After Sen. Cruz dropped out of the race, it’s time to face the harsh reality that Donald Trump will be the GOP nominee for president. For those of us who are true conservatives who’ve been fighting the good fight against progressivism in both parties for many years, this is a punch to the gut. There’s no sugar-coating it.
But that doesn’t mean we have to lay down and take the beating without putting up a fight. So we have to start looking at other options, because at least for us #NeverTrump people, voting for Trump will never be an option, period.
One option is to vote Libertarian. Unbeknownst to most Americans, the Libertarian Party is actually in the midst of picking their own nominee for president. From what I understand, only a few states have Libertarian primaries, and they’re pretty much meaningless because the delegates will end up choosing the nominee in the end, which is at their national convention at the end of this month.
Based on the polls, there are only two candidates who are likely to be that nominee- Gary Johnson and Austin Petersen.
Johnson, the former New Mexico governor, was their nominee in 2012 and has been well known in libertarian circles for many years. Petersen, on the other hand, has never held elected office and is a new face, although he’s been active in the libertarian community for about the past ten years.
I watched the only televised debate between them, and based on that, I couldn’t see many differences between them, but there were a few, and I believe those differences are the reasons why conservatives should hope Petersen pulls off the upset and wins the Libertarian Party nomination.
The following are my reasons for believing that:
1)He’s passionate, and can turn out people not only to vote for him, but to campaign for him.
2)We need a viable 3rd party alternative, and I believe the Libertarian Party is on the ballot in all 50 states. But we need a candidate from that party who is electable, articulate, and most importantly can represent the values and principles of freedom and limited gov’t on a debate stage with Trump and Hillary.
It’s clear that Gary Johnson can’t do this. this is just my opinion, but I think he’s a terrible debater. He hems and haws and takes forever to get around to a point he’s making. If you don’t believe me just watch the first ever national Libertarian Debate on John Stossel’s show.
Gary Johnson is like the Jeb Bush of the Libertarian party, and Petersen is their Marco Rubio.
In order to get on the debate stage with Trump and Hillary, a third party candidate must reach at least 15% in the national polls, according to the rules of the Presidential Debate Commission. I don’t think Johnson would ever reach that threshold, but I believe Petersen could.
Furthermore, if Johnson did win the nomination and somehow got onto the debate stage with Trump and Hillary, I think he’d get demolished, and would do a terrible job representing the principles of freedom and limited gov’t. He couldn’t even handle his own in the Libertarian debate against Petersen, who has no experience in the political arena, and yet clearly got the best of him.
If you don’t believe me, watch Johnson’s performance in the GOP debate he was in in 2011 before he dropped out and ran as a Libertarian. It appears as if Johnson thinks debates are job interviews where he just has to awkwardly answer questions in excruciating detail while completely ignoring his opponents. That would be a disaster against Trump and Hillary.
3)Petersen is young (35), and he knows how to reach a younger audience. He understands that in politics superficial things matter. He was a producer for Judge Napolitano’s show on Fox Business, so he understands how to present things to a tv audience. He was even an actor and a male model when he was younger, so I think he could definitely attract younger people, especially people who are more socially liberal but are turned off by both Trump and Hillary.
4)Even though he’s young, he’s very knowledgeable, and has been thinking and talking about libertarian ideas and principles for about ten years. He knows the details of the policies he’s proposing and debating and can defend them in depth.
5)He’s a new, fresh face, not the typical old white person we’re used to seeing from the two major parties. Gary Johnson had his chance, and he failed. He was the nominee of the Libertarian Party in 2012, and he ended up with .99% of the popular vote. That’s not gonna cut it if we actually want a third party candidate to have some influence on the presidential election and to send a message to both parties that they better respond to our demands, or go extinct.
It’s time for someone who really believes in liberty and the values that the Founders believed in, but who also knows how to sell that message to a new and diverse group of people who are tired of both political parties and politics as usual. I believe that candidate is Austin Petersen.
6)He’s the only candidate who can unite libertarians and social conservatives because he’s pro-life, but he’s also socially accepting and reaches out to gay people, minorities, and immigrants.
Gary Johnson is pro-choice, and although he says he’d appoint strict constructionists as Supreme Court justices, that leaves too much up to chance for a pro-lifer like me, because not every judge believes Roe v Wade is unconstitutional, even though it clearly is.
We wouldn’t have that uncertainty with Petersen, which could draw in many social conservatives.
Moreover, on the issue of religious liberty, Petersen is much stronger than Johnson. In the Libertarian debate I referenced above, Johnson and Petersen got into a back and forth about whether or not baking a wedding cake for a gay couple’s wedding constitutes discrimination, and whether or not Christian business owners should have the freedom to sell or not sell products and services to whoever they want to.
Petersen turned it around on Johnson and asked him if a Jewish bakery should be forced by the gov’t to bake a cake for Nazis with a swastika on it. Johnson appeared to surprise even the libertarian audience by saying that yes, in fact the gov’t should force that Jewish business owner to bake the anti-semitic cake.
Petersen rightly responded that this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of gov’t and religious liberty, and that no person of faith who owns a business should be forced to do anything that violates the tenets of his or her faith.
So that’s another example of where Petersen could win the votes of social conservatives, while not turning off libertarians who are against giving the federal gov’t more power to control individuals and small businesses.
For all these reasons and more, I believe Austin Petersen is the best candidate to represent the Libertarian Party, and although I have some major areas of disagreement with him, I share far more in common with him than I do with Trump or Hillary. Therefore I think conservatives should hope that he’s the nominee of the Libertarian Party, so that come November, we actually have a voice in this election, and a legitimate choice between big gov’t and liberty.