Libertarian principles tend to overlap with Democratic party beliefs on some social issues like gay mariage and with Republican principles on economic issues like taxes and government regulation. Their foreign policy principles differ significantly from both parties. While American politics is generally dominated by the two largest parties — Democrats and Republicans — a growing fraction of the population identify with libertarian principles.

Comparison chart

Democrat versus Libertarian comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartDemocratLibertarian
Philosophy Liberal, left-leaning. Usually, though not always, socially liberal and fiscally conservative.
Economic Ideas Minimum wages and progressive taxation, i.e., higher tax rates for higher income brackets. Born out of anti-federalist ideals but evolved over time to favor more government regulation. Believe taxes shouldn't be increased for anyone (including the wealthy) and that wages should be set by the free market. Some are against all taxation.
Stance on Military issues Decreased spending Mixed
Stance on Gay Marriage Support (some Democrats disagree) Oppose government involvement in personal affairs, whether heterosexual or homosexual.
Stance on Abortion Should remain legal; support Roe v. Wade Mixed
Stance on Death Penalty While support for the death penalty is strong among Democrats, opponents of the death penalty are a substantial fraction of the Democratic base. Mixed

Differences in Philosophy

The fundamental difference in philosophy between libertarian and Democratic party beliefs centers around the role of government. Democrats tend to support a broader range of social services in America than those advocated by libertarians. Democrats believe that the government is responsible for ensuring greater income equality and building support systems for the weak and vulnerable sections of society (such as the poor, unhealthy or disabled). They believe that it is every individual's responsibility to contribute to the community and the way to achieve this is through the government.

Libertarian philosophy is based on a limited influence of government in all spheres of society &mash; social, economic, political, and foreign policy. Libertarians believe strongly in personal freedoms and responsibilities. They believe that government involvement leads to inefficiencies and the curtailing of freedoms. Libertarians believe that private charities can (and should) more efficiently and effectively serve the community, including the weaker sections of society. Libertarians believe that government is too big and controls too much economic activity, which hurts business and, in turn, the health of the nation.

Individual and Community

Libertarian policy leans towards individual responsibility and they believe in individual rights and freedoms. Democrats are more community-oriented in their beliefs about individual responsibility to the community and social justice.

Libertarian vs Democratic stand on various issues


A majority of Libertarians believe in non-interventionism, which means they support the withdrawal of their country's troops from foreign countries in which their government (and/or military) is "fighting" or participating in conflicts or wars. Libertarians want to significantly decrease military spending and America's involvement in conflicts abroad.

Libertarians also favor withdrawing military troops stationed in their allied countries. Libertarians believe in this because they believe that the current conflicts and wars are unnecessary, unjust, and unconstitutional. They believe that their government spends excessive amounts of money to financially support the military and the cause they're used for. In addition to the belief in retracting and downsizing the military, some Libertarians support strengthening their country's borders, and using the military for national defense purposes only.

They are against the growth of the military-industrial complex and what they consider empire-building by America around the world by maintaining military bases in foreign countries.

Democrats favor increases in military spending (albeit lower rates of increases than what Republicans advocate). Democratic foreign policy is similar to Republicans' but arguably a little less hawkish.

Gay rights

Libertarians and Democrats both tend to favor equal rights for gay and lesbian couples e.g. the right to get married and adopt children.


Democrats support progressive taxes i.e. they want high-income individuals to pay taxes at a higher rate. They support higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for public programs. Libertarians consider taxes a form of legalized theft by the government. While they agree that some taxes are necessary for government to function, libertarians advocate a wholesale revision of the tax code to make it simpler, eliminate loopholes and special provisions, reduce the tax rate significantly, and lean towards a consumption tax rather than a tax on income.

Video explaining the difference between the political systems

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