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Don’t Vote Libertarian And Elect A Democrat President

Lincoln Chafee
The news that former Republican (and Democrat and Independent) elected official Lincoln Chafee has filed paperwork to run for President as a Libertarian reminds us of just how destructive longshot libertarian candidates can be in a close election.

Of course, given his checkered political past, Lincoln Chafee may not be a libertarian so much as he is an idiosyncratic egoist following his own different political drummer.

Chafee was a Republican in the U.S. Senate and became an independent after losing his seat in 2006. Chafee was then elected Rhode Island governor in 2010 as an independent and became a Democrat in office. He did not run for re-election but mounted a short-lived run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2015. Last year Chafee moved to Wyoming and joined the Libertarian Party.

What concerns us is not so much Lincoln Chafee’s idiosyncratic politics, it is the tendency of Libertarian candidates to act as spoilers to help defeat conservative Republicans in closely contested general elections.

This peculiar tendency for libertarians and constitutionalists to turn on anyone who works to change the Republican Party from within is not really a new phenomenon – it has been going on since the 1950s when William F. Buckley, Jr. began arguing that conservatives should take over the Republican Party and others, such as the late Murray Rothbard, argued for a separate movement.

The result has been the steady advance – with occasional halts – of conservative ideas and the election of many conservative and liberty-minded candidates by the Republican Party.

On the other hand, Libertarians, while they have gained some recognition and added to their numbers, haven’t actually been electing candidates.

Congressman Ron Paul admitted as much when he said no one would have paid any attention to him or his ideas if he had run as a Libertarian, and there is no doubt that Rand Paul would not be a U.S. Senator if he had run as a Libertarian, instead of as a Republican.

(We note in his 2016 election, running as a Republican, Rand Paul won with 1,090,177 votes. In 2019 the Libertarian candidate for Governor of Kentucky, John Hicks, booked only 28,436 votes, however that was enough to defeat Republican Matt Bevin who lost to Democrat Andy Beshear by only 5,333 votes.)

Libertarian ideas continue to gain currency in the Republican Party – there is a strong current of libertarian economic policy in today’s Republican Party with Friedman, von Mises and Hayek being where Republicans look for economic first principles.

The fact that the Republicans are willing to explore such libertarian ideas as returning to the gold standard speaks to the openness Republicans have to libertarian thought, particularly on economics.

What’s more, especially on foreign policy, Donald Trump is arguably the most libertarian President of the modern era.

However, there is good news and bad news in those wonderful ideas.

The good news is that, while as yet imperfectly realized, Republicans have become the Party of less regulation, lower taxes and more personal freedom – this certainly hasn’t always been the case when one considers that about 40 years ago the EPA and wage and price controls were established under Republican President Richard Nixon.

The bad news is that many libertarians pride themselves on being destroyers, and when they lose a primary or otherwise don’t get their way, rather than cinching-up their belts and selling themselves and their ideas harder, they try to teach Republicans a lesson by causing them to lose.

This is a bad way to sell your ideas in the best of times, it is dangerous to the future of the country this election.  Handing control of the House AND Senate to the Democrats, or simply leaving Democrats in control of the House, would ensure that all the deregulation accomplished under President Trump would be undone or the government will remain mired in battles over disastrous Leftwing policies for the next two years.

Conservatives have been steadily working a plan envisioned by “the Buckley generation” for over 50 years.  We have made great progress in the Republican Party, and more importantly, in public opinion at large.

When over 70% of those responding to the Gallup Poll say the greatest threat to freedom is big government – conservatives and libertarians should see that as a sign American opinion is moving in our direction.

The bottom line is that while third-party movements, such as Libertarians, have gained some recognition and added to their numbers, they haven’t been electing candidates to office.

Limited-government constitutional conservatives running as Republicans win, but the same candidates, with the same ideas, running as Libertarians lose, while pulling votes from Republicans and thereby electing liberal Democrats like Senators John Tester and Mark Warner and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.

In this crucial 2020 election, when President Trump is up for re-election and control of the House and Senate hang in the balance, we urge our libertarian-leaning friends not to waste their votes on third-party Libertarian candidates, such as Lincoln Chafee, who have no prayer of winning, but who, if they pull enough votes from Trump and Republican congressional candidates, could destroy all the progress made under President Trump.

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