Like most of my fellow Americans, I have had a difficult time processing the 2016 election. It's not unlike the five stages of grief, only I find myself stuck between depression and acceptance on an annoying loop. But, at some point a decision has to be made. One has to accept the choices that we have been presented with, and make an imperfect call. For me, now is that time.
The most overused cliche of this election has been the lesser of two evils trope. There are two problems with this analysis. One, the lesser of two evils is still...evil...and two, there will be four candidates on the ballot. Of course if anyone votes for a third party candidate in this country, he or she is declared an unfit citizen since that third party vote only served to put candidate X into office. On the margins there may be some truth to that. But judging the candidates purely on the merits, and grading on an absurdly generous curve, I have made the decision, with all the confidence of a Saharan pearl diver, to endorse the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld.
If you would take the time to go to the Libertarian Party website and read their party platform, you would find several nuggets of Solomon-like wisdom. You will also find a remarkably short and thoroughly readable treatise that makes the major party platforms read like exactly what they are...grievance group pandering shopping lists written by policy wonks.
How about this for a statement of over-arching principle...
We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized. Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.
How about this for a summation of what American foreign policy should be...
American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups.
How does this sound for an economic plan?
Libertarians want all members of society to have abundant opportunities to achieve economic success. A free and competitive market allocates resources in the most efficient manner. Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.
But one does not endorse a party platform, one endorses candidates. What about Gary Johnson and William Weld? Do they possess the requisite talent, temperament and experience to lead the country?
With virtually no empirical evidence to back up this assertion, I say yes. As governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson was not a disaster. He actually did some good things like cutting taxes and leaving his state better off financially than he found it, a promising prospect. Moreover, as someone with actual executive experience running an actual government, I can say with the slimmest intellectual cover that both Johnson and Weld will not need a tutorial on how a bill becomes a law during their first week on the job. In coming to my decision in this race, it has come down to who I believe is least likely to be a colossal embarrassment. Using this matrix, Johnson/Weld offer much comfort.
Of the major party candidates, who would be least likely to drag us into a war? Who would be least likely to pile up more and more debt? Who would be least likely to inflame our already raging racial divide? Above all else, who would be least likely to govern us out of an oversized, ego-driven confidence in their own genius? The answer to all of these questions is Gary Johnson and William Weld.
My preferred candidates are not without problems. Their complete devotion to free trade with no restrictions is troubling. I'm pro life, they are not. But their instincts favor restraint in all things: less government, not more; less adventurism, not more; fewer laws, not more. The ascension of a Libertarian administration in the United States would reverse a decades long expansion of state power and roll back the Imperial Presidency that has been constructed by the worst instincts of both parties.
So, with the thinnest possible reed of evidence and based upon nothing more reliable than the nebulous tract record of my trick knee, I hereby endorse Gov. Gary Johnson for President. I believe him to be the least imperfect of the choices presented to us and the best bet not to embarrass us over he next four years . . . I think . . . probably . . . maybe.