Libertarians Should Vote for... No One

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by Joel Poindexter

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In yet another appeal from Republicans, Brady Cremeens, writing for The Right Sphere, is urging libertarians to set aside their differences and vote for Mitt Romney. The piece is so full of political clichés about “American prosperity and strength,” how destructive another Obama term would be, and how Romney “gives us the chance” to save the republic, that I got half way through it before realizing he wasn’t writing tongue-in-cheek. It seems he actually believes what he writes, or at least makes a pretty decent attempt to convince us that he’s serious.

I’m certainly not the first to point this out, but it’s important to note how utterly disrespectful the Republican party and many of its members treated the very group they are now pleading with to vote for their candidate. I’d like to believe that had they not excluded Ron Paul voters, used police violence against them, changed party rules ex post facto, and employed other dishonest tactics, that libertarians would still have rejected the GOP. But assuming they (the GOP) weren’t so bent on repressing the libertarians, they might not be so desperate for their support now.

Before moving on it’s important to define libertarian in this context. It’s unclear exactly what definition Cremeens uses, though most likely it is the big “L” Libertarians, those who are registered as such and plan to vote for Gary Johnson, along with the droves of Ron Paul supporters that are now mostly split between Johnson and not voting at all.

From the first sentence Cremeens heads down the wrong path. He laments the prospect of Obama winning as a result of “the Right’s divided front,” as if the libertarians he writes to are part of “the Right.” Libertarians are not part of the Right, and thus the real problem facing the GOP is a failure to nominate a candidate who can inspire people and thereby increase party rolls.

The GOP had an opportunity to bring in young members because of Ron Paul’s membership and the influence he had with millions of young people. But this would have required the Republican party to abandon the policies dearest to them: war, torture, surveillance, sanctions, secret prisons, police-statism, prohibition, protectionism, central economic planning, and a host of other evils.

With Ron Paul and his fired-up base excluded, and the former now retiring from politics, their opportunity has passed. There are still a number of “Ron Paul Republicans” who hold onto the delusion that they can change the GOP from the inside, but that’s only going to result in one of two outcomes. Either they’ll remain with the GOP and become part of that which they’re fighting now; or they’ll realize the corrupting nature of politics is too destructive and abandon political activism for more enriching and productive endeavors. (For everyone’s sake let’s hope it’s the latter, and quick).

Simply put, libertarians are not part of the Right and they are not part of the Left, though many have come from both, they are altogether different. The Left and Right fight over who should be in control of the state; hardcore libertarians reject the state entirely and want no one “in charge.”

Cremeens suggests that “the only justification for voting third party or abstaining altogether is a belief that Mitt Romney would push Marxist principles as aggressively as Barack Obama has and would – an opinion I hope we can all agree is ludicrous.” I can agree this is somewhat ludicrous, though surely not as enthusiastically as Cremeens does. But what is more ludicrous is the belief that voting against a supposed Marxist, by voting for a Fascist, is any better. With the GOP’s extensive history of central planning, Romney’s endorsement of the regulatory state, and his running mate’s long corporatist record, it’s hard to see how their administration would be any better on the economy than someone we’re told is trying to install a dictatorship of the proletariat.

Again he appeals to libertarians to put aside their principles and vote for Romney because, he believes, “‘Any non-Romney vote helps Obama’ rings ominously true.” This, he says, is the case “because the liberal vote is united.” And again he suggests that libertarians and conservatives are all part of the same group, as if everyone is under some magical “big tent.” Perhaps at one time many libertarians did identify with the GOP, but that's no longer the case. Most have concluded that both parties are a scourge on humanity, that neither group has anyone’s interest at heart but their own, and that there is an alternative, even if the parties don’t recognize this fact.

He refers to another piece he wrote, in which he argued that “beating this incumbent in this election is more important than maintaining allegiance to staunch ideological principle.” Cremeens then claims that normally this isn’t the case, but now is a special circumstance. Of course this is a farce; anyone who watches politics knows that every election is The Most Important Election Ever. One sure thing is that party hacks never come out and say: “we’d like for all of you folks to vote for us, but if you decide to stay home we understand; after all there isn’t a whole lot riding on this election, and if we don’t win it won't be the end of the world.”

Every decent American knows that each election is dire. At the end of each term we’re on the brink of collapse, and the only person that can save our country, nay, civilization as we know it, is candidate X. That’s how this whole corrupt system works. It’s dependent on maintaining the illusion that one side represents the polar opposite of the other, and that an individual’s vote counts.

Now, there is one sense in which this is plausible, that elections are vastly important, though it has nothing to do with partisanship. Every election is more critical than the one before only because the federal government has grown more powerful and poses a greater threat to civilization than it did during the previous term. For the candidates, this means the stakes are higher; they’re playing for a larger share of power. For everyone else, it means we have less freedom, less wealth from which to live on and dispose of how we please.

Cremeens reminds his readers that the next president will likely be nominating several judges to the Supreme Court, and suggests that "there's no argument that Romney's [nominees] would be further right than Obama's." He writes this as if it's a good thing, as if we should be excited Romney will be nominating judges like John "A Fee is a Tax" Roberts, as Romney famously said he would, shortly before the court ruled to uphold the taxing power of the Affordable (sic) Care Act. The fact that he will look for judges on the Right is not a selling point at all; it's exactly the opposite.

Throughout the rest of his piece, Cremeens tries to convince libertarians to vote for Romney by appealing to reason. He rather smugly suggests that since libertarians “fancy [themselves] bastions of logic and rationality,” he hopes they will understand the logic of his argument. Too bad not a single argument he presents has any grounding in logic.

In his zeal to draw libertarians into the voting booth for Romney, Cremeens contradicts himself by first suggesting that voting third party, or abstaining altogether, isn’t actually principled. This is because doing so would make “Obama’s re-election path easier.” Later however, he sympathizes with libertarians and acknowledges the “ideological compromises” they’d have to make in order to vote for Romney. Bashing libertarians for not being principled, and then asking that they compromise their principles, is hardly an effective way to convince them of the soundness of your argument.

Only a fool could be convinced that voting for a police-statist, warmonger, and central-planner could possibly lead to real freedom, peace, or prosperity. That Romney’s supposed to be the lesser of two evils is no consolation, largely because he’s lesser only by degree, and only on the margin of certain issues. Further, it should be noted that voting for another candidate — even one nominated by the Libertarian party — does little to stall, rollback, or smash the state, as should be every libertarian’s goal.

Libertarians should instead avoid the polls, and convince as many others to do likewise. If any election is rife with voter discontent between the pool of candidates, and the economic situation dire enough to require radical solutions, it is this one. Surprisingly, when I tell people I have no intention to vote in November I’m met with more sympathy and agreement than I ever imagined. Given the typical reaction one receives upon professing a denial of the State Religion, this is profound.

Indeed, I’m not the only one getting this sort of reaction. One of my family members works in the government school system and at least several of his co-workers are to the point of not voting. This voter malcontent is a wonderful opportunity to expose the false Left/Right dichotomy and start moving more and more individuals toward the idea of a new liberty.

Joel Poindexter [send him mail] is a student of economics and part-time writer; he is a columnist for the Tenth Amendment Center and a contributing author to Voices Of Revolution: Americans Speak Out For Ron Paul. See his blog.

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