Special to L. Neil Smith'sThe Libertarian Enterprise
The following article is scheduled to be published in the
September issue of
Torch, Brad and Barbie Harrington's Cheyenne, WY newspaper,
where their motto is:
"Defending your individual rights, whether you like
it or not!"
Well, you can't beat that!
It's Romney's Job to Win Over the Johnson
In most presidential elections within memory, there seems to
always be a sizable portion of the public voting against one
candidate rather than voting for the other one. Or to put it
in different terms, many people continue to find themselves in the
unenviable position of having to choose between the "lesser of two
evils." Occasionally, a viable third-party candidate gains
traction as an alternative to what is seen as the status quo being
offered by the Republicans and Democrats. This happened in 1992 with
the independent candidacy of Ross Perot, and this year we are seeing
signs of growing support for the Libertarian party candidate,
Without a doubt, this is a critical presidential election. After
suffering four years under Obama's administration, many people have
come to the conclusion that he must be replaced at any cost, even if
it means voting for the lesser of two evils and supporting a
suboptimal candidate such as Mitt Romney. Other people, taking a
longer range view, are choosing to support Johnson who most closely
represents their values and principles, understanding that his
chances of winning this fall are slim, but hoping that a significant
showing in this election will produce a more favorable crop of
candidates next time around and ultimately lead to a better future.
Those who believe that Romney's election is of paramount importance
are fearful that a majority of Johnson voters will come from people
who would otherwise vote Republican, possibly swinging the election
in Obama's favor. One such person commented that should Obama win, it
would be Johnson's loony supporters who will be to blame.
I don't have a strong quarrel with how people choose to vote in
this election. As is the case every four years, this country is in an
unholy mess and the state of political leadership is disgraceful, so
making a serious choice as to how to vote requires a strategy and
calculation that can be complicated for intelligent, thinking people.
However, one thing should be made clear. If Romney fails to convince
enough people to vote for him and defeat Obama, then the
responsibility will rest squarely on his shoulders. It will be
Romney's inconsistencies, waffling, record of past actions and his
inability to adequately sell his current soft and unfocused message
that will be at fault.
If Romney and the Republican Party cannot convince a large segment
of smart, informed voters that it is in their best interest to cast
their ballot for him rather than for Obama or for a third party
candidate who has almost no chance of winning, then it is really
disingenuous for anyone to try and shift that blame from him onto
those alternate voters who are pursuing what they believe is their
best available option.
In truth, it would be a fairly easy matter for the Republican
Party to convert a great many of the Ron Paul, Johnson and
independent Obama supporters into Romney voters. All they would need
to do would be to adopt some of the policies and positions that this
voting block heavily favors. But instead of considering that, the GOP
continues to kick this constituency in the teeth as it has recently
done by forcing the exclusion of Ron Paul from a convention vote
tricks, and by adopting an extreme
position that is impossible for liberty-respecting people to
If the GOP wants the independent and libertarian-leaning voters to
come into its tent, then they have to actually demonstrate that they
support individual rights, free markets and personal liberty, through
action as well as words. However, not only do they fail that, they
demonstrate repeatedly that they support the exact opposite! Look no
further to see why there is a growing shift towards a third party.
Johnson is an ineffective campaigner. It is not so much his
performance that is drawing voters his way, but the GOP itself that
is pushing them, with great force, in his direction. I suspect that
this recent convention tactic will further swell Johnson's ranks with
disaffected Paul backers.
Everyone in the Republican, Libertarian and Independent camps
agree that Obama must go. There is no need to push that message.
Obama's every action automatically does it for us, and people not
long ago convinced of this are a lost cause. But for those of you who
have decided that the only serious path forward is to elect Romney, I
would respectfully suggest that you should stop attacking individuals
who are leaning towards supporting Johnson. These people have good
reasons for their choice. Rather, you should be directing all of your
focused energy and anger towards Romney and the Republican Party,
demanding that they abandon their quest to impose their own personal
vision of morality on everyone else, and instead adopt a program that
truly embraces individual autonomy, personal responsibility, stands
for the equal rights of all citizens, and supports a strict
application of the principles that form the bedrock of our
Constitution. This is the pathway towards naturally expanding the
Republican base and defusing any harm that a third party might
It is not looney for people to follow their conscience and stand
up for their principles. What's looney is an organization like the
GOP that expects to receive support from those that it overtly
despises and attacks, and then whines when it fails to achieve the
results it wishes.
C. Jeffery Small
August 25, 2012
To this, let me add a few additional comments.
I really do understand the argument being made by those who
believe that Obama must go at any price
even if it means voting for someone as sub-optimal as Mitt Romney. I
too am troubled by the concerns that, given a second term, Obama may
attempt to decimate our
strength, further destroy our
continue to expand the powers of the
branch, and make additional disastrous appointments to the
Court. The consequences of any of these
actions would impose a heavy cost on each of our lives and further
weaken the country as a whole. And yet, while acknowledging the
potential burden to be born, I nevertheless think this remains an
extremely short-sighted view of the future.
For as far back as my political memory extends (which is to the
early 1970s), every presidential election has been framed in terms of
fear. Voters were warned that the "other" candidate was
enormously dangerous, and if elected, would do immense harm.
Therefore, even if "our" candidate was not perfect, it was
still crucial to support him. In other words, every election has been
sold to the alert and intelligent voter as one where it was necessary
to set aside their principles and vote for the lesser of the two
evils but of course, just this one time! And the next
thing you know, fifty years have passed while sitting on one's hands.
How successful has this strategy been? A simply survey of the
current state of our country and culture documents the results. On
balance, the lesser-evil has ultimately led to precisely the
same place that the greater-evil was promising to take us.
What we inevitably get is an ever expanding government of increased
programs, regulations, spending and power, which confiscates more and
more of our personal wealth and property while curtailing our right
to determine and direct the course of our own lives. Democrats who
once promised to uphold our civil and social rights now violate them
with abandon while Republicans who promised us fiscal restraint
gleefully tax, spend and regulate us into oblivion.
When you stand back and take in the big picture, what becomes
obvious is that the idea of a lesser or greater evil is nothing more
than a sham. There is only evil which must always be
identified for what it is and opposed at every turn.
I wrote the article above before the Republican National
Convention (RNC) was held. During that convention, delegates were
asked to vote on certain rule changes that were designed to make it
much easier in the future for the party to exclude delegates of which
it did not "approve". Watch the following video which highlights how
this issue was handled by the RNC.
The fix was in! The RNC preordained the outcome of the vote and
incorporated the desired result into the teleprompter script which
was then dutifully parroted by John Boehner. The Republicans accuse
Obama of totalitarian aspirations and yet here is a clear example of
stealing the vote worthy of any tin-pot dictator. This is a clear and
naked example of evil in practice. You wouldn't give these folks
access to the keys to your liquor cabinet, so how could you possibly
entrust the country and your future to any of them?
This is only one example of many that repeatedly demonstrate that
the current makeup of Republican Party is thoroughly corrupt, and it
should be clear that nothing good can come from offering them your
support. It hasn't in the recent past, and there is certainly no
magic with Romney to suggest anything different today.
Principles are statements of fundamental truths, used to guide one
in making proper choices. When evaluating a politician, it is
important to not only gauge the specific positions that they take,
but to also judge the character of the person making the promises.
Are they honest, and do they possess the integrity to act
consistently with respect to the principles they articulate? It is my
hope that everyone will give this serious consideration before
deciding how to cast their vote in this election. Politicians are not
going to begin to value and demonstrate these qualities until voters
once again make them the coin of the realm.
The choice in that regard rests with each of us, and the message
we send resides in how we use our vote. Do we continue to double down
on the losing proposition of lesser evils, or do we instead begin
today to change the rules of the game and withhold our support from
any and all candidates who do not earn it by pledging respect for our
sovereign individual rights and also demonstrating the character
necessary to stand up and defend them unwaveringly?