Libertarian Vs. Republican: A Comparison Of Key Differences

Libertarians and Republicans are two very different US political parties claiming to promote individual liberty. 

Although they may share some of the same values, many differences between the two political groups make them quite distinct.

It isn’t easy to generalize the characteristics of these parties because their ideologies are based on different principles. 

This piece will examine what liberalism, libertarian and republican mean today and their political principles. We’ll also look at their similarities and critical differences.

Libertarian Vs. Republican

Both the Libertarian and Republican are right-wing political organizations in the US. The Libertarian Party was established in 1971, while the Republican Party was founded in 1854. 

Both of these parties have some similarities but also several key differences. While they may agree on some policies, they have some fundamentally different views of the role of government in society, their economic viewpoints, and social policies.

What Is Liberalism?

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that advocates the freedom of choice in all aspects of social interaction. In simple words, Libertarianism is about making your own choices in life as long as you don’t hurt others. 

Libertarianism is the opposite of authoritarianism. Authoritarianism believes that you can use force to coerce individuals into doing things they wouldn’t want to do. Libertarianism believes that you cannot use force to coerce people.

Liberalism has been a significant force in Western politics for over two centuries, but its roots can be traced further back than that.

The history of liberalism, especially the American version, has been fraught with contradiction. Partisans of the right and left argue that liberalism is either a) doomed to die out or b) too strong to die out.

Liberals themselves are not in agreement about what liberalism is. Some liberals want to purge liberals from the Democratic Party. Others think that liberals are the only real Democrats. 

The reality seems to be that liberalism as an ideology is not going anywhere, but it will probably look different in 10 years than it does today.

Liberalism supports;

Smaller Government

One of the primary characteristics of Libertarianism is that it supports non-interventionist foreign policy and more personal liberty. It emphasizes limiting the role of government in protecting individuals’ rights.

More Individual Liberty

The best way to describe it is by saying that Libertarians believe in limited government. They don’t want the government to control their lives or the lives of anyone else. 

Private Property

Libertarians want to get rid of the welfare state and everything remotely connected to it. 

Free Markets

They believe in the power of free markets, and they don’t want the Federal Reserve System controlling our economy or creating “booms and busts” through monetary policies. 

For instance, if two people are in a free market and want to buy and sell a product to each other, they should be able to do so without any interference from the government.

What Does Libertarian Mean?

 “Libertarian” has been increasingly used to describe anyone who falls anywhere on the political spectrum outside of authoritarianism. Libertarians are individuals who advocate for the rights of others. 

  • They are interested in the welfare of others and want to help those who can’t help themselves. 
  • Libertarians believe so strongly in the welfare of others that they feel that everyone should be able to make their own choices, even if those choices aren’t the best ones. 
  • Libertarians understand that there are some things that we need government for, but there are other things that we don’t.
  • They believe that people should be free to take care of themselves, and they will always fight to protect that right.

What Is Republican?

A Republican is a member of a political party belonging to the republican political movement. 

The term is mainly applied in two senses. The political philosopher James Harrington (1611–77) highlighted the distinction between these two senses of republicanism.

  • In the first sense, a republican either advocates that government should be run by elected representatives (as opposed to a monarch or other autocrat) or that the people should democratically run it. In this sense, a republican supports a limited form of democracy.
  • In the second sense, a republican believes that the most effective type of democracy is one in which all individuals have an equal say in decisions that impact their lives.

The party is one of the two main current political parties in the US and the Democratic Party, its historical opponent.

It is sometimes known as the GOP, short for “Grand Old Party,” to distinguish it from today’s upstart Democratic Party.

The party takes its name from republicanism, a fundamental ideology that molded the United States during its inception.

The first official use of the term “republican” can be traced back to 1798 when supporters of Thomas Jefferson used it. 

By 1841, “republican” had changed from an adjective describing a state or country to a noun synonymous with “Republican Party.”

The party was created in 1854 by critics of the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which allowed slavery to be extended into US territory. Its first candidate was Abraham Lincoln.

The party’s founding leaders were northern Democrats, namely; Horace Greeley, Alvan E. Bovay, and Henry Jarvis Raymond, who opposed the expansion of slavery and supporters of states’ rights (especially in the territories).

They believed that slavery should be contained and that if allowed to expand, it would destroy the Union. 

The party supported classical liberalism and opposed socialism and modern conservatism; it opposed the federal government using force to protect slavery in the territories. 

The Republican Party had almost no support in the South, but by 1858 was the second-largest party in the North. 

Today, Republicans are usually considered “conservative” or “right-wing,” and Democrats are usually considered “liberal” or “left-wing.” 

The party’s philosophy is traditionally based on social conservatism and economic liberalism. For example, there are pro-life and pro-choice factions within the party.

Republicanism is the traditional party of capitalism. They believe in;

  • being conservative with their money and not spending too much.
  • lowering taxes
  • decreasing government spending and regulation of businesses
  • they focus on community and encourage cooperation
  • they promote civil society

The Difference Between A Libertarian And A Republican

When thinking about the two parties, the first thing that comes to mind is that they’re both the same. Both parties have their differences in opinion and policy, but they are very similar when it comes to it. 

Yet when you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that there are several fundamental differences between the two.

1. Role Of Federal Government

The most significant difference between a Republican and a Libertarian is their view on the Federal Government’s role. 

Republicans generally tend to be against government regulation and programs like universal health care or free education. 

Libertarians, on the other hand, want to see the government stay out of its way in terms of economic and private life.

Republicans emphasize individual liberty and responsibility and believe that the government’s role is to protect these rights.

Libertarians take an even more extreme view of individual liberty, focusing on personal freedom above all else. 

They reject government force against citizens under any circumstance, including war and national security. 

Republicans see this as a dangerous route, leading to the complete breakdown of law and order.

In this sense, Republicans believe that personal liberty is best protected by a strong government that can enforce laws and protects citizens from outside threats. This is why Republicans support a strong military.

2. Social Policies

The most considerable difference between the two is their stance on social issues. Republicans generally support private ownership over public ownership in many aspects. Republicans are typically socially conservative, while Libertarians are socially liberal. 

3. Economic Issues Such As Taxes And Big Government Spending

The most crucial difference between the Republicans and Libertarians is handling economic policy.

Republicans favor conservative economic policies, including lower taxes and smaller government. 

For example, Donald Trump’s 2017 tax plan aimed to reduce the individual income tax bracket from 39.6% to 37%, and he wanted to cap business taxes at 21% from 35%.

Libertarians, on the other hand, believe in free trade and that taxation is theft.

What Are The Similarities?

The Republican Party and Libertarian Party have a lot in common. The two parties have enough similarities that most Americans consider practically the same. 

  • They both oppose having a solid hand of the government in their lives
  • They both advocate for personal liberty
  • They both want economic freedom
  • They both believe in more negligible government intervention


It’s no wonder that so many people have trouble distinguishing between a Republican and a Libertarian. While they may seem similar at first glance, some significant differences between the two political parties make them very different in practice.

There are many differences in government and the role of political parties. In this article, we looked at some significant points of comparison between Libertarian and Republican platforms. 

Depending on your preference, one may be right for you more than the other.

John Taylor
John Taylor
John Taylor is a seasoned writer with more than 10 years of experience as a professional. He has written professionally for many different organizations, such as The Atlantic and the Boston Globe. John can write on any topic you need him to cover, from business writing to creative nonfiction pieces. His portfolio speaks for his skills; he's not only an experienced writer but also an excellent editor and researcher!


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