Free Markets, Free People


Libertarians – More popular than Socialism and Militias … and Indies love us

Here’s a somewhat entertaining survey by Pew. In it they asked various people to give a positive or negative reaction to a group words they were given. The words were socialism, capitalism, libertarianism, progressive, civil liberties, civil rights, family values, militia and state’s rights. Interestingly, conservative was left off the list.

As it turns out, libertarians scored a split verdict, with a 38% positive and 37% negative.

Now again, realize that people are being asked to react to the words based on how they understand them. There’s apparently no context given – for instance “progressive” doesn’t necessarily have to mean “liberal” if the person so chooses to consider it by an alternate meaning.

On the other hand, capitalism, socialism and libertarianism pretty well have a single meaning or context. What they actually mean to each person remains a mystery, obviously, but the most negative of the 3 was socialism, followed by libertarianism and then capitalism. That says to me that many people still think of libertarianism to be the realm of the blue skinned guy who refuses to carry a driver’s license and is worried about the gold fringed flag. But it also says that the image may be changing and becoming both more acceptable and more mainstream. Good.

And independents are most positive about libertarians (stands to reason since libertarians don’t consider themselves Republicans or Democrats) while Republicans are least positive. In many ways we’re actually competition for Republicans and try to hold them to their principles and slam them when they don’t live up to them. But Republicans don’t like us on the social side of things. And that’s where some Dems love us.

Interestingly the terms which provoked the most warm fuzzies – positives – were civil rights, state’s rights, civil liberties and family values. I see that as a hopeful sign, and another in a long line of signals that say stand down the size of the federal government, respect the state’s rights and those of individuals as well.

The most negative word of the group? Militia. I’m not sure whether that’s a function of how the media constantly portrays them, but my guess is it is heavily influenced by that characterization. But militias are a very minor and insignificant problem in this country today. I have to wonder how conservative would have fared.

I’m not sure what to really make of all this other than taking it at face value – people react to these terms for a particlar reason in the manner they do. On the whole, libertarianism seems to be making a better impression now than it has in the past. That’s a hopeful and welcome sign to me.

~McQ

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9 Responses to Libertarians – More popular than Socialism and Militias … and Indies love us

  • This is fallout from the media.

    Libertarianism was never a threat until recently to Democrats.  Especially when they have some common ground they tried to exploit like drug legalization.  So they’ve rarely been in the crosshairs. I’ve noticed that’s starting to change.  Soon libertarians will probably broad brushed with other anti-government nuts.  Its already happening among their lieutenants as they probe the best tact to take when going live with an anti-libertarian push.

    The militia issue is heavy propagandized.  Like the christian militia in Michigan that never called itself a militia.  Who the prosecutors apparently have a horrible case to the point most will eventually get bail.  Lending credence to my belief that the timing was for the purpose of reinforcing a violent image of anti-government types.

  • And their title is:

    “Socialism” Not So Negative, “Capitalism” Not So Positive
    Yet their results are:
    Socialism – Negative 59  Positive 29
    Capitalism – Negative 37 Positive 52

    For some reason I am thinking of a two car automobile race reported by PRAVDA.     The Volga came in 2nd and the Ford came in next to last.
    As for the PEW survey it is a little surprising that more people didn’t view capitalism favorably.   But with all the turmoil of the last two years and the constant demagoguery by the dems maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise.

    • Not surprising at all: most Americans want to consume like capitalists (large bounty of goods at cheap prices, etc) but want to work like socialists.

  • Being a fairly young person i never had a thought of libertarianism, i always assumed it was simply the middle road of D and R. Do people see the L as unprincipled because of this? People confuse L with Independants?

  • Not to forget all those Islamist militias in Somalia, etc. It seems any gang of thugs in some foreign pesthole is dignified with the name ‘militia’.

  • On the whole, libertarianism seems to be making a better impression now than it has in the past. That’s a hopeful and welcome sign to me.

    >>> Well, now that you don’t have a candidate representing libertarians who turned himself blue by drinking colloidial silver, public perception just HAD to shoot upwards  :)

  • I think that John Stossel is doing a lot to bring forth awareness of Libertarian arguments.

    But there is something else at work here. The great backlash against government, both the current administration and the big government neoconservatism of the last one, is moving the right wing in a libertarian direction.

    This is inevitable because we are simply running out of money, and the mantra in the future is going to be to reduce the size and expense of government every where.