First thing first, libertarians are not sellouts. Some Libertarians can be, but a true small "l"doesn't know how. They are the only consistently principled political group that exists. Clearly I'm biased, right? Here's why I say that: libertarians do not pick and choose where or when to support the rights of the individual. They always do so unless that individual infringes the rights of another. This is what it takes to be a small "l." To be a big "L" all it takes is a donation to the party or a voter registration. The "progressives" (I prefer anti-constitutionalists) are pro-individual liberty when it comes to gay marriage and abortion, but almost nothing else. Today's "conservatives" are so rarely truly pro-individual liberty that it is amazing that they are the main "small government" option. Just because they may want to tax you slightly less doesn't make them pro-small government.
Historically, when election time comes, Beck has thrown in for what he believes to be the lesser of two evils. Does this color him as a fair-weather Libertarian? A bit, yes. But, I can't throw any stones on this one. When I lived in Nevada, a swing state, I bit the bullet and voted McCain (hey, I was young and stupid). This past election, as a resident of New York, I voted the way I should have been voting all along. I voted Libertarian. However, it has only been since the election that Beck is once again touting his supposed libertarianism. If he truly held libertarian principles all along, then he should have been championing Libertarians rather than building up the Republicans.
Alas, he did not champion presidential candidate Gary Johnson. If he had, would it have made a difference? Probably. Beck has a huge audience and if he had widely touted Johnson instead of Republican candidate Mitt Romney I have no doubt many of his supporters would have voted Johnson. Would it have changed who is taking the oath of office in about a week and a half? No. But, it very well could have given the Libertarian party even more exposure and possibly pushed the votes to 5%, thereby changing this country into a legitimate three party system. But, I'm not one to hold a grudge.
A libertarian's biggest issue with Beck would be his stances on gay marriage and abortion. While Beck argues that these things should not be touched by the federal government, he still loses some serious small "l" credibility. You see, Libertarian politics are secondary to libertarian principles. The principle of human rights requires that every person be treated equally. No true libertarian thinks anything negative of a man marrying another man or a woman marrying another woman. It is for this reason that Libertarians fight to keep government out of marriage. Individual liberty includes the right to choose what happens to your body. For this reason Libertarians fight to ensure a woman's right to choose to have an abortion (I know that the abortion issue raises many questions, but since nobody gets to officially choose when life begins, let's just say that aspect is also up to the woman in question). Beck backs into the correct view on both of these issues because these are not enumerated powers of Congress. But, this is not how a small "l" sees it. The Constitution is not the basis for libertarian political views, it is merely a convenient tool to be used to keep the government out of our business (Thanks, Founding Fathers!).
Beck doesn't have all the small "l" cred that I would like in a champion for the libertarian cause, but not many people do. His tendency to support aggressive use of the military and his super pro-Israel stance are not in line with Libertarians big and small. However, this was one of the last hurdles I myself had to overcome in my understanding of libertarian principles. I'll allow Beck his time on these things. There is such a huge variety of people who fall under the libertarian umbrella that Beck certainly fits in somewhere. He probably fits a bit better in the Constitution Party, but he chose Libertarian so we shouldn't fight it.
Beck admits he is a "growing" libertarian. And for that reason alone libertarians should embrace him. Libertarians should rally behind him as he brings more people to the big "L" by showing them that they truly are the small "l." The truth is, he's as much a libertarian as the last Libertarian presidential candidate, and I voted for that guy. So why wouldn't I get behind a man with a huge following coming to help us espouse our principles? We all should welcome him, and fast.
Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.