Chart: Libertarianism Is on the Rise

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In the United States, we are both proud of our governing system and suspicious of it at the same time. Right now, it's the suspicion that's winning out. Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight blog picks out some salient information buried deep within a recent CNN poll and combines it with some numbers from Gallup to assemble a chart: after more than ten years of wavering, libertarian-leaning sentiments have been on a steady rise since 2009.

63 percent of respondents said that government was "doing too much" earlier this month, up from 54 percent in 2006. 50 percent responded that government should "not favor any set of values," up from 43 percent in 2006. As Silver points out, the ramifications of the increasing libertarian streak in the United States can be palpably felt, from the increasing tolerance for same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana, to the backlash against government spending and the health care reform.

The Tea Party success has largely been fueled by a populist anti-government backlash that seems to have some overlaps with libertarian philosophy as well. As Silver explains:

Although polls suggest that many people who participate in the Tea Party movement have quite socially conservative views, the movement spends little time emphasizing those positions, as compared with economic issues.

That being said, the overall political effects are somewhat unclear. While libertarian notion of a smaller government may appeal to more traditionally conservative voters, more libertarian notions around drug laws and social issues would probably find more support among left-leaning voters. And it's not like we're looking at a Ron Paul presidency any time soon.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.