The Republican and Libertarian Parties both support limiting the power of the federal government in the United States. However, the Libertarian Party advocates more strict limits on government power compared to the Republican Party. The two parties differ significantly especially on the issues of national defense and foreign intervention.

Personal Privacy

Both parties support the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which was designed to protect the personal privacy. But the Republicans indicate a narrower scope of Fourth Amendment protections in their official platform, with their only additional protection being against the use of aerial surveillance on U.S. soil. The Libertarians take the Fourth Amendment much further than the Republicans, extending citizen protection from unreasonable searches to records held by third parties, including email, library and medical records. Libertarians also advocate repealing all laws against victim-less crimes, such as the use of drugs in private life.

Monetary Policy and Federal Reserve

In their 2012 platform, The Republicans said that the Federal Reserve plays an “important role as a lender of last resort.” While the party supports the existence and role of the central bank, it advocates legislation that would require more transparency and accountability. The Libertarian Party supports putting a stop to the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve and the tender laws, which it calls “unconstitutional.” Libertarians advocate a free-market banking policy, which would allow competition among banks and the free use of consumer-chosen commodity-based currencies.

International Affairs

The Republicans and Libertarians have some major differences on the role of the government in international affairs. The Republicans advocate a more active role for the government. The Republicans mention a list of “growing threats” to U.S. national security in their 2012 party platform, citing threats such as Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and “rising Chinese hegemony in the Asia Pacific region” as examples. The Republicans disagree with the Democratic president Barack Obama's reduction in the defense budget, saying more money should be spent in this area during a time of growing threats. In sharp contrast, the Libertarian Party argues in its platform that the United States should end its policy of foreign intervention – both military and economic aid. Libertarians argue that the U.S. would do a better job promoting peace in the world by “avoiding foreign entanglements” and emphasizing defense against an attack from outside the country.

Education

The Republican Party supports more education funding at the local and state levels rather than at the federal level. It believes that a more localized state education would produce a better educational system. According to its official 2012 party platform, the purpose of a world-class education system is to maintain “American preeminence.” The Libertarians believe in a far greater decentralization of American education that gives parents control over “all funds” used in their children's education.