Should libertarians Support Jill Stein (Green Party) or Gary Johnson (LP)?

From: JR
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2016 4:36 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Is there a libertarian justification for supporting Jill Stein?

Hello Dr. Block, I’ve been a libertarian for nearly ten years and I’ve been a great admirer of your writing. I disagree with your contention that there is a strong libertarian case for supporting Trump, but since I live in California which will almost certainly overwhelmingly vote for Hillary, my support or non-support for either major-party candidate does not matter anyway. If I vote, and I’m not sure that I will, I’ll certainly be voting third party. Like many libertarians, I’ve been very disappointed with Gary Johnson. He seems to not really understand what libertarianism is all about and Bill Weld is no libertarian whatsoever. Since Gary will not win, the only reason to support him would be because he will effectively promote libertarian principles. But I don’t think he’s going to do that. I haven’t heard it discussed much by libertarians, but what about the candidacy of Green Party nominee Jill Stein? I watched the recent CNN Town Hall event with Jill Stein and her running mate and, while her economic ideas are foolish, she is exceptionally good on Foreign Policy.

Your argument for supporting Donald Trump rests upon the notion that Trump is less of a hawk than Hillary is. Jill Stein is the most anti-war candidate in the race and is significantly better on foreign policy than Gary Johnson. I agree with you than foreign policy is the most important issue for libertarians, so shouldn’t libertarians consider a protest vote for Jill Stein a vote for peace and a vote against empire? During the recent Town Hall event, Jill Stein called for a 50% reduction in our military budget. She called for closing down ALL foreign military bases and bringing all our troops home. Her running mate harshly criticized Obama’s drone program and criticized Bernie Sanders for not opposing it. She criticized Israel for their treatment of Palestinians and, by implication, the Israel lobby for having undue influence over our government. Most significantly, she called out the “War on Terror” for being the farce that it is. She accurately stated that our foreign policy has effectively created the terrorism problem that we now face and that each new intervention into the middle east only makes things worse. She even mentioned how the CIA intervened into Afghanistan during the 1980s and supported the radicalization and arming of radical Muslims, then called the Mujahideen, and how this intervention came back to haunt us. Gary Johnson is not going to be an effective communicator of libertarian ideas. But Jill Stein COULD be an effective communicator of a consistent anti-war message. I’m just weighing my options and I certainly haven’t committed to voting for any candidate. I’d really like your thoughts on this matter. Thanks! JR

Dear JR:

I, too, am disappointed in Gary Johnson for not adhering to libertarian principle to a greater degree; and, also, for misunderstanding it. The less said about Bill Weld the better. I thank you for raising the libertarian case for Jill Stein. Frankly, I had never thought of it. Now that you mention it, I must of course at least think about it. And the evidence you mention for it is very powerful.

I made a similar point in this essay of mine,

Block, Walter E. 2016. “Hillary, Bernie, Donald, Gary: A Libertarian Perspective.” June 4;

to the effect that Bernie was a better choice for libertarians than Hillary, when they were both contending for the Democratic nomination, mainly on foreign policy.

Nevertheless, I am not convinced by your argument. Gary is very weak on some aspects of libertarianism, but, relatively speaking, he is pretty good on foreign policy. He is not as good as Jill, you’ve convinced me, but , still, he is pretty good on non-interventionism. Coupled with the fact that a good showing for the LP in California would bring in way more support for libertarianism than a good showing for Jill, I’m still for Gary in California, and in all other states where either Donald or Hillary is way ahead of the other. But this is a matter of prudential judgement, not libertarian theory. Well intended and well informed libertarians, such as you and I, can disagree, without in the least either of us losing our credentials in this regard. This is not for the first time I feel a keen loss for the passing of Murray Rothbard. Murray, thou shouldst be with us in this an hour of our need, our uncertainty. Well, all we can do is try to channel Murray on this or pretty much any other question in political economy. I admit you’ve almost swayed me, but not quite. Voting for Jill would be sort of like voting for Chomsky. Both are very libertarian on foreign policy, but, are actual socialists on economics. Very, very tempting, but no sale as far as I am concerned.


1:03 pm on August 24, 2016