Dr. Kenneth Brent Olsen

Dr. Kenneth Brent Olsen

The political philosophy of the Libertarian Party is based upon the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP). This is the idea that initiating or threatening forceful interference with an individual or their property is inherently wrong. Essentially, the Libertarian “Golden Rule” comes down to “Don’t hurt people and don’t touch their stuff.”

Being a registered Libertarian is different from being a member of the Libertarian Party. While registered Libertarians may support the Libertarian ideas of smaller government and less government intrusion in our lives, they don’t necessarily understand or support the NAP.

However, when someone joins the Libertarian Party or any of its affiliates, the person is required to sign a pledge which reads: “I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.” This pledge and its link to the NAP are foundational elements of Libertarian political philosophy, as the Libertarian pursuit of smaller government is due to the fact that government typically achieves its goals through the use of force or threat of force.

On Jan. 6 a small group of Trump supporters, most of them involved with or influenced by QAnon, infiltrated the United States Capitol Building, where the United States Congress was meeting to ratify the vote of the Electoral College.

This incident led to the deaths of five individuals, including four rioters and one police officer. One of the rioters, who was shot to death by a police officer, was a 35-year old California woman named Ashli Babbitt, who has been described as a Libertarian by the media.

She was, in fact, a registered Libertarian in California. However, she was not and never has been a member of the Libertarian Party or one of its affiliates. She was an adherent of QAnon and a Trump supporter, but had not signed the Pledge to become a member of the Libertarian Party.

The purpose of the riot was to attempt to disrupt the Electoral College ratification in hopes of ensuring President Donald Trump remained in office for an additional four years. President Trump, in his message asking the rioters to go home, said, “We love you. You’re very special.” His daughter, Ivanka Trump, called them “American Patriots” in a Tweet. President Trump was described by those around him as “initially pleased” when his supporters breached the U.S. Capitol Building.

Many feel, reasonably so, that the President had incited the riot during the “Save America March” earlier in the morning on Jan. 6.

The Libertarian Party put out a strong message in opposition to the riot at the Capitol Building soon after the incident stating, “The attack on the Capitol which has left five people dead and many more injured is a tragic example of why all Libertarians affirm the rejection of political violence. The incitement of such violence by the president of the United States in an effort to overturn his electoral defeat is unconscionable and inexcusable.”

Referring to the incident, former Libertarian Congressman Justin Amash said, “Donald Trump needs to resign or be removed from office. America has endured enough.” Recently elected Hanford City Councilwoman, Kalish Morrow, a Libertarian, said about the incident, “I strongly believe in the right to a peaceful protest. It’s how we unite and louden our voices when we feel we’re going unheard. What I do not believe in is the destructive, and oftentimes dangerous, riots that have taken place in our country over the past several months in cities across the nation and now with what happened at our nation’s capital.”

Libertarians support the freedom of speech and the right to a peaceful protest, but Libertarians stand against violence. What happened at the Capitol was a sad event which should not have occurred which led to death and destruction over the loss of an election. Whether one describes it as an attempted coup or a violent temper tantrum, it was unnecessary, unacceptable, and a sad day in American history.

As former Libertarian Congressman Justin Amash has said, “Constitutional conservatives, libertarians, classical liberals — let’s build something new together. Let’s build a party we can be proud of — one that honors our American traditions, upholds the Rule of Law, and protects individual rights — one focused on persuading, not hating.” That party is the Libertarian Party. 

Dr. Kenneth Brent Olsen is a clinical psychologist practicing in California. He has been active in the Libertarian Party since 1996 when he ran for Salt Lake County Commissioner in Utah. To contact Dr. Olsen, please email him at  vicechair@ca.lp.org.

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