Monday, November 19, 2012

Where the Libertarian Vote?

A couple days ago, I came across this post at a libertarian/disaster preparation site concerning the election (the post was dated November 5). The author wrote:
I don't know who is going to win. I don't even know if it is going to be close or a blowout. I do know that the next four years are going to suck and be very difficult no matter if Obama or Romney wins. Both have a history of supporting gun control. Both have pushed socialized medicine. Obama is against people being prepared and not dependent upon the government. His Dept. of Homeland Security has deemed preppers to be indicators for possible terrorist activity. Romney is a Mormon, and you'd think that he would support self reliance, but I've never heard him mention it.

Some say that a vote for anyone except Romney is a vote for Obama. Others say voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. I can certainly understand why a person would vote for Romney, even if they don't like him and don't agree with much of what he stands for. I can't bring myself to vote for Romney. I will vote for Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. He won't win, but I agree with the vast majority of what he stands for. With the other two, I just don't agree with their positions.
With that background, Instapundit has posted this morning to an article on the National Review discussing the Libertarian vote. It reports:
Campaign Spot reader Michael writes in, having examined the claim of the missing Republican voters — the drop off from McCain’s 2008 total to Romney’s 2012. Immediately after the election, many were left incredulous in response to the apparent news that Romney received 3 million fewer votes than McCain did.

As more and more states have counted their absentees and reported 100 percent of precincts, the numbers are less shocking. Michael points to Dave Leip’s Atlas of US Presidential elections and calculates the drop off is now only 479,000.*

Most intriguingly, many of those missing McCain voters may have voted in 2012, but this time for the Libertarian Party nominee, Gary Johnson.
. . . The irony is that at least at first glance, the Romney-Ryan ticket would appear more appealing to libertarian-leaning voters than McCain-Palin: no author of a restrictive campaign-finance law atop the ticket, a more sustained focus on cutting government, a nominee who opposed the bailout of General Motors (and paid a dear price for that stand in key states) and certainly a less interventionist tone than McCain offered in 2012.

. . . Considering how there was little dispute that another four years of Obama would mean another four years of government growing bigger and taking a more active role in citizens’ lives, and how no one really thought Johnson would win, it would appear that the 1.22 million Libertarian voters were content to “send a message” with their votes… a message that will now be almost entirely ignored in Washington.

It’s their right; every vote has to be earned, and surely a Romney presidency would have offered its own disappointments to the Libertarian worldview. But it may be a continuing liability for the GOP that roughly one percent of the electorate believes strongly in limited government, but votes in a way that does not empower the GOP to do anything to limit that government.
If this was a race involving one corrupt politician versus another, with no meaningful difference between the two, I could understand throwing a vote away on a third-party candidate or even not voting. I very nearly did the same in the 2008 election. However, what seems to be lost on some voters is that our political system is not like many in Europe, where a percentage of votes guarantees a percentage of seats in a parliament. We have a winner-takes-all system, so a "protest vote" for a third party candidate (or not showing up) is as good as a vote for the winning candidate. To put it another way, all of the libertarians that voted for Johnson, all the Republican voters that stayed home, essentially voted for Obama.

And where we were presented a choice between a genuinely good, God-fearing person in Romney, versus a godless, Chicago-machine politician in Obama, I don't understand how someone could approach the election with an attitude that was essentially "I don't care who wins between the two."

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