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Why Being a Libertarian Cartoonist is Liberating

By Alexander Hoffman

For the longest time, the political paradigm in America has been based along a Left-Right spectrum with liberals on the left, who traditionally favor less government involvement in social matters, but desire more involvement in the fiscal realm and conservatives on the right, who favor less government in economic matters, but support government enforcement of “family values.”  This simplistic spectrum left little room for libertarians, who favor less government involvement in both social and fiscal matters.  However, the rise in popularity of Texas Congressman Ron Paul and the Tea Party Movement has changed that dichotomy in recent years. 

Since then, libertarians have found a small place in the political discussion, but in the world of political cartoons, cartoonists for the most part still fall into the categories of liberal or conservative.  There are exceptions such as Peter Bagge and the now defunct duo of Cox and Forkum, who are well known for holding a libertarian perspective, but for the most part, audiences (and syndicates) expect cartoons to be from either a left wing or right wing perspective.  When they’re not, audiences and editors get confused.  For example, while cartooning for UCLA’s Daily Bruin, I was usually pegged as a conservative cartoonist, because I routinely drew cartoons with polar opposite viewpoints from the paper’s liberal editorial board.  I once drew a cartoon in support of gay marriage and I received several angry emails from readers criticizing me for being anti-gay marriage, simply based on their perception of me from my other cartoons on other unrelated issues.  Despite this, being hard to pin down has its benefits as well, such as crossover appeal, which can help reach wider audiences.  When I post my cartoons online, I find liberal blogs latch on my cartoons attacking the religious right and conservative blogs praise my cartoons that attack government spending.

Still, there are also many topics libertarians focus on that aren’t often drawn about by liberal and conservative cartoonists, such as the war on drugs, fiat currency and the duopoly of America’s two-party system.  I’ve found that the most popular cartoons I’ve done tend to be ones expressing criticism no one else is making.  For example, the debate over whether insurance providers and employers should be mandated to provide free birth control has dominated the headlines in the United States.  While some liberal cartoonists have likened any opposition to the mandate as an attack on women, some conservatives have resorted to shaming the use of birth control entirely.  I found both sides missed the mark in arguing about the merits of birth control instead of focusing on whether the government should be even involved in making such personal choices for individuals or financial choices for insurance companies and employers.




If there’s one benefit to not fitting into the stereotypical Left-Right spectrum, it’s that you are not beholden to any one political party, which is very freeing.  Many of the liberal cartoonists who once attacked Bush’s Patriot Act, are silent on Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act.  Similarly, conservative cartoonists who ignored Bush’s Medicare expansion and out of control spending are more than happy to point out the problems with Obamacare and Obama’s debt.  While I’m not saying editorial cartoonists have to become free market policy wonks, there are benefits in knowing what you believe and sticking to your guns no matter who’s in office.


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I'm in my 70s now but back in the 70s - when I was in my 30s - I hung with Marxists in Palo Alto, CA for about two years. My "squeeze" at the time self-described as a "communist with a small "c", meaning she wasn't a Stalinist. I didn't think to ask about Mao, Pol Pot, et. al. I attended meetings, parties and even weekend retreats in N. California about Marxism, talked the talk with my commie squeeze, learned about Saul Alinsky and eventually came to realize how vile Marxists are on first a personal level - try disagreeing with one - and then on a political level.
There's never been a time when I didn't believe Obama was a Marxist. And I have tried (usually unsuccessfully) to convince others of that via the "It takes one to know one" route.
Which gave me this idea for a cartoon. What do you think of it as an idea for a cartoon?

Benjamin Mitchell

This is half right, Nobody is forcing anyone to buy birth control.

Alex Hoffman


Obamacare forces everyone to buy health insurance. Obamacare also mandates that birth control be covered by all insurance plans with no copay. Thus, whether you are actually using birth control or not, you are certainly paying for it.

Mike Monge

I agree with Benjamin. Why is it that Libertarians and moderates feel they need to criticize equally? One side is actually ENACTING the ridiculous policy in the cartoon above. There are MAYBE a fringe of a fringe of people on the right who have no power who would want to enact a policy of banning birth control. Shouldn't we focus our criticism on the one side who is doing what you are afraid of doing, and then we can worry about the other side far down the road when and if they ever get enough power to enforce such a policy?

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