3 Ways Romney, Ryan, and the Republicans Can Woo Libertarian Voters


So tonight is Mitt Romney's big night. He's running even now with President Barack Obama in most polls but all indications suggest this is going to be a tight race. The GOP ticket is going to need every vote it can scrounge up.

Even—and especially—from those of us who are independent, libertarian voters who prize "free minds and free markets." As can be seen from its treatment of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) at this year's Republican National Convention in Tampa, the GOP establishment doesn't care much for small-government types until it absolutely has to. Which it does, at least in this election. 

Here are three ways Romney, Ryan, and the rest of their party-mates might win over at least some of the 10 percent to 15 percent of libertarian-minded voters who want exactly the same thing the GOP says it stands for: sharp reductions in the size, scope, and spending of the federal government.

1. Get serious about cutting spending.

Democrats and Republicans alike pay lip service to cutting spending, but the GOP's entire identity is predicated on the notion of smaller government.

If Romney wants to carry libertarians, he needs to start talking about cutting the actual year-over-year totals that taxpayers shell out for big-ticket items such as Social Security, Medicare, and defense. Outlays on Medicare alone have risen over 75 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars since 2001 and Romney's calls for "preserving and protecting" Medicare makes a mockery of the idea that the GOP will be fiscally responsible with Mitt in the White House.

Indeed, even Paul Ryan's much-celebrated budget plan would increase annual spending by more than $1 trillion in 2022 compared to what we're spending annually now. That's an echo of Obama's own awful proposal (which would spend $2 trillion annually in a decade).

2. Get serious about bringing home the troops.

Defense spending is up more than 70 percent in real terms in the 21st century and everyone is tired of us trying to be the world's policeman. Libertarians believe in a strong national defense but, like the majority of Americans, they don't believe that endless wars like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan will either make us safer at home or bring peace to foreign lands.

Romney needs to tell the Pentagon what he told countless businesses while working at Bain Capital: Do more with less.

3. Get serious about staying out of personal lives.

Many people rightly fear that Republicans want to sharply curtail reproductive freedom, expand the drug war, ban whatever they consider pornography, and treat gays and lesbians as second class citizens. Romney needs to make clear that his limited government philosophy means the feds shouldn't be intervening in the private lives of individuals unless it's absolutely central to the survival of the nation. Nobody's asking for lifestyle approval, they just want to make sure Romney and the Republicans will respect our right to be left alone.

If Romney, Ryan, and the GOP want to win the libertarian vote—and hence win in November—they should acknowledge that the memory of George W. Bush and his big govenment ways – not to mention a great LP candidate in former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson—means they've got their work cut out for them, no matter how genuinely awful Barack Obama has proven.

Romney and the Republicans will have to do something that's almost unthinkable in politics: They will need to actually live up to what they say they stand for.

NEXT: Nobody Cares About RNC Protesters

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  1. Judging how they treated Ron Paul and his delegates, good luck with that (as I close a Romney pop-up add).

    1. The GOP has rejected this list, citing a new rule that requires all lists to have at least 5 items.

      1. Then they raised it to 8 when Ron Paul came up with a list of 6.

      2. +10

  2. Basically the opposite of everything they’ve been doing for at least 12 years now.

    1. I’d consider voting for Romney if he’d get up and repudiate the Republican failures that have helped make Leviathan all that it is today. Including, of course, Romneycare.

      Since that’s unlikely, I’ll be voting Johnson.

  3. Give me a break. You claim of Romney, “he needs to start talking…” Why not make up your mind between the real world alternatives facing us, rather than asking the man to make promises he may not thereafter keep?

    Is Obama a better option? If so, vote for him, or don’t vote at all. Period. But don’t play into the whole electoral sham by demanding Romney appeal to your constituency in particular, as though it would mean anything.

    Who knows, after he wins by not appealing to libertarians, perhaps he’ll shock us all and appoint Ron Paul as Secretary of the Treasury. I guarantee you Obama won’t.


    1. “perhaps he’ll shock us all and appoint Ron Paul as Secretary of the Treasury. I guarantee you Obama won’t.”

      HAHAHAHA. You’re a funny guy.

      Romney wont either, and the likelihood of it is so small as to not matter.

      Is this really the best you can come up with?

      Fuck you, and your fucking “you must pick one of these two devils” mentality.

    2. I must admit, pandering to people by calling them insignificant whiners is a novel tactic.

    3. Daryl Davis, you are fucking moron, and would be incapable of comprehending an intelligent response even if I believed your drivel deserved one. I do not think that, so I will only reiterate my initial declaration that you are a fucking moron. Yes, it is an ad hominem, but at least it’s factually correct.

    4. Or better yet leave the United States, vote with your feet, I did and paid the stupid expatriation tax to buy my freedom.

      I’m done with the United States until they get their act together.


    5. @Ricky

      I do have to ask where you moved that was any better in the big government arena.

    6. A better option is to vote for someone who has shown that he has a track record of doing these three things and so much more in the name of liberty. His name is Gary Johnson and I will be voting for him.

  4. Whatevs. I don’t trust the fuckers. Until they walk the walk and actually cut spending, actually prosecute law-breaking cronies and apparatchiks, actually repudiate the war on victimless crimes, by deeds not words, they can go fuck themselves.

    1. Agreed. Talk is cheap and I’m done listening to it. If Mitt Romney were to win and then actually do some of these things, maybe he’ll have my consideration in 2016. I’m betting that if he does win he’ll maintain the status quo instead. I’ll be voting Gary Johnson this time around if I vote at all.

      1. What do you mean if you vote? Gary Johnson needs every last registered voter who prefers him to get out to vote. If you do vote you have the ability to make a change .

    2. Here, here. We’ve been Charlie Brown with the football (to George W. “Lucy” Bush) too many times. Enough’s enough.

  5. 3 Ways Romney, Ryan, and the Republicans Can Woo Libertarian Voters

    Convert, quit or die.

  6. OMFG, the squirrels need to step off! This is my fourth try. Here goes…

    Many people rightly fear that Republicans want to…treat gays and lesbians as second class citizens.

    Republicans are grossed out by teh gayz. We all know and understand this fact. What I don’t understand is what Republicans hope to accomplish by treating homosexuals so shabbily? Like a gay dude is going to say, “I can’t marry my boyfriend, so I guess I’ll marry the girl next door, make babies, and go to church every Sunday.” If homosexuals still gay it up in Uganda and Iran, what makes these fools think blocking gay marriage or gays in the military is going to have any impact?

    1. The Republicans who are grossed out by the gays haven’t moved past basic impulse to critical response.

      The Republicans who support traditional marriage based on Confucian-style arguments about marriage as a public institution don’t prioritize their feelings, but they do have qualms which likely won’t allow for them to support gay marriage.

      Gay marriage is a tertiary issue for voters. Very few vote based on their views on this subject, and it is unlikely that anyone’s vote changes for a candidate if they shift views on the subject. In contrast, social conservatives are a large, motivated bloc, and some of them do base their votes on the issue. It makes electoral sense for Republcicans to maintain their current position on the issue (though it doesn’t require them to be jerks to gays in Ryan Sorba fashion).

      1. So your theory is that the GOP leadership is deliberately doing something they know to be wrong, solely because the benefit of doing it outweighs the cost, and I’m supposed to trust them to run the country?

    2. Do same-sex couples go to jail if they hire a preacher, have a ceremony, and put it out that they’re married?

      1. Nope. It’s nothing like what Mildred Loving was up against.


      2. They do if they mark themselves married on their tax returns and end up paying less as a result.

        1. Or more, as the case may be.

          It’s worth mentioning that opposite-sex couples who hire a preacher, have a ceremony, and put it out that they’re married would find themselves in the same predicament, vis-a-vis the IRS. Making it so that homosexuals have to beg for a permission slip to loot government booty the same way heterosexuals do is just oh-so libertarian though…

    3. Whatever, I’m a homosexual ( gay is a political movement ) and I don’t want the State endorsement of my choice or partner, leave marriage for those who follow their DNA.

  7. **Nobody’s asking for lifestyle approval,**

    The thing is, plenty are. It’s not enough to have equal rights, they want hate crime and discrimination laws where any disapproval means lawsuits.

    1. They? Typical.

      1. Ricky, if most gay people were like you instead of like Tony, you probably wouldn’t get those kind of reactions. Sadly, that’s not the case. Most gay people go Left for the equal rights and stay for the socialism and bullshit collectivist conformity.

  8. I’ve got three better ways Romney and Ryan can impress me:

    1. Drop out of the race.
    2. Go back home.
    3. Commit suicide.

    1. A better list is;
      1)Drop out of the race
      2)Endorse Johnson
      3)Commit Suicide

  9. They lost any chance they had with me when they tried to get Johnson thrown off the ballot here in Iowa a couple of days ago. A member of Romney’s campaign staff was a party to the bogus challenge – never ever trust the repubs again, no matter what they say.

    1. What do you mean “again”?

    2. Isn’t that just pure chickenshit? This is the week that you couldn’t find more acts from the RNC that intentionally turn off libertarians and even paleocons.

  10. The only way I’d vote for Romney is if he replaced Ryan with Ron Paul and promised to resign from the Presidency as soon as he took the oath of office.

  11. Good job, Nick. /sarc

    Go ahead and pick the three things that republicans are fundamentally unable to do. Next you’ll be asking the nominee to stand up for 2nd amendment rights. Jeesh.

  12. Romney should nominate me. *I’m* not afraid to fix shit.

  13. Who’s going to vote fora tea totalitarian cigarette-snuffer who couldn’t be trusted to take the bra off a debutante?

  14. “I suppose just reminding people of how idiotic 2008?s “Obamatarians” and “Liberaltarians” look now is too cruel.”

    …Glenn Reynolds

    1. Cruel, but just.

    2. ugh, hate the assumption that this a binary election.

      Just imagine how foolish Romnetarians will feel in 2016 if Mittens is elected…

    3. How do you think the Romnitarians are going to look in 4 years when we’re locked in a ground war with Iran or Russia?

      Solution? Don’t vote. It’s not a waste, it’s like putting your money in savings. Principled non-voters represent an untapped market…there for the taking.

  15. The only thing worse than a Republican is a Democrat. The Republicans are far from perfect, but they are almost always a clear choice compared to the crypto-Marxist race-baiting assclowns that constitute the Democratic party.

    1. Sadly, probably so.

      The Demoncrats have rotten principles. The Repulsocrats have no principles. On average, no principles probably does less damage.

      Which is why most Reason writers vote Demoncrat most of the time.

      Just an observation from outer space. I’ve lost my vantage point now that I’m down here, Has anything changed in the 27 microseconds since I landed?

      1. It’s easier to live with someone who fails in an easily predictable manner then the guy who you never know what they’re gonna do next. You can plan for the one when you’re deciding what to do next.

    2. Really? In what way was George Bush preferable to Obama?

  16. Yep, if they do these three things, then they’ll be a better choice than the other half of the Ruling Party. Sadly though, they’ve already made it very clear that they’ll be offering no more than lip service to any of these desperately needed measures.


  17. Hey, Nick, you’ve got the blue Jacket on already? Don’t you think it’s a bit soon?

  18. Are you serious? Condi’s attendance was no accident. Romney’s foreign policy is run by the neocons. These guys want to cut taxes and get us into new wars. It’s Bush all over again.

    1. What war is Romney going to get us into? Where? North Korea? Iran? Where’ he going to get approval to get us into new wars? From the public? House and senate?

      If Romney was a strict libertarian running as a Republican, he’d get 10-15% libertarian and independent votes in the general election. But it would never come to that, because he would have lost most of the support from the traditional GOP base in the primaries. Which is what happened to Ron Paul.

      Why project your hopes to the GOP? Instead of asking “How and why the GOP should be more of like us”, you should ask “How can we libertarians win popular support among voters”.

      1. “Why project your hopes to the GOP? Instead of asking “How and why the GOP should be more of like us”, you should ask “How can we libertarians win popular support among voters”.”

        You are my new best friend!

    2. The entire Republican party is neo-cons. It’s a false-flag operation. For God’s sake, look at Bush’s policies. How the fuck did they resemble anything minarchist or liberal? These people are socialists.

  19. I’ll be able to lay out the main themes of the DNC and RNC conventions in 2016 by mid-November of this year.

  20. Romney needs to tell the Pentagon what he told countless businesses while working at Bain Capital: Do more with less.

  21. Romney is going to work his magic with your country, he knows how to liquidate a company and I can’t see what he can do with a whole country.

  22. 1. Holding breath
    2. Holding breath
    3. Holding breath

  23. Alan_s above me is holding his breath. Someone better call the ambulance.
    What a joke, Nick. Two of the three things you think Republicans need to get serious about are impossible for them. Impossible.
    You say get serious about bringing the troops home. I hope you meant get serious about bringing the troops home AND cutting the bloated defense budget. You do realize, Nick, that Bush paid for those wars under a supplemental budget, right? That was magic money. How about the yearly expenditure we make because we think it is possible every country in the world might attack us at the same time, and our defense needs to plan accordingly.

    And personal freedoms? Ha!! Republicans want to be in everyone’s bedroom, plain and simple. Nick, do you think the Christian right has been relegated to a back bench? They’re moving up to the front row.

    You’re advocating expedient libertarianism, Nick. So you might as well be the neo-conservative that is lurking within you.

    1. Yeah, the Republicans are just a conspiricy to stop you from having fun with your weewee.

      1. I meant “conspiracy”.

  24. They’d have my vote if they did all those things, unfortunately they won’t. Or maybe they will, you never know with Romney. Every which way the wind blows, he goes. One day he’ll want to invade Iran, the next week he might have a “change of heart”.

    They’re running their campaign on social conservatism (i.e., they don’t want single women to bone, and highly recommend reading scripture as a past time) and the prospect of another war in the Middle East. If it were just jobs and budgets I were concerned for, I would probably vote for them, but it’s not.

    Hence, I’m voting for Johnson.

  25. In today’s American political world it is certainly the republicans who seem to at least claim to be for limited government while progressive democrats don’t even bother making such a claim. While theoretically that would make them a strong ally of libertarians, labels really don’t mean much.

    Nick could have just as easily done a list of things President Obama needs to do to win over libertarians. At least republicans didn’t pretend they were anti-war. The list could be things like actually ending the wars, accept the fact that government spends too much money and present and embrace a plan that cuts real dollar for dollar spending, care as much about letting people be free to spend their money and use their property as they care about gay righs. Just like the list for the republicans it wont ever happen.

    Nick may as well right a list about what Anarcho-syndicalists can do to gain support of libertarians. Humbly asking people to just stop embracing most of their philosophies is a purely academic exercise.

  26. Romney is not going to win Libertarian voters because Libertarians are out to destroy him as well as the GOP. The GOP and Romney need to rediscover what is great about the Republican party. A good deal of that is frugality and keeping your nose out of other people’s business so anyone who is an actual swing voter might well find such a message appealing. Don’t count on the Libertarians though, the game plan is to get Johnson to siphon off enough votes to give Obama a second term because they view himmore favorably than Romney. I’ve seen it on the party website.

    1. “A good deal of that is frugality…”

      Like, since when? Reagan ran up debt, Bush the Father got fired because he tried to pay off that debt with taxes, and Bush the Son…well, don’t make me laugh. One of the great myths of all time is frugality on the part of Republicans.

      1. …which coincides with a Libertarian incursion that included such luminaries as Alan Greenspan (remember him?!)

  27. The Paulbot Libertarians have caused the very problems that they are now loudly complaining about, ergo, they are in the tank for Obama.

    I was at a political rally for a pro-choice female candidate when what to my wondering eyes should appear? but a group of Ron Paul supporters picketing with huge gory signs, megaphones, and a loud sound system playing a CD of female reproductive “information” and cherry-picked Bible verses. They were the most invasive and non-reasoning bunch of loons ever and I even pointed out to them that what they were saying flew in the face of my understanding of Libertarianism. I think that the point was, though, that they were out to cause a problem so that it could be complained about later.

  28. Supreme Court Obamacare Decision Highlights Why a President Romney Would be More Dangerous than President Obama


    From the Libertarian Party Website

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