The minute you label yourself, whether it's "conservative" or "liberal" or "libertarian" or whatever, you become judged by that label. People will study everything you say to see if it lives up to the purity of that philosophy. Much better to just say what you think and let others come up with the label for you. That's why, when I'm pushed, I say I'm "a moderate conservative with strong libertarian tendencies and a few liberal skeletons in the closet." It doesn't begin to completely describe where I am on my philosophical journey, but at least it provides a moving target that makes it harder for the ad hominem snarkers to draw a bead on me:
The first stage of identity politics is using a word to describe yourself. Thus, I've always hesitated to call myself a liberal or a conservative, and I've just about reached the same point with the word "libertarian." Ron Paul hasn't helped much, and I can think of no one who has done more to discredit the word. It's a real pain in the ass to call yourself something which is more and more evocative of paranoid beliefs, if not outright 9/11 Trutherism.
But Ron Paul is only part of the problem. Putting on any word which goes to your identity word is a bit like putting on clothes. Right there, I would have said "political identity" but the personal has become so increasingly political that what's the difference?
Increasingly, people (even respected authors and journalists) are unable to distinguish between advocacy and conduct. So, a libertarian who thinks the government should stay out of the bedroom and pornography should be legal becomes a "hedonist." Or, in the latest terminology, a "freedom fetishist."
Like this author, though, I get tired of having to defend libertarianism to people who think advocating freedom is the same as endorsing all the behaviors that freedom will bring. Because I support the right to make bad choices does not mean I think you should or that I would consider making them myself. The point is who gets to decide:
The more the government gets involved, the more the definitions of both are blurred. Rights are seen as government-bestowed largesse, and freedom is seen as official license.
Pretty soon no one will know what these words mean, and everyone will look to the government, which will be in charge of freedom and rights.
The more they give, the more they take away.
If you've been listening to the presidential debates, you will have found hardly anyone from either party willing to let you just live your own life, enjoying the rewards and suffering the consequences of your own decisions. You will have discovered merely different ways to use government to push you in one direction or another.