jbenz1991 asked: i read an answer you posted where you said that you will not vote for president. I don't understand how that helps solve anything. I believe in voting for the candidate that best represents your beliefs (I am a proud libertarian). Whether that be Johnson or Paul in your case I think that you should vote. neither candidate has a chance to win, but when you look in the long run, if they get a lot of votes this election, it will show future like-minded candidates that there is a chance for them.
Again, read what I said about the need for structural change. This is probably a uniquely difficult concept for us as libertarians to understand, because we focus so much on the rights and importance of the individual. But in this case, it’s absolutely vital that we look at the larger picture of how our voting system works, not just the vote outcomes in any given election.
Some readers might urge me to cast my vote for one of the minor party candidates, as the best way to express my displeasure with the choice offered by the two major parties. I have encountered libertarians who believe that it would be a significant statement if, for example, the Libertarian Party candidate received 5% of the vote in a presidential election. I assume that there are Green Party members, Naderites, and others who have similar goals. But even if, for instance, a Libertarian some day garners that much support, then I think the primary result will be that Republican and Democratic candidates for office will spout slightly more libertarian rhetoric. Perhaps Congress might even pass a bill legalizing medical marijuana or something of the sort, which, I admit, would be a fine thing. Otherwise, however, the Republicrats will continue governing pretty much as usual, generally increasing the reach of the state into all of our lives, whatever slogans they might bandy about while running for office. (Remember, our previous president declared “the era of big government is over,” and then made the government even bigger, while the current one [NB: this was written during the Bush years] promised us a more “humble” foreign policy, and then embarked on the least humble one we’ve yet witnessed.)
Now, I’m all for participation in the political process. With Rothbard, I understand that there is “no other conceivable strategy for the achievement of liberty than political action. Religious or philosophical conversion of each man and woman is simply not going to work; that strategy ignores the problem of power, the fact that millions of people have a vested interest in statism and are not likely to give it up… Education in liberty is of course vital, but it is not enough; action must also be taken to roll back the State…”
That said, wishing to engage in politics effectively does not mean voting just for the sake of voting. It does not mean spending our time and money on ventures which are untenable from the start. It means strategically supporting candidates who are both principled and viable. Again, I wish third party candidates and write-in campaigns were a real option for the presidency. But on the basis of the way our Constitution is structured (not to mention all the additional limitations and obstructions put in place by the two major parties), they just aren’t. I understand the motivation behind your “encouragement by votes” plan, but third parties need structural change, not encouragement, to have a real chance.