Why Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils When There's a Third, Non-Evil Candidate?

It's better to have more choices, and Gary Johnson deserves consideration.


Gary Johnson
Screenshot via Fox News

The Libertarian Party has nominated Gary Johnson and William Weld: two moderate, former Republican governors who opposed runaway government spending while promoting social tolerance while in office. 

And yet many people will act as if the Johnson/Weld ticket isn't even an option. They will urge voters to select "the lesser of two evils," either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. If you don't vote for one of these candidates, you are helping the other win, or throwing away your vote, they will say. 

This thinking is preposterous, I argue in an op-ed for CNN: 

A vote for Johnson isn't a vote for anyone other than Johnson. Indeed, the Founders never intended to set up a system that continuously produced just two choices, and modern Americans recognize that it's almost always better to have more choices than fewer. Consumers want the option to shop around for everything from cable companies to health care providers to ice cream flavors. Additional choices provide people with more autonomy and agency to make the decision that fits them, rather than feel morally obligated to engage in a "less-bad" calculus. 

This is, coincidentally, the creed of the Libertarian Party: that choice allows people to be happier and more fulfilled, and government interference reduces choice by limiting competition. This belief comes from a place of philosophical consistency among fiscal, foreign and social policy — a rarity, among politicians. Libertarians are, for instance, as uncomfortable with the government telling them who they can marry as they are with the government telling them who they can pay to Uber them around town. 

If voters aren't in love with this philosophy, or for whatever reason don't think Johnson is their man, they are free to vote for someone else, including the presumptive major-party candidates. But voters who overlook Johnson as a viable option just because they've bought into lesser-of-two-evils urgency need a reality check. 

For Reason's full coverage of the Johnson candidacy, go here.