“There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.”
Hello. My name is Harry, and I am thinking about voting for a Libertarian for president in November.
Has it really come to this?
My fellow Americans, strung out from an addiction of a toxic cocktail consisting of social media, identity politics and hair-trigger fragility, has forced me to consider what seemed impossible just one year ago. The Libertarians!
Many times in this space I have opined on the differences between the common noun libertarian and the inefficient, implacable proper noun version of the word. I consider many of the tenets of libertarianism to be inhabited into my political ideology whilst simultaneously being inhibited from supporting any member of the Libertarian Party.
Too quirky. Too kooky. Too cocky.
How did I get here? America had a nervous breakdown. The American electorate in 2016 has hoisted on to all of us candidates from the two major political parties so flawed, so unlikeable and so polarizing that anyone alive 50 years ago that came forward in a time machine would believe this era in history was a farcical dystopian society.
I am asked (forced?) to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Clinton has spent most of her life fortified in a veil of Nixonian political secrecy and a crypto-erotic lust for political power. And Trump? He is psychologically unbalanced. He lacks the basic mental acuity to hold the most powerful office on the planet. His entire campaign mirrors Germany in the early 1930’s. And, to many in the media, this is nothing more than one of his reality television shows.
The two major parties are pretty much daring vexed voters to find another candidate to support. This is where our system of federalism fails us. It is nearly impossible for third parties—or well-funded independent candidates—to file for ballots in all 50 states; not this late in the process at least.
The states, run by the Democrats and Republicans, have made it an arduous task for those who wish to challenge their power structure. Of course they did! We are all happy sheep being fed a steady diet of demonization of those who are ideologically different than us. We do not need a third way to do things. Two major political parties are enough for us dummies.
Through no change of ideology or mission statement, the Libertarians have managed to be the least extreme choice of the political parties with a chance to win the White House in November. Slow and steady may indeed win the presidential race. Astonishing.
At this point, the question may be asked of me, “What exactly is your problem with the Libertarians?”. Some answers can be found in the column I scribed last year entitled “Libertarian Losers.”
At the sacrifice of prose, allow me to list in bullet points some problems I have with Libertarians.
- While I am a proponent of less federal government intervention into the lives of Americans, some things the U.S Government does and funds is actually OK. Libertarians can be unyielding and impractical in their belief that smaller government is necessary in all things.
- Libertarians rarely condone or eschew support from many White supremacists who donate to, and espouse the virtues of, Libertarian candidates. In politics, silence is complicity.
- Libertarians tend to share weird ideas that will never come to pass. Examples: Some Libertarians (and, to be fair, conservative Republicans) believe the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should be repealed. That is the amendment that demands for direct election of U.S Senators by the people. Some Libertarians have also suggested that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was bad legislation. It wasn’t.
- Libertarians, some I have directly spoken with, tend to be way too paranoid. Conspiracy theories about government oppression and spying dominate their foreign policy beliefs. Given how surveillance is the most critical component to intelligence gathering regarding the Muslim extremists who want to set off bombs on American soil, this is short-sighted thinking.
One word can describe my basic problems with Libertarians. Inflexibility.
Yet, I am a common noun libertarian in many ways. I am a fervent, fanatical supporter of the First Amendment and civil liberties. Add to that, the Libertarians have a candidate for president who is not interminably crooked or disturbingly megalomaniacal. The Libertarians have chosen as their candidate former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. I find him to be impressive.
During his eight years as governor, Johnson balanced his state’s budget, used his veto power on both Republican and Democratic legislation that he felt was wasteful and was one of the first governors who scathingly rebuked the Federal government’s unproductive efforts regarding drug use and punishment.
Johnson may not be Mr. Personality, but his biography is the embodiment of Western rugged individualism. He is a cogent, legitimate antithesis argument to the extreme choices hurled at Americans by the two major political parties that, frankly, have offered the worst choices for president since they first went head-to-head in 1856.
This is the opening the Libertarian Party has been waiting for since their founding nearly five decades ago. They come off less offensive than the two major parties. They have a candidate with a successful record of governing and a calm demeanor which runs contrary to Clinton and Trump. They have a country awash with angry people that is approachable to alternative ideas. This may be as good as it gets for the Libertarians.
A year ago, I was laughing at the Libertarian Party. I called them humorless losers. I mocked the apocalyptic political prophecies of their members whom I met. Now, under the threat of an American president who would either be an ethically devoid pariah or an unhinged lunatic, I may come to terms with the Libertarians and enthusiastically support their candidate.
These are strange days.
Originally posted in the Cache Valley Daily. Reposted with permission.