Someone on Twitter asked the other day:
"Someone described Bill O’Reilly as being a Libertarian. Just curious how that lines up?"
Occasionally popular TV commentators claim that they’re “a libertarian but…” and they’ll go on to explain some major way that they’re not at all a libertarian, so that’s one easy test – use of non-libertarian qualifiers. A prime example would be “libertarian socialists”.
It’s pretty common to find people on Twitter who manage to assert their libertarian views, and immediately refute them in 140 characters, like this guy for example:
For non-libertarians, I’ll point out that the “they should be forced” part of the comment flies in the face of “The Libertarian Pledge” which is signed by all Libertarians and reads:
I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.
If you agree with that pledge, and it’s implications, then you’re considered a Libertarian.
Interestingly, I’ve heard Bill Maher, Glenn Beck, and Bill O’Reilly referred to as “libertarians”, yet none of them are on this short and fairly authoritative list of Libertarian Celebrities and VIP’s over at TheAdvocates.org.
So why is this?
The website provides a pretty quick way to determine if you or someone you know, or even a popular TV commentator is *really* a libertarian is to give them the “Worlds Smallest Political Quiz” – ten quick questions that serve as a litmus test for libertarian views.
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While only Bill O’Reilly can answer these questions for sure, I took a crack at it. These are my subjective assessments of things I could find on the Internet that seemed conclusive to me – and I encourage people who have conclusive evidence of his views that are contrary to my quick assessments to correct me in the comments and I’ll try to update it.
I’ve linked to resources on the net that helped inform my guess – if you think they’re inaccurate, please provide a quote from Bill himself or a more recent source on the question than my link. Also, it’d be nice to establish a pattern of a particular view. Here goes…
Government should not censor speech, press, media or Internet.
Military service should be voluntary. There should be no draft.
There should be no laws regarding sex for consenting adults.
Repeal laws prohibiting adult possession and use of drugs.
There should be no National ID card.
End "corporate welfare." No government handouts to business.
End government barriers to international free trade.
Let people control their own retirement; privatize Social Security.
Replace government welfare with private charity.
Cut taxes and government spending by 50% or more.
Here are the results for the quiz answers I imagine Bill O’Reilly would give:
Your PERSONAL issues Score is 30%.
Your ECONOMIC issues Score is 50%.
So as far as I can tell, Bill O’Reilly is not a libertarian, but a centrist. Of course, I couldn’t really find conclusive info on a few issues. Here’s the quizzes definition of a centrist:
CENTRISTS espouse a "middle ground" regarding government control of the economy and personal behavior. Depending on the issue, they sometimes favor government intervention and sometimes support individual freedom of choice.
Centrists pride themselves on keeping an open mind, tend to oppose "political extremes," and emphasize what they describe as "practical" solutions to problems.
I’ve given the test to hundreds of people at festivals and events. While you may find the results to be surprising, it’s about what I’d expect for a TV personality – especially a neo-conservative one. He has a reputation for being rude to guests, over the top, and critical of the left, but he hasn’t really taken a stand (that I could find) on government spending, corporate welfare, or free trade – all things that would shed some more light on his economic views.
Interestingly, the majority of people I’ve met seem to land in the top half of the diamond, meaning that whether or not they’re left, right, or center on the quiz, they tend to lean libertarian – even if they’re hung up on some issue that prevents them from attaining full-fledged libertarian status in my eyes.
Another thing to note is that people change. 2008 presidential candidate Bob Barr has a voting history in the US House that is far from libertarian, but his views changed. He admitted that some of his previous positions such as supporting “The Patriot Act” were “wrong” and while he may not be crazy about all of the implications of liberty for all.
He seems to have come to the realization that the benefits of achieving social and political goals through reason and rational discourse outweigh the common alternatives of force and fraud.
Libertarians care about the US Constitution – Bill O’Reilly says he doesn’t, so it seems to be pretty much settled. Bill O’Reilly is not a Libertarian.