Libertarian-leaning Republicans are analyzing the Republican Party candidates seeking the party’s 2016 presidential nomination. With 38 officially declared candidates, which is most libertarian-minded? Yesterday, August 12, 2015, Republican Rand Paul tried to make the argument for Libertarians to vote for Republican candidates over Libertarian candidates in 2016. “I’ve been there. I’ve seen what it’s like in the third-party world,” he said. “Our system is directed to the two parties and I made the decision when I started running for political office that I am a constitutional conservative and Libertarian-leaning Republican. My best influence is to bring the Republican Party to the Libertarian side of the issues.” The Libertarian Party has been working hard the last four years to break through the two-party barrier and is making progress as a growing number of Americans realize they are Libertarian.
First, it should be noted that none of the Republican candidates could be considered a true Libertarian and the Libertarian Party has its own six candidates running to obtain the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination. Governor Gary Johnson is widely expected to enter the presidential race in the next few months seeking the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination and is a favorite in that race should he choose to enter the fray. Johnson could turn out to be the most interesting of the 2016 presidential field, regardless of political affiliation.
Libertarians want the most freedom for themselves and for their businesses. Libertarians also feel the main job of the federal government is to protect its citizens from foreign threats. The Republican candidates have varying principles for which may or may not meet those principles.
Carly Fiorina is one of two female Republican Party candidates who may be of interest to Libertarian-leaning Republicans. She says she wants to rid D.C. of corporate welfare and crony capitalism which is music to the ears of Libertarians. She is also one of only a handful of candidates who is operating from truly principled positions. However, some of those principles may go against the grain for some Libertarians, such as her opposition to the legalization of cannabis for not only recreational use but also for medical purposes. Though it is clear listening to some of her interviews on the subject, she has been grossly misinformed about the plant. As we have found with many of the Republican candidates, Libertarians may agree with them on the fiscal side of the ledger, things start to fall apart when discussing the social issues of American life.
Donald Trump is hardly worth discussing for this article because it is hard to pin down where he stands on almost any important issue — especially those of interest to Libertarians. Like when Floridian Charlie Crist runs for public office, Trump seems to go where the wind blows without a set of principles by which he lives. Apparently the only principle Trump goes by is what’s best for Trump.
Rick Santorum is another interesting candidate as he uses the word “freedom” liberally on banners and signs during his campaign stops; however, most of his speeches denote the complete opposite message. He is perhaps the most anti-freedom candidate in the race on nearly every issue.
Chris Christie was once a Tea Party favorite and many Libertarians also supported his rise to Governor of New Jersey; however, he has been another Republican disappointment. Most recently he came out against the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, disrespecting a state’s right to govern itself on the issue of marijuana legalization. Also recently, he had an opportunity to show he was for economic freedom when Tesla wanted to open stores in his state, but he chose to shut them down. He is also a major giver of corporate welfare which is a big “no-no’ with Libertarians.
Marco Rubio, who used to have more Libertarian leanings when he was in the Florida legislature, apparently has been drinking the Washington, D.C. Kool-Aid. Though no one would have mistaken him for a Libertarian, Rubio voted for many libertarian supported measures before he became one of Florida’s U.S. Senators. Like many that go to Washington, he seemed to many to leave his freedom-loving roots to one of a war hawk willing to compromise the U.S. Constitution and his Oath of Office.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush did sign some things into law that were supported by Libertarians during his tenure; however, his overall performance has been anything but Libertarian. He also showed he had little respect for the separation of powers for the branches of government during the Terry Schiavo case.
Scott Walker, despite his unwavering support from the Koch brothers, is a crony capitalistic, corporate welfare junkie. It is hard to understand why the Koch brothers are so enamored with this Governor of Wisconsin when he seems opposite of everything they publicly support. Likewise, there is not much to like about Walker from the Libertarian perspective because of his disrespect of human rights for the individual and his largess when it comes to billionaires seeking a taxpayer-funded handout.
Rand Paul may be the only candidate a Libertarian-leaning Republican could consider for the GOP primary. He is a staunch supporter of the U.S. Constitution and is not afraid to stand up for what he believes even if it angers those within his own political party. Additionally, he has the temperament to get along with both liberals and conservatives. But even he has many faults from a Libertarian perspective. Earlier this year, Paul introduced legislation to increase military spending while most Libertarians feel the U.S. spends too much on its military budget. Paul also is against same-sex marriage, which most Libertarians support. He is a mixed bag for Libertarian-principled voters, but he may be the best thing the Republicans have to offer in next year’s primary.
Perhaps the best thing for Libertarian-leaning Republicans to do in 2016 is to vote for Rand Paul in the GOP primary and if he loses the primary, then to vote for the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in the November 2016 presidential election. At this point, Libertarians seem most supportive of Gary Johnson and Marc Feldman for the nomination. It is still early in the election season, so there are many changes that can take place between now and nomination time.