In the last few weeks, there’s been quite a battle in political circles between Romney supporters and Johnson supporters. I realize this may be a bit late to fully capitalize on the meme, but, oh, well.
I’ve made no bones about being a Romney supporter (though reluctantly, at first).
To set out why, I have to start with an “uncomfortable truth”: The Libertarian Party isn’t capable of getting someone elected town dogcatcher, much less President of the United States. The reason for this is simple: That element of libertarianism has assumed the intellectual “high ground” of defeatists: “I know I will never win, so I will make no effort to do so; I will sit here and complain about how terrible everyone else’s performance is”. They are the armchair quarterbacks of politics.
Meanwhile, in the last five years, libertarian-minded people have made tremendous progress- within the Republican party. Five years ago, we weren’t welcome in the house of politics; now we have a seat at the dinner table.
Need proof of this? Let’s start with Rick Santorum complaining about the emergence of the “more libertarian-ish right”. Or the number of Republicans who like what Ron Paul has to say “on everything except foreign policy”. I would even go so far as to say Mitt Romney’s campaign has been a validation of us: His message is purely about government spending, debt, budgeting, free trade, and economic liberty. Social issues have been pushed aside.
The GOP’s message, today, is essentially our message in the most rudimentary form. Why did the GOP win so handily in 2010? Because our message- individual autonomy and economic liberty- resonates with Middle America. Freedom is intoxicating. Our opportunity, now, is to use our newly-found voice to mold that popular sentiment. We know we’re right, and we’ve been right all along. Rather than act smugly, we need to show the rest of the country why we’re right.
Want to end the war on drugs? The best argument for it goes like this: It is costly and ineffective, and it funnels money to some of the world’s most evil people. Legalizing drugs would deny substantial funding to terrorist organizations and put Mexican drug cartels out of business. Our interests are complimentary to the interests of the defense hawks and the budget hawks alike.
Want to address the “warfare state”? Make the rational argument that we will only have “a military so powerful that nobody dares to test it” as long as we can afford it. This is essentially the argument Admiral Mike Mullen made, when he said “the greatest risk to our national security is our national debt” (and he offered up $100 billion in defense budget cuts). Once again, our interests are complimentary to those of the defense hawks and the budget hawks. Spending absurdly– which includes defense spending- is detrimental to our long-term national security.
Want sound money? The 99-year lease on the Federal Reserve expires in December of this year. Congress will renew the lease (which is a disappointment). However, this is a prime opportunity to bring sound money into the national political discourse, and it’s an opportunity which won’t come around for another 99 years. Let’s not waste it. We won’t “End the Fed“, but we just might have a chance to put it in chains, if we act wisely.
These are just examples of the potential in-roads available to us. Either we continue to advance, within the Republican party, or we sit on the sidelines and whine about seat belt laws. We can build on our accomplishments, or choose to accomplish nothing.
And for those libertarians concerned about the evangelicals within the party- and I am one of those libertarians- fear not; they are losing their influence. Rational people of faith agree with us, for the most part. They have no interest in “regulating your body”. The few who really do want to regulate people’s bedroom behavior are becoming a relic, because the GOP has learned that they lose elections when they cling to them. Witness the vast barrage of criticism fired at Todd Akin by mainstream Republicans.
We have the public’s attention- and the party’s attention too. We are demonstrating the correctness of Ronald Reagan’s assertion that “the heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism”.
For this reason, I am voting for Mitt Romney, and I encourage my libertarian fellows to do the same. Now is not the time to throw away the gains we’ve made- now is the time to capitalize on them! Make no mistake- we’re going to have setbacks, we’re going to be disappointed frequently, and we’re going to get angry. A hard road is ahead of us. But, little by little, we can change opinions and show people the wisdom of our position. After all, our principles are the consummate American principles. Freedom is intoxicating!
And a word to mainstream Republicans who attack Gary Johnson personally: He is probably the least-corrupted person in politics. His character is unassailable. This is the reason for his success as Governor of New Mexico, a state which is two-thirds Democrat (and one of the several reasons I had hoped he would be the GOP running mate). There is no doubt that he was shunned by the “establishment”, and any resentment he harbors is, in my view, wholly justified.
It is, to me, tragic that he is in the position of being unelectable. We need more Gary Johnsons in government. He is a good man, and I am indignant toward anyone who claims otherwise. Remember who our common enemy is.