Voting in elections is never an easy task for an advocate of capitalism. The choices with which we’re confronted consist of slight variations, but even the best choices are terrible; they only become acceptable to us when we take a good look at the alternative.
Americans tend to have it a little easier than Brits in this respect, but the elements of freedom which made it the greatest and most free country on earth are fading, steadily being replaced by a decision making process that’s based on appeals to emotion over rational thought, and at no time has this been more apparent than during this year’s presidential election campaign.
But while Trump and Hillary are busy trying to convince the general public that the other is even worse than they are, more and more people seem to have become aware of the third party option. This has set the Libertarian Party nominee, Gary Johnson, on course to achieve the best result in his party’s history, and the best result for any third party candidate since Ross Perot in the 1990’s. The most recent RealClearPolitics average of presidential election polls had Johnson on 7.3% (Perot got 8.4% in 1996).
On the face of it, the two main candidates make this an easy choice for free market voters. Hillary is the epitome of a corrupt politician, while Trump stands proudly to the left of her on the few economic issues on which he has maintained a consistent position. Naturally, the Libertarian candidate is the only viable choice. But only until he opens his mouth.
Leaving aside his horrendous foreign policy (not because it’s irrelevant, but rather because an apologetic and defeatist foreign policy seems to be the consensus among libertarians, and therefore an issue that should be addressed separately), and focusing only on the protection of individual rights, Gary Johnson is far from right wing, and probably the worst Libertarian presidential nominee in the party’s history (or at least since Ron Paul).
The best example of Gary Johnson’s views being incompatible with pro-freedom ideas came during a debate between Libertarian Party presidential candidates when, in response to a question by one of his opponents, Austin Petersen, he said that a Jewish baker should be legally compelled to bake a cake for a Nazi Wedding. This stance follows from his support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which banned racial discrimination in public places, a ban that is applied to private businesses that serve the general public, and to other types of discrimination.
An individual’s right to his own property cannot exclude his right to do with that property as he sees fit, as long as no one is hurt in the process (and hurt feelings don’t count). Once the government starts telling you who you may or may not do business with, that right is violated. Even worse, when the government tries to determine the reasons behind your refusal to do business with a given individual or group of people, they are, in essence, legislating thought crimes.
Johnson’s position on this question, which was asked following his statement that bakers should be forced to bake cakes for gay weddings even if their religion tells them that homosexuality is a sin, is a prime example of how the fear of being politically incorrect can scare an unprincipled free-marketer right into the cosy confines of the left. Ironically, Johnson explained his position by saying that allowing religion-based discrimination is a “black hole”, seemingly not realising that he had just stepped into the black hole of emotion-based legislation. Once you enter, you’re bound to find yourself surrounded by triggers and safe spaces, a scary prospect when it comes to teenagers and young adults, but much scarier in the leader of the free world.