Another conservative plea to libertarians falls flat

Mitt Romney

In what is becoming its very own genre of blog post, another conservative voice has come out with a plea for libertarians to support Mitt Romney.  To those of us who were not born last week, this all seems quite humorous as most of the time libertarians are treated as irrelevant.  In this election, though, things have gotten tight and our votes count as much as those of the most hardcore Republicans.

As I wrote here two weeks ago, Republicans have a long way to go before they can make a truly credible case to libertarians.  For one thing, they need to understand that most libertarians do not see themselves in the same way as conservatives and liberals.  For the most part, both of these groups line up pretty well with a major party.  Sure, conservatives will say they want the GOP to be more right-leaning, and liberals will say they want the Democrat Party to veer more progressive, but they are both going to vote for their respective parties in the end.  Libertarians, though, mesh with elements of both parties - and find plenty to dislike about both as well.

It’s clear to me that the writer of the post, Mr. Brady Cremeens, didn’t read that post, and doesn’t understand the first thing about libertarians.  His entire piece is premised upon the idea that libertarians are just another element of the Right that simply needs to be brought back into the fold.  In Cremeens’ world, we really are just “conservatives who smoke pot” as the saying goes.  With his initial premise being flawed, then, it does not bode well for the rest of what he says.  If he does not understand where libertarians are coming from, how can he possibly make a convincing case?

Faulty assumptions aside, the rest of the piece largely makes the same argument that Stephen Green made far more credibly (and that was rebutted by Doug Mataconis).  As Cremeens argues:

The logic of abstaining or voting third party – when that may enable a far inferior and disastrous incumbent to win over the only viable challenger – is faulty at best, and destruction’s complicity in this case.  Electing Mitt Romney doesn’t save the republic, but it does give us the chance. A chance most of us would acknowledge is all but vanished if Obama wins a second term.

The reasoning goes that Barack Obama represents a grave threat to this country, and that while Mitt Romney isn’t perfect, he is “not as bad”.  Now it’s hard to disagree with the assertion that Obama has been an awful president.  But it is quite a larger leap to say that Mitt Romney would really be all that better.  For one, it requires an immense amount of faith in a politician who has a well-known record of, well, “evolving his positions” when convenient.  Further, it requires one to put far more trust in the GOP than they deserve and trust that *this time* they are serious about cutting government.  I just don’t buy it.

But to Cremeens, Obama is just so indescribably bad, that he doesn’t even care about what Romney would do as President - just that he isn’t Obama.  Take his argument on the Supreme Court (emphasis mine):

And let us not forget the Supreme Court appointees to be made in the near future.  While you libertarians (and we conservatives) have been unhappy at times with Republican appointees, there’s no argument that Romney’s would be further right than Obama’s.  For logic’s sake, it’s again immaterial how well you like Romney’s potential appointees, or if they meet your preferred criteria. The pressing point is on who Obama will select.  If you prefer the soon coming Supreme Court appointees not be radical leftists, voting for Mitt Romney becomes quite easy.

Actually, no, Brady - it’s not immaterial how well I like Romney’s potential appointees.  I simply don’t buy the argument that they will be better simply because a Republican picks them.  Yet to conservatives like Cremeens, it matters not what a President Romney would actually do.  To them, it is enough that he won’t be Obama, as if the actual substance doesn’t even matter.  Again, I simply don’t buy that.

Cremeens then continues with a direct plea to libertarians (again, my emphasis):

Libertarians, I know you fancy yourselves bastions of logic and rationality, so I’m attempting to appeal to that side of the matters at hand.  I understand the ideological compromises you will have to make to mark a vote for Mitt Romney. My views are more conservative than Romney’s as well.  He thinks government can do things it cannot, and should not.  I know he’s not the perfect guy, and he’s not your guy, but he’s better than their guy. And with your votes, he can beat their guy.  That should be enough to help you hold your nose and cast your ballot.

Leaving the somewhat derisive first sentence aside, the key part here is that, no, Mr. Cremeens, you do NOT understand the compromises that a libertarian would have to make to back Romney.  Conservatives mock the fact that libertarians talk about things such as the PATRIOT Act and NDAA, yet to many libertarians, these are genuine, big issues, not just small matters than can be brushed aside.  Many libertarians also have deep concerns about the foreign policy of a Romney administration given the often reckless language coming out of the GOP camp.  And there are numerous other issues that Romney is simply dead wrong on. Now, some may say the economy matters more than these issues, and there is logic to that.  But to pretend these are just small things to overcome is a gross understatement.

And this reveals the crucial flaw in the Republicans’ attempts to get libertarians on board with Romney - we know it’s not genuine.  Once Romney is elected, you won’t need libertarians anymore, and we will once again be ignored.  See, we need a little something first before we jump on board with the Grand Old Party.  We need to have some evidence that Republicans are serious about cutting spending and reducing the scope and size of government.  We don’t like Obama, but are not the least convinced that Romney would do anything other than grow government in a different direction and involve the US in new adventures abroad that we cannot afford.  Until that case is made, I see no reason to hold my nose and support the GOP nominee.

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