I joined the Libertarian Party in 1980, and left it in 1998; during those 18 years I knew many very fine, dedicated members and learned a lot, and met some of the "greats" in the freedom movement. Quite early on I recognized that while some LPers were content with the idea of "minimal" government, the non-aggression principle (NAP) really requires its complete elimination. At the same time, it seemed obvious that the job could not be done all at once, and therefore it was valid to run candidates whose platforms would reduce government step by step, a bit at a time.
The best in my view was Harry Browne, whose detailed proposal for downsizing the FedGov would have reduced its spend from $1.5 trillion to $100 billion in his eight year presidency. Not bad!
Recently on social media I encountered someone who supposed that libertarians and anarchists are different; he had the notion that all libertarians are minarchists. I showed that on the contrary, both had the same root in the NAP and linked him to an LP page, where it's made plain that to become a member, one must declare "I certify that I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals." This NAP derives directly from the self-ownership axiom, under which nobody is entitled to force anyone else to follow his wishes, everyone being a self-owner. Hence, "libertarian" and "anarchist" are interchangeable terms; they mean the same thing.
Being an ornery fellow, my adversary bypassed that conclusive proof and fastened his attention on some other things he found on the LP site, and unfortunately I don't think he's wrong. In effect, he showed that the LP's platform departs seriously and often from that NAP. To get to them he had to leap over its "Statement of Principles" including "We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose" - pretty good! - but here in bold are the items he picked, with my comments.
"We support election systems that are more representative of the electorate at the federal, state and local levels." So clearly, it seems the LP favors "election systems" and hence, government; and at three levels. Now, as Mencken said, an election is just "an advance auction of stolen goods" and when casting a vote the elector is telling his chosen candidate "I want you to force my neighbor to do X, and if he refuses it's okay by me if you kill him." I'm not able to reconcile that with the NAP or the Principle just quoted above.
"Protecting the environment... Where damages can be proven and quantified in a court of law, restitution to the injured parties must be required." That is indeed just what a free-market justice industry would deliver, so this Platform plank doesn't expressly endorse continuation of government; but it doesn't exclude it either, and the ominous word "required" may suggest it.
"The protection of individual rights is the only proper purpose of government." This is classic minarchism, and is classic nonsense. For as long as it exists, government cannot even lift a finger without violating someone's individual rights; most obviously, his right to property, since government can use only such money as it steals, to do anything whatever. This Plank is a complete oxymoron. There can be no such thing as a "proper" purpose of government, and for the LP to include it is a sell-out, a flat contradiction of the NAP, an invitation to foxes to guard henhouses.
In the coming zero government society, rights will be secured firstly by unhindered possession of firearms, then by any protection company the individual may choose to hire, and/or by a justice industry whose service consists of restoring lost or damaged rights.
"We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression." Here, the LP is endorsing a continuation of the "United States", as a system of 50 governments federated with one acting for them all towards others, and of a "sufficient military" to defend it; "it" being that system of interlocking governments. Now, any genuine subscriber to the NAP does not want to preserve or defend that system, but to abolish it; so again the LP is contradicting its own principle. Further, to "maintain" a military for that undesirable purpose is an endorsement of collective defense; again requiring gross violation of property rights to fund it. Strange indeed to find the LP endorsing collectivism in any form. Finally, "aggression" by foreign governments has never happened yet, in more than two centuries, and when government here has evaporated I think the probability of such invasion will shrink to vanishing point.
"The defense of the country requires that we have adequate intelligence to detect and to counter threats to domestic security." See the foregoing on defense; if collectivized defense by government is properly scrapped, this "requirement" to help it function is scrapped also. Notice meanwhile, though, that the LP is here endorsing a spy system at a time when it's well known that the NSA is operating a gigantic operation of surveillance of every person on whom it can acquire data, often using commercial firms like Facebook and Google to feed its insatiable demand. Yet this platform Plank makes no mention of that wholesale violation of individual privacy rights. Again, I cannot reconcile it with the NAP.
It's rather clear from these and perhaps other examples of the LP platform that it's a party at serious odds with its own stated beliefs; it's racked by contradiction. Might it now be said in its defense however that Planks like these represent only transient positions, compatible with a necessarily gradual elimination of government? It might, but I'm not convinced. A particular candidate might well promise to focus first on abolishing one abomination of the State, leaving others in place for the moment; for example, to end just the drug war in his first term of office. I'd understand that; in politics one may have to tread softly. But the LP Platform is not like that; it's meant to be a fixed statement of what the LP stands for, permanently. It says, give the LP total power and this is what it will do, this is the kind of country that will result. So, regretfully, the title's verdict stands.