The polarizing divide between the left and right is becoming increasingly evident. Polls show a record-high divide between Democrats and Republicans, particularly regarding public opinion of Trump, who is one of the most controversial presidents in modern American history. According to Pew research, “Nearly nine-in-10 Republicans (88 percent) approved of Trump’s job performance, compared with just eight percent of Democrats.” The debate over Trump’s performance and the focuses of his administration have driven the two political parties further apart; Democrats have moved to the left and Republicans to the right. While members of these parties have a clear position in this controversy, Libertarians, who are closer to the center of the political spectrum, are often caught in the middle.
In relation to the right and left, Libertarians are generally conservative in the context of economic issues and liberal in the context of social issues. For example, Libertarians typically support social issues such as LGBTQ rights; Ralph Raico, a Libertarian historian, argues that “the Libertarian Party was born believing in gay rights. The need to promote full freedom of individual development for all persons is what led to the formation of (the) Party.” While they are relatively liberal in the context of social issues, Libertarians lean to the right on various economic issues, such as taxtation. More specifically, Libertarians are opposed to federal corporate income taxes, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and extraneous government spending. From an economic standpoint, this party’s support of small government and more laissez faire economic practices expresses a conservative point of view. The juxtaposition of relatively liberal social beliefs and relatively conservative economic beliefs is what puts Libertarians in the middle of the growing division between Republicans and Democrats; they cannot fully support one side of a controversy.
A recent controversy which has highlighted the divide between the right and the left is the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court. The nearly split 50-48 vote, which closely resembles the 51-47 party breakdown of the senate, depicts the party divide regarding issues in the Trump presidency. Libertarians, who do not occupy any seats in the senate, may not completely agree with either side of controversies between Democrats and Republicans.
The 2018 midterm elections have ignited more political activism on both ends of the spectrum, and with this comes the pressure for those who do not identify with either side to vote in favor of Democrats or Republicans. This divides the Libertarian party into conservatives and liberals, resulting in a polarization of more centrist political parties during this controversial presidency.
The main problem with growing bipartisan division is that congressional division hinders policy-making. With a Republican president and an either Democrat-dominated or evenly split congress, not many laws and policies can be passed because each side wants to prevent the other from implementing policies.
In times of a growing political divide, choosing one side of the controversy is not as necessary as forming a unique well-informed opinion regarding different contemporary issues. Sometimes, especially in such a polarized political climate, it will be difficult to find candidates that represent your view on every contemporary issue. When voting, it is important to select the candidate that represents your views on issues that matter most to you. This is what most Libertarians tend to do when voting, since they are stuck in the middle of the political spectrum; some end up voting Democrat and some Republican, and the party becomes divided.
Keren Blaunstein is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.