The Difference Between Libertarians & Moderates


What are the differences between Libertarians and Moderates?

The biggest difference between libertarians and moderates usually lies with each type’s commitment to principles/ideals on the one hand and pragmatism/practical matters on the other. Libertarians tend to gauge issues through a lens of maximizing people’s autonomy and reducing the initiation of violence (whether by individuals or the state). By contrast, moderates tend to think of political matters on an issue-by-issue basis and tend to be more pragmatic than principled. Moderates usually think that idealism is hard to execute and try to think of politics in terms of measures that check too much theoretical abstraction or doctrinaire commitments.

How are Libertarians and Moderates similar?

Because moderates can “lean” in any of the other four directions, libertarians and moderates only have similarities to the extent that moderates lean libertarian on a given issue.

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More About Libertarians

Libertarians score high on both economic and personal freedom. In other words, libertarians value entrepreneurship and enterprise, often because they think these are the bases of a prosperous society. Libertarians are also keen to protect the individual in his or her pursuit of happiness, however different that pursuit might look to others.

More About Moderates

Moderates (sometimes referred to as “centrists”) score neither particularly high nor particularly low on either economic or personal freedom. That’s because moderates tend to be pragmatists or otherwise think about issues on a case-by-case basis. As with any other type, moderates can ‘lean’ progressive, conservative, libertarian, or authoritarian -- it’s just that those leanings aren’t extreme.

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