Block, Walter E. 2020. “Libertarians Spoil the Election; Jo Jorgensen exceeds Biden’s margin in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia.” November 9; https://www.wsj.com/articles/libertarians-spoil-the-election-11604867668
Regarding Walter E. Block’s “Libertarians Spoil the Election” (op-ed, Nov. 9): The outcome of the 2020 election might have been different if states adopted ranked-choice voting. Libertarians could have ranked Jo Jorgensen as their first choice and President Trump as their second choice without fear of spoiling the election.
Good point. But, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. If they would have allowed Jo Jorgenson into the debates, she probably would have quadrupled here vote, and reached almost 5%.
Mr. Block makes a valid point regarding strategic voting—the influence of your vote depends on whether you are in a competitive state or district. Voting for a Democrat or a Republican is more a “wasted” vote in uncompetitive states than voting Libertarian, or for some other third party.
At the same time, a vote is a market signal. Elections aren’t a one-shot deal. To reject President Trump was to send a signal—that steak is burned and I prefer medium-rare. That signal was stronger, by Mr. Block’s own reasoning, in competitive states. The GOP can continue to serve burned steak, and continue to lose market share and voters.
Those who trust markets interpret them carefully. Also, they understand that a vote belongs to the voter and are loath to suggest that it belongs, for whatever reason, to a party.
Martin D. Kennedy
There’s all the world of difference between a dollar vote and a political vote. The former occurs every day, every hour, every minute, every second. The latter, only at two year intervals. The marketplace allows every legal taste to be satisfied; the ballot box requires a package deal. Posit that you like Trump on policies 2, 4, 6, and 8, while Biden on policies 1, 3, 5, 7. You can’t pick or choose. In the market, you can get a pink polka dot bicycle if you want. Most important, the free enterprise system is voluntary, and every human action is mutually beneficial at least in the ex ante sense. In the political sphere, there are winners and losers.
Mr. Block’s assumption that the votes of Libertarians would automatically go to President Trump if forced into a bipartisan choice is both antidemocratic and false. He claims that there are only a few positions outside of economic views where Libertarians disagree with Democrats. But greens have known for years that Libertarians strongly agree with most of their views on “social” issues, for instance, the right to abortion, a most unpopular view with Republicans.
The fact is that more choice in an election brings out more voters. There is no guarantee that Libertarians would even bother to vote without their own candidate. Perhaps they would vote for the Green Party candidate instead.
Here’s who I blame: the Republican candidate himself. In 2000 Al Gore, a former senator from Tennessee, couldn’t win his home state and lost the election. President Trump’s recent behavior did more to scuttle his election chances than Libertarian votes in a few swing states.
Dear Mr. McCorquodale:
I never said that “the votes of Libertarians would automatically go to President Trump.” I only maintained that more of them would, a majority of them would. Why? Because libertarians are closer to Trump’s views (lower taxes, less regulation of the economy) than they are to Biden’s (socialism, although he is a bit of a weather vane). Libertarians are very divided on abortion. Murray Rothbard was pro choice, Ron Paul is pro life. Thus, this issue cannot be definitive. The idea that libertarians would favor the totalitarian Greens is highly problematic. The issue I was addressing was not whether “President Trump’s recent behavior did MORE to scuttle his election chances than Libertarian votes in a few swing states.” You might well be correct in this assessment of yours. But I only averred that the libertarians reduced his chances of reelection.
Mr. Block’s self-flagellation misses an immediate directive to take. The energy consumed in self-indignation might be better focused in the Georgia Senate runoff: Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel won 114,575 votes, 2.3% on Nov. 3. Mr. Block: Republican Senate candidates would certainly love to call those votes their own.
Paul J. Schilling
Saint Augustine, Fla.
Dear Mr. Schilling:
Joke: the mother buys her son two dress shirts. He goes to the bedroom, and changes into one of them. He comes back down to the living room and says to his mother: “What do you think?” Her reply, “The other one, you didn’t like?”
Yes, you make a good point. I indeed “missed” the Georgia Senate runoff in this 600 word op ed. Hey, you can’t do every good thing in a short space. You can’t wear two dress shirts at the same time.
Walter3:16 am on November 17, 2020 Email Walter E. Block