I am voting for Gary Johnson tomorrow.
Now, before I go further, let me say that I think he is a deeply flawed candidate. Even though I prefer to think of myself as more of a classical liberal than a libertarian, he presents libertarianism in a completely incorrect manner. It is not “social liberalism, fiscal conservatism,” it is “social libertarianism, fiscal libertarianism.” Social liberals do not have all that much in common with social libertarians when it really comes down to it. I also think that he has said and done enough weird things that I would be concerned with having him in the presidency. That said, so have the other candidates, and he at least would support (mostly) policies I like.
I’m also voting in DC. Not Fairfax “DC” or Bethesda “DC,” actual DC. So my vote is not going to change anything. I would probably still vote for Johnson if I was in a battleground state, however. As much as people decry protest votes, I believe that politicians need to earn votes by being the best candidates, not merely the least bad candidates. I think that if you get into the habit of voting for the least bad candidate, you will never put any pressure on politicians to support policies you approve of.
The real reason I am not voting for the nominee of the Republican Party this November 8, however, is because of the long game. While it gets traction to discuss politics as if every election is a choice between prosperity and the apocalypse, the reality is much less exciting. The country will go on with Hillary as president. With Trump as president, we might get a (marginally) better president policy-wise, but we will mortgage the future of the Republican Party.
Every growing demographic does not trend towards Trumpism. Millennial voters, female voters, educated voters and minority voters are all being pushed away by Trump. The future of conservatism depends upon changing how the party is perceived. This election cycle has done a great deal of damage to our efforts to rehabilitate the image of the Republican Party. But not irreparable damage. Irreparable damage would be done by allowing Donald Trump to be the leader of the party for four, or possibly eight, years.
Let’s be clear. Donald Trump is not a Republican. Donald Trump does not believe in free markets, limited government, or fundamental conservative values like the sanctity of life. Donald Trump is a populist with an amateurish understanding of economics and a narcissistic compulsion to be seen as a great man. His proposals to cut off trade or essentially default on our debt are economically illiterate and ill-becoming of a Republican. His threat to punish women who get abortions betrays his unfamiliarity with the pro-life side, among so many other statements, seems to lend credence to the ridiculous Democratic narrative that there is a Republican war on women. He also has a habit of floating very liberal-sounding proposals.
I have no interest in voting for a populist Democrat who pays lip service to Republican ideals just to stop another Democrat from entering the Oval Office.
Instead, I encourage everyone to vote for Republicans in the Senate. As of writing, things are very tight in the race to hold the Senate. Vote for Republicans in the Senate, confirm a moderate nominee to replace Justice Scalia who is not another Justice Ginsburg, and play the long game. Expand the party’s control of the Senate in 2018, run a real conservative in 2020, and start enacting real conservative solutions like market-based healthcare reform, tax code simplification, and trade liberalization. There is a future to be found for the Republican Party even in the midst of this election. It just has nothing to do with Donald Trump.