- 82% of libertarians are white.
- 59% of libertarians are male. This makes them the most disproportionately male ideological group in the country.
- 57% have either attended or graduated college.
- 33% are between the ages of 18 and 29.
- 31% make more than $75,000 per year. This makes libertarianism the most popular political ideology of the rich.
As we can see from the above statistics, libertarians are mostly rich young white guys who, compared to most other Americans, live comfortable and financially-secure lives. Why does this matter? Because it indicates that those who want to eliminate welfare, universal health care, and other government assistance programs will likely never have to rely on any of these programs themselves.Libertarianism is an ideology supported by people who will not feel the impact of many of its policies. The exception to this, of course, is that libertarians want to cut taxes for themselves at the expense of the social safety net, which is a standard feature of every modern democratic country on earth.
It’s also interesting to note when libertarianism (and its sister ideology, “limited government conservatism”) gained popularity in American politics and culture. It wasn’t during the Industrial Revolution, when a huge influx of wealth brought about deplorable working conditions and extremely low wages. It wasn’t in the midst of the Great Depression, when many families were unemployed and starving. It wasn’t during World War II, when interventionism was necessary to protect our safety as well as the peace and security of much of the rest of the world.
It was after all of our major problems were over, during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. It was after America had won the Cold War, passed the Civil Rights Act, and was able to provide a decent life to most citizens. This is when libertarianism became popular: during a time of peace and prosperity. One simply does not find a substantial libertarian movement in poor and developing countries.
Of course, before the rise of libertarianism, there were some Americans calling for less regulation and lower taxes. They were, in the words of Republican Dwight Eisenhower, a “tiny splinter group,” of “Texas oil millionaires….their number is negligible and they are stupid.”
I hate to disagree with Ike, but I don’t think libertarians are, in any sense of the word, “stupid.” The research mentioned above proves that they are well educated and financially successful. I do believe, however, that the popularity of libertarianism among the richest Americans should cause all small government advocates to pause and question the company they keep. If libertarianism is, in fact, good for the poor, why then has it always been the ideology of the rich?
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