with an eager desire to venture out into the world to pursue my own interests. Probably not that much different from most people. In many ways I attribute my internal compass to my Alaska Native Aleut heritage and the influences of my parents and grandparents who instilled their deep cultural Alaska Native roots in me.
Something I began to understand much better in my 20s was that a lot of people across all demographics shared many of the same feelings and beliefs. Naively I wondered if they were Aleut descendants too? Silly, I know. But, it became evident that we are naturally Libertarians, seeking to be free, independent, and respecting the freedoms of others. Being a Libertarian has always been natural for me. Being a Libertarian is being grounded in simple principles of liberty, personal freedom, individual responsibility, self-determination, and self-reliance, kindness, peace, and the utmost respect for life.
Let me correctly define what a Libertarian is in order to give clarity and correct stereotypes that have been made by non-libertarians about our philosophy.
First, there is a big difference between political party affiliation and philosophical beliefs. Just because one registers as a republican does not make them conservative. Take a look at the voting records of our elected officials and you’ll see what I mean. Republicans often self-ascribe as conservatives when many actually aren’t. Many that identify as conservatives often read parts of the Libertarian platform and comment, “that sure sounds conservative.” In fact many conservative principles are actually derived from Libertarian principles not the other way around.
Political party affiliation allows you to be a part of a group. Party registration is simply an association. And, when you consider that this is done completely outside of the authority of the parties, there are limited controls and standards applied to membership. Within that association however you will have many flavors of philosophical perspectives. The primary political affiliations include Democrat, Republican, and Libertarian. Political Ideologies may include but are not limited to Liberal, progressive, conservative, moderate and Libertarian. Libertarians are the only political party that describes its philosophy and the name of the party with the same term and this sometimes causes some confusion.
Libertarians believe in the idea of individual liberty, limited government, free market economics, constitutional government, adhering to the strict enumerated powers of government, self-reliance, the rule of law, and peace. These are just the tip of the iceberg.
Libertarians strongly believe in the rights guaranteed in the United States Constitution protecting life, liberty, and property. Libertarians defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful, doesn’t encroach upon the freedom of others and encourages the diversity that freedom brings.
Libertarianism is often misunderstood and incorrectly defined by people on the right and left. Libertarians are not some hybrid of republicans and democrats. Libertarians are not a concocted half-breed of political ideologies and dogma. Libertarianism, plainly stated, is the counterpoint to both the liberal and conservative perspectives.
Democrats and Republicans love to define, wrongly of course, what a Libertarian is, who we are and what we believe. This is done to diminish our influence and ideological strength as a strategy, drawing Libertarians into their parties, for self-aggrandizement. Almost always, republicans, democrats, and the media purposely or ignorantly wrongly state the Alaska Libertarian platform, policies and positions. This leads to some libertarians to in fact themselves misunderstand true libertarian principles.
I refuse to stand idly by while those with deceptive political intentions try to define who we are and what we believe.
Myth VS. Truth about Libertarians:
Libertarians are pro-abortion. (We are not. That is a liberal Democrat position)
– We stand with the Declaration of Independence that proclaims that humanity is endowed with certain unalienable rights, including life.“
Libertarians are Pro Same Sex Marriage (We are not. That is a liberal democrat position)
– We believe that it is an improper role of government to “grant” permission and charge a fee for a licenses to marry anyone.
Libertarians are Pacifists (We are not. Pacifists are Pacifists and not libertarians.)
– We believe in the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP) and stand with the U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, often referred to as the War Powers Act, that a declaration of war is the authority of the Congress, not the President.
Libertarians are Anarchists (We are not. Anarchists are Anarchists and not libertarians.)
– We believe in the constitutional form of republican government that is laid out in Article IV Section 4 of the US Constitution. We believe in limited, defined, government.
Libertarians promote drug use through legalization. (We do not. This is a liberal democrat position.)
– Legalization is advocacy for access through permission from government with a fee or tax levied. This is not liberty, it is permission.
Libertarians pursue legalization of…
– We support the Declaration of Independence that demands that government does not over regulate. A prominent grievance by our Founding Fathers to King George was that “He has erected a Multitude of New Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their Substance.” Our nation was founded on the principle that government, in most cases, ought to leave us alone.
In Conclusion, the Alaska Libertarian Party differs from the National Libertarian Party platform in two distinct ways. Alaska does not address abortion or personal relationships. In addition some semantic word changes exist which are slightly modified to meet the needs of our unique lifestyle and cultures in Alaska. Additionally, Alaskan Libertarian candidates are free to define their degree of national integrity or “border control.”
Government should be a last resort not a first resource!
Terrence Shanigan is the first Alaska native to be elected as Chair to a major recognized Party in Alaska. The Alaska Libertarian Party is proud of this distinction. He is a veteran, retired Alaska State Trooper, Alaska Native Aleut, former President of the Native tribe of Kanatak and Tribal Judge.