Why Libertarians Should Back the GOP Ticket

By: Eric Giunta | Posted: August 13, 2012 12:01 PM
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin - Romney's VP pick

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. Credit: Gage Skidmore

Cries of glee and exultation from much of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s center-right base met the former Massachusetts governor's selection of Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. as his running mate.

Both so-called “social conservatives” and “tea partiers,” and even some libertarians, are hailing the pick as a kind of victory for traditional values and/or fiscal restraint.

Eric Giunta

Eric Giunta

From the libertarian point of view, the praise is largely misplaced. But, so far as the nonlibertarian options at Romney’s disposal were concerned, the candidate could have selected much worse, and as a strategic matter, those concerned with the viable future of the libertarian movement should bite the bullet and support the Romney-Ryan duo come November.

Admittedly, aside from their fairly consistent opposition to abortion and government-engineered redefining of marriage, and their commitment to religious liberty there’s not much else to differentiate the GOP’s presidential ticket from that of the Democrats’. Both tickets promise continuation, and even expansion, of the regulatory welfare and warfare state: the Republicans’ simply want to adopt it more incrementally than Democrats do.

Pace the fear-mongering and hysterics of leftist punditry, there’s nothing remotely libertarian (let alone Ayn Randian) about any of the political positions taken by candidate Ryan. Just about every big-government program adopted and implemented by the Bush administration received his full-throated endorsement: TARP, the bank bailouts, Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, corporate welfare for the agriculture industry, corporatist “free trade” agreements, etc.

Ryan’s war-and-peace record fares no better. Besides supporting President Bush’s futile “nation building” in Iraq and Afghanistan, he’s also supported President Obama’s placing of America’s armed forces on the side of Islamist totalitarians in the Libyan civil war, a conflict the United States had no conceivable business involving itself in. To his credit, Ryan criticized the president’s unconstitutional committal of the United States to war without any congressional approval, but Romney has made clear he doesn’t believe he requires any such authorization.

Ryan’s civil rights record is no better: Among other offenses, he voted for the National Defense Authorization Act, which presently permits the president to indefinitely detain any American citizen on the mere accusation of his being a terrorist.

Given these facts, why should libertarians support the Republican ticket?

For the simple reason that the GOP isn’t so much a political party as it is a Halloween-coalition of disparate ideological and political interests, among whom are libertarians. Indeed, the Republican Party is presently the only major fellowship in the country that offers libertarians a place at the political table, and one that is growing as those devoted to foreign and domestic nonaggression become more electorally savvy and win races on the local, state, and national level.

Anyone who thinks the Libertarian Party is viable for anything other than a symbolic show of protest is fooling themselves, and there is simply no Democratic counterpart to Congressmen Ron Paul, Roscoe Bartlett, Tom McClintock, Justin Amash, Jeff Flake, Scott Garret, Jimmy Duncan, Steve Chabot, Jim Jordan, Adrian M. Smith, Chip Cravaack, Trent Franks, Walter B. Jones, Jack Kingston, Jeff Miller, Bill Posey, or Denny Rehberg; or Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Jim DeMint, Pat Toomey, and Jerry Moran. And ground continues to be gained by committed libertarians and quasi-libertarians in both primary races and local party apparati – all within the Republican Party.

Like it or not, the Republicans provide the best political context within which libertarians can make significant and growing political headway. And there can be no serious dispute that even mainline Republican opposition to judicial activism, federal subsidies for controversial medical procedures, oppressive mandates that force private charities to violate their members’ consciences, and statist experiments in marriage redefinition make for a far more liberty-friendly environ than the outright mega-socialism of mainline Democrats.

Finally, a vote for Romney-Ryan does not prevent criticism of Republican socialism-lite. Indeed, libertarians gain much more political credibility by assuming the role of “loyal opposition” instead of third-party defectors. GOP establishmentarians are much more likely to listen to, and work with, perceived friends than avowed enemies.

So carry on, libertarian gadflies, with your holding Republicans’ (and others’) feet to the political fire; continue to elect freedom- and peace-loving candidates to state, local, and federal office; continue to gain headway in local and state party committees; continue your highly successful educational efforts in person and over the Internet; support and attend Ron Paul Fest 2012 and the official Paul pre-Convention rally. Heck, keep throwing Gov. Gary Johnson the occasional moral bone. But come Election Day, lend your reluctant support to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. And brace yourselves to continue fighting the good fight.

Just remember that outside the Republican Party, there is no political salvation for libertarianism.

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews or at (850) 727-0859.

Comments (20)

Kris Marriott
7:39AM AUG 23RD 2012
This is utter idiocy. There is no way that the GOP in it's current state is in any way deserving of the libertarian votes. They do not stand for the same things that libertarians stand for.
Tony Dellwo
3:48PM AUG 16TH 2012
I couldn't in good conscience vote for Romney. Gov. Gary Johnson is the right vote and the time to vote for him is now. America deserve a different option then the two party bull carp that we have now. Say that the Libertarians should get behind the Republican Party/GOP is absolutely nauseating. The Romeny/Ryan tickect is just what this country doesn't need. I am no prophet but I believe if these two schmucks get into office we will have a civil war again here in America within the next 5 years and if Obama/Biden stay I would say then next 8 years this same thing will happen. You won't get me to vote for either idiots. Gov. Gary Johnson all the way!!!
Ron Moore
9:01AM AUG 15TH 2012
The first part of the article outlines many of the reasons that I could never, ever vote for Romney Ryan. Fiscal issues are critically important but civil liberties and peace may be even more important. The wars, including the misguided, disastrous drug war are major contributors to our economic downfall. But more important - the human race can never move forward without freedom - economic AND personal. AND Romney Ryan is still status-quo economic tinkering. It's not free market money. It doesn't abolish the IRS.

The Republicans - just like the Democrats demonstrate over and over that they don't understand what freedom means.

The GOP hasn't given libertarians and seat at the table as is illustrated by their self-destructive treatment of Ron Paul. By the way, many of us don't want a seat at the table with incumbents that have completely failed the nation. We have our own table - and it's growing - FAST.

Can the Libertarian party (and freedom movement in general) be effective? I suppose we will have to wait and see. As someone on the ground in this battle for a couple of decades I can assure you things are different this year. Lots of independents and moderates are listening Gary Johnson's calm experienced approach and they like what they hear.
For my own part - I will never again vote for the lesser of two evils. Life is too short and I'm not wasting my life or my vote on a Mitt Romney. Gary Johnson is a candidate I can be proud of and I feel great about that.
2:24PM AUG 15TH 2012
Well said Ron Moore...I completely agree! The Republicans need us (Libertarians) now. We DON'T need them.
John E. Shuey
8:36AM AUG 15TH 2012
The writer is apparently misinformed as to what libertarians are and believe.

Libertarians would never support the recent NDAA, renewal of the Patriot Act, or the War on Drugs. Romney does and Ryan actuall voted for them.

Libertarians would never support the denial of basic rights to American citizens because of sexual orientation. Both Romney and Ryan do.

Libertarians would never be foolish enough to think a "budget plan" that actually increases the debt initially and takes twenty or more years to achieve balance is either feasible or realistic. Libertarian would balance the budget NOW.

Libertarians will never accept the incredibly outlandish suggestion that the President has the power and authority to order the assassination of American citizens or to detain them indefinitely sans habeus corpus. Romney and Ryan do.

I could go on, but Mr. Giunta's obvious tilt toward big government and neocon foreign policy makes it very plain he is merely a shill for the GOP establishment and has no idea what libertarianism really is.
Adam Gibson
8:27AM AUG 15TH 2012
Why the Republicans should back the Libertarian ticket, would be a better article. I will give you 10 reasons below:

1. Gary Johnson's record in New Mexico was much better than Mitt Romney's in Massachusetts.
2. Gary has a plan to balance the budget right out of the gate. He wants to cut 43%, where as Mitt and Paul would balance the budget in 23 years (at best).
3. Gary Johnson believes in a fair tax, where Mitt is more concerned with helping the rich than being fair. The rich people would fair pretty good with the fair tax as well, so Im not sure why they arent jumping on the bandwagon.
4. The Drug War has failed and Gary Johnson believes in legalizing marijuana. Marijuana is safer than alcohol and cigarettes, so it should be legal. Besides, it would cut down on the illegal activities involved in the drug trade from Mexico and keep hundreds of thousands out of prison every year.
5. Speaking of immigration, Gary Johnson has a plan that is both compassionate and fair.
6. Gary Johnson believes that people should live their lives how they would like. As long as you are not hurting anyone, you should be able to live your life as you see fit. Gambling, Gay Marriage, etc should be left up to the individuals.
7. Separation of Church and State. While Gary believes in God, he doesnt believe the Government should use one religion to dictate doctrine to its citizens. Gary is Christian, but he realizes his beliefs arent the same as everyone else.
8. Wars. Gary would stop the wars and bring our troops home. He believes we should only go to war when there is a national threat.
9. Experience. Gary has more experience than Mitt Romney and Obama. He was a popular Governor of New Mexico for 8 years. He took them from a 1 Billion deficit to a 1 Billion surplus. Job creation was up 12% while he was in office and his ideas worked.
10. Vetoes. Gary vetoed more spending bills as Governor than all the other Governors combined. He doesnt believe in wasteful spending and his record backs him up.

So, my argument is that the Republicans should back the Libertarian ticket if they believe in true fiscal conservatism. With Romney/Ryan you get the same old poltics, spending will go up and the budget will not be balanced. With Johnson/Gray you will get a Presidency that is comprised of the best people on all sides of politics. You will get fresh ideas and a balanced budget in the first year. Its quite simple really, Gary Johnson is the only way to go.
Connie Johnson
8:13AM AUG 15TH 2012
I am Libertarian! I will not vote for Romney/Ryan because they are beating the war drums. I want an end to the perpetual wars. I see them as for the Elite, not for the common people who make up the majority of this country. I'm voting JOHNSON/GRAY on Nov 6, 2012! They are fiscally conservative and socially liberal like most Americans.
Eric Blitz
6:10AM AUG 15TH 2012
This is the same fusionism that libertarians have been asked to accept since the 1960's. To join the libertarians and social conservatives around an establishment core, so that you can have a 'seat at the table' of power. The author promises us a 'seat at the table', but it is always at a separate kids table, a political slight of hand that has been quite effective at co-opting and marginalizing many libertarians.

Fusionism of libertarians within the Republican party has never benefited libertarians as much as it has benefited the other two factions. It was never a serious practical coalition and is not even a meaningful theoretical coalition any longer. It is now reduced to mere rhetoric, a quadrennial plea for libertarians to 'suck it up, just one more time' for vague promises about a better political future.

The Libertarian Party is not burdened with the debating society stereotype any longer, at least not for those who give it an honest look. It is filled with a growing group of committed professionals who are building strong organizations and associations among libertarians and meaningful, yet issue-specific coalitions with non-libertarians on selected issues of common political interest. And this year they have one of their strongest candidates ever in Governor Gary Johnson.

Romney and Ryan offer libertarians nothing. A seat at the table? That is, the right to continue to be members of the party? The libertarians the author is talking to are already members of the party and have seen just what establishment Republicans mean by 'inclusion' in countless caucus and state party fights this primary season. Politics can be a tough business, no doubt. But at this point Romney and Ryan should be offering not a seat at a table the Republican libertarians have already earned, but concrete, meaningful political compromise that in some manner facilitates libertarian interests. Anything else is promising something that they don't have the power to offer, it has already been earned.

No, libertarians, whether in the Republican Party, Libertarian Party, or as independents, could not possibly consider voting for Romney without compromising their core political principles, because he will not govern in any way as a libertarian or in a way that benefits libertarians. The best use of the libertarian vote is to vote for a libertarian in November. If that is not Dr. Paul, then it will be Gary Johnson, who will be on the ballot in almost all 50 states (the Republican Party that claims to be friendly to libertarians is fighting to keep him off the ballot in Michigan, Oklahoma and PA).

Gary Johnson is a strong libertarian with the record of governance to prove that he will govern as a libertarian. No one politician will be perfect for all libertarians and we should respect that there will be some diversity of views within the broader libertarian framework. But nobody can argue that Gary Johnson's two terms as Governor in a 2 to 1 Democratic state wasn't one of the strongest libertarian showings in history. Was it perfect libertarianism? Of course not, no governing can be in our current democracy--he was a Governor, not a king.

I suspect that Ron Paul knows that Romney is a non-starter for libertarians. He made his political compromise to get elected and his son is tied to the party in a way that makes it difficult for him to say much. His supporters have made great strides in organizing themselves to build influence. But what they should never do is toss away all that work for a promise of a future political compromise whereby they get nothing in return except what they have already earned. They should instead vote their conscience and send the GOP and the broader public a unified message, that their libertarian principles matter more than partisanship, that libertarians are the fastest growing sector of politics in American, and that while we aren't yet able to control political agendas, our future 'seat at the table' will have been earned by our own actions, not given to us by the opposition.
The Fort
11:02AM AUG 14TH 2012
Hopefully you're teaching Kevin Darby a thing or two. Good honest piece.
9:21PM AUG 13TH 2012
I could never get behind this concept - it's completely inane to think that this government is going to be changed by "the president." It has never been controlled by the president since Kennedy. The real power behind the chair are the central banks and old elite. Presidents are puppets who carry out government expansion - one day it's social programs, the next it's through defense - all while eroding fundamental rights and plunging us into debt.

The only change to see is from those who will openly and unabashedly curtail government growth and gut the cancer that is federal programming.

People need to check out for more on this.
Andrew Nappi
8:02PM AUG 13TH 2012
The LP is growing whether people like it or not. If Mr. Giunta's position is entertained, Libertarians will always be the poor relation or crazy old uncle at the GOP get together. Voting for Romney/Ryan to be seen as "loyal opposition" is a betrayal. What Mr. Giunta suggests is for Libertarians to allow themselves to be willingly co opted by the GOP as the Tea Party did in order to obtain their version of "credibility" and "access." This will certainly doom the party to a protest movement forever. No thanks Mr.Giunta.
The longest journey begins with the first step. The LP has taken the first step of its long journey and there is no going back. The GOP is already a rotting corpse holding power by brute force and a treasure built from the same fear mongering suggested by this article.
Not unlike the Russian Romanovs in the late 1800's and early 1900's who weren't smart enough to see the Bolsheviks had already won, the GOP and its supporters cannot see that LIBERTY is winning and their party is finished. Every time the GOP picks statist standard bearers as it is doing on the national and state level, it strengthens the LP. Every time one of its operatives such as Mr. Giunta suggests libertarians look for crumbs at the GOP dinner, the LP adds another setting to its own table.
We are not buying what you are selling Mr. Giunta. You come so close to understanding liberty and yet, you still miss it in totality. I commend you on not using the more common coarse rhetoric most GOP operatives reserve for libertarians, but just the same , most of us I am sure, will pass on your suggestion.
4:25PM AUG 13TH 2012
If all of the 'little L' libertarian Republicans would vote for the Libertarian Candidates we would have a HUGE change in the Political landscape in this country. My votes FOR someone have always mattered more than any vote 'against' 'the greater of two evils'
Nathan Scott
3:38PM AUG 13TH 2012
The incremental increase in GJ's numbers is far more symbolic than the incremental increase in Romney's still losing numbers.
3:00PM AUG 13TH 2012
Eric, you stay with the Republicrats. I for one will not vote for the lessor of two weasels. Your only reason for libertarians to vote Republican is that the Democrats hate us worse. What a big steaming pile of dog feces.
Ben Douglas
2:40PM AUG 13TH 2012
I actually agree with most everything you said. Within our two party system, “there is no political salvation for libertarianism outside of the Republican Party.” Neither the LP nor any other third-party will ever be a force to recon with in American electoral politics. The RP has more liberty-friendly candidates than the DP. I still won’t be voting for anyone come Fall 2012 though.

I’m going to use an extreme analogy to make my point. Imagine there are two candidates, a fascist and a communist. Ceteris paribus, the fascist is better, because he will at least allow for the illusion of private ownership. Imagine also that the fascist endorses free markets in his speeches and uses libertarian rhetoric. Does that then mean that we should support Mussolini over Stalin? By no means! Not only will his policies crush liberty and economic prosperity, but everyone will point the finger at libertarianism and declare it at fault. “See, we tried libertarianism, and it failed. Now we must try complete authoritarian control. Now we must try Stalin.”

I would rather Stalin be tried for four years. At least, when the country goes down in a ball of flames, free markets won’t take the blame. That is what happened with Bush. Because his regime (and Greenspan's Fed) used the rhetoric of free markets, and because people falsely assume Republicans to be for liberty, they blamed the nation’s problems on a lack of regulation and so forth. Then, perhaps, in four years, we can have someone who doesn’t merely pretend to be libertarian, but actually is. (Perhaps. I wouldn’t count on it, unless Rand is more like his father than I think he is.)

Having said that, there are a host of other reasons I won’t be voting, most of them related to public choice economics. The tl;dr version is that it’s simply not worth my time to educate myself on the candidate’s views and whether or not they mean what they say. It’s in my interest to remain rationally ignorant of politics when my vote is statistically meaningless. I am also becoming increasingly cynical toward politics and on the verge of denouncing it altogether in favor of other means of enacting change.
Richard Spires
2:24PM AUG 13TH 2012
Ryan is in no way deserving of supports from Libertarians. Voting for the Iraq War, The Patriot Act, The NDAA, SOPA (the list goes on) disqualify him as does his budget plan that takes 30 years to balance with no real cuts. Big Government 'conservatives' have done more harm to the cause of freedom and liberty than any Democrat has ever.
Alexander Snitker
1:38PM AUG 13TH 2012
It is amazing the amount of Republican loyalist there are. Romney / Ryan are not even close to Libertarians.

Any Libertarian actually already understands this and will see this article for what it is.

Republican talking points.
jeff willis
12:51PM AUG 13TH 2012
Libertarians have already won. Their influence in the Republican party has led to an overall shift in priorities. To go astray on the eve of what will be a close election would help the entity that has helped stimulate and perpetuate their growth: "a Socialist driven Democrat party."

We do need more to happen and faster! But the goal is to move more toward a 10th amendment orientation. This is much more possible with the Republicans. Ron Paul brought out some excellent points in the primary. Many were issues that he has harped on for years. Now, more than ever before, these ideas are gaining traction.

Personally, I would love to see President Romney appoint Ron Paul to run the Federal Reserve. That would be a major victory for the Libertarian cause!

Eliminate the Education and Energy departments! We can turn E.P.A, back to the states, in accordance to the 10th amendment. These would represent more victories for Libertarians and States rights advocates.

Strength does come in numbers. Libertarians can have much greater influence if they throw their strength behind the Romney-Ryan ticket. We must not forget Ros Perot and how he elected Bill Clinton to the White House. Yes, he made some good points! But the end result was a Repblican loss!
12:48PM AUG 13TH 2012
Yes, Republicans and Mitt Romney are all about being "devoted to foreign and domestic nonaggression" . . . . right. . . . that's why they objected to going into Iraq, and oppose going into Syria, correct?

Yes, "controversial medical procedures" . . . . you must mean like requiring women to undergo medically unnecessary invasive, expensive medical procedures as a requirement by law, rather than at a doctor's recommendation, correct?

Yes, I hear the far-right cries of Freedom and Liberty, except when it comes to their partisan, conformist application of such policies to women, blacks, hispanics, the poor, the middle class, the non-rich, the young, the old, and yes, even libertarians.

Yes, I hope all libertarians love that movie of neocons that will be shown at the convention, including one historian who still believes the Iraq War was a good war.
David Lane
12:56PM AUG 13TH 2012
The Romney/Ryan budget will fix us good. We need those two giving us the budget. We will be paying for the Bush/Chaney/Romney/Ryan wars for a long time. How much better all that money spent on the wars would have made our own country. It looks like all that money and loss of American soldiers lives and care for those who came back not so fortunate was not wisely spent. Next think we hear is that they don't want to pay for post war soldiers care. They will soon say they should take care of themselves on their own. If elected they will put most of us in a pickle.

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