I have a lot of respect for my Libertarian friends, and they are frequently the first people I’d like to have a discussion with about a new policy or political controversy. I find most of them to be intelligent, thoughtful, well-read people. I also find that in large part Independents (including the Tea Party) often have much in common with the right when it comes to the issues of this particular election–economics and the over-reach of the Federal government.
But I do think that to actually vote for a 3rd party candidate in a tight general election (as this one) is to actually harm the chances of someone whose views are probably most similar to your own. A vote for a 3rd party actually makes a TWO point difference in terms of real numbers, from +1 to a -1 vote that could have been received by one of the main candidates. Let’s get practical—in a close election, a few thousand votes can make or break the entire Electoral College contribution of a state, which in turn can determine the winner of the election.
A recent Des Moines Register poll showed only a 1-point difference between Romney and Obama here in Iowa. And in both 2004 and 2008, “other” votes in Iowa made up…. 1 percent.
So by all means, make your case to anyone who will listen in the off-years and primary season! In fact, the last 2 election cycles, I’ve supported someone other than the eventual candidate at caucus time. But once the primaries are over, I think we do need to figure out which of the remaining candidates is closest in ideology to our own views.
As to Gary Johnson himself, I find myself agreeing with many–if not most–of his positions. I want education back at the local level. I absolutely believe that the 2nd Amendment has implications for the rest of the Bill of Rights. And he was right on when he reportedly said, “My next door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.”
My main personal concerns about any Libertarian candidate are the tendencies for fast change and the hesitancy to deploy the military. I frequently wonder if the drastic “fix-it-now” approaches of the Libertarian movement are the best approach. There are so many entrenched government programs and expenditures in place today that practically speaking, it’s going to take some time for states and individuals to adjust. My second concern is that a Libertarian president may put ideology ahead of national defense. In my opinion, there ARE times when we need to engage in combat, and I want a President who won’t hesitate to do that if it becomes necessary.
Even so, I can certainly respect the 3rd party vote—or even abstention—of someone who has deeply considered the issues and clearly done their homework.
But this election is not an apples-to-apples choice, but truly an apples-to-oranges choice between two very different ideologies. So I think those who chose to actually vote for Gary Johnson this particular election will actually be harming the chances of another candidate who isn’t as far off from their views as they might think.