One of the biggest struggles between conservatives and libertarians isn’t over gay marriage, abortion, or even the War on Drugs. No, its whether libertarians should be faithful to the Republican Party. This discussion has gotten even louder in recent weeks after Mitt Romney’s defeat at the hands of President Obama.
However, the question I personally have is whether or not libertarians would be even welcome within the party. My fellow United Liberty contributor, Kevin Boyd, wrote this regarding his thoughts on what libertarians should do:
The solution is simple, we must launch a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. We need encourage our libertarian friends to abandon the Libertarian Party, which has accomplished a grand total of nothing in its 40 years of existence. Conservatives and libertarians need to get involved in the Republican party, especially on the local level. Work your way up the party ranks and eventually become the establishment.
I see what Kevin is saying, and he’s right about the Libertarian Party’s lack of accomplishment. As a member of that party, I’m extremely frustrated with the poor showing during the last election by Gary Johnson, who I felt was a very solid candidate.
However, Johnson’s appearance on the LP ticket ties into my concerns about whether libertarians would be welcomed within the GOP. Johnson was a two term governor of New Mexico, a clear fiscal conservative, and a man with solid “small government” credentials. He was shut out.
Ron Paul made some waves this time around, and much of the derision he faced within the GOP could be argued to be the result of his fanatical supporters and their actions. However, four years ago, he was right where Johnson was this time around.
A friend shared this interesting post with me the other day. Basically, with Romney losing the election and the Republicans trying to blame everybody but themselves, the question of the party having a “libertarian problem” arises. The author makes a couple of points that are worth considering.
Mitt Romney ran against libertarian ideals.
There was almost literally nothing libertarian about the GOP’s presidential ticket. They ran on a platform of government a little smaller than the Democrats would prefer. Expand the war on drugs. Expand globally with aggressive (“preventative”) war. Expand spending. Balance the budget at some point in the distant future. None of that sounds libertarian because none of that is libertarian.
The GOP has to have libertarians before it can have a libertarian problem.
In the Senate, they’ve got Rand Paul. Mike Lee isn’t so bad, either. In the House, there are a handful of decent members, but only 1 that I’d trust to make the right stand, no matter what. (I’m looking at you, Justin Amash.) That’s not much of a libertarian presence in Congress.
Since the election ended on Tuesday night and into yesterday, I’ve been reading many comments from my friends and family on Twitter and Facebook. They’re dejected. They don’t see how things could get any worse at this point. Others are casting blame wherever they can to avoid the realities that we now face.
Contrary to my friends, I’ve been fairly optimistic since the results became clear. But I still have a few quick things to say about the election and the future of the Liberty Movement. Some of what I have to say may burn bridges, however, I feel these things need to be said by somebody. You don’t have to agree with my conclusions — some of which are setting the record straight, others are more personal — but I believe we’re at the point where throwing in the towel is not an option.
This a little sporadic, but let me start with Gary Johnson.
As I mentioned yesterday, the narrative among Republicans who apparently cannot do math is that Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president, cost Mitt Romney the election. As I write this, President Obama is over 50% in Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia. In Florida, Johnson’s total vote is smaller than Obama’s margin of victory. And even if Johnson’s total does windup between the margin that Romney lost, Obama still would have won the Electoral College.
I’ll note again that 70% libertarians (small-L) planned to vote for Romney. Only 14% planned to vote for Johnson, pulled roughly 7 points from each Obama and Romney. In other words, voters who were casting their ballot for Johnson were not automatic for Romney. He would have lost anyway.
Once again, Gary Johnson did not throw the election to Obama. He was not Ralph Nader. End. Of. Story. Find another narrative.
Not much has changed over night. Florida has yet to be called, but Romney trails Obama by some 46,000 votes. Whether or not Romney wins the state doesn’t matter, he’ll still lose the Electoral College. Assuming Obama still maintains a lead in Florida, here is how the map looks after last night:
There is a lot to say about the election, much of which has already been said by analysts, but I’ve thrown together a few thoughts on some different points. You don’t have to agree with me, but these are things worth nothing.
House Republicans Will Lose Seats: There was talk of House Republicans adding to their majority in the days leading up to the election. CNN noted during their coverage last night that this was a possibility. That will not happen. Some of the gains from 2010 were wiped out last night, especially in Illinois and New York. In Florida, Rep. Allen West lost his bid for re-election by less than 3,000 votes. Democrats managed to keep some of the seats Republicans hoped to pickup — such as GA-12, where Rep. John Barrow defeated Lee Anderson, and UT-4, a race that looked good for the GOP, but Mia Love was unable to defeat Rep. Jim Matheson. In the end, Republicans will keep their majority, but it will be slightly smaller.
“Who should libertarians vote for in the election?” is a question that has been asked time and time again over the last few months. Most of the pressure on libertarians is coming from Republicans, who insist that Romney is entitled to our support.
Several contributors have weighed in on those particular arguments here at United Liberty. Doug Mataconis and Tom Knighton have both explained that the “libertarian case” for Romney is quite thin. Brian Lehman has repelled many of the arguments put forward by Republicans trying to appeal to libertarians.
Jennifer Knight laid a case for Romney from a libertarian perspective, explaining economic issues “MUST be straightened out before we can get back to the drawing table and create the government and society we desire.” And Chris Barron, co-founder of GOProud and a contributor here at United Liberty, has explained why he is backing Romney.
It seems like a forgone conclusion that he will overwhelming win libertarian voters, but is there really a “libertarian case” for Romney? Or even President Obama, for that matter? And what about Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee? While they don’t answer the question outright, leaving it for readers to decide, Reason has published three separate pieces presenting the “libertarian case” for Romney, Obama, and Johnson.
Taking up Romney’s case is Robert Poole:
Like many libertarians, I am voting for Gary Johnson. This is not because he is the candidate of the Libertarian Party. It is because he is the only candidate running who is presenting a libertarian message, who is actually dealing with reality, and who has a plan that can get us out of our current mess. Neither Romney nor Obama have shown they are willing to work with reality, have plans that can actually solve our current problems, or anything close to a libertarian message.
Specifically, I am voting for Johnson and not Romney because I do not see how voting for the GOP is going to move us anywhere closer to a libertarian future. I have heard the case made that if libertarians join with conservatives and vote for Romney, their voices will be heard in the party. But how true can that be? The party shut out Gary Johnson, then pushed away Ron Paul, and none of their policies made it into Romney’s campaign. If libertarians vote for Romney now, it will just show that we are rubes that are easily bought by rhetoric, and then can safely be ignored during the administration. There will be no message sent other than “continue as normal, they don’t really care.” But by voting third party, by voting for Gary Johnson, you sap valuable votes away, and perhaps put some states and districts into play they don’t want. Only then, only after you put them into a place of weakness, will the party ever come to the table and ask what we libertarians want. Only then will they start to move towards us.
Not before. As long as they get our votes while doing nothing more than utilizing rhetoric, they will do so—and send us further into debt, war, cronyism, and socially conservative jihads. And the only way to change that, my friends, is to vote for someone who won’t.
Libertarianism as a philosophy may perhaps be witnessing its modern heyday. Its influence in shaping policy positions of new candidates has grown and the pressure on incumbent Republicans to oppose new forms of government intrusion into the economic and personal affairs of individuals is stronger now than it has been in the past. Social conservatism has been relegated to its deathbed by a youthful tolerance. Polls find a growing trend among self-identified libertarians. The Libertarian Candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, is enjoying a huge surge in polling relative to his third-party predecessors, indicating a dissatisfaction with the status quo of mainstream politics.
But is it genuine, and will it last?
Like a number of libertarian-leaning voters I am planning to cast my ballot for Gary Johnson in a few weeks. There are a couple of reasons for this, but none more important to me personally than the fact that America is in dire need of an alternative to the Republican and Democratic parties. Every four years these two behemoths go at each other’s throats over mostly fringe issues, and we’re all supposed to pretend that we are really choosing between two different people. In reality, on most issues, there is scant difference. So given the chance to vote for a legitimate contender like Johnson, it is simply too good a chance to turn down.
But I also realize that no-third party candidates will be President this year, so I decided to take a look at who was running in several lower-level elections for my county in Pennsylvania. In four elections — specifically Attorney General, Auditor General, State Treasurer and U.S. Senator, there is a Libertarian Party candidate. But when I began to search for information on these candidates, not a single one had a website beyond a bare-bones Facebook page. As much as I would like to vote third-party in these elections, I can’t really do so because I don’t know anything about the people running. And I simply cannot take any candidate seriously when they don’t have a website in 2012. That to me represents the bare minimum in promotion and makes me extremely wary.
On Friday, Chris Barron, co-founder of GOProud and an occasional contributor here at United Liberty, made some news by switching his support for president from Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee, to Mitt Romney. Writing at The Blaze, Barron explained why he decided to support the Republican ticket:
There is a time for idealism and a time for realism, and for me, the time for realism is now. I endorsed former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson back in December of 2011, when he was still seeking the Republican nomination for President. I continued to support him even after he left the Republican Party and became the Libertarian Party’s nominee for President. Indeed, I am a DC elector for Gary Johnson. On Tuesday November 6th, however, I will not be casting my vote for Gary Johnson – instead I will be casting it for Mitt Romney.
I still believe strongly that Gary Johnson would make the best President of the three candidates running, however, it is time to recognize he will not be President. The next President will either be Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, and without hesitation I can say that Mitt Romney will be a vastly better President than Barack Obama.
While Mitt Romney is not perfect, the truth is that America simply cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama. On Obama’s watch, real unemployment is almost 15%, real wages have declined, the size and scope of government has grown, and we are staring at an unprecedented fiscal crisis in the form of a $16 trillion debt.
Not a day goes by when I get a message from a conservative telling me that I must vote for Mitt Romney, not just because a vote for Gary Johnson (or anyone other than Romney or Obama) would be a wasted vote, but that we must vote for the one guy who has a shot of defeating Obama to save our country. That we absolutely cannot vote for anyone other than Romney, because if Obama gets another four years this country will no longer exist. There’s a reason for this.
Some examples of the comments I’ve received:
We are on the preverbial roof of a house while the flood waters are rising. The rescue boat is here to help us off the roof and to drier ground. Are you going to say, no I would rather stay on the roof until a helicopter comes because I like helicopters better?
Let me be clear, Romney was not my first, second, third, fourth,or even fifth choice! But I would vote for the town drunk before I voted for Obama. As far as the status quo you say, well I think we have to STOP THE BLEEDING, you may not agree with that approach but the last four years of the wrecking ball smashing away at the economy everyday I believe we need to try a different approach. Such as getting more people back to work so there is more people paying taxes.
The thing is that there is virtually no evidence that Romney is either A) piloting the rescue boat coming to get us, or B) going to do anything to stop the bleeding. The man is very acutely interesting in expanding our military budget, while doing little to reform our bloated entitlements or actually cutting spending beyond the Corporation for Public Broadcasting—which is a good move, but not enough to save us from the black hole we’re spiraling into.