Becoming Independent: My Journey Toward Liberty

by Editor-in-Chief Michael Brooks

I didn’t grow up in a very politically charged family. Politics were rarely discussed in my childhood. At least, not to my memory. This may be similar to many and so for me interest in politics came later in my life. It wasn’t just the concerns of adulthood that drew me to politics. I became interested in politics because of an intellectual interest in political philosophy and economics. This combined with certain conversations I had that challenged some of my assumptions drew me into the world of political thought.

It was during this time where my interest in political thought was growing when I began to have conversations that challenged my thoughts on almost every level of my politics.

My Political-Thought Background

Despite the absence of political conversation through much if my childhood I can look back and have conversations now that help me understand the views and perspectives that formed the political thought of those most important to me. I grew up in a conservative household. The most influential people in my life were conservative and I grew up in a conservative, republican environment.

Encountering “Radical” Liberty

I cannot honestly remember if this was shortly before or shortly after I married Caiti. But, it was in that time frame (now, six to seven years ago depending on when it happened) that I had a conversation that would be the first domino in a series of dominoes that changed my political thought drastically.

My brother-in law Josh, for as long as I have known him, has always been very political. We began to have a lot of conversations at family gatherings and some of them would float political.

It was one conversation I had that truly challenged how I thought. It was later in the evening at my Mother-in-Laws house that this conversation happened. We were in the driveway and it ended up being just Josh and I talking. At some point we got onto a very controversial topic and the current criminalization of it. We went back-and-forth for at least 20 minutes before heading in.

What I got out of it was this: Josh challenged my thinking about the government being a moral arbiter on things that did not harm others and was done voluntarily. Although I adamantly disagreed with him, he introduced to me the idea of “radical” liberty. The idea is that if you have not infringed upon the rights of others the government should not be criminalizing it. What place did they have to use force against you for something that did not harm or infringe on the rights of others? On top of that he pointed out the benefits of decriminalization which were interesting and in part compelling. He would go on to have a lasting impact on my political thought.

Because of that one conversation and the many others we would continue to have I began investigating liberty in the political landscape. This investigation continues today.

Discovering Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell

So, I began investigating liberty. I began learning to question the governments moral justification for so many things that it does. These things which infringes upon the innate rights of others by the use of force.

This investigation first led me to find Milton Friedman. He was the foremost influence in my life economically. His arguments for economic liberty and true free market capitalism changed my life. Of course, I grew up in a household that looked favorably upon the free market. But, Milton Friedman introduced a pure form of free market capitalism. Look him up if you have never listened to him or do not know what he argues for.

I then heard about this man Thomas Sowell. He is a legendary conservative thinker. I read his book “The Quest for Cosmic Justice” which is a great book that any small-government conservative should read. His thinking crystallized to me the massive philosophical errors (not just moral) of current left-wing thinking and other big government advocates in their views of equality/equal-outcome thinking.

Republican Failings, Party Politics, and the Libertarian Party

As my investigation went on I began engaging with the current political landscape much more intentionally. Whatever your thoughts of the political landscape in the last four to six years–most should agree that we are sick of the party-politics. We are sick of the two-party emphasis and the lack of cooperation in Washington because of it.

In the last few years I have become disgusted with the Republican party. Not because their moral platform has changed but because of their hypocrisy. The hypocrisy is not even that Trump was elected (that is for another article, another day). We have all witnessed in the last four to six years the current Republican leadership in Congress (Paul Ryan/Mitch McConnel and the gang) show their true colors. The Republican party is filled with warmongering, money-spending, hypocrites. This may seem harsh, or maybe you are saying “duh”! To me it is the simple truth. It made me completely rethink my political association with the Republican party. I hated the low view of life seen through our foreign policy (make-the-world-America) which found places to fight. I hated the big spending and hypocrisy on budget deficits depending on who was in power. I hated the blind eye to key issues in the criminal justice system. I hated the idea of a police state. I hated the lack of principle on traditional Republican platforms. I hated that civil rights were so often abandoned or abused for security (Patriot Act etc).

I soon understood that everyone but a few play party politics in Washington. I decided that instead of fighting to get the power (the constant battle between right and left) the best solution was to reduce the centralized power as much as possible. Power and the government’s hold on power is all that most politicians care about. This certainly includes Republicans. This made me declare about 3 years ago that I no longer identified myself as a “Republican”. I hated party politics. I was disgusted with left. I thought the right failed in the most important ways. I believed power needed to get back to the people in my political thought.

While all of this was happening I was also reading about Mises and Austrian Economics. I discovered Reason.org/Reason magazine. Finally, I found the Libertarian party. Josh turned me on to their debates in that last election cycle. And like other political stripes, there are all kinds of Libertarians. This helped me find groups of resources, authors, speakers, and rogue political thinkers that helped make me feel that there was a home. I had finally found a home in the broad movement called the Liberty movement.

Where I Am Today

I have continued my investigation into liberty to this day. I have not embraced a direct association with the Libertarian Party because of their stance on abortion. But, I continue to my learning and growth. I have issues I have not “sorted out” as Jordan Peterson always likes to say. I am continuing to work through my service to King Jesus and how the impacts my politics. But here are five things I do have figured out in principle and have sought to apply as best I can.

Here are my five pillars of political thought that have been informed by the above journey and by a lot of reading and investigating. I still have much to learn. But, in all this, my allegiance is to Jesus Christ and membership in His Kingdom is my primary identity. I am a follower of Jesus and bow the knee to Him. He is the Lord almighty who is coming back to make all things right so that we no longer need to wrestle through the muck-mire of politics. Praise God.

Pillar #1 – Protecting the Innate Rights of the Individual
The foundation of a flourishing society is the protection of the rights of the individual. Thus, we as a society must protect the individuals innate rights. These rights include self-ownership, the right to property, and the right to life. I would included by extension in the right to life and self ownership is the armed protection of it. These are informed by the ethics found in the Bible as well as understood by common grace and natural law.

Pillar #2 – The Law Must Uphold the Rights of the Individual
People often ask what are just laws and how should government power be wielded. One of the primary reasons God has created government is for the punishing of the evil doer. In my understanding, society must punish individuals that harm or violate the rights of another individual. In my view just laws are ones that uphold the rights spelled out above.

Pillar #3 – Minimal Government Involvement & Fiscal Responsibility
The government uses force to do what it does. “Do what we say or we will put you in prison” (or escalate it until you submit). The Government should be held to a similar standard as other people in regards to the use of force against you. Meaning, that the government should only be involved in the life of the individual in extreme circumstances. One of the only clear circumstances where this should happen is when people/persons violate the rights of another (Pillar #1). Government involvement is inefficient and always involves the use of force. Thus we should be seeking to minimize it’s involvement as much as possible. An implication of this is that the government needs to be truly fiscally responsible. It will likely never happen, but it is part of how I think.

Pillar #4 – Encourage True Free Market Economics
This form of economics is the only proven way to consistently help the most people. It is the only just form of economy. Government involvement is always arbitrary and does more harm than good overall. The best economy is one that allows people to make decisions with their money and to let the market go as it may. This does not mean that free market economics is free from people that hurt or that it never harms people. It is simply the idea that we cannot violate the rights of individuals to do with their money (property) how they would like. It is also proven that this has brought the most human flourishing for the most people. This is a significant point which cannot be missed.

Pillar #5 – Stop the Empire Building
This is my most general position. But, I truly believe that part of the reason we suffer domestically as much as we do is in part because of how involved we are around the world. We spend billions to maintain our empire around the world. We also put our service men and women in harms way for reasons that seem vague or irresponsible. There is also a human rights issue bringing violence to all of these places. We need to totally rethink how we are involved around the world.

So this brings me to the place where I consider myself independent with strong Libertarian/liberty convictions and philosophy. I seek to make sure that my politics flow from my Biblical convictions and the gifts of common grace given by God.

I have no King but Christ. Praise God.

2 thoughts on “Becoming Independent: My Journey Toward Liberty

  1. Excellent article. Appreciate your emphasis on Christ. I think the “old conservative” Republican party- would have embraced four of the five pillars. But just because they would have embrace them it doesn’t mean they would have acted in accord with them. Thoughts? The fifth pillar regarding empire building is interesting. I think it is an accurate description since 9/11 with Bush’s policy to win the Islamic nations over by promoting the benefits of democracy and freedom. In fact 9/11 is proof of how easy it is for government to limit or ignore liberty in the face of a threat. Beyond that I probably am uninformed. So here is my question. Do you consider post WW2 initiatives “empire building” or something different? Finally, what is your stance on Global governance such as the United Nations? Oh and how does the old conservative Republican view of Isolationism fit your current view on this topic of empire buiding and the US involvement in world affairs?

    Like

    1. Thanks for the questions.

      I do agree that the “old conservative” party would have in general embraced my ideals. How they were acted on and the fact that politics is messy business and one of compromise would have probably meant areas of practical difference but that would be understandable. I think that the Republican Party was, at one time, the party that emphasized freedom the most. I still believe that they needed to dictate morality for people in areas of life that the government shouldn’t be dictating. But, on the whole I would be much more in favor of the small-government republicans that came before us than what most republicans are today.

      I think 9/11 gave way toward a whole new level of empire building. I do think a response was needed, but then that tragic day became the platitude for foreign engagement in that region for 20 years when it was completely uncalled for. But, I do believe that we have been empire building since WW2. The way WW2 ended, and the deals that were made that gave the USSR so much power, led to a race for power between the West (led by the US) and the Communist movement (led by the USSR). This meant that, though some justification was there, we created a policy of foreign involvement and policing that has come at huge human cost. Regime change and the failure of regime change is another lesson we need to learn post 9/11.

      I may need some examples or specifics on what older, republican isolationism may have been. As for what I understand isolationism to be in my mind, I am for it in terms of military involvement. Economically, we should all the free market to move as it does which includes those involved in the market to work with the international market as well.

      Does that help clarify?

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s