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Inevitably, as the election draws nearer and some of the less-than-libertarian positions of both Mitt Romney and the GOP platform gain attention and, deservedly, criticism many libertarians have already begun trotting out the “he’s just the lessor of two evils” argument. They would argue that you should only vote for the purest libertarian candidate without regard for the chances that he or she can actually win anything.
So allow me to take this time to explain not only why I’m voting for Romney (and I’m an extremist libertarian) but how you can vote for him, too, without feeling like you need to take a shower afterward.
Side note: Hopefully you’ve picked up on this by now, but I to be clear that this is directed at my fellow libertarians and those who generally agree that government is too big, too broad and largely unbound by our constitution. If you’re from a viewpoint that the government isn’t big enough, by all means skip the rest of this post and just vote Green.
THE GOOD VS. EVIL PERCEPTION
First, let’s tackle this “lessor of two evils” argument. Neither major candidate is perfect, but neither candidate is evil, either. The real question should be which candidate, even including the various third party candidates, is the closest to a strong libertarian that can actually win or at least come close. You might be disappointed that Romney doesn’t want to cut as much as you’d like but at least he agrees with you that government is too big. He doesn’t think there’s as much to cut as you likely do, certainly not as much as I do, but at this point the government is so enormous that we’d have to cut a third of the budget before we get to a point where it really matters.
Those who support a third party might speak well of the European multi-party system. There’s one big problem here, in order to participate in government in those systems and have any impact you have to be part of a coalition. Sure you might get a handful of seats, but you’re still largely irrelevant unless you compromise by joining a coalition. Which means that even if there were a viable Libertarian Party, it would have to form a coalition with other, more centrist parties. In other words, they’d have to settle for a leadership that is more moderate than they are. A lot more moderate.
The truly Libertarian candidate is, of course, Gary Johnson. I love Gary Johnson, you should read about him. He’s done multiple AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) posts on Reddit, the latest one is here and he’s planning another one on September 26th. I wish he were in a position to actually win something. He’s for a Fair Tax, against the war on drugs and actually wants to cut entitlement spending. Those are very libertarian positions. So why won’t I vote for him? Because he’s got 6% of the electorate behind him. That’s actually a pretty strong showing for a third party, but he still has no chance.
So why doesn’t he stand a chance? Why can’t we have a real libertarian as president? Because we are not a libertarian nation. As much as I wish it were so our country has not been co-opted by a conspiracy or a small group of influencers who pull the strings of our future in secret against the will of a deeply freedom-loving people. Instead, it’s the people themselves who’ve created this monstrosity of a bureaucratic nightmare, oppressive taxation and eroding freedoms. The people want it this way, that’s the “moderate” viewpoint now. If Thomas Jefferson were alive and running for president today he could never be elected, and he would probably never even win either party’s primary. He’s far too “extreme”. George Washington? He’s a pacifist who hate America, of course he couldn’t win.
Think about it. Do you honestly think we’d elect any of the framers of a document that we’ve utterly shredded every time it gets in our way?
The point is, we can’t win on our own. We have to be part of a coalition wrapped around the broadest idea we can agree on: government is too big. Exactly how much smaller it should be is a fight for another day. Right now, we have to get going in the right direction and the best way to do that is through the election of a government that will do less.
“IF OBAMA WINS THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE SPLIT, THE PARTIES WILL SPEND SO MUCH TIME FIGHTING EACH OTHER THEY WON’T DO ANY DAMAGE”
This is one argument I wish I could believe. Obama is likely to win the White House, the GOP is likely to retain the House and they might just take the Senate. So, what’s the the worst that could happen? We end up with a split government that’s fights all the time and nothing happens. That’s good, right? The government’s not growing, there are no new wars and the deficit should begin to shrink.
But that’s not what will happen. How do I know that? Because it’s exactly what we have now. And what’s happened since Republicans took control of the House in the 2010 mid-term elections and created the utopian split government we currently enjoy?
- The deficit has gone up, projected to increase by $27 billion over last year.
- We’re still in Iraq and more resources are being poured into Afghanistan.
- Wars have been started or expanded in Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and who knows how many other proxy wars.
- Wars may begin in Syria and Iran.
- Marines have been deployed to South America to expand the drug war.
- The NDAA has been passed into law, allowing the indefinite detention of Americans at the whim of the President.
- The TSA has been expanded to include bus terminals, campaign stops and train stations. We didn’t need that 4th amendment, anyway.
- The Patriot Act was extended.
- The Federal Government continues to raid marijuana dispensaries in states where it’s legal.
The list goes on and on but the point is simple: the government continues to grow in size and scope. If we hand Obama another four years it will continue to grow.
THE END GAME
This isn’t the end. This is one step to getting back to the ideas of liberty that our nation was forged with. But we didn’t get to this awful place overnight, it took many decades (most debate exactly when it started), and it will take decades to get back. But we’re never going to get back by losing elections.
Go on, vote for Romney. You know you want to.