Libertarians shouldn’t support Gary Johnson

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.


  1. Razi, what can I say. Correct.

    Besides which, the LP is still not going to pull enough votes to win. The question is whether it will pull enough D votes to shove Shrillary off the cliff, or enough R votes to splatter Trump all over the sidewalk. The former would be the hope; I’m afraid the latter would be the reality. :>(

    Note, by the way, that I have no use for Trump either. It’s just that there’s at least a theoretical possibility that he wouldn’t be as awful as Shrill, who is guaranteed to be the Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati.



  2. The argument for Gary Johnson is that he is less bad than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Whilst true this is still a bad argument – as the LP candidate has no chance of actually winning the election and is there for educational purposes (to teach the wider public about the principles of liberty).

    As Gary Johnson does not even understand Freedom of Association (hence the Jewish baker being FORCED by government to bake cakes for a Nazi event) he is useless for educational purposes. Former Government Johnson can not teach people (via his campaign) about the principles of liberty – because he does not understand them himself.



  3. Well said as usual, Paul.

    And it’s not just freedom of association. It’s general liberty to act according to one’s own will (usual caveats): the bedrock right of self-determination. NOBODY gets to order you to do X, Y, Z.

    Period, end of story.



  4. I doubt that the term ‘libertarian’ does much other than harm to the cause of liberty, I suspect that for many people it comes across like ‘vegetarian’ with perceived overtones of prissiness, being awkward and fussy, a bit crazy, a bit preachy and holier-than-thou, until you encounter vegans or their counterparts ‘libans’.

    And the Judean Popular Front antics around the US Libertarian party over the years are hardly likely to help.

    Labels do matter in politics. Why not the ‘Liberty Party’?



  5. I agree with Paul. If a “libertarian” cannot understand freedom of association, they are not fit for purpose. I see no value whatsoever in supporting the LP in the USA if that is who they choose for a leader.



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