(My Clovis News Journal column for July 21, 2011. As written, not as published.)
I place a high value on liberty. My own, obviously, but also on yours. After all I only get as much liberty as I respect for all others. My own liberty, and yours, would be enhanced by living in a free society made up of free individuals.
If we are to ever have that free society, rather than going it alone and living your liberty independently while those around you suffer the ills of hidden slavery, there is a realization that needs to occur: It takes all kinds. Or at least, almost all kinds. As long as we are heading the same direction on the one issue of increasing liberty for all, I am willing to work with just about anyone.
Back when I thought I was conservative I only noticed the liberal parts of libertarianism and didn't even see the conservative parts. Those were invisible to me because they were unremarkable. I see the same thing happen in others now. Liberals only see the conservative in libertarianism and conservatives only see the liberal. Unless they are exposed to the parts they agree with first. Then they mistake the libertarian for one of their own and are shocked when confronted by the opposite position in the libertarian.
Conservatives are great advocates for some forms of liberty. They are generally pretty good about advocating for more liberty to use your property, and earn your money, as you wish. As long as it doesn't grate against their notions of morality. They are also fairly good about respecting the right of self defense and the tools to make it possible. Conservatives are generally the ones pointing out that tax rates everywhere are too high.
Liberals are also great advocates for some forms of liberty. Generally telling government to stay out of your bedroom and body. Until they decide you must be forced to make "better choices" for your own good, or unless you violate their notions of "fairness". They have been pretty good, until recently, about questioning the excuse of "national security" for endless war and domestic spying. Usually liberals recognize that a person's personal life has no bearings on the liberties that person is owed.
Libertarians can be the bridge between the two. Grasping on to the liberty advocated by others (and letting them think it is their idea) and helping make it real. This means ignoring, when possible, the authoritarian tendencies exhibited by others so that you can work together for a common goal. It means ignoring the inconsistencies if possible, while being an example of liberty for all. More often than you might imagine, others are influenced to be a little more accepting of liberty they hadn't previously considered important. That helps us all.