No, not that one.
Not that one either.
Seriously, whichever L word you’re thinking of – it’s not that one. I’m talking about the word “Libertarian”. That L word.
I know. Now you’re thinking “Thanks, but I’d much rather talk about the other L words. In fact, I’d rather discuss just about any other word besides that one. I really don’t want to talk politics, especially with a Libertarian.”
Fear not. It’s really more about the word and the baggage it brings with it, and not so much about the actual politics behind it.
You see, I was a Republican for almost 20 years. The day I turned 18, I registered to vote as a Republican. Yep, me and Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties. Ah, the 80s were a wonderful time! Years passed, my life views changed, the Republican party changed… that’s how life works. It’s just one big string of paradigm shifts.
So last year, after doing some research and a little life assessment, I made the big change. I came out of the closet and announced I was now a Libertarian. I braced myself for the inevitable backlash and cries of “Traitor!” There were a few, but not as much as I had anticipated. Many were just like me, having believed in the Big R or even the Big D and been sorely disappointed. They may not have wanted to make the switch, but they fully understood my desire to leave a political relationship that had grown cold and loveless.
After my political divorce and the subsequent remarriage to my current party, I went the traditional route and changed my name as well. I was no longer a Republican and was now a Libertarian. And with that name change came a laundry list of stereotypes and assumptions about me.
Back when I was a Republican, it was assumed I was a wealthy white male with a degree from a prestigious college that my rich Grandfather financed out of his commodities options. Reality? I was a young woman from a working class family that financed her own education and dropped out when working fulltime for minimum wage and going to Cal State Long Beach fulltime just didn’t allow for enough sleep and my life fell apart. Yeah, not exactly life as a Rockefeller. I always found it odd that I could argue for the power of Big Business while bosses broke the law and had me working late for OT – Own Time. Last I heard, working for no pay was not quite the capitalist way.
Now I’m a Libertarian, and it gets even worse. Since the tenets of Libertarianism are self-government (“The Party of Principle: Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom”), one issue the party supports is legalization of marijuana. Do I smoke? Nope. I don’t do drugs at all. None. But now everyone assumes I must be a pothead, especially the actual potheads. “You’re a Libertarian?” Insert knowing grin and snicker. “Oh, cool, bro!”
Not only that, but I’m supposedly wearing a tin foil hat now. Since I’m a Libertarian, people assume I must truly believe the government is full of conspiracies and out to get me. Not everyone, mind you, just me. Except I don’t think that. My take? Most people in power, especially the kind of power we just don’t question, like government, are in it for personal gain. Nothing more. They truly don’t give a rat’s behind about controlling the minds of the masses in a weak imitation of Hitler. They want cash, plain and simple, and maybe a little power – just enough to get the premium table at that expensive restaurant where everyone else goes, and to be seen there. They have no desire to meddle in my little life.
I think I’m getting used to being labeled and fighting the stereotype, though I don’t think I’ll ever like it. And it’s not just politics, it’s everything in life. I’m a 47-year-old woman, but my job is to walk 5-20 miles a day, battling junkies and angry Dobermans. I’m a Christian, but I believe in evolution and can make a sailor blush if you scare me. I knit, but I do it while watching The Boondock Saints. And I’m a Libertarian that doesn’t smoke weed, wear a foil hat or think Obama was sent by Satan.
In short, I live by the Popeye philosophy – “I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam.”
Label me however you want, I’m still just me, as complicated and enigmatic as always.