I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and hoping that my thoughts would go away. They haven’t.
On December 27, before the Georgia runoff election that gave Democrats power over the Senate as well as the presidency and the House of Representatives, the Associated Press ran an article mentioning the Libertarian Party candidate whose vote share in the first-round Senate race had denied a majority to both the Democrat and the Republican. The Democrat would go on to win in the runoff, which was held without the Libertarian.
With the runoff in view, the AP reported:
Shane Hazel, the Libertarian who won the key sliver of votes that forced Perdue and Ossoff into a runoff, said his voters may sit the runoff out, telling Hazel “they will never vote for anybody out of fear again.”
When I read that, I gasped. I shivered. I dragged out my laptop to respond. But I had to keep coming back to the story, just to make sure I was reading it right. It took almost two months for the sense of horror and alienation to diminish and for me to be certain that, yes, a human being had said that. A libertarian human being.
Hazel’s views appear to be hardcore, root and branch libertarian. He is an adamant supporter of the Second Amendment, originalist limited government, freedom from COVID imprisoners, and so on. But which of the two parties that actually win elections do you think is even marginally more likely to support his views? Right, you guessed it. So why didn’t he endorse the Republican Party, while repeating, I hope, the criticisms we all make of it? Why didn’t he do that at a time when all eyes were focused on him? Did he think he would have more influence by sitting the election out? People who don’t vote are really in the driver’s seat, aren’t they? Just ask the Amish.
Libertarianism results — or so I thought — from another motive, the desire to keep government under control.
What do you think — isn’t refusal to vote for the lesser of the two evils equivalent to voting for the greater of the two evils? And is a political party that persists in denial of that question worthy of support?
I said, denial of the question. If Mr. Hazel or the Libertarian Party has an answer, let us have it — but first the question needs to be recognized. And there’s a more basic question: What do you think you’re doing?
I speak as a registered Libertarian, a Libertarian (and much more important, libertarian) who is as tired as any decent Democrat or Republican of his party’s antics.
But here’s the thing that really made me feel that something very, very bad had happened to the LP’s already tenuous connection with life: “They will never vote for anybody out of fear again.”
Just travelin’ along, singin’ a song, believing that in some way your vote for the LP will (after a mere five decades of trying) generate a potent political movement.
Well, for God’s sake! What other reason do you have for voting? Do you vote for some ideal program that you think your candidates will manage to fulfill? Maybe you do, if you believe that government is some great creative force, energized by your vote. But libertarianism results — or so I thought — from another motive, the desire to keep government under control, to cut government back, to say No to government, because . . . we are afraid of government, and government is to be feared, because government is overwhelmingly destructive. Isn’t it? And when you identify the political party that is most to be feared, you vote for the other one — don’t you?
Or do you vote for the Libertarian Party, because it’s a Good Thing, filled with Good People, and you have no fear of Bad Things? Just travelin’ along, singin’ a song, believing that in some way your vote for the LP will (after a mere five decades of trying) generate a potent political movement that will put one or both of the major parties out of business — and, pending that, believing that your vote will proclaim to the world that you’re not trying to bargain with those decadent old parties; you’re going to vote Libertarian no matter what they do. So there! What, you — worry? You’re not like those other people, who are doing their best to keep their lives from being ruined, and therefore cast their votes out of fear. You are above it all.
All right — above or below. But if there’s one thing I fear, it’s this kind of naivete, naivete impregnable in the armor of its self-righteousness.