By Tyler Bauer
Recently, a frequent reader of my blog asked me how I formed my political opinions. I explained how things happened to that person, but didn’t think much of it. Then, a new reader asked me the same question, so I figured I might as well make a blog post out of my answer. (Also, I’m out of town over the weekend, so I can’t keep up on current events like usual. That’s why you’re getting more lighthearted material than usual. If World War Three has begun, I’ll cover it on Monday afternoon.)
I grew up in an upper-middle class, white, suburban, non-denominational Christian family in the Fort Wayne area. Naturally, I was destined to be a Republican. I didn’t really have a political thought until I was ten or so, but I naturally leaned towards the Republican Party. (As an aside, the social-psychological aspect of party identification is really interesting and I recommend reading about it if you’re interested in how we become partisans.)
Around my eighteenth birthday, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer, so I chose to study political science in college because I knew it was a common major among law students. I didn’t expect to enjoy political science that much, but I ended up falling in love with politics.
I went into college as a weak Republican with some socially liberal ideas (I supported gay marriage and marijuana legalization, for example). I expected my professors and classmates to try to indoctrinate me with leftist ideas, but I never experienced anything like that. There were many leftists in my classes and in the faculty, but they never tried to indoctrinate me. If anything, they went out of their way to allow me to voice my opinions. So, although I was exposed to more leftist concepts than ever before, I was by no means indoctrinated. There were also plenty of vocal conservatives and independents (among both students and faculty), so the political science department was by no means a monolith.
The 2016 Election
The 2016 elections were the first elections I could take part in. Since I was a political science student and was politically engaged, I had ample opportunities to evaluate candidates and decide whether I wanted to vote. In the primaries, I supported Rand Paul. He was the only candidate who was even close to me ideologically. He was fiscally conservative and socially liberal in all the right places. Plus, he wasn’t a war hawk, which is always nice.
Once Rand Paul dropped out, I (unhappily) supported Ted Cruz. He talks a good game and knows the Constitution well, so I figured he was the best I could get ideologically. Plus, he was one of the few people who I thought had a chance to win the primary. In the primary election, I voted for Ted Cruz over John Kasich and Donald Trump. Kasich is too much like a Democrat and Trump is a Democrat, so Cruz was the lesser of three evils.
As you know by now, Ted Cruz lost in Indiana and lost nationwide. So, in the general election, I was left without my preferred option (Paul) and my preferred evil (Cruz). I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either Trump or Clinton because they’re more or less the same on most issues and they’re quite possibly the worst candidates we’ve ever had. So, I had to look elsewhere.
By this point, I had become dissatisfied with the Republican Party. They nominated a lifelong Democrat who, even though he pretended to be Republican, was still terrible on economic policies (among many other issues). I found two other political parties that I thought could be my new home – the Constitution Party and the Libertarian Party.
The Constitution Party nominated Darrell Castle for the presidency. He’s good on most issues, but he didn’t support gay marriage and he mixed religion and politics too much for my liking. I am a Christian, but I prefer to keep my faith separate from my politics.
The Libertarian Party had not yet chosen a nominee when I began following their activities. At this point, the race was down to three people – John McAfee, Gary Johnson, and Austin Petersen. John McAfee is just a crazy person. If you don’t believe me, watch his Netflix documentary. It’s called “Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee.” Gary Johnson was pro-choice and a milquetoast Republican, both of which turned me off. (Oh, and he’s kind of an idiot. Click here and here to cringe.) Austin Petersen, unlike the other two, was not crazy and had agreeable ideas. (He still has agreeable ideas, by the way – click here to support his bid for the United States Senate). Austin Petersen once said, “I want gay married couples to be able to protect their marijuana fields with fully automatic machine guns,” which is the mix of conservative and liberal ideas I was looking for in a candidate.
Unfortunately, the Libertarian Party nominated Gary Johnson, and he failed miserably. I (regretfully) voted for him, though, because he was the closest candidate to myself ideologically, and I hoped that I could help give the Libertarian Party a strong enough showing in 2016 to give them more momentum going forward.
After the Election
After the election, I didn’t really feel like I had a political home. The Republican Party under Trump was no longer Republican and the Libertarian Party under Johnson was no longer Libertarian. So, I focused on ideology instead of party labels, and became a devout minarchist. A minarchist is basically anyone who believes in having as small and weak of a government as possible. My minarchy stage lasted for about six months or so.
In early 2017, I began to switch from being a minarchist to being an anarchist. There’s a saying among anarchists that you become a minarchist when you realize theft is bad, and you become an anarchist when you realize there are no exceptions. (The theft I’m referring to is taxation. Taxation is theft because it is done by force or the threat of force. If you think taxation isn’t theft, just try not paying taxes and see how well that works for you.) Anyway, I believe that all forms of theft are bad, and this led me to being an anarchist. This is where I’m at today.
While I am an anarchist, you’ve probably realized that I never explicitly mention anarchism or refer to it in any of my other blogs. That’s because I don’t want people to get caught up on labels – it’s the message that counts. If you’re a minarchist, that’s perfectly fine. We both want to shrink the size of government, and we’re both moving in the same direction. If we ever achieve a minarchist state, then we can have the minarchy vs. anarchy argument. Until then, I want to preach a broad message that all freedom-loving people can get behind.