Opinion

Libertarian ideas merit discussion

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Three of the five candidates for the U.S. Senate from West Virginia are under no illusions about winning the election. They know they have no chance of prevailing.

Rep. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., is virtually certain to win the Senate seat. In doing so, she will defeat Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat.

Also on the Nov. 4 election ballot will be three third-party candidates: Libertarian Party representative John S. Buckley, Mountain Party standard-bearer Bob Henry Baber and Constitution Party leader Phil Hudok. Combined, they can be expected to net vote totals in the single digits.

But much of what Buckley, of Hardy County, has to say should be appealing to West Virginians who believe government has become too intrusive, too controlling and too expensive. The same can be said about other Libertarian candidates elsewhere in the nation.

Growing disenchantment with both major political parties has been evident in West Virginia for many years. At one time, nearly all voters in the state were registered as either Democrats or Republicans.

But during the past two decades, that has changed dramatically. While Republicans have maintained about the same number of registered voters, the Democrat Party has lost adherents in droves. Now, 263,061 of the nearly 1.25 million registered voters list themselves as non-affiliated or with parties such as the Libertarian and Mountain.

Buckley and other Libertarians believe, in essence, in what the nation’s founders did: Individual liberties should be considered all-important. Government should limit its activities only to essential functions such as defense, some infrastructure improvements and the like. Social engineering of the type practiced in Washington for decades has no part in the Libertarian philosophy, nor did it in the founders’ thinking.

Again, Capito is expected to win the Senate seat by a large margin. Knowledge of her lead may prompt some voters to cast ballots for Buckley, merely as an expression of their conviction that Libertarianism ought to play a larger role in the discussion about our nation’s future. They feel as the founders did, that the less government, the better.

More consideration of that ideal and its practical effects on our freedom and prosperity would not be a bad thing.

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