Poll: Libertarian values making big gains in the Republican Party

The FreedomWorks poll points toward a more fiscally rightist, socially centrist future for the GOP. Photo: Associated Press

OCALA, Fla., September 20, 2013 — Libertarianism is gaining serious ground in the Republican Party, according to a new poll by the free-market activist group FreedomWorks.

“Civil liberties and spending issues are scrambling the old foundations of the Republican Party,” FreedomWorks Vice President of Opinion Research David Kirby was quoted as saying on his group’s website. “In the 1980’s, Ronald Reagan called the Republican coalition a three-legged stool of individual freedom, traditional values, and defense. 

“Today it’s a lopsided stool. Forty percent of Republican voters said they are most interested in promoting ‘individual freedom through lower taxes and reducing the size and scope of government,’ versus 27 percent ‘traditional values’ or 18 percent ‘strong national defense.’”

Jason Pye of United Liberty, a libertarian blog, further explains the poll’s findings: “68% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents agree with the statement that ‘individuals should be free to do as they like as long as they don’t hurt others, and that the government should keep out of people’s day-to-day lives.’

“What’s more, an eye-popping 78% of Republicans consider themselves to be ‘fiscally conservative, but socially moderate,’ which is a significant finding given the debate in the GOP on social issues.”

Last year, former U.S. Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona, an openly gay libertarian-leaning Republican, told The Washington Times Communities that the GOP’s anti-LGBT stances are “entirely a generational issue. I haven’t met a Republican under the age of 30 who doesn’t think same-sex marriage should be legal. 

“I predict 2012 will the last year the GOP platform will advocate for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman. And within one generation, this issue will have faded entirely from political view. Same sex marriage will be a settled fact and widely supported.”

Abortion rights, however, are a different story.

“Pro-choice policies are not likely to be the dominate point of view in the Republican party for the foreseeable future,” Kolbe said in the same interview, “but those that hold to pro-choice principles should continue to advocate for this position within the party and not abandon the party because core issues of individual rights, fiscal and monetary policy and national security are the fundamental issues that drive most Republicans to that banner. 

“We should continue to make the libertarian case that choice is consistent with basic Republican principles.”

Also in that interview, Kolbe mentioned that “the libertarian wing of the Republican party….represents a philosophical point of view that government should be less intrusive and that individual liberties and responsibilities are paramount. But it is not an absolutist prescription for governing and is not seen as such by the vast majority of people who describe themselves as ‘libertarian Republican.’”

Far-left? Far-right? Get realRead more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto 


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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