The Libertarian Case For No One As President

Walter Block, the imperturbable advocate of libertarianism, victim of New York Times misquoting,  has thrown his support to Rand Paul.

One part of his article I found to be most effective and persuasive for why a libertarian should vote for Rand in spite of his recent wanderings in the wilderness (emphasis added).

If the master allows his slaves to vote between Overseer Goodie (who beats them once per week) and Overseer Baddie (who does so hourly), and they choose the former, they are making a reasonable choice. Goodie is not great but Baddie is horrid. Rand Paul is no Murray Rothbard, he is no Ron Paul. But the other Republicans, from a libertarian point of view are vile, disgusting, despicable. There is simply no comparison, even fully acknowledging all of Rand’s flaws from a libertarian point of view.

Yet, some libertarians are so disappointed in Rand that they have publicly stated they would vote for Hillary rather than him. This, surely, is pique, not rationality. This is the case for preferring Baddie to Goodie. This is psychological perturbation, not sensible libertarian strategy. This is barking madness.

….If Rand does nothing more than focus attention on his dad, his candidacy must be counted as a net benefit to our movement.

Of course, Block makes one big assumption about his audience: That they intend to vote.

I don’t intend to, though I might be inspired to fill out a ballot if the race were close enough in my state – highly unlikely – and there was a significant enough discrepancy between the candidates’ stances; also highly unlikely.

Block’s observation about libertarians supporting Clinton left me dumbfounded. Who are these clowns? Why any libertarian would vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders? It is even more preposterous than if they were to vote for Trump (yet I can’t help but notice a lot of libertarians screeching about Trump yet quiet about Sanders).

It also demonstrates one’s inability to take libertarian principles and make it into an applicable philosophy in the real world.

I suppose if one were to vote, then Rand is probably the best candidate out there, despite my amusement at Trump’s antics. But it would be like discussing who would be better to use the One Ring of Power, Sauron or Boromir. The matter is entirely moot to me.

I wish I could be as optimistic as Block, but I’m not. Americans do not want the kind of message Rand is trying to deliver; they don’t care about civil liberties as much as they want to hear someone say they will solve all their problems. And remember, it is merely talk at this point. How well do the messages candidates spout during the election match their actual record once they enter into office?

If they actually wanted freedom and liberty, they would elect candidates who sell it.

People can talk about wanting something all day long but at the end of the day the market offers what people are willing to pay for. Politics are no different.

I obviously do not know what lurks in the heart of The Donald or what truly motivated him to run. But the fact that he is a successful business cannot be overlooked. He knows how to pitch. He understands the concept of supply and demand. One wonders if his campaign is purely opportunistic, focused on taking advantage of an untapped market.

In other words, what he says is a reflection of what many Americans demand. Adhering to the Constitution, as grotesque as that may sound to a lot of libertarians, would be a highly radical step toward freedom. Yet it is not even on the radar for Trump.

What does that say about Americans? Or our political system?

If people truly wanted to reduce government and return to the Constitutional rule of law, they would have supported Ron Paul’s campaigns in 2007 and 2011.

If nothing else, those campaigns will act as incontrovertible historical evidence that Americans had one final opportunity to make a slow, gradual turn away from totalitarianism, but instead they chose to keep going down the Road to Serfdom. His presidency would not have solved all the country’s problems, or many of them, but it might have laid the groundwork for actual reductions in government; it might have delayed the Day of Judgment. We can only speculate at this point, but it is evident we are on an unstoppable path irrespective of who gets elected.

The problems in this country are not going to be solved by “electing the right man.” It has to start from the bottom, the people, and work its way up. Unfortunately, I don’t see this occurring without some sort of collapse.

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5 Responses to The Libertarian Case For No One As President

  1. Excellent article and precisely my point. Walter Block has in the past claimed those who would not vote even for Ron Paul are not real libertarians (and used virtually nothing but sophistry and borderline hysteria to make this point). Now he merely assumes that us libertarians should vote for the lesser of all evils. But he indeed bypasses the fact that we DON’T have to vote for any evil.
    His use of the slavery example is cute; but voting has a destructive influence not only on one-self but on scores of others. When you vote, your signature – your approval – is on all the policies that end up harming or even killing people, plain and simple. It didn’t have to be, you could have simply refuse to approve of it by not voting at all. This is the only moral stance.
    Another major problem with voting for the lesser evil, is that you keep under the radar the evil of the institution. By electing the most acceptable candidate, you are merely prolonging the agony of statism, and prolonging its legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Basically voting Rand Paul into office is – from Walter Block’s logic – saying something akin to “see, it doesn’t have to be so bad.”
    What reason would a Rand-voting libertarian have to complain still, the opponent will ask, if Rand was elected president? Did they not get the man they voted for? Did they not use the system and get their preferred result? We as libertarians will never progress by prolonging the statist madness, by voting for guys who exalt the state in principle, who are not opposed to aggressive wars on principle, who does oppose government coercion on principle. That is why voting for Ron Paul at least made sense, and voting for Rand Paul anything but.
    The rationale of voting for Hillary Clinton is that she would expose probably most of all the evil of the state, which would help tarnish its reputation and legitimacy in the eyes of many. Government has a bigger chance of becoming a dirty word under her leadership. Voting for Bernie Sanders can be justified only if a libertarian insists on voting, and if he believes a peaceful foreign policy is the most important issue. In terms of foreign policy he seems similar to Ron Paul, and much better than Rand Paul. If someone insists on voting, and believes war is the greatest evil of all, he has no excuse but to vote for Sanders.


    • The Question says:

      Love the perspective! It’s why I don’t vote and treat it more like entertainment. Block is a brilliant libertarian thinker and writer, but his biggest flaw seems to be that he has Murray Rothbard’s optimism and cheerfulness but it’s not tempered by the reality of the situation. In fact, Rothbard was the opposite and tended to support small third parties and make odd alliances with powerless groups before supporting any major candidate.

      What really puzzles me is why so many libertarians like Reason Magazine, the Cato Institute, and Jeffrey Tucker are absolutely terrified of Donald Trump getting elected, but their view of Sanders seems to be little more than “just keep in mind his economic policies are not good.”


  2. Sanders is a Socialist. Don’t be deceived into thinking if he got the reigns of power he would not use it for war. He most certainly would.
    Bob Wenzel, although I don’t think he advocates voting at all, prefers Hillary based on his belief that she would be the best instrument of State hate. Maybe he is right.
    Trump is no free market supporter. I don’t see anything that he has said that even remotely tells me he understands the free market, only that he understand how to put his cup under the federal reserve spicket of money printing.
    trump is a man we should be terrified of winning an election. He is a politician with a “Can do/will do” attitude. These sorts are to be feared. He is a totalitarian.
    Politics is fun and exciting at times, but it really is a high time preference object. We want results now.

    We should focus more altogether on a low time preference.

    And most important, down with the presidency.

    No kings, no priest.


    • The Question says:

      I’m sure Sanders would be a warmonger as much as Trump, and that’s what confuses me about how people in the liberty movement are terrified of Trump but not Sanders. Their immigration views as I understand aren’t even that different. The two are opposite sides of the same coin. The only difference seems to be that only one of them is riling everybody up.


  3. Pingback: The Rise of the Dissidents | The Anarchist Notebook | Libertarian Anarchy

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