The libertarian community, especially on the social media sites, have been abuzz over Glenn Beck calling himself a libertarian recently. Some have rejected Beck outright, claiming he's anything but, and others have been willing to accept him while acknowledging his past actions and comments. The first thought that came to my mind was the realization of just how right David Nolan was.
The Essence Of Liberty, where in the very first paragraph, he noted how broadly the libertarian label can be applied: “I am often asked how to
tell if someone is ‘really’ a libertarian. There are probably as
many different definitions of the word ‘libertarian’ as there are people
who claim the label. These range from overly broad (‘anyone who calls himself
a libertarian is one’) to impossibly doctrinaire (‘only those who agree
with every word in the party platform are truly annointed’).”
He devoted the rest of his essay to describing his own definition of a libertarian, establishing a litmus test to determine whether one can truly be a libertarian or not. The five principles he put forth are very simple and offer a lot of room for debate on specific issues. Since recently adopting the label of libertarian myself (as well as joining the Libertarian Party), I point to his essay as my justification for calling myself a libertarian. It doesn't sound like a bad litmus test to apply to Glenn Beck, wouldn't you agree?
While it is important to make sure the libertarian label is not cheapened by people who claim it, it's also important not to let the debate turn divisive. Is Beck truly a libertarian? I don't know, but I'm willing to welcome him for the time being, just like I would hope others in the libertarian community would welcome a newcomer like myself. What say you?
Credit: The photo of David Nolan was taken by Carol Moore