One of the distinguishing characteristics between libertarians and non-libertarians is with respect to the welfare-warfare state way of life. Libertarians are committed to dismantling, repealing, abolishing, or ending it, while conservatives and progressives are committed to maintaining its existence and simply reforming it.
One of the most remarkable achievements in freedom occurred when the First Amendment was adopted. Since it has been part of our governmental system since almost the beginning, it's easy for Americans to overlook the truly radical nature of that amendment.
Consider, for example, freedom of religion. The First Amendment prohibits the government from involving itself in religious activity.
It didn't have to be that way. When the Constitution called the federal government into existence, the Framers could have used the document to authorize federal officials to control and regulate religious activity. If they had done that, today conservatives and liberals would be fighting over which comprehensive church reform plan to adopt — the conservative one or the liberal one.
Instead, the Framers, along with the people who crafted the First Amendment, raised their thinking and their vision to a higher level, one in which people would never be discussing or debating which church reforms to enact into law. They raised their vision to one in which there was a separation of church and state, where the state isn't permitted to get involved in religion at all. With separation, reform becomes irrelevant because there is no government control, regulation, or program to reform.
The same principle applies to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Today, we don't debate and discuss which reform plan to adopt to ensure that the government's control and regulation of speech and press is fair and reasonable. That's because our ancestors took their thinking to a higher level, one in which there is a separation of state and speech and state and press. Thus, people don't discuss or debate which conservative or progressive reform plan should be enacted to ensure that the state is regulating and controlling speech and the press.
That's what we need to do with other areas of our lives. When it comes to liberty, we have to raise our vision to a higher level, just as our ancestors did.
1. Separate economy and the state. We live in a society in which the federal government wields the power to regulate, control, and plan economic activity. Examples include minimum-wage laws, trade wars, protectionism, sanctions, embargoes, price controls, subsidies, immigration controls, banking regulations, and thousands more.