It looks like we have the answer to the question posed by all manner of chin-strokers, and the answer is, “No, Ted Cruz cannot count on libertarians to float his boat to victory in the New Hampshire primary.”
Ron Paul marched south to the Palmetto State with 23% of the electorate buffeting his sails (this is only the first of my mixed metaphors, see if you can find them all!). 57,000 New Hampshire residents voted for Ron Paul in 2012.
With ~93% of the state reporting, Ted Cruz had received 31,436 votes from New Hampshire primary goers. That gave him 12%. John Kasich took 16% with 42,733 votes. Trump had yuuuuge amounts of turnout in favor of his candidacy, and laid claim to 98%, and 5.4 million votes.
It is too early to know now, but it would be interesting to know how many members of the NH Free State Project voted, and for whom. My guess is that most cast their ballot for Rand Paul, who is reported to have received 0.7% of the vote. It speaks well of Paul that he still received votes even after officially dropping out of the race. It doesn’t speak well of his voters, but it speaks well of him.
Maybe Cruz could have made it into second place if the Free Staters had turned out for him, but the milestone the Free Staters have just celebrated is a pledge by 20,000 to move there in the next five years, not that 20,000 actually live there. The NH Free State Project should wait to celebrate the milestone until the pledgers actually show up en masse. A declaration to move is worth less than a declaration of residency. I’ve pledged to move places many times. I pledge leaving New Jersey for Florida every winter, moving back to Vermont when I have to smoke this dirt my neighbors call weed, and to Norway whenever I feel compelled to sate my lust for raw herring and six-foot tall blondes.
If I was forced to pick a candidate that promotes liberty in some aspects of our lives and has an actual chance of winning in November, it would be Ted Cruz. I and about a million other people voted for Gary Johnson in 2012. The Pauls are out, and Johnson – Rothbard bless him – will get another million votes, which won’t amount to a hill of beans. He’s running again, but let’s be honest, he can’t win, and it isn’t because there’s a conspiracy, or because so many people think he can’t win. It’s because most conservative voters don’t want as much liberty as he or we do.
Ted Cruz could win the GOP nomination, if he does, and then he becomes president, the real liberty movement would start, at a national level. There had been a few government shutdowns in the past couple of years. Now, we know that this shutdown is really a “shutdown” where more than three-quarters of the spending is maintained. But the average guy in the street became aware that the media warning of us of the impending doom should government “shutdown” were nothing more than Chicken Littles. The sky did not fall.
When Obamacare is gone, and the world doesn’t end, there will be less of a pushback when he and the GOP roll back other aspects of the State. When real tax reform is enacted, and the world doesn’t end, there will be fewer people to oppose the next wave of federal dismantling. When whole departments are closed down and entitlement reform occurs, and the world doesn’t end, there will be fewer people to oppose the next rollback. The big snowball that rests at the bottom of the mountain started as a little one and needed only one little push to build up steam.
But it has to start with liberty-minded reformers, and right now, the less shitty choice is Ted Cruz. Aside from a handful of Democrats working for some criminal justice reform, the only people in office now trying to roll back the State are Republicans, and the only candidate for president with whom the amount of liberty he could deliver exceeds the amount of statism he could deliver, is Ted Cruz.
Look, libertarian voters are very hard to Corral, OK? And that’s even the ones that do vote. The amount of people who claim to be libertarians is not reflected in the electorate. Vast swaths of libertarians stay home on Election Day, and don’t even vote for the Libertarian Party candidate. For a people who are arguably most vocal about demanding change in how the affairs of the country are conducted, we have an odd way of showing it. The Federal Apparatus looms largest over the state and municipal ones. I’ll take any amount of freedom which the smaller movements can deliver. A victory, no matter how small, is still better than defeat or the status quo. But deciding to avoid the presidential election is akin to favoring impotency over all comers. Staying home or voting for Johnson will not get the ball rolling.
We are a small minority. The effect our votes have, should we even bother, is on the fringe. It could be enough in some states to get Cruz over in a primary and/or caucus, and in the general election to tip the state.
I’m not saying it’s our duty as libertarians to vote for Cruz, that he represents the freedom movement, or that he doesn’t espouse some despicable ideals, nor that he doesn’t have a punchable face. What I am saying is if you are in a state and he is running neck and neck with some other candidates, consider the idea of casting your vote for him, whether in the primary or the general, whether against one of the other Republicans, or Democrats.
This article is not an endorsement of Ted Cruz, but an endorsement of keeping an open mind to actually vote for someone who advocates some freedom. Some is better than none, which is what we’ll get with Trump/Bush/Rubio or Clinton/Sanders.
This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Dillon Eliassen, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC
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