Libertarianism on the rise in last three years

Paul Conner Executive Editor
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A recent CNN poll shows that libertarianism is on the rise in the last three years in the United States, more than at any point in the last two decades.

The poll, which CNN has conducted yearly since 1993, tracks the strength of social and economic libertarianism and reveals that both ideas are gaining popular support.

The results were first picked up by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times.

Sixty-three percent of respondents believe that government is doing too much, up from 52 percent in 2008. Half of all respondents said that government should not promote any set of traditional or moral values, up from 41 percent in 2008.

See the results:

The libertarian theory of government, in general, believes that government should get out of the way so that private citizens may govern themselves. It generally holds that since government is inherently flawed, it should always defer to the private sector and that it should not be in the business of favoring one interest — religion, business, or tax bracket, for example — over another.

Several factors seem to be contributing to libertarianism’s increased popularity.

Certainly the Tea Party movement has drawn from and contributed to economic libertarianism.

It has also found a consistent, compelling voice in Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who is running for the Republican nomination for president again after a failed bid in the 2008 race. (REP. RON PAUL: Why I’m suing the Obama administration over Libya)

Big regulatory legislation like the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill and the Affordable Care Act may also have paved the way for its rise.

Respondents answered the following two questions:

Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?

Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?

Do you think this is a permanent trend? What other factors have contributed to the rise? Feel free to discuss below.