Imagine a presidential candidate who supports a carbon tax, believes the government should have the power to force a Jew to bake a cake for a Nazi, is pro-choice, and is visibly angered by the use of the term “illegal immigrant.” That sounds like a Democrat right? Nope. That’s the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, Gary Johnson.
It gets worse.
Now imagine a vice presidential candidate who supports an “assault” weapons ban (among several other limitations to the Second Amendment), eminent domain, affirmative action, and more environmental regulation. Oh, let’s also not forget that enthusiastic endorsement of renowned statist Barack Obama in 2008. It may blow your mind to find out that this vice presidential candidate is not a Democrat either. The individual I just described is Gary Johnson’s running-mate, Bill Weld.
Wow. The Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton and we’re all aware of her flaws. The Republicans nominated Donald Trump and there’s a contingent in the GOP that believes the electorate has made a grave mistake. This was the one shot for Libertarians to nominate a principled candidate who could communicate the virtues of smaller government and individual freedom and the Libertarians nominated these guys. Let’s face it: if you were looking for a third-party candidate to either win the election or meet the five percent threshold to receive federal campaign matching funds as an alternative to the two major-party candidates, you picked the wrong day to vote Libertarian.
Above you see the policy positions these big government Libertarians have taken, but what makes them so bad?
Let’s start with the carbon tax. Johnson, a libertarian, argues his approach to combatting climate change is a “free-market” approach. Per Johnson’s reasoning, a free-market approach is one that involves the government. Even worse, Johnson describes his support for such legislation as a “fee” on carbon, all the while scientists are still debating whether carbon emissions even cause global warming.
Johnson’s support for forcing a Jewish baker to bake a cake for a Nazi will make libertarians and conservatives alike cringe. It’s shocking that a Libertarian candidate has such little belief in the free-market system. Suppose an individual comes in and I refuse to bake a cake for him because of that individual’s religious or political beliefs. My bakery would rightfully go out of business in the near future because of all the negative media attention it would get. That’s the free market at work. Libertarian Party nominee and supposed-champion of free-markets, Gary Johnson, thinks the government should step in and force individuals to provide service. Though it may sound oxymoronic, no better phrase comes to mind when describing Gary Johnson than “big government libertarian.”
Johnson’s belief that abortion should be legal because it is a woman’s right to choose what she wants to do with her body manifests a complete misunderstanding of embryology. While it would be highly desirable if the government shrunk in size, the one thing the government should not do is be complicit in the genocide of pre-born babies.
Johnson’s outrage over the use of the term “illegal immigrant” is by far the most shocking. Is an illegal immigrant not just that? Shouldn’t one who immigrates to a country illegally be called an illegal immigrant? It seems Johnson is playing the word games that the left is so fond of and adept at.
Bill Weld’s support for an “assault” weapons ban is bad enough, but one quote from a recent interview will drop any well-informed gun enthusiast's jaw to the ground. In an interview with Revolt TV, Weld said:
The five-shot rifle, that’s a standard military rifle; the problem is if you attach a clip to it so it can fire more shells and if you remove the pin so that it becomes an automatic weapon, and those are independent criminal offenses. That is when they become, essentially, a weapon of mass destruction. The problem with handguns probably is even worse than the problem of the AR15.
Weld’s support for eminent domain is possibly the most repugnant to libertarianism. Weld believes that the federal government should be able to compel private landowners to give up their land for public use. Should individuals not have property rights? How any libertarian can support eminent domain is astonishing.
Although affirmative action is not so much an issue of big government versus limited government, it is certainly an important constitutional question that has divided individuals along party lines. Given Weld’s track record of taking left-wing positions, this isn’t that surprising, but it nonetheless raises the question of how a libertarian can support racial discrimination. Supporters of affirmative action may argue that affirmative action is beneficial, but that’s a debate for another day; what they cannot argue against is that it is a form of discriminating upon one’s race irrespective of whether the intentions and consequences are good or bad.
Weld’s support for environmental regulation falls in with my critique of Johnson. Weld wanted to increase EPA regulations. When a government agency is riddled with numerous accounts of power abuse, fraud, and government waste, why would anyone, especially a libertarian, want to give it more power?
Lastly, Weld’s endorsement of Barack Obama should raise serious questions. How can a purported supporter of limited government endorse a Constitution-abusing statist like Obama? As Rob Eno of Conservative Review so eloquently described Weld's endorsement, “[o]nly a statist would have ever endorsed Barack Obama over John McCain, who was hardly an orthodox conservative in 2008. Obama was already known to be a radical leftist in 2008, when Weld endorsed him.” Weld is no libertarian.
I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re looking to the Libertarian Party as an alternative to the Republican Party because the Libertarian Party stands for limited government, this year unfortunately isn’t your year. It is without doubt that a significant portion of Libertarians stand for limited government and possibly for smaller government than I would be comfortable with, but no one should believe the notion that Libertarian Party nominees are actual libertarians.
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