Recently, BeingLibertarian.com shared a website entitled “The Case for Donald Trump,” which you can find here:
Spoiler alert: the punchline is “there isn’t one.” Now, I get that this is mostly a joke, and as a self-identified minarchist who is also a Trump supporter, I even laughed briefly myself. It was a good set up, I have to admit, and I understand the point is to promulgate the idea most libertarians have that you ought to follow principles over party; and if you genuinely vote your heart, then I can have nothing but respect for your sense of moral consistency. Even Ted Cruz showed some balls when he refused to endorse the Republican nominee, unlike #SelloutSanders, who continued to endorse Hillary even after he #GotBerned in the DNC scandal.
However, I can’t be too harsh on Bernie. Who am I kidding? Of course I can! I totally can. But in this article, at least, I won’t. Reason being is that, in his mind, Sanders truly believes that his side is the lesser evil and that an alliance with Hillary against Trump is necessary to advance progressive principles. This is called strategic voting and is not entirely a bad thing.
We can’t all be Patrick Henry and make our motto: “Give me liberty or give me death.” Frankly, it’s unreasonable to ask that of most people, as much as we libertarians hate to admit it. In fact, martyrdom is a pretty terrible strategy all around. The 22nd Law of Power admonishes that we “Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power.” The idea being that it’s better to live to fight another day than go out in a blaze of glory accomplishing nothing. You know, like how people mock the idea of #ChangeItFromTheInside, even though that’s how things get done in the real world.
The runners-up at the primaries illustrate the two main paths to voting: Cruz with principle, and Sanders with strategy, and neither is invalid. Each have their merits and pitfalls. One can claim the moral high ground, the other makes actual strides towards accomplishing their political goals.
That’s not to say libertarians and the Libertarian Party haven’t made progress, but there is a very good reason why, in general, and in this particular election more specifically, opting not to vote for the lesser evil is actually very naive. Much like in Sanders’ case, the game is rigged against us (and against anyone who’s not already part of the status quo). Whatever do I mean by that?
It comes down to something called ‘the spoiler effect’, which is an inevitable consequence of the way in which our voting system is structure. To better understand what the spoiler effect is, why it’s inevitable, and why it’s so bad, check out this video by CGPGrey:
Hopefully you watched it and hopefully now you understand that the real root of the problem is not campaigning or our platform or anything like that. Those are all problems, but the issue underlying all of those is the fact that, as long as we have a first past the post voting system, we have no choice but to side with the lesser evil. CGPGrey has other videos in which he talks about fairer systems (the ‘alternative vote’ being the easiest to implement), but good luck transitioning to any of those. We can’t even get people to change the big things, like auditing the Fed or ending the War on Drugs – things just about everyone agrees on – but I put it out there so you can add it to your long-term goals.
Now that you see how the game is rigged, you might be thinking I have a fairly defeatist attitude about the political process. Well, yes and no. There are still things we can do. In fact, there are exactly three:
- Try to convince the roughly 40% of people disenfranchised by the system to all vote for Gary Johnson (or the libertarian of your choosing).
- Vote your heart without the requisite people to make a majority (in which case, you’re definitely throwing your vote away).
- Vote the lesser evil (you statist sellout, you!).
All three choices, frankly, suck. The first is a Herculean labor, and is what the LP has spent the bulk of its time doing. It has the benefit of being both strategic and principled, but is clearly a long-term strategy, not a short-term tactic. If you choose that route, best of luck to you. The second one, as I said, gives you moral superiority, while the third is a compromise of your values for the sake of pragmatism. Or is it?
It really depends on who you ask and who’s running. Hillary, we can agree, is a terrible choice. The optics of her numerous scandals combined with the substance of her numerous scandals immediately disqualify her from office. We can get into why another time, but can anyone honestly make a case that Trump would be worse? Take the worst things Trump has done… which I guess is being a narcissistic, racist, misogynistic, Islamaphobic, homophobic, bankrupt, literally Hitler, Zionist, Russian spy, jihadist traitor, Hillary shill, who isn’t rich enough or successful enough, hates the poor, and who wants to start WWIII (even though some of those things are mutually exclusive). Did I miss anything? Oh, with bad hair, orange skin, and small hands!
Now, take that hyperbolic strawman effigy, set it on fire, since it’s all based on garbage anyway; and whatever’s leftover, stack that against the worst of Hillary Clinton – all of which has been documented, by the way – and see which way the scales tip. My guess is, you’ll come out just a bit heavy on the left, which in our rigged system pretty much spells out how you should vote.
Trump has blown through the competition, taking down both party establishments and the mainstream media practically overnight. He’s stood up to American Israel Public Affairs Committee and has spoken out against the Fed, the War on Drugs, the War in Iraq, and globalism. He wants to protect our right to bear arms, reduce taxes for everyone, and create the conditions necessary for a thriving economy. His is the only (non-libertarian) tax plan I’ve seen that is even remotely in line with economic reality; and let’s be honest, we libertarians, of all people, should know that we can’t have open borders with a welfare state, and that the welfare state isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Trump’s mostly self-funded, which means it’s highly unlikely he won’t do what he says he’s going to do. And for those who haven’t read his policies, or decry that he’s short on details, you have some homework to do:
Remember how everyone used to joke that he wasn’t serious and would never actually run? Never file? Could never beat Jeb, or Cruz, or Hillary, or whatever other nonsense? Constantly underestimating him? #NeverTrump? Yet look where he stands today. All this, mind you, he has done far cheaper than any other candidate and with no political experience. Imagine what he could do once he has some! Compare that to the forty years the Libertarian Party has spent trying to fight the same fight, and what are their results? It’s time for a bold new strategy.
As bad Trump might be, as bad as you think Trump might be, there is no way Trump can possibly be worse than Hillary Clinton, and that’s the reality of it. In fact, I challenge anyone to prove otherwise.
There isn’t enough time to launch a perfect campaign or to reform the system we have to give libertarians a shot, nor should we let the perfect stand in the way of the good. The barbarians are at the gates and you’re either on the Trump Train, or you’re stuck taking the long, slow walk to Freedomtown. As much as I like Gary Johnson and Austin Petersen, I’m sorry to say they simply haven’t shown they can produce results like this.