The Republican primaries have generated a lot of new interest in Libertarianism, as a result of Ron Paul's presidential campaign, Tea Party protests, and public debate over Austrian economics. The Libertarian movement is usuallyregarded as an extension of right-wing thought that is slightly little more friendly to homosexuality and abortion. Is that really the case and why does it matter?
Libertarians are as far from the right wing, as they are from the left. The distinction is important because the two philosophies actually yield very different results despite thier apparent similarities. Libertarian reasons for rejecting Republican candidates will become much clearer if the difference is established.
Famed author and economist Murry Rothbard opined that political philosophy should establish a system based on a moral code which is applicable to all. Conservatives argue "traditional values" derived from a Judeo-Christian background, Puritan ethics, and Victorian sensibilities meet that criteria. Morality can be objectively determined in a conservative world and is therefore universally applicable. Society should be built on these principles since they seem to meet Rothbard's requirements.
Problems arise when people choose to deviate from these morals. Dissension is dangerous to society as a whole. Anything which goes against conservative morality must be quarantined, lest it corrupt and erode society. Conservatism is not that different from liberalism in this manner. The only difference is that both sides disagree on what is actually harmful to society. No one should be surprised when conservatives elect politicians who promise to enforce conservative ideals, even if they might not fit the conservative philosophy's moral standards and then end up being morally bankrupt and embroiled in some controversy or scandal.
Libertarian political philosophy is morally motivated as well, but it comes from a different standard than conservatives. Self-ownership, which establishes exclusive ownership rights for individuals to their own body and property, and the Non Aggression Principle (NAP), which holds that it is immoral to initate force against a peaceful person or their property, govern libertarian morality and are actually universally applicable. In other words, people should be able to volutarilly interact without violent interevention.
Social problems are caused by violating the non-aggression principle in a libertarian paradigm. This is why libertarians prefer market forces for resolving issues. Profit and property are extensions of the person and therefore the individual's representative in the market. People that act in an anti-social manner (violating the NAP) become market pariahs. This should encourage them to start cooperating and is much more humane than jail or execution, and also does not involve violence or the threat of violence.
Republican party platforms such as war, "social conservatism," drug prohibition, and economic intervention are all unpopular with libertarian voters. These positions are actually fairly unpopular with most voters to some degree or another. Most people don't appreciate outside interference. They resent it, in fact. Libertarians that are personally dedicated to their ideals will reject them outright. Others will only be suspicious. They won't vote for it enthusiastically. That's why Mitt Roney's campaign is failing to generate a lot of enthusiasm. Most supporters are actually opposing Obama. They feel like they are being forced to choose the lesser of the two evils. Republican leaders will continue to repeat 2008 and keep losing elections if they do not change their platform.
Libertarians and libertarian-minded voters will probably reject Romney this election, leaving those that believe in authoritarian government to decide who the next person that will get to interfere with Americans' lives. Ron Paul's support did not come from devotion to a person, as it did from devotion to an ideal. It is an ideal of freedom, liberty, and non-interference, and it applies to everyone.