As adopted at Convention April 8, 2017
As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.
We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be eliminated from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.
Consequently, we defend every person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to pursue happiness in their own ways, without interference from any governmental entity or authoritative power.
We hold that individuals have inherent sovereign rights to their own bodies and property. As such, we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force and fraud against other people and their justly acquired property. These principles are to guide Libertarian policy positions in every area; both in the political realm and through all other avenues.
In the following platform, we have set forth our basic principles and enumerated various policy positions derived from those principles. These specific policies are not our goal, however. Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime, and it is to this end that we take these stands.
Statement of Principles
We, the members of the Libertarian Party, defend the rights of the individual.
We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.
Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, political parties other than our own grant to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.
We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual – if they are to exist, it is only to secure the rights of the individual: namely, (1) the right to life — accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force or threat of force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action — accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property — accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.
Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives, liberty, or property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free people; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.
We support any measure that reduces illegitimate governmental action or violations of the rights of the individual as put forth in our Preamble and Statement of Principles. While recognizing that change often takes the form of increments and transitions, the policies in the planks that follow are to be taken as quickly as possible, without violence.
1.0 The Individual
Individuals own their bodies and have rights over them that other individuals, groups, and governments may not violate. Individuals have the freedom and responsibility to decide what they knowingly and voluntarily consume, and what risks they accept to their own health, finances, safety, or life. Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make provided those choices do not violate the rights of others. Our support of an individual’s right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.
1.1 Victimless Crimes
Criminal laws should be limited to violations of the rights of others through force or fraud, or deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm. We therefore reject all laws that create crimes without victims such as, but not limited to, the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes, alcoholic consumption, prostitution, and gambling.
1.2 Freedom of Expression
We support full freedom of expression and oppose government censorship, regulation, or control of communications media and technology. We favor the freedom to engage in or abstain from any religious activities that do not violate the rights of others. We oppose government actions which either aid or attack any religion.
1.3 Protection of Privacy
Libertarians advocate individual privacy and call for government transparency. We condemn government’s practice of spying on its own citizens. We support the rights recognized by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, property, and communications. Protection from unreasonable search and seizure includes records held by third parties, such as, but not limited to, email, library, medical, and phone records. This includes opposition the use of random checkpoints performed without probable cause and warrants issued, as well as methods such as stop and frisk.
1.4 Personal Relationships
Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. We favor the complete extrication of government from private consensual relationships.
1.5 Right to Self-Defense
The only legitimate use of force is reasonable and proportional defense of individual rights–life, liberty, and justly acquired property–against aggression and threats of immediate harm. This right inheres in the individual, who may seek to be, or agree to be aided by any other individual or group in the exercise of the right to self-defense. Maintaining our belief in the inviolability of the right to keep and bear arms, we reject all laws at any level of government restricting, registering, or monitoring the ownership, manufacture, transport or transfer of any item or tool that could be used for reasonable and proportional self-defense.
2.0 The Market
We believe that each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. For voluntary dealings among private entities, parties must be free to choose with whom they trade and set whatever trade terms are mutually agreeable. Therefore, we oppose all intervention by government into the area of economics. The only proper role of existing governments in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. Efforts to forcibly redistribute wealth or forcibly manage and regulate trade violate individual rights.
We believe that all individuals have the right to dispose of the fruits of their labor as they see fit.
Taxation is government confiscation of the property of its citizens using force. Because of its non-voluntary nature, it cannot be justified, regardless of the alleged nobility of purpose. As such, we oppose coercive taxation, and we support all initiatives to reduce or abolish any tax, and oppose any initiatives to increase taxation or add new forms of it. We advocate that all public services be funded in a voluntary manner such as through contributions, lotteries, subscriptions, and reasonable user fees. We contend that a tax by any other name, including a fee, excise, tariff, or assessment, is still a tax. Where possible, the free market should be used to privatize government programs.
Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item. We oppose inflationary monetary policies and unconstitutional legal tender laws. We oppose government use of debt to conceal or cover the cost of their expenditures.
Licensing is a method for government to convert a natural right into a privilege, then require one to pay fees to the government to exercise. Privileges can be and often are revoked by government and allow for stifling of competition to create government mandated monopolies. Rights must be held inviolate, and no one should be forced to pay to exercise a right. We encourage certifications by voluntary associations of professionals.
We hold that rights to property are individual rights and, as such, are entitled to the same protections as all other individual rights and that the owners of property have the full right to control, use, dispose of, or in any manner enjoy their property without interference, until and unless the exercise of their control infringes the valid rights of others. Eminent domain, civil asset forfeiture, governmental limits on profits, governmental production mandates, and governmental controls on prices of goods and services are abridgments of fundamental rights. We support ending taxation of real property, which makes the State the de facto owner of all lands and forces individuals to rent their homes and places of business from the State.
2.5 Labor Markets
The contract between an employer and employee is a voluntary relationship, where both sides choose to enter it and can only fairly negotiate on the terms of the contract without interference by government. We support the right of employers and employees to freely choose whether to bargain with each other through a third party, such as a labor union. There is no inherent “right to work” nor a “right to unionize,” merely the freedom for all to negotiate conditions of employment.
3.0 The Community
Free and voluntary societies provide the best potential for all members of society to succeed and flourish. A free and competitive market for all services will allocate resources in the most efficient manner. Voluntary cooperation and charity between people meets the needs of others without violating rights through coercion and force. Current problems in many societal areas such as energy, pollution, public services, and poverty are not solved, but instead are caused or exacerbated, by government.
Education is a matter of conscience, values, and free expression, as much as assembly, press, religion, or speech. Accordingly, we advocate the complete separation of school and state, ending government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools, colleges, and universities. Until that time, any government funds for education should be put entirely under parental and student control, for use in schools of choice (including, but not limited to, private, parochial, and home schooling) or to carry forward for education in a future year.
Pollution of air, water, and land violates rights. Polluters, including government, should have strict liability for harms caused by pollution. Strict liability, not government agencies and arbitrary government standards should regulate pollution.
The forced taking of property from an individual for the benefit of others is a violation of individual rights. The most effective source of help for others is voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.
We advocate the termination of government regulated franchise privileges and governmental monopolies for public services. The right to offer such services on the market should not be curtailed by the state.
4.0 The State
The principle of non-initiation of force should guide governments and citizens. We call for a non-interventionist foreign policy and recognize the rights to unrestricted travel, trade and immigration while reserving the right to defend against specific and credible threats.
4.1 Equal Treatment
Government should not deny, abridge, or enhance any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits and preferences, political affiliation, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. And any laws which currently do so should be repealed rather than extended to all groups.
4.2 Sovereign Immunity
Government agencies, their representatives, contractors and/or employees should never be exempted from laws, statutes, and regulations applicable to everyone else. We favor an immediate end to the doctrine of Sovereign Immunity which ignores the primacy of the individual over the abstraction of the State, and holds that the State, contrary to the tradition of redress of grievances, may not be sued without its permission or held accountable for its actions under civil law. Government agents should be subject to civil and criminal liability for any injuries caused by their actions, without regard to whether those actions occurred during their duties.
Further, any agent of the state who knowingly violates the rights to life, liberty, or property of another person, taking advantage of any powers delegated, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and receive enhanced sentencing for the violation of trust.
The only real crimes are crimes of violence or threat of violence, property loss, and fraud where an individual is a victim. The judicial process should be an earnest attempt, through due process of law, to extract reasonable restitution from a person convicted of a crime and to convey that restitution to the victim, to imprison or exclude criminals from society when necessary, to hold persons liable for damage they do, and to fairly settle contract disputes in which the parties have not voluntarily opted for private dispute resolution. A criminal, having paid for the crime, should be accorded full restoration of liberty. We assert the common-law right of juries to judge not only the facts but also the justice of the law.
We support election systems that are more representative of the electorate at the national, state and local levels. As private voluntary groups, political parties should be allowed to establish their own rules for nomination procedures, primaries and conventions. We call for an end to any tax-financed subsidies to candidates or parties and the repeal of all laws which restrict voluntary individual financing of election campaigns. We oppose laws that effectively exclude alternative candidates and parties, deny ballot access, gerrymander districts, or deny the voters their right to consider all legitimate alternatives. We support the addition of the alternative “none of the above” is acceptable to all ballots. If “none of the above” wins, the elective office for that term will remain unfilled and unfunded.
Our silence about any other government law, regulation, ordinance, directive, edict, control, regulatory agency, activity, or machination, including the existence of any governmental system, should not be construed to imply approval or disapproval. In every matter, we adhere to the consistent application of the principle of the non-initiation of physical force or fraud.