How I Became a Libertarian

by Michael C. Jones, At-large director of the Collin County Party and SLECT representative for Senate District 8

Sometimes, I think I must’ve been born a “little L” Libertarian. I grew up in far West Texas, where circumstances encourage, if not absolutely require, rugged individualism. In some ways, it was still the Frontier and we learned to rely on ourselves, our family and our neighbors. Pecos County, where we lived, is four times as large as Rhode Island (4765 sq miles vs 1212), but only has about 15,000 folks, mostly in one town. The ranches where my dad worked had 2-3 families for ~165 sq miles. Government seemed a distant curiosity, as far away as the space satellites we could see flying over on a clear summer night.

As a teenager, I read everything! What else was there to do when the sun went down? We only had 2 TV channels and our nearest neighbors were 3 miles away. Most importantly, I read LOTS of American history, growing to appreciate Liberty, our Constitution, and the struggles of our Founders. I also read vast quantities of science fiction, which taught me to look at problems from different perspectives. Like David Nolan, I absorbed the libertarian works of Robert Heinlein and especially Ayn Rand. I went back to re-read Atlas Shrugged recently. Wow! I can’t believe I was reading this stuff as a kid!

It was a time of Cold War, and socialism seemed to be winning everywhere: China, North Korea, Cuba, the Space Race, the Great Society, Southeast Asia. Liberty was in retreat across the globe. Politically, there were only two “real” parties. I came to feel the Republicans were pushing back more than the Democrats. But at that time in Texas, large parts of the state had no Republican Party: the Democrat primary was “the election”.

Even when we moved to Collin County, “all the Republicans could meet in a phone booth”. I spent the next 30+ years as an active Republican at all levels, working until we controlled the entire Courthouse.

But slowly I came to see the words (smaller, less intrusive government at home and abroad) did not match reality (more spending, bigger debt, more regulation).

As I researched Libertarians, I discovered “THESE are my people!”. As one of our members once said “Nobody recruited me to become a Libertarian. I became a Libertarian when I found out there were other people like me!” Who could say it better?

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