One of the fascinating phenomenas about watching the orange dumpster fire that is the Donald Trump campaign burn down the Republican Party, is that GOP leaders have had to save themselves from being engulfed in the flames through a variety of ways.
Most Republicans have utilized the stop, drop and roll techniques we learned in fire safety classes. Former Virginia senator John Warner and former President George H. W. Bush — as well as a slew of others — have stopped supporting the Republican candidate entirely, and will instead vote for the Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Others, like Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, will still vote for Trump, but have dropped their public support due to the obvious controversy surrounding such support. And others, like Ohio’s own junior senator Rob Portman, used to publicly support Trump, but have since rolled away from the nominee due to said obvious controversy surrounding such support. Instead, Portman will waste his vote by writing-in Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence, a vote that literally will not count. Our dear buttfaced governor John Kasich pulled a similar stunt by throwing away his vote (and breaking his pledge to support the GOP nominee) for “Mickey Mouse McCain.” If Trump loses Ohio by two votes, we know who he’ll probably try to sue.
However, there is at least one seemingly good alternative for dissatisfied Republicans who don’t adhere to the Trump ideology (whatever it is) or the idea that you have to support your party’s nominee at all costs, and this option is actually on the ballot in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Yes, the Libertarian Party’s presidential ticket of former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld — Republicans who each served two terms in Democratic states — is an excellent choice for conservatives who can’t bring themselves to support Trump, but also don’t want to break entirely from their principles. Johnson and Weld both proved their worth to the Republican brand during their careers — each sticking to strict fiscal policies and balancing their states’ budgets — but also broke from the Republican Party on a range of issues, including gay rights, abortion, immigration, foreign policy, drug policy, etc. Granted, those breaks are big reasons why some conservatives can’t support the Libertarians, but they still must consider what credible choices really remain.
Naturally, I recognize that most Democrats don’t find themselves in a similar predicament and will support Clinton to avoid a Trump presidency, but liberals should at least encourage their conservative counterparts to consider Johnson and Weld. The future of conservatism — regardless of whether it’s the better half of our political culture or not — is truly at risk. The Republican Party, and the country’s conservatives who adhere to it, simply cannot support the GOP’s current stances that exclude millions of Americans. It’s like having a sign on a door that says “No Minorities Allowed” and then wondering why minorities don’t want to join your club. Libertarian ideals, whether adopted by the Republican Party or championed by a third party like the Libertarians, are certainly more appealing to millennials who identify as conservative and more appeasing to liberals than the current brand of conservatism.
Both Johnson and Weld have recognized this and noted how the Republican Party’s current rift relates to the similar crisis the Whig Party faced in the 1850s. The Whigs split over the issue of slavery, and while one faction broke off and started the Republican Party — which successfully got Abraham Lincoln elected in 1860 and ended slavery — another faction broke off and started the Know-Nothing Party, which focused on anti-immigrant and racist sentiments. Not surprisingly, the Know-Nothings went nowhere.
But alas, Republicans in our state were so scared of the Libertarian Party of Ohio that they used dirty tricks to kick the LPO’s gubernatorial candidate off the ballot in 2014, then rewrote the rules for minor parties and stripped the LPO of its official status, forcing them to put Johnson and Weld on the ballot as “unaffiliated” candidates. Perhaps if Kasich had gotten the GOP’s nomination, Ohio’s Republicans would’ve been more “justified” in their own eyes, but now they’re stuck steeping in their own scumbag stew. Portman and Kasich don’t support Trump and Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges did the unendorse dance all fall, only to possibly crawl back into The Donald’s lap.
Nonetheless, for conservatives with a conscience, casting a vote for Johnson and Weld shows Republicans that there are still folks within the party who reject the Trump candidacy, but also want to see it move in a new direction. Thus, a vote for the Libertarian Party is not a wasted vote at all.