If Romney Wants to Win Libertarian Votes – He Has the Chance Tonight
I know that I am in the minority among the contributors to UL in that I will cast my vote on Election Day for Mitt Romney. I laid out my reasons for switching my vote from Gary Johnson to Mitt Romney in The Blaze a couple of weeks ago.
I was no fan of attempts to bully or shame libertarians into voting for Romney before I made my endorsement and I am no fan of those tactics now. I tried in my piece in The Blaze to lay out reasons why a libertarian should consider a vote for Romney – reasons that are obviously compelling enough for me personally to cast that vote.
If Romney wants to win over libertarians he doesn’t need his supporters trying to bully or shame libertarians who plan on voting for Gary Johnson. Instead, to win the votes of libertarians, Romney needs to actually take positions advocated by libertarians. I know this isn’t rocket science, but considering some of the pieces I have seen written by Romney supporters with the supposed objective of winning over Johnson voters, this actually needs to be said.
Tonight, Governor Romney has an opportunity to win over libertarians in the foreign policy debate.
First, let me say that I am realistic about what Romney could do to win over libertarians tonight. I know, unfortunately, that he will not repudiate the failed nation-building and interventionism that has been the hallmark of the Bush and Obama foreign policies.
That having been said, here is what Romney could say that would set his approach apart from the disastrous Obama foreign policy and win over libertarians:
1. Romney could and should make it clear that he supports ending the war in Afghanistan and bringing our troops home. In the debate between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden, Ryan consistently said they agreed with a 2014 withdrawal date from Afghanistan but hedged by saying they disagreed with telling people about that date. It’s a distinction without meaning at this point. Romney, as the Presidential nominee and the person who sets the policy for the ticket, should say tonight in no uncertain terms that on his watch we will withdraw our troops from Afghanistan.
2. Romney could and should support the efforts of Senators like Rand Paul who are pushing to eliminate foreign aid to countries like Egypt and Libya. This is an overwhelmingly popular position with the American public – not just with libertarians. In this era of tightening budgets, how can we justify sending American tax dollars to regimes that do not share our values or advance American interests.
3. Romney could and should make it clear that he does not support sending ground troops into Syria. The only thing more unifying among the American electorate than this is a love of mom and apple pie.
4. Romney could and should make it clear that the United States foreign policy will not be dictated by the United Nations. This one is probably the easiest for Romney.
5. Finally, and most importantly, Romney could and should lay out a coherent set of standards for when American military intervention is required. One that makes it clear that we will only commit American military personnel when American interests are clearly at stake. Romney needs to put some daylight between his foreign policy and that of the George W. Bush era. He needs to reassure voters that he will not commit troops to another Iraq-like mistake, nor will he risk American lives to serve as the policeman or chief humanitarian aid official for the entire globe.
I don’t know that Romney will do any of this. But if he wanted to win the votes of libertarians who are concerned about a second Obama term but still not sold on the idea of a President Romney, this would be a good start.