Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Steve Hansen

Libertarians smartest of them all


April 11, 2018

I must congratulate the local editorial policy makers of Clovis Media Inc. — owners of this newspaper and the one in Clovis — who are officially and staunchly libertarian in their editorial views.

It turns out that researchers have found that, by and large, libertarians are smarter than Republicans or Democrats.

This is not to deny the Harvard credentials of Stephen Bannon (business) or Ted Cruz (law), or the Yale credentials of Bill Clinton or the Harvard Law credential of Barack Obama.

On average, researchers have found that liberals are a little smarter than average and social conservatives, the ones who think that change of nearly any kind must be immoral somehow, tend to score a little below average.

Economic conservatives, however, the ones who want to reduce deficits and taxes, tend to be a little smarter than average.

There is some controversy about these findings, because they were done by social-science academics, who tend to be quite liberal. Biased? Maybe.

Other researchers, however, measure political intelligence by one’s ability to think beyond knee-jerks when they hear a new idea. The ones who reserve judgment and take an analytical approach are the more intelligent ones by this definition.

These researchers have found that libertarians are the smarties here. Libertarians have views that cross the liberal and conservative lines.

They tend to believe that government should not make laws that defend some large group’s definition of morality.

They tend to believe that government regulations should be scaled back to bare minimum.

They believe that government should cut taxes to absolute minimum, and that the government should steer clear of foreign entanglements to the maximum extent possible.

Some of these views are liberal, some conservative, but they share a pattern.

Libertarians believe, basically, that government should butt out of our lives to the greatest extent possible.

In the words of one libertarian wit: Government should stay out of our bedrooms and our boardrooms.

This means that libertarians are more likely to think about ideas independently and measure them against a standard of less government delivering more benefit, that benefit being personal liberty.

The other smarties by the critical thinking standard are moderates, that is, Democrats who can buy into some conservative ideas, and Republicans who think some liberal ideas have merit.

Once again, it’s the ability to think about a new idea before responding to it that counts.

There is precious little of that in our political dialogue today

Some researchers who have decided libertarians are worth studying find their immunity to leftist and rightist ideas that have more money backing them than sense or logic to be refreshing and reflecting independent intelligence.

I may not agree with all libertarian thinking, but I respect the independence of thought that has produced libertarian ideas.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:




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