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.

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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. 

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  1. Dear sweet jeebus.

    I guess Robby’s got his asbestos suit on today.

    Milo AND GayJay, on the same day?

  2. Even if I wanted to pick the lesser of two evils between those two, I’m not sure who that would even be. They are both utterly horrible on so many levels.

    1. Hence why you should vote Almanian 2016!

      Almanian! He Probably Won’t Make It Any Worse!

      1. Where the fuck is that guy anyway? I think he promised me the Hedonist Czar job if I support the campaign. I’m gonna make McAfee my director, I’ll get this fucking job done!

        1. Not sure if you saw the news a few months back that he’s pretty sick. Someone else on here is friends with him and posted a few updates.

          1. Oh, wow, I don’t remember that, I might have missed it or just forgot. I’m really sorry to hear it.

            1. Yeah pretty sad, my understanding is that it was terminal but I haven’t heard anything in a couple of months.

              1. He commented last month, IIRC.

                1. I think he popped up a few weeks ago, but my sense of time could be off.

              2. Well fuck. That sucks. Now I am all sad.

    2. ^This^

      They’re not even respectable people whom you could be proud of. You have to “like” them either out of fear or a desire to be as shitty and contemptible as they are.

    3. As in Giant Douche vs. Turd Sandwich?

  3. If you don’t vote for one of these candidates, you are helping the other win, or throwing away your vote, they will say.

    I fucking hate that form of “reasoning,” and I hear it from my douchey Repub friends.

    It’s the “Slave Massa” mentality: WE OWN YOUR VOTE SO GIVE IT TO US.

    No, fucker, I own my vote and I’m not “obligated” to give it to your lousy-ass party just to stop OTHER TEAM from winning. So fuck off.

    1. It really irks me to no end when I hear people say ‘What, you’re not voting? It’s your civic duty!’. And then I say ‘No, it’s not my duty to elect a bunch of crooks so they can steal from me and further erode my civil rights.’. Civic duty my ass, there’s no laws requiring anyone to vote.

      1. It’s a trick they use. Your “civic duty” means influencing the state of affairs in Murika, but that can only be done by voting either Repub or Dem. So therefore, you must vote “R” or “D” or you’re “throwing your vote away.”

        They should really put “None of the above” on all ballots.

        1. I like this ballot:

          a. Republican

          b. Democrat

          c. None of the Above

          d. My Cat

          e. The Stray Dog I saw in the Alley This Morning

          f. Fuck you, you Fucking Crooks

          1. …And still no libertarian option on the ballot. 🙁

            I’d go with “My cat.” He gives no fucks about anything.

            1. f is the libertarian.

        2. I would support a “None of the above” voting option if it meant the office remained vacant for the term in question.

          1. Bingo.

            Think of how many useless government jobs we could cut by doing that.

            1. Sadly, almost none. The overwhelming majority of government jobs are unelected bureaucrats.

          2. I keep on suggesting to people that maybe we should try 4 years without a president and see how that goes. They usually look at me kind of funny.

      2. I actually quite enjoy explaining to people why voting is not your civic duty. And why not voting doesn’t mean that you don’t get to complain.

    2. I hear it from my douchey Repub friends.

      Tell them what I do:

      Good! Next time you fuckers might want to think about appeasing libertarians. You want my vote? Earn it. Otherwise, fuck off!

      1. Heh. That’s exactly what I tell them.

        GMTA!

      2. Earning it works both ways. William Weld seems intent on rehabbing Hillary. How does this convince wavering Pubs that the LP is a sound choice? Maybe the better question is when does GayJay suggest that Billy knock off the fan club stuff and quit dismissing the email issue as a big nothing.

        1. William Weld seems intent on rehabbing Hillary. … when does GayJay suggest that Billy knock off the fan club stuff and quit dismissing the email issue as a big nothing.

          Link? I haven’t kept track of everything he’s said of late. I agree though, sucking up to Clinton really doesn’t gain them anything, and may lose a lot of not just disaffect Republicunt votes but also disaffected Democrap/ BernieBro votes as well. Seems like they’re intent on shooting themselves in the dick.

          I thought the GOP was supposed to be the stupid party…

    3. Ponnuru has a good article about this.

      http://www.nationalreview.com/…..rim-choice

    1. If GayJay just had more money and name recognition, I think he could reach 15%. Not that the CPD wouldn’t try to change the rules/fudge the results.

      1. He won’t get in the debates. The 2 party duopoly will make sure of that. Then there’s no chance of 15%. 1% or less is what he’ll get. Who runs a candidate a 2nd time when they were only able to get 1% of the vote last time?

        1. Who runs a candidate a 2nd time when they were only able to get 1% of the vote last time?

          The people who have no one else credible enough to carry the party banner?

          Petersen had zero experience, looked like a teenager, and kept banging the abortion/religion drums.

          McAfee was probably the best voice for libertarianism, but is still nuttier than squirrel turd.

          So, Johnson it was.

          1. McAfee being a hedonists does not bother me at all. He sounded pretty level headed to me in the debates. He definitely would have got much more attention for libertarian ideas than Johnson. McAfee and Weiss idea about using media to get our message across was spot on. It needed a lot of refinement and probably some money, but it was a start. Now what do we have? A failed candidate from last time and an east coast GOP establishment guy? Sigh…

            1. McAfee being a hedonists does not bother me at all.

              Unfortunately it would bother a lot of the low foreheads and mouth breathers. While I liked McAfee a lot, by the time the election rolled around in November the R’s, D’s, and the establishment media would have had 99.99999% of the voters convinced that he really did murder his neighbor in Belize and is batshit crazy. McAfee was a non-starter if your goal is to actually get more votes than last time as opposed to just saying LOOK AT ME!!1!!!11!!!!!!! which, I don’t think would work all that well because Trump is better at playing the LOOK AT ME!!11!!!!!! game, unfortunately.

              Actually, I don’t think it matters who the LP nominated, they’re still gonna get crushed. The whole exercise is just one big masturbation euphemism.

              1. Considering the alternatives, bat shit is starting to look pretty damn good!

          2. pretty much sums it up

        2. Who runs a candidate a 2nd time when they were only able to get 1% of the vote last time?

          Respectfully, that’s a disingenuous argument. His percentage was as high or higher than any LP candidate. You know full well his 1% wasn’t the result of his positions, it was a result of not having an R or a D after his name.

          Accepting your argument, the LP shouldn’t bother running anyone.

          1. Well, I respectfully disagree also. Duel at sunrise tomorrow?

            No, I think a libertarian who uses media like McAfee/Weiss would have done, to reach the disillusioned millenials, would have got 5% or even slightly more of the vote. The way I see it, were back to 1%. I am in no way advocating that he LP give up. But they have to change the approach. Acting like the two big tent parties will not cut it, we don’t have the money or guaranteed media exposure. Your message is no good when no one hears it.

            1. Your message is no good when no one hears it.

              Which is exactly the reason to run a guy like Johnson over McAfee. The “straights” are going to hear “wanted for questioning in connection to a murder” and that will be the last thing they ever hear from or of McAfee.

              You aren’t going to get above 1% by convincing Libertarians. You need to convince the straights that embracing liberty will make the world a better place. The right place to start that conversation might not be with legalizing heroin, bestiality and flag burning. Maybe we can ease them into it with “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” and THEN introduce principle when their interest is peaked?

              1. I know some of these ‘straights’ you speak of. They want people executed for smoking pot and are the first in line to join a pants shitting party about the latest topic of media scare mongering.

                I think we have to get the mostly independent millenials who do not have a firm political iedology, yet. The older folks, you are not going to change them. Well, a few, who were already leaning in your direction.

                Johnson’s pandering to the establishment right is going to work just like it worked for Rand. IOW, it won’t work.

                1. the “establishment right” will never vote anything other that republican, just like establishment left would never vote for anything other than dem…. the votes that are theoretically reachable, are the 40%+ that are registered as independent. (as well as those who just pick one party.. so they get to vote in primaries.)

                  that’s why Petersen bothered me so much… he was pandering to votes that were not really up for grabs.

              2. Given those reasons, Petersen probably had the greatest upside, because his abortion stance would draw a lot of #NeverTrump SoCons, and could have actually got some traction on the national stage for the L message.

                The two milquetoast republicans that the LP is running will do better than last time, but are only going to gain from the #NeverHillary BernieBots.

                The negatives on McAffee are just too Trump-like, without the media frenzy.

          2. And he wasn’t running against Trump-Clinton last time.

          3. Who runs a candidate a 2nd time when they were only able to get 1% of the vote last time?

            Respectfully, that’s a disingenuous argument. His percentage was as high or higher than any LP candidate. You know full well his 1% wasn’t the result of his positions, it was a result of not having an R or a D after his name.

            Accepting your argument, the LP shouldn’t bother running anyone.

            Well, yeah, for that very reason & others. LP’s been at this a long time, tried every variation it could reasonably be expected to (given its membership & activists), & that’s the result. Why should it continue to exist to suck up the resources of libertarian activists, & if anything associate libertarianism with losing?

        3. Who runs a candidate a 2nd time when they were only able to get 1% of the vote last time?

          The party that only ever gets 1% of the vote, that’s who.

        4. Johnson has already polled at 10 or 11 percent in 3 national polls. 15 percent is quite achievable.
          I swear, people are so used to losing they defeat themselves.

      2. If GayJay just had more money and name recognition, I think he could reach 15%.

        And if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle.

        1. She could still be your aunt if she identified as such.

          *hides*

  4. Nice try Reason. I voted for this guy once what did it get me? You won’t fool me again!

  5. If Johnson is such a spectacular guy, when does he tell his VP pick to stop waxing about Hillary? Seriously, if you’re courting disenchanted Pubs, telling them how wonderful the person they hate above all is, may not be the best strategy.

  6. Wait…I can’t see the article. Is my computer broke?

    1. Nope, me either. It’s like they know we don’t read the articles and just want to save bandwidth.

  7. 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.

    I find myself agreeing with all of this and understand that the Reason staff will do their best job possible to promote the LP but for then I read yesterday something from Nick Gillespie yesterday that made me recoil in horror: his opinion that the current ticket represents the promotion of Social Liberalism. It was right there for all to read.

    Dear Reason staff: Please do NOT make the claim that the LP or Gary stand for Social Liberalism. Social Liberalism is a political ideology that holds social rights above individual rights, a notion that is incompatible and even antithetical to libertarianism. You can argue what Gary himself has argued publicly, that he is SOCIALLY liberal, which is another way of saying that he is ‘tolerant of others’, but Social Liberalism is NOT a ‘tolerant’ ideology at all.

    PLEASE – STOP USING THAT TERM.

    1. Hmm, need that ‘Edit’ button I placed the work order for.

    2. Given that Johnson is on record as saying libertarianism is compatible with socialism (as if socialism could ever exist absent state compulsion) I do not think the assertion that the LP ticket represent the promotion of Social Liberalism to be entirely unfounded.

      Frankly I see it more as a wink-wink, nudge-nudge acknowledgement to ‘what really matters’ among the Reason staff.

      1. Or they could mean something different by “social liberalism”.

        What exactly do you think really matters to the Reason staff?

      2. Given that Johnson is on record as saying libertarianism is compatible with socialism

        What the fucking fuck?! Citation?

        Not that I don’t believe you specifically, I don’t believe anything anyone says on the internet without 3rd party confirmation.

    3. “Social rights above individual rights”

      Uh, this is exactly what Johnson believes when it comes to whether private businesses have freedom of association or speech

      1. That should be *private business owners

    4. “Tolerant” rather than “socially liberal” is a much better term. “Socially liberal” has bad connotations among very many of the people the LP needs to convert.

      It’s also probably wise to be a bit specific about tolerance for what. Just rubber stamping the left’s growing list of weirdos who deserve government support for their lunacies will not play well among lots of ordinary people.

      1. I don’t understand why people get so wrapped around the axle on this. It’s an old generalization, based upon what the two parties used to represent (or what they claim to represent), designed to give the layman a flavor of what libertarianism means without an hour-long dissertation.

        Used to be that liberals supported liberty for things like drugs and homosexuality, before they became progressives. The description was fairly accurate, but it’s dated since the progs ceased to be liberals.

        1. Libertarians are the only true ‘liberals’ of today. Progressives are statists through and through. Sure, they’ll let you smoke a little weed, get an abortion, as long as the state can micromanage every other aspect of your life. But once that micromanagement system is completely in place and accepted at large by a dumbed down and complacent society, they will remove the little freedom scarps they threw you, for your own good of course.

          1. The only reason they’ll let you get an abortion is they’ve been unable to move the issue far enough to make abortions mandatory.

        2. It’s as if they can’t imagine that phrases can have different meanings in different contexts. Old Mexican knows what “social liberalism” is and no one could possibly use those words to mean something else.

        3. I realized recently that that description only applied much for a brief moment in time in the USA. Since the end of liquor prohibition, the only “social issues” before the 1960s were censorship of porn, and race relations. Censorship was retreating slowly, and then race flipped in a short time from illegal to mandatory. And then a bunch of lifestyle issues became matters of public controversy, but really only for about 10-15 years were liberals really for tolerance. 45 YA, Mort Sahl was already saying, “There are no liberals any more, there are only social democrats.” Because of the way things shook out, guns wound up on the reverse side of the tolerance-intolerance alignment between “liberal” & “conservative”. By the 1980s the “liberals” were already trying to flip lifestyle the way they had race, from illegal to mandatory.

  8. Why so defensive? Fiscally conservative, socially liberal. Just make the case for them and stop apologizing for all the naysayers. Johnson/Weld 2016!

    1. See, it works better if you take the really evil candidate off the ticket
      Link

  9. I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Hillary OR Trump, so I guess Johnson it is.

  10. A lot of people think this country is broken and that’s why Trump will probably be the next president. The LP is just peddling some middle of the road ex-GOPers with policies that do make sense in normal times. But these are not normal times and culture wars are playing center stage but the LP has nothing new to offer in that debate. There are deeper issues going on and the LP just pretends we just need to cut some spending, legalize drugs, don’t worry about immigrants and everything will be great!

  11. Okay, so, have I got this straight?

    If you don’t want to vote for the ‘Republican’ whose only appeal is that he seems willing to kick the SJWessives in the face, you can, instead, vote for the ‘Republicans’ who will cave to SJW demands while insisting that doing so is the height of libertarianism–or you can vote for the Democrat.

    really?

    If the Libertarian Party has decided to abandon principle entirely–and, let’s be honest principle was their only card– then who is there left to vote for?

    Hillary and Gary are both advocating–advocating SJW tyranny. To stay as true as possible to MY principles I have no recourse but to vote against them. I have to try to stop what they will implement.

    Thanks.

    1. Is he “caving” to anything but public accommodation laws?

      I’m not saying I love that position. But it’s a stupid hill for the LP to die on.

      1. Is he “caving” to anything but public accommodation laws?

        I know a lot of folks have their knickers twisted up because Weld signed an assault weapons ban while gov. of Massachusetts. I don’t know what the particulars were, and I don’t think anyone else has bothered to look into it either. Did the legislature have the votes to override a veto? He should have vetoed it regardless of whether it would be overridden or not, but I can kind of sort squint and see why he may not have wanted to expend any “political capital” on it.

        Or was the bill larded up with enough loopholes and exceptions to drive a truck through and he knew it wouldn’t accomplish anything other than make the Massholes feel better? I don’t know, I’ve never seen the actual text of the bill.

        Not that he doesn’t suck for signing it, regardless of his reasons.

        it’s a stupid hill for the LP to die on.

        Agreed. Here we are $19 trillion dollars in debt and climbing, a completely shredded Bill of Rights, a government spying on every single on of us, a foreign policy that has devolved into an interventionist shitshow over the course of the last 2 administrations, the rule of law in shambles, and an economy barely clinging to life under the weight of the regulatory state – and what do people want to bitch about? Hypothetical “Nazi cakes” and trannies in the women’s room. Un-fucking-believable.

      2. i completely agree. the nazi cake thing is stupid. even if you disagree with him, he does base his opinion on public accommodation laws. people who want to hate him over this, based on an oversimplified concept of freedom of association… they are burning down the forest to save a tree.

      3. What hill?

        The LP isn’t on the hill. They’re not even close. They’re not even in the fight.

        So abandoning the principles that’ll get lp members and interested voters to maybe get they to a place where they can at least see the hill is a bad decision.

      4. He’s not going to win.

        So why throw away principles?

        I can understand holding your nose and voting for an imperfect candidate if he’s going to win. I would have done that with Cruz had he won the nomination. But Johnson is not going to win. 5% is the max.

        So basically, you’re saying that you have no principles either, you;’re just voting for your team. You’re willing to support someone willing to use force to force people to do things against their will without getting anything in return.

  12. It’s like the people in the LP said, “oh, you want us to compromise and be realistic? OK, watch us compromise like nobody’s business!”

    1. Yeah, they exceeded my wildest expectations.

  13. Why Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils When There’s a Third, Non- Far Less Evil Candidate?

    FTFY. All professional politicians are “evil” in so far as they want political power, it’s just that some are far, far less evil and desire to use state sanctioned coercion a lot less than others.

  14. If everyone evaluated all 3 candidates equally, Johnson would win in a landslide. If he can raise enough money that the media is forced to cover him, or earn enough free publicity, maybe he has a chance to be taken seriously.

    I can understand why some Libertarians are less than enthused, but the hardcore Libertarian vote is still a rounding error.

  15. Why say “Johnson has no realistic chance” in the article? He has a very realistic chance, he’s the best qualified, least-objectionable major candidate. And why mention French at all?

    1. And why mention French at all?

      Yeah, that seemed like an odd non-sequitur.

  16. Now that sounds like a very good plan to me dude.

    http://www.Goin-Anon.tk

  17. You have to admit that makes a lot of sense dude.

    http://www.Real-Anon.tk

  18. A vote for Johnson/Weld is a vote for two has-been Republican politicians.

  19. Why for for the lesser of three evils, when there are still further options, like the Constitution Party?

    In the past, Reason showed some independence from the Libertarian party, but now it’s become just another party mouthpiece. Yay for our team, never mind their beliefs aren’t actually what we supposedly believe in, they are our team as we have to support them.

    1. Why vote for, dammit.

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