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  • Writer's pictureCharles I. Guarria

Liberty Through The Lens Of POTUS Hopeful Mike ter Maat

Updated: Jan 7

In part three of our three-part interview Libertarian presidential hopeful Mike ter Maat discusses the liberty movement and the world's first libertarian president, Argentina’s Javier Milei.

Mike ter Maat on Argentina’s Libertarian president Javier Milei's possibility to succeed and how it reflects on the liberty movement worldwide

If he follows a very principled libertarian line and things go well, then that'll say one thing. If he follows a very strong libertarian line, and things don't go well It could be a real black eye to our movement. And the way that that could happen is if the transitions are worse than we expect and badly managed. 


We all know of situations where deregulation or privatization of certain functions in a government in a society can be poorly managed, can go wrong. What I fear is that he will follow a principled line, but if things are (not) managed well, and the transitions are costly or difficult for the society, that blame will be laid on the actions, the original principle of motivated actions in the first place rather than the bad management. 

One of the things that I think a lot of us in the Libertarian Party fear is that he won't follow a very principled line, that he will be, in some sense politically captured. Or just stymied, Argentina is one of those places that has enormously powerful institutions adjacent to the government. The military, the unions, right? The state governments, the federal government, huge power bases. You know, in the United States, we're used to unions having a certain amount of power, but nothing like in Argentina, and the forces of the political strength of the military in Argentina is just gigantic. My point being that you could be the most principled and dedicated guy in the world and not be able to get certain shit done. 


I fear that that could let a certain amount of air out of the bag, and that wouldn't undermine libertarianism as a matter of principle; that wouldn't undermine the notion that free markets work, but it could discourage further movements around Latin America and around the world. Whereas if, if we could see some success, it would be very encouraging. I actually believe that the greatest effects might be in places outside of Argentina, outside of the United States as well. (Rather) in other Latin American countries and even elsewhere in the world.

Mike ter Maat on how he became a libertarian:

I think for me I came to libertarianism first for what I would characterize as the right-hand side, which is to say, a recognition that free markets and allowing people to make decisions for themselves is the most efficient way to run an economy. It's the most effective way to allow people to advance their lives to advance their interests. And it wasn't until later that I that I would say that I came to libertarianism from what I would characterize as the left-hand side. I haven't heard others quite label it like this. From the left-hand side, which is what I call it when you recognize libertarianism is the right thing to do. Is an ethical matter, not merely as a matter of efficiency. And that was around the time that I was becoming a police officer, and of course dovetails with a lot of things that I spent a lot of time talking about now, changing the way that we manage police officers and the criminal justice system and ending the war on drugs and how we manage pandemics and a host of social issues that don't squarely fall into the category of how do we make things work more efficiently.


The example that I offer as an illustration. Imagine a world in which socialism worked, which I think is a weird thing for a libertarian to say, but just use your imagination for a moment and imagine that it was true that the government could make better decisions for you…make the economy work better, grow faster and make better decisions for us than we could ourselves. 


In such a world, (would) the government have the right, the authority, the moral authority, the ethical right to do so, to make decisions for us? I would argue that the answer still has to be no. If one were to agree that the answer is no, then there must be something more to libertarianism than just making the world work more efficiently. 


I think that we have a right to live our lives by our own standards, even if that does mean making decisions that someone else might look at and say maybe weren't all that terrific, right? But they're my mistakes to make. And in some sense, I would argue that we each have a responsibility to live life by our own standards and not merely to either mimic someone else's or to fall in line with an expectation laid down either by society or by our government or by anybody else. So that’s what I call libertarianism.


This is part three of a three part discussion with Mike ter Maat

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Photo credit: Both politicians social media 



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