Isaiah Berlin once inferred “it is the notion of Freedom in its positive sense that is at the heart of the demands for national or social self-direction which animate the most powerful and morally just movements of our time.” This reflects the innate compulsion of Americans to unite as a group in order to fortify the rights of an individual — a key safeguard ensuring all citizens their unique path to prosperity is unrestrained by the social or political impediments of the day.

Unfortunately, as political parties have become less focused on consistent philosophy and more infatuated with political idolatry, they have taken hostage the global identity of their members. Instead of a grass roots culture coalescing organically in our community, political parties across the spectrum have seen an increase in the top-down imposition of opinions. What was once sought through the primary process was individual exemplars of a party’s value-based platform. What has been gained instead are celebrity despots.

After receiving official party recognition, and as the Libertarian Party of Maine continues to grow, I feel obligated to emphasize that this propensity easily crosses party lines, and people must remain vigilant against it. The Libertarian way is a caring, people-centered approach to politics that believes everyone is unique. As we strive to improve our current political systems in a way that respects the individual and encourages each of us to discover the best within ourselves, we must not lose sight of two guiding principles:

First, we do not need to assimilate to succeed. We do not need to look and act like other major parties to grow, nor do our members need to fit a certain set of criteria to participate. Instead, we should seek to maintain our personal identity while actively supporting others who are facing their own forms of injustice, discrimination and oppression.

By helping our neighbors, we help ourselves. By creating a more prosperous community through voluntary action, we make ourselves more secure, further reducing the need for external or governmental intervention.

Second, we must be forever tolerant of conflicting viewpoints, lifestyles and fundamental philosophies. It is easy to demand tolerance from others. It is much more difficult to offer it with a genuine heart.

Tolerance is more than turning a blind eye to something you disagree with. It requires an active recognition that your personal moralities end with you. The beliefs held by others, so long as they are not violating the non-aggression principle, hold legitimacy and deserve to be protected as if they were your own.

So long as we do not sacrifice our individuality for political gain, nor lose sight of our humility in the process, we will be successful. By focusing on these essential, yet limited core values, I am confident that in the quest for a more just and accountable government, the Libertarian Party of Maine will find not just new members but new allies from across the political spectrum.

Zakk W. Maher is Androscoggin County Commissioner for District 6, including Auburn, Mechanic Falls and Poland.

Zakk Maher

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