Adam Dick: Anti-Trump Republicans to Hijack Libertarian Party Presidential Nomination?

trumpskiFrom Adam Dick at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:

David French at National Review is perturbed about Donald Trump apparently securing the Republican presidential nomination. French wrote in a Wednesday article that he would “gladly support” a third-party presidential run this year by 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. French also has another suggestion for dealing with Trump on the Republican ticket. “Now is an ideal time for the Libertarian Party to get its act together and nominate a truly serious candidate — a person who may not meet the party’s typical purity tests but who can at least make a serious argument and advance a range of policies that unite both conservatives and libertarians,” writes French.

Of course, there is not much of a “range of policies” shared in common between libertarians and Romney-style conservatives. Concerning liberty at home and intervention abroad, the chasm between Romneyesque policies and libertarian policies is very large. On economic issues the rhetoric gap can be narrow at times. But, when you move beyond platitudes about cutting taxes and eliminating “waste, fraud, and abuse,” the Romney-style conservatives are not about shrinking government significantly.

Just as Ron Paul Institute Chairman and Founder Ron Paul refused to endorse Mitt Romney in 2012, you can count on many libertarians to turn a cold shoulder to the option of supporting Romney or someone like him in 2016 — no matter with what party label such a candidate is identified.

Some libertarians would practically chose to vote for such a candidate on a ballot full of non-libertarian options. Other libertarians would weigh the available options and make a different selection. Others would write in a name. Plenty would just sit out the election.

What is hard to imagine is why someone who wants to advance libertarian ideas through the Libertarian Party would intentionally break the connection between the party and the libertarianism for which the party is named by supporting the nomination of a candidate who, as French so delicately phrases it, “may not meet the party’s typical purity tests.” French writes that, by following his advice, the party would be getting “its act together.” Many delegates at the Libertarian National Convention would counter that such action would instead betray the party’s founding principles and make a joke of the party’s name.

French, by the way, has an odd way of cozying up to Libertarian Party supporters. As Ludwig von Mises Institute President Jeff Deist succinctly notedon Twitter, the wording of French’s suggestion is quite insulting. “’Serious’ is another version of the ‘adults in the room’ slur used endlessly by Beltway types,” comments Deist.

Many supporters of the Libertarian Party, as well as many supporters of some other third parties, judge the seriousness of their party’s candidates in terms of how strongly the candidates believe and articulate a political philosophy associated with the party. Indeed, right up top on the homepage of the national party’s website, the Libertarian Party is labeled “The Party of Principle.” Third party supporters also tend to see Republican and Democrat nominees as often being Tweedledee and Tweedledum who offer only the illusion of a real choice while ensuring that the status quo stays largely intact, to the benefit of entrenched special interests.

There is always the potential for a third party to drift from its political philosophy. And the Libertarian Party is not immune to this potentiality. Paul, who was the party’s 1988 presidential nominee, expressed concern about such drifting in regard to the party and foreign policy in an Aprilinterview at Fox Business. After stating that he would consider voting for a Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 2016, Paul cautioned about a drift toward warmongering in the party. Paul said:

I am a little bit annoyed because they are getting to be a little bit more warmongering than I like. I like nonintervention. I like minding our own business and bringing our troops home. And they’re not there anymore.

A drift toward warmongering is not evident in all Libertarian Party candidates. Yet, the drift is reason for concern among individuals who want to employ the party to stand against expansive government actions both in America and overseas.

The Libertarian Party has a jewel that French and other non-libertarians covet — 50- or near-50-state ballot access. Restrictive ballot access laws have made it difficult for third-party and independent presidential candidates to compete. By securing the Libertarian Party presidential nomination for a Romney-style conservative, French and his allies could bypass much of the state-by-state ballot access barriers and focus on the presidential contest itself.

Delegates already are largely determined for the Libertarian Party National Convention, scheduledfor May 27-30. There the presidential nomination will be decided. So maybe it is too late for Romney-style conservatives to stack the delegates or otherwise push to victory some new candidate such as Romney or former Marine Corps General and current General Dynamics Board MemberJames Mattis.

Instead, might Romney-Republican types try to influence Libertarian National Convention proceedings to favor the selection of their preferred candidate among the people already running? French followed up on his Wednesday article with a Thursday article suggesting former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who was the 2012 Libertarian presidential nominee and who is seeking the nomination again at the convention later this month, may be “serious” and “conservative” enough.

On foreign policy, French expresses some mixed feelings regarding Johnson, stating:

Regarding national defense, he’s not as extreme as some libertarians — some go so far as to view the rise of jihad as fundamentally America’s fault — but he does believe that American military interventions have made the terrorist problem “worse.” I’ve often wondered how a self-defense oriented libertarian would alter American policy once they received a full and complete national-security briefing. Libertarian purists would likely be surprised at the military aggression of a libertarian president. If Johnson were ever elected, we’d get to find out.

French counts it as a strike against Johnson that Johnson believes that United States military actions can lead to blowback. But, French weighs as a positive French’s assessment that Johnson is not as “extreme” as other libertarians on national defense and may be sufficiently willing to pursue “military aggression.”

Romney-style conservatives may gain confidence in Johnson’s war-making proclivity by reviewing quotes of Johnson in an April 9, 2012, Daily Callerarticle from when Johnson was seeking the 2012 Libertarian presidential nomination. Therein Johnson is quoted regarding tasking the US military to wipe out Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Africa, stopping the Afghanistan War but keeping US military bases in the country, continuing drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, and waging war in so-called humanitarian interventions.

Regarding foreign policy, Romney-style conservatives may like another Libertarian presidential contender even more — Austin Petersen, who dedicated a July of 2014 episode of his podcast to smearing Paul’s promotion of a noninterventionist foreign policy.

Of course, there are likely also candidates running for the Libertarian presidential nomination who are more in line with the party’s “typical purity tests” that French disparages. But, such candidates do not always win nomination. As in any election, a number of factors come into play.

Will anti-Trump Republicans hijack the Libertarian presidential nomination later this month? Will the delegates on their own nominate someone who would satisfy French and others similarly perturbed about Trump’s apparent GOP victory? We should learn the answers to these question when delegates convene in Orlando, Florida on May 27-30. One thing is for sure: The Libertarian Party is at risk of further drifting from its claimed position as “The Party of Principle,” with or without a push from outsiders like French.

42 thoughts on “Adam Dick: Anti-Trump Republicans to Hijack Libertarian Party Presidential Nomination?

  1. cbbruuno

    I find Mr. French’s article ignorant, insulting, and arrogant and I am not even a Libertarian

  2. Jay Wildwood

    “Now is an ideal time for the Libertarian Party to get its act together and nominate a truly serious candidate — a person who may not meet the party’s typical purity tests but who can at least make a serious argument and advance a range of policies that unite both conservatives and libertarians,” writes French.

    I couldn’t agree more!

  3. langa

    Dick makes an excellent point about the LP’s increasing hawkishness. Perry is the only one of the “Big 4” candidates who promotes a truly noninterventionist foreign policy. (Even McAfee, while not being nearly as hawkish as Johnson or Petersen, likes to make vague and bizarre references to being “at war” with China.)

  4. robert capozzi

    The term “hawk” is a relative one. Some might claim that RP1 was a “hawk” for his call for Letters of M&R at the outset of the Afghanistan conflict.

    I suspect most would say that GJ is far more dovish than DT or HC. Far more.

  5. steve m

    a serious candidate…. so no telling jokes?

    I don’t think I could support a candidate, even one that I agreed 100% with in terms of policy if they couldn’t tell a good joke.

  6. Jay Wildwood

    “Even McAfee, while not being nearly as hawkish as Johnson or Petersen, likes to make vague and bizarre references to being “at war” with China.”

    Sounds rather extremely hawkish to me. China is a major nuclear AND conventional military power. Even if he means some economically illiterate nonsense about trade war we are still talking about wrecking the US as well as global economy. In fact, this type of protectionist idiocy and belligerence, which is shared by Mr. Trump as well as many in the Democratic Party, is why many economically literate, business minded conservatives are at least considering going Libertarian this year, even though we have major areas of disagreement with Libertarian Party extremists.

  7. Bondurant

    McAfee’s comments are regarding cyber warfare and, I’d wager, probably accurate.

    The only “extremists” in the LP infiltrators from the GOP that want us to swollow their GOP Lite bullshit and call it “common sense”.

  8. Jay Wildwood

    Well now, to be fair, the “Ron Paul Institute for Peace” is tied in with the same Lew Rockwell fruitloops behind the horribly botched partial birth abortion they call “Libertarians for Trump,” and I say that as a long time, long suffering pro-choice Republican with libertarian leanings who is considering the Libertarian Party seriously for the first time after decades of voting for the GOP in every election. Tho, I would think even the Rockwell gang would be economically savvy enough to recognize the severe militarist/protectionist implications of the “war with China” BS, but perhaps this is giving them too much credit, given the turds such as Pat Buchanan and David Duke that they have cozied and kissed up to in the past.

  9. langa

    I suspect most would say that GJ is far more dovish than DT or HC. Far more.

    He’s also quite a bit more “dovish” than AH or JS. So what?

    I was comparing Johnson to past LP candidates like Harry Browne and Ron Paul, not bloodthirsty tyrants.

    And yes, Ron Paul made a mistake by initially supporting (very limited) military action in Afghanistan. Compare that to the list of hawkish positions Johnson has taken. There’s absolutely no comparison.

  10. robert capozzi

    langa: And yes, Ron Paul made a mistake by initially supporting (very limited) military action in Afghanistan. Compare that to the list of hawkish positions Johnson has taken.

    me: I did not perceive RP1’s position as a mistake at all. There are times when “stolen money” should be used to defend the people within a territory otherwise known as a “nation.” There might even be times where it’s wise to help end a genocide.

    Yes, heresy to the plumbliner, I know. But, then, the dude who popularized plumblinery — Walter Block — is the founder of Ls for Trump. One can only imagine the logic formulas “proving” that’s the correct stance!!!

    Pacificists are doves, the most dovish. RP1 is a dove, probably more dovish than GJ, who is also a dove.

  11. langa

    Yeah, wanting to leave the option to continue drone strikes “on the table” is a very dovish position, right?

    What a fucking joke…

  12. George Dance

    From my 2012 article, “Bashing Gary Johnson: ‘A strange foreign policy’:”

    ‘Weinstein’s article comes across (no doubt unintentionally) as an exercise in context-dropping: while he quotes verbatim from Johnson’s answers, he substitutes these selective quotes for Johnson’s actual answers, and his own paraphrases for the questions, (and their order), that Johnson was actually asked. As a result the reader gets, not a real conversation, but a hearsay account of a conversation.
    ‘From those excerpts that do make it into the article, it is clear that Johnson is not a “non-interventionist” – that is, unlike, say, Murray Rothbard and his disciple Ron Paul, he does not rule out any and all military intervention, merely on principle, as “unlibertarian”. In foreign policy, he does not rule out anything, merely on principle, as “unlibertarian.” (“‘I would want leave all options on the table,’ Johnson said.” [sic]).
    ‘It looks clear, to me, that what he is instead is a consequentialist – that is, that he would examine any and all foreign policy moves using the same cost-benefit calculations he would use in assessing domestic policy. For example, he wants to end the war in Afghanistan, and withdraw troops, tomorrow; but he will not commit to never having any military bases in Afghanistan. He thinks the majority of drone attacks have a hidden cost – they kill innocents, which “makes Yemenis against the United States for the rest of their lives and all their descendants” – but refuses to rule out ever launching a drone attack. He does not consider Iran a military threat, and does not believe that they are developing a nuclear weapon, but he does not dismiss the idea of negotiating with them. And so forth. To those who, like me, see non-intervention as neither a principle, nor as automatically following from the non-aggression principle,(6) none of this is as “incomprehensible” as Weinstein claims to find it.’

  13. robert capozzi

    L: Yeah, wanting to leave the option to continue drone strikes “on the table” is a very dovish position, right?

    me: I take it GJ has said that, yes? I’d not seen that. GJ is not “very dovish,” no. Sorry if you think I said that. I’d say he’s significantly more dovish than Trump or Clinton or RP2, less dovish than RP1. Personally, I’m probably more dovish than GJ, less dovish than RP1. Of course, the specifics of a situation sometimes suggest a counter-intuitive response, except for absolutists and other one-dimensional thinkers.

    I for instance advocate exiting the ME, but at the same time I advocate striking a formal treaty with Israel. I see the latter as a means to achieve the former. I advocate exiting NATO, although there may be good reasons to not do so overnight.

    Nuance.

  14. George Phillies

    McAfee’s comments on cyberwar with China, currently ongoing, appear to be taken from the circumspect bloomberg.com, where details of the many chinese attacks on databases are covered regularly.

  15. langa

    I agree with George Dance that Johnson appears to be a consequentialist, which is not the same thing as a libertarian. The problem with the LP nominating someone like that is they are, at best, only “coincidentally libertarian” on some issues, and worse yet, if new issues arise during the campaign, it is impossible to know whether they will take a libertarian position on those issues. In fact, even on those issues where they have previously taken a libertarian position, there is a significant chance they will later abandon them, as is well illustrated by Johnson’s flip-flopping on Sharia law from 2012 (when he went out of his way to say that it is not anything to be concerned about) to his current fear-mongering stance.

    This is why I believe that the LP should stick to nominating candidates who not only take libertarian positions on the vast majority of the issues, but who do so based on libertarian principles, rather than some “cost-benefit analysis” — the former approach ensures that the candidate can be trusted to consistently take the libertarian position, regardless of what new issues might arise, while the latter approach leads to the “coincidental libertarianism” I mentioned above, resulting in arbitrary and capricious deviations from the very philosophy that the party is trying to promote.

  16. George Phillies

    Langa, I really do not think your theological approach works. That’s starting with the claim that you can obtain all needed positions from a few “principles”. The approach also ignores issues where rhetoric rather than ‘obtain’ is appropriate on getting to an answer.

  17. robert capozzi

    gp, the “theological approach” doesn’t DO “works.” The concept of “works” requires, among other things, judgment and balancing. The HIgh Holy Church of the Immaculate Deontology Society have established the One True Way, which cannot have exceptions.

    Unless, of course, you are Walter Block and you are liking The Donald.

  18. langa

    The approach also ignores issues where rhetoric rather than ‘obtain’ is appropriate on getting to an answer.

    I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. I know that you have often expressed your contempt for philosophy, but I didn’t know you also held a grudge against syntax.

    Meanwhile, if the Libertarian Party (“the party of principle”) is unwilling to insist that its candidates run on libertarian principles, then I’m not sure what the point of such a party is.

  19. Robert capozzi

    L, I think it is a great idea to insist that L candidates run on L principles. NAP principles are unworkable and NAPSTERS don’t hold the patent on L ism. They are arguably protected by most unfortunate vestigial booby traps.

    Either make room for a broader definition of L principles or be prepared for another 4 decades of fringe dwelling.

  20. Jay Wildwood

    George Phillies and Robert Capozzi make good points there. The cult-like approach to politics has been proven not to work. Politics is about building large coalitions to move policy in an overall direction. There are a lot of people who embrace the idea of making government smaller and less intrusive in both the economic and social/cultural areas, and winding down some of our overseas commitments as well, who don’t want to be associated with anarchists, troofers, white supremacists and other mentally ill weirdos, or to take on an extremist, cult-like approach that appeals to a fraction of 1% on the fringe of the fringe.

  21. gail lightfoot

    “building large coalitions to move policy in an overall direction. There are a lot of people who embrace the idea of making government smaller and less intrusive in both the economic and social/cultural areas, and winding down some of our overseas commitments as well . . .”

    Well said! The LP left its grassroots beginning to focus on top down look like a big guy Party and has been starting over every election year since. When we had boots on the ground knocking on our voter’s doors here in CA we built local organizations. Our failing was a lack of support from the state and national leadership and the ongoing activities that keep voters interested in supporting the Party.

    The Greens do a great job by constanting working for more laws. We could be doing the same by constantinly working for fewer laws or pushing elected officials to pass less onerous ordinances and be more welcoming to local solutions for the homeless, etc.

  22. George Dance

    langa: “I agree with George Dance that Johnson appears to be a consequentialist, which is not the same thing as a libertarian. ”

    Definitely not the same thing; but not the opposite, either. There are both consequentialist and deontic libertarians. The difference is that the latter holds principles as absolutes, to be held to while the former counts violating a principle as a cost, that could in some cases be overridden by other costs.

    langa’s correct about the dangers of governing as a consequentialist. On the other hand, wrt a Libertarian presidential candidate, I think we’re talking about campaigning, not governing. I do think the majority of Americans, even the majority in the Libertarian quadrant, are consequentialists, and a candidate has to use consequentialist language in order to talk to them.

  23. Matthew Cholko

    I think almost all Ls are consequentialist to some degree. Ask anyone if they’ll trade a 1% tax increase for ending all wars, drug prohibition, etc, and see what they say. I bet you’ll find some flexibility in their principles.

  24. gail lightfoot

    I don’t liek the word cause I’ll never be able to spell it out – way too long but your comment is spot on and gave me a chuckle!

  25. langa

    I do think the majority of Americans, even the majority in the Libertarian quadrant, are consequentialists, and a candidate has to use consequentialist language in order to talk to them.

    I don’t have a problem with LP candidates using consequentialist arguments to support libertarian positions (although it is better to use these arguments in addition to, rather than in place of, moral arguments). My objection is to LP candidates using consequentialism as an excuse to take blatantly non-libertarian positions (e.g. “Fair” Tax, “humanitarian” war, burqa bans, bakery slavery, and so on).

  26. Darcy G Richardson

    You know that a minor political party has gone completely mainstream or has shamelessly sold its soul, to put it less kindly, when some of its most prescient adherents — canny and astute individuals like langa and others who understand libertarianism and what the party’s original purpose was all about — become lonely voices in the wilderness, strangers in their own party.

    Sadly, the Libertarian Party has become such an entity.

  27. robert capozzi

    Yes, it sucks when we disagree with a candidate, Langa. That’s how it goes most of the time, tho. We are not Borg.

    How do you feel about the brand damage caused by the Great Protege Walter Block with his Libertarians for Trump?

  28. Darcy G. Richardson

    Maybe so, Robert. But back then the LP’s presidential candidate — albeit a self-described “low-tax liberal” — actually advocated libertarianism.

    By and large, that really wasn’t the case with Bob Barr in 2008 or Gary Johnson four years ago. Both men had spent way too much time in the GOP swamp.

  29. robert capozzi

    dgr, I hear you. But then so did RP1, whom many of Langa’s comrades still support and protect.

    Everyone has a wart. RP1 had NewsletterGate 1.0 and 2.0 and other reasons for some Ls to be wary of him. BB and GJ do, too.

    And so have the no-name candidates through the years.

    Had GJ not reversed his burqa ban trial balloon, I would not have voted for him in November. But selecting a candidate amounts to a weighing of the options and making one’s best assessment of which makes the best standardbearer.

    Langa takes a theological approach to such weighing, which I guess works for him or her, but many Ls find it tiresome and tedious, and a great way to remain in the fringes.

  30. langa

    Darcy, I’m afraid you may be right about the LP, although I’m trying to remain optimistic that the delegates in Orlando will have the good sense to select either McAfee or, better yet, Perry. Neither of those men are without their flaws, but at least they seem to be committed to genuine libertarianism, unlike the current “front runner” with his crude caricature of it. In many ways, Johnson reminds me of the old stereotype of Libertarians as “Republicans who like to smoke pot.”

  31. langa

    How do you feel about the brand damage caused by the Great Protege Walter Block with his Libertarians for Trump?

    Well, I’m no fan of Trump, that’s for sure. But Block is an eccentric guy. Remember, in ’08, he switched his endorsement from Obama to McCain, then in ’12, he endorsed Obama, even after seeing what his first term was like. Incidentally, the other day, I happened to listen to a debate on the Tom Woods Show between Block and Robert Wenzel, on the subject of Trump. I thought Wenzel crushed Block. Woods later interviewed Scott Horton, who thoroughly demolished the idea that Trump is any kind of noninterventionist on foreign policy, which is what Block’s support of him is supposedly premised on.

    Both interviews can be found here (the debate is episode 636; Horton is episode 652): http://tomwoods.com/episodes/

    Everyone has a wart. RP1 had NewsletterGate 1.0 and 2.0 and other reasons for some Ls to be wary of him. BB and GJ do, too.

    Comparing Ron Paul to those two jokers is ridiculous. Even when he was in the GOP, the neocons and other establishment types went out of their way to attack him at every opportunity, because they knew he was a threat to them. They never bothered to do that with Barr or Johnson, because they had no reason to fear such weak, milquetoast moderates.

  32. Robert capozzi

    Langa, hmm. RP1 was almost entirely ignored by the Rs until 08, when he ran for the R nomination. GJ was ignored even in 12, when he sought the Rs nomination as a prochoice R.

    I doubt the Rs viewed RP1 as a threat, more an irritant. He had a 0 chance of securing the nomination.

  33. Dave

    No way. Gingrich has endorsed Trump and is thought to be on his VP list.

    Romney apparently wants Sasse or Kasich per politics1.

  34. George Phillies

    Romney wants them for hsi new party the Party Of LoserS (POLS for short).

    Gingrich might well be happy to ask Lady Liberty and Lady Pachydermity for dates at the same time. It does not cost him anything.

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