The Libertarian Case for Romney

Steven Green was one of the first bloggers I started reading back before blogging was cool, and he pretty much echoes my views on Romney, not because Romney will save us, but because he’ll buy us time. There’s been some speculation as to whether time really buys anything, but I think it does. I am not certain whether we can avoid hitting the iceberg looming ahead, but I am pretty sure if we keep moving at this speed, we will definitely hit it. I’m happy to give someone a chance to slam the rudder hard to starboard and at least try to miss it.

UPDATE: More here. h/t Volokh

35 thoughts on “The Libertarian Case for Romney”

  1. At the moment the argument that one should always cast a vote for what he really wants, rather than a questionable “tactical” vote, is prevailing with me, so I will most likely vote for Johnson. That is, unless the Republicans succeed in getting him tossed from the ballot here in Pennsylvania, in which case I will be faced with voting either for no one for president, or, casting a tactical vote.

    The problem with the tactical route is, a vote for the Republican candidate will be taken as an endorsement for the Party status quo, which is not only unacceptable to me, but as a libertarian, quite frightening, as at least as threatening to individual liberty as anything the Democrats threaten. Tactically speaking, I would like to see the Republican Party receive such a drubbing that it incites a serious internal debate as to why. There would of course be totally conflicting opinions, with (for example) the theo-fascists claiming the party hadn’t been fascist enough, while those leaning libertarian might argue that they had already collectively displayed so much fascism that they drove everyone away.

    In any case, without substantial reform, I believe the Republican Party is doomed in the short run, and in the long run, if the Democrats become dominant, everything else we may fear (SCOTUS appointments, etc.) will certainly come — with more certainty than if we only have to worry about Obama for another four years. And reform of the Republican Party is not going to come if they enjoy success, and every divergent faction takes a turn claiming credit for it among their constituencies.

    So, tactics for voting become a very difficult question.

  2. Well stated, Sebastian. Agreed.

    Andy B., I certainly share your sentiments, and even voted for Chuck Baldwin instead of McCain in 2008.

    But the last four years have made me rethink that decision. Sotomayore, Kagan, NDAA, and dozens of tyrannical, unconstitutional “executive orders” from this socialist, coupled with his frightening promise to Vladimir Putin (or was it Medeved?): “After the election, I’ll be free to really impose my agenda,” have convinced me Mr. Obama MUST be defeated now. The short-term consequences are so stark that there will be no long-term to even worry about.

    I know I’ll be disappointed in Romney, but I don’t think I’ll be tyrannized. No question Obama will tyrannize me. Obamacare is the proof!

    Respectfully, Arnie

    1. Arnie:

      I voted for no presidential candidate in 2008, because I thought even the minor party candidates were unacceptable.

      My thoughts on tactical voting also are guided by my personal experience. In 2000 I allowed Republican noise to stampede me into voting for Bush — “tactically” — even though in my heart I knew better. My conscience has bothered me ever since. (Not that I would have voted for Gore; but the fact is by voting for Bush I laid my hand on the hangman’s rope, so to speak.)

      With equal respect, Andy

      1. Understood, my friend. I had the same struggle. Don’t know how we change things. Seems like the nominees have been picked beforehand by…someone who doesn’t care about the Constitution.

        The primaries are almost a farce. Everytime someone other than the presumed nominee wins a State, new “revelations” come out to destroy his candidacy. By the time my primary came around to vote for Ron Paul, he was trashed and ignored into oblivion by the media and Romney had it all sewed up. *groan*

        I appreciate your comments! – Arnie

  3. Please tell me how a supreme court with 5 obama appointed justices on it for the next 30 years is good for libertarians?

  4. I don’t think Romney wins if he doesn’t get the Libertarian vote.
    That being said, I have met many selfish Libertarians who can not grasp tossing there vote away. They think the are taking the high road and standing up for principle. What the are doing is tossing a win to the progressive socialists instead of compromising and building their base.

    That’s my opinion only.

    1. Well trying to convince them by calling them selfish is foolish. Its not being selfish- its believing in what is right.

      They are not tossing their vote away- they are making a choice with their vote. And if their vote is for Johnson, or for no vote at all, well then that’s the failure of the GOP. If they really didn’t want to fail, then they should have made it a level playing field for Ron Paul.

        1. Have you not been paying attention? Many, many delegates were taken from him by the GOP.

          1. Enough to make him even vaguely competitive with Romney?

            This Ron Paul whining is beyond tiresome; Republicans in general value loyalty (whether that’s misplaced is for another discussion), and when Paul bolted the party to run for President as a Libertarian in 1988 he foreclosed his future options at the national level of the Republican party.

  5. I love how before the primaries it was “You silly libertarians and Paultards don’t matter! Paul can’t win! Go away before we make you go away!” Now its “WAIT! Come back! We need your vote! We can try to pretend that he won’t be THAT bad and there is a libertarian case to be made! You don’t want Obama do you!?!?”

    Sorry, but its too late. Everybody had their chance at selecting a good liberty loving candidate. But he wasn’t “electable” (because we said so!) and he wasn’t for the wars (gotta violate liberty and the constitution somehow!)

    No, there is no libertarian case to be made for Romney. Its not a choice between bad and worse. Its a choice between two equal kinds of bad. Its like choosing between ways to die: doesn’t matter which way you choose, you’ll still be dead. People can argue about which way is better to die, but I will instead argue for ways to live.

    1. For me it’s not so much that I don’t care about libertarians being part of the coalition, just that Ron Paul is a disaster of a candidate, as evidenced by his complete and utter failure as a national candidate in multiple races, even going back to the 80s. He is a poor standard bearer for the Libertarian cause. Time to find a better standard bearer, if you ask me. Johnson could have been one if he had been pushed within the GOP as Paul was. Johnson is a much better candidate than Ron Paul is, but unfortunately stepped away from politics too long.

      1. His failure as a national candidate is not due to anything he did. He ran the best campaign he did, based on overwhelming, yet irrational, opposition.

        He is the best standard bearer one could ask for: honest, principled, strong, great speaker, without any controversy.

        The fact that few can see how great of a candidate speaks way more to those who complain about politicians and way less to him.

      2. Johnson is a much better candidate than Ron Paul is, but unfortunately stepped away from politics too long.

        I think the fact that he got shafted by the party when he was excluded from the primary debates was his real problem.

        As an interesting side note, his exclusion from tonight’s debate has prompted two of the debate sponsors to withdraw their support. This is apparently the first time that has ever happened.

        And I have to second Patrick H’s sentiments: The Republican Party had its chance to argue for libertarian support, and it instead did it’s best to completely stamp it out, with their actions against both Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. Now people want to argue that there’s a libertarian argument for Romney? Bugger that nonsense.

        The argument that Romney might be less bad than Obama is not a libertarian argument at all.

    2. Some of us considered Dr. Paul to be ineffectual at managing his own campaigns, which showed his eventual management of the federal government. Some of us did not agree with his bashing of pork barrel spending, when his trough down in Texas flows with the best of them.

      1. Oh not THIS trope again.

        People who complain about his “hypocritical” stance on pork barrel spending show their true colors. If if they were right (which they are clearly not), its the only thing anybody can try (and fail) to stick to him.

        Let me put it in a way you can understand: his stance on pork barrel spending is like someone being utterly and totally opposed to dying right this now. Yet that someone is falling out of an airplane with only two parachutes, and with three people holding on to them. That someone gives both people a parachute. That person knows he is going to die, but he still saves two people while he can.

        Nobody can argue that. And nobody can argue his philosophy on pork barrel spending. He hates it and votes against it. But he knows he can’t win, and that money was taken from his constituents as well. So he tries to make that stolen money useful for those it was stolen from.

        Why is this so hard for people to understand?

  6. I’m keeping it simple. It’s either Romney or Obama. No other Candidate gets enough Votes to sway the Electoral College. Hasn’t happened since George Wallace got 46 Electoral Votes in 1968. And I think most of those ended up going to Nixon anyway when the Electoral College met. Anderson, Perot, Nader ZERO State wins, which gave them ZERO Electoral Votes. There is a Mathematical Possibility of a TIE this cycle, but if there is, it goes to the CURRENT House Membership, not the Incoming, and Romney Wins.

    So anyone can Vote for Any Legal Candidate that they want. And sometimes that Third Party Candidate drags down another Candidate, which was Perot’s Plan back in ’92 against Bush the Elder. And if anyone thinks 2.8 million Green Party Voters would have gone for Bush the Younger in 2000, they are High. But if you don’t get the Electoral Votes, you can’t win. And I really believe that Obama needs to LOSE, which means Romney has to Win.

  7. I’ll throw this out as a thought experiment, inspired by more than one of the comments and conclusions above:

    Suppose this is Germany, and it’s say 1932, and the only two viable political entities (in the “only one of them is going to win” sense) are the Communists and the Fascists. Suppose that then as now, you can’t see the future. Who do you vote for, tactically?

    Yes, there is a bunch of hyperbole in suggesting that analogy, but I need to make the point that some of us don’t see a bad choice and a better choice, but a toss-up of two bad choices; both in terms of the candidates and the factions behind them, and what they portend for the future.

    1. I like that thought experiment a lot. I think it really puts it into perspective.

  8. What I might propose to people is that if you don’t live in a battleground state, to go ahead and vote your conscience. If enough people did this, it would have the desired effect of opening future elections to 3rd parties but without disturbing the electoral results. Then for those living in the battlegrounds states, I might, with great reservation, suggest voting for Romney.

    1. I agree with that. The question is whether Pennsylvania is getting settled enough in blue territory for this state to be one of those where it’s safe to risk being part of the margin that lets the greater evil win.

    2. But, what you are saying is, if you live in a state where your vote doesn’t matter, indulge yourself in advocating for what you really want; but if you live in a swing state endorse the Republican, even if that’s not what you really want.

      I left a third party almost 20 years ago, so this isn’t about opening future elections for third parties; that is never going to happen. What it’s about is, my vote not being taken as an endorsement — or even an expression of toleration — for every loon constituency that the Republican candidate or his party ever pandered to, to get to his position of power. Because when the Republicans win, every single one of them is going to claim they received an individual mandate from every single person in the United States who voted for the Republican candidate, and they will be correspondingly encouraged and empowered. I will not have a hand in that.

      Of course that implies the withholding of my endorsement for those Republican constituencies (like present company) who I do endorse and would like to see empowered. That may be unfortunate, but it is the Republican Party’s fault. Stop sending out a mixed message regarding individual liberty, and maybe this libertarian can endorse what remains.

      While I am in rant mode: Reference is made to libertarians being “in coalition.” Libertarians are only “in coalition” to the extent they can be used to achieve conservatives’ goals. Their aid will never be reciprocated. Conservatives will never risk empowering libertarians’ agenda, but libertarians are expected to empower conservatives’ whole agenda, and be thankful for such beneficial crumbs as may fall their way. Been there, done that, learned — well, relatively fast.

      1. You put it better than I could. “Sure if there is nothing at stake, do what you want. But screw your conscience if what we want is in play!”

        If Romney would endorse removing Suppressors from the NFA, or hell, repealing the ’86 ban- I’d vote for him. But my choice is that he won’t be AS bad or THAT bad? Okay, what ever.

        1. The great thing about Paul losing is that his supporters can feel confident than Ron Paul would have definitely signed a repeal of the 86 ban, or removed Suppressors from the NFA. That’s easy to say when that candidate was never put into the position of having to be a serious contender.

          I’d love if it Romney were to publicly back these positions, but I also know why he might not want to deal with the media frenzy about why he was enabling assassins and legalizing machine guns in America so psychos and terrorists could use them on the American people. That would be the media narrative, and let’s not kid ourselves.

          If you want candidates that are going to tout that stuff, we have to move beyond the 47% the other side has locked in. Because elections hinge on the people who don’t understand why anyone would want to suppressor of machine gun.

          1. But what motivates people more than having a person they root for sticking in the face of their enemies? If we are talking about strategy, proclaiming something sane, yet controversial, rallies the troops.

            But i agree- the low-information voter is what decides elections. Still, let me ask you this- what sways them more- a boring candidate that even many GOers aren’t enthusiastic about, or an exciting candidate that enthusiastic supporters rave about?

            Imagine if those like yourself put aside your differences about Paul (like you are asking Paulites to do now) and went for Paul? You’d have the crazy enthusiastic supporters pushing for him. You’d have the standard conservatives pushing for him. You’d have the GOP moderates pushing for him. That would great a groudswell of votes for him.

            Instead, Paul’s supporters were maligned and denigrated. People point out dumb and incorrect things about long ago newsletters and pork barrel spending. Supporters are called ignorant, dumb, tards, out-of-the-mainstream, saboteurs. Its a political cut off the nose to spite the face syndrome.

            As a man of principle, I find it utterly fascinating the justifications people make to support lesser candidates. How they decry the utter stupidity of a candidate, despite having one who supports 100% their #1 goal.

      2. so this isn’t about opening future elections for third parties; that is never going to happen

        Nit: I believe that when the Great Default happens the game is going to significantly change.

        Actually, I think there might be two defaults: there’s the deficit funding of continuing operations, and the promises of future transfer payments (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are the big ones, note the latter is partly funded by the states) that sure look like they can’t be fulfilled by for the Baby Boomers (at the very least under the principle that present consumption must come out of present production, you can’t eat a T-bill).

        Anyway, don’t you think abject failures here, people not getting the monthly payments they depend on (in real terms, inflation is always one way to technically satisfy them), is going to change the game?

        How is very much open to debate, but I’d like to establish or not that we agree business as usual will be unsustainable when this happens.

        1. This is the herd of elephants in the room that many people ignore. I’m all for Romney, as opposed to Obama, appointing federal judges. But when that herd starts stampeding I just don’t see anything that can be done. No one advocating what must be done to prevent default has any possibility of getting elected. The end result is the herd of elephants just gets larger and more restless.

          What I wonder about is the lessons the people will learn from the stampede. What will be the nature of the government that rises from the ashes? Will the communists dominate “because it was all the fault of the 1%”? Or will those advocating liberty be able to dominate “because it was all the fault of government intervention”?

          1. I’m not sure I disagree with you about the inevitability of default. The real, fundamental problem is a demographic one, and the whole of the industrialized world is in this basket, including China. In fact, we’re probably better off from that point of view than just about every other country because our demographic inversion isn’t as severe, and we have the option of bringing in more immigrants to help the situation, which is an option other countries cannot or will not easily exercise.

            1. No, the real problem is that “liberalism” (or is it now again progressivism?) has no limiting principle, and the Republican establishment is in thrall to it, while most of the national level Democrats have gone past that point (“communism” as Mr. Huffman puts it isn’t too far off, and exactly right in too many cases).

              Sure, demographics matter, and economic productivity and health, but there will never be enough money in the world available to satiate an infinite appetite. And the egalitarianism (which, if you think about it, has killed more people in human history than anything else, although it’s coming to the fore when there were lots more people to kill complicates that idea) that drives liberalism can’t resist throttling the Golden Goose out of bloody minded principle.

              Side note: our fertility is now crashing. This is bad; if we follow the rest of the world’s social democracies (at best what Obama and company are trying to accomplish) it is also terminal.

          2. The Tea Party, our remaining degree of federalism (e.g. my police protection is directed by people very close by as opposed to the national government), the Internet, and the US being generally well armed (and disproportionately those more to the right) are the major things that give me hope here.

            Those are mostly ingredients, though; cooks, i.e. leadership is going to be required. And we may see that, when our ruling class fails so abjectly the need cannot be ignored (e.g. the Great Default).

            Of course, a lot of this depends on how safe it is to openly and visibly oppose our ruling class; they’d rather destroy opponents than argue with them, and have too many tools with which to do that (e.g. “three felonies a day”, and remember the Atlas Shrugged quote (pity too many read that as a “how to” manual)). That’s where things will may get really ugly.

  9. Gary Johnson has a mathematical chance of securing enough electoral votes. The “lesser of two evils” mantra is tired and stale. If everyone that tried to make this hollow argument voted how they really wanted we could change things.

    Someone above noted Obamacare as a reason to vote for Romney. Why would anyone overlook Romneycare.

    Obama and Romney are the same candidate.

    1. Well, I have a mathematical chance of winning the lottery if I go out and buy a ticket, but that doesn’t meant I’m going to max out my credit card before the drawing, because I know this to be the case.

    2. In a 3 candidate race, the side with the lower numbers wins.

      Think about it… In a good 3 way run off, Obama could win with a 3rd of the vote. 33.4% is what you would need to win.

      Good luck with that idea.

  10. I’m going to repeat what I said over at SayUncle’s (and I think I’ve said it here previously, too):

    If Romney wins, one or more of the “desirable” justices will retire during his term, and he might appoint a desirable replacement. If Obama wins, one or more of the desirable justices might die during his term, and he probably will appoint undesirable replacements.

    Personally, I’ll bank on them staying alive through sheer stubbornness, just so they can “maintain the Court’s balance.”

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