I would describe myself as "libertarian-ish." I'm sympathetic to a lot of libertarianism's goals, but maybe not 100-percent on board with some of the reasoning. The most hard-core libertarians I know are trying to out-Ayn-Rand each other with their total commitment to rationality, and as such are atheists. I, though, am a Mormon Christian, so I believe there is a Source of truth outside logic. So the libertarian in me supports marijuana legalization, but the Mormon in me is aware that the church has opposed marijuana legalization, so I'm not advocating for legalization. That's the "ish" part.
Beginning with George W. Bush's growth of the federal government on the grounds of national security, I've been less aligned with the Republican Party, where small-government conservatism had previously found its home. And as the Republican Party gets remade in the statist image of Donald Trump, I'm farther away from it. I voted for Bob Barr instead of John McCain, and for Gary Johnson instead of Donald Trump. But there's still that niggling bit of gonzo rationality in the libertarian party that I think is a little too far.
For instance, many libertarians I've met like to show how logical they are by flaunting their disregard for the social contract. "Given that others [do X], I don't [do X]," or, "I [do Y]." The big one is voting. "Given that others vote, I don't vote because the marginal effect of my vote is zero." Which is true, but is premised on the idea that the only purpose in voting is determining an election's winner. I had a professor who would not walk on the sidewalk when it was crowded, but would traipse through the landscaping to save himself some time. Given that everyone else was on the sidewalk, he wasn't.
As I was driving around a few days ago, I was thinking about this. Maybe it was because of someone not merging until the lane ends, thus bringing all traffic to a halt in both lanes. Given that other lane occupants merged seamlessly long before the lane's closure, the rational thing for someone to do if out to maximize his own benefit is to speed along in the now-empty lane until no longer possible, then merge.
Anyway, I was thinking about "the social contract," a nebulous set of expected behaviors, and how following the social contract imposes costs, which can be thought of as a tax. And I thought, "To determine whether I should incur such a tax, what are the benefits I get from a continuation of the social contract?"
"Ah," you say, "but you're assuming my failure to follow the social contract will kill it. Given that I'm one person, my behavior does not change the general disposition to follow social norms." I have two responses: 1) you're wrong, and 2) even if you're right, you're a sociopath.
First, my disposition to follow social norms is influenced by the rate at which people around me follow those norms. I'll wait in line until it becomes obvious that the line is useless. As each individual pursues his maximum benefit at the cost of the social contract, each remaining observer of the contract is facing greater incentive to also renege. No one is perfectly committed to following rules, especially rules that no longer bring a benefit, but instead only mark one as a sucker for following them.
My professor who wouldn't walk on the sidewalk said he was once confronted by someone who thought his behavior shameful. She asked, "What if everyone thought like you did?" He smugly replied, "Then I'd walk on the sidewalk because it would be empty!" But notice that that argument doesn't work here. "What if no one followed traffic laws?" "Then I'd start following them!" No, you can't unilaterally switch back to an ordered system from chaos. The tax we pay in following the social contract is the cost of living in civilization.
"Hey, marginal effect." The social contract doesn't exist for your benefit alone. You can come across an ordered system and use it recklessly such that you incur the minimal private cost, but you then fray the system, imposing higher costs on others and those following you. Ayn Rand would probably say, "That's their problem," but the biological imperative to reproduce and then care for descendants shows that there is purpose in self-denial that benefits others. You didn't inherit 40,000 years of humanity to use it up in one generation. Given that it's taken us millennia to claw our way out of a Hobbesian state of nature, you're a bit of a dick if you undo it all because you think things will go slightly better for you in the short run.