Election 2020

Trump's Struggle To Win the Gary Johnson Vote

Sadly for the president, 2016 Libertarians are not "all Republican voters." Sadly for us, his opposition to "endless wars" doesn't translate into ending them.

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President Donald Trump has been making some libertarian noises lately, and also some noises about libertarians. In the latter category, POTUS declared himself in an interview last week to be "somewhat libertarian," and a likely recipient of ex-Libertarian votes.

"Jill Stein took, what? Half a percent?" Trumped mused innumerately to Fox News Channel's Laura Ingraham. "Well, I have a Libertarian—I'm somewhat libertarian; I have to be honest with you; Rand Paul will tell you that—I have a Libertarian candidate on last time that got, what? Four and a half or so percent? Those are all Republican voters. They're wasting their vote, because—they have to vote for us."

Well, no, but that doesn't mean we can't talk about some of Trump's most libertarian noises, such as calling out military brass and their enablers for backing "endless wars." On today's Reason Roundtable podcast, Nick Gillespie, Peter Suderman, Matt Welch, and Katherine Mangu-Ward discuss the president's actual record on policies dear to libertarian hearts; critique Joe Biden on same, and also spend time on school reopening, teachers unions, Christopher Nolan's filmography, and the true meaning of Labor Day.

Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

Music: "Noisey" by ELPHNT.

Relevant links from the show:

"Bridget Phetasy Is Politically Homeless. You Probably Are Too." By Nick Gillespie

"Will-to-Power Conservatism and the Great Liberalism Schism," by Stephanie Slade

"You Have Libertarian Alternatives to Biden and Trump This November," by John Stossel

"This Labor Day, Police and Teachers Unions Are Making a Bad Year Worse," by J.D. Tuccille

"Teachers Unions Push Families Out of Public Schools," by J.D. Tuccille

"Hispanic Parents Want More Choices for School," by Daniel Raisbeck

"California's Job-Killing A.B. 5 Scaled Back, but Only for Some Professions," by Scott Shackford

"California Police Unions Once Again Side With Bad Cops To Kill a Good Bill," by Scott Shackford

"School Calls Cops on 12-Year-Old Boy Who Held Toy Gun During Zoom Class," by Robby Soave

"Be Skeptical of Stories About TikTok 'Benadryl Challenge' Overdoses," by Scott Shackford

"Disney Thanks Chinese Labor Camp Authorities in Mulan Credits," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Time May Not Exist Anymore, but Tenet Does, and It's in Theaters Now," by Peter Suderman

What are we consuming this week?

Matt Welch

Peter Suderman

Nick Gillespie


NEXT: Bridget Phetasy: What American Politics Can Learn From Alcoholics Anonymous

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  1. Trump is not a libertarian, but then, he is not a democrat or republican either. He is an executive that used the republican party to get elected, and is running the country the best he can within the constraints of democrats who refuse to accept the last election, let alone the next.
    Look at how he said he thought the country should be run and look at what he got done in the face of internal rebellion. Look at the judicial appointments, the economic changes before the Communist Chinese Virus, the equality of economic improvement, and decide if you want more of that, of more of Portland and Communist China.
    Then vote.

    1. Former Gary Johnson voter here. The Democrats have my vote this year because we need peace, social justice, and higher taxes on the rich. Also, Neo-conservatives like Jennifer Rubin are right, we need to start another proxy war with Iran, the greatest threat to the state of Israel.

      1. And make sure to stay close with a true friend and ally in China.

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      2. I voted for GayJay in 2016.

        TRUMP is getting my vote this election.

        1. Same here. Judicial appointments will be his legacy if he gets a 2nd term.

      3. Peace, social justice? You must live in an imaginary world!
        The riots, the destructions supported by Democrats, ever rising black on black crime in cities run by Democrats, is that peace and justice?!

      4. Higher taxes on the rich?
        We did that. Remember, the Sixteenth Amendment.

        1. Average working people now pay tax on gross pay received, and not but marginally on net of living costs, or actual “income”. At the same time, the state has become massively enriched.
          And Liberty very much deminished.

      5. RabbiHarveyWeinstein;
        “Higher Taxes on the Rich” likely don’t get you to where you want to go. In fact, they are arguably anti-worker. How?
        So. (I’m assuming these are income taxes.) The rich have very high incomes. They also have (often) quite lavish lifestyles. But even a lavish lifestyle won’t be able to eat up all that income.* So what they don’t consume, they invest. (Well; save. But your savings will get eroded by inflation, so it’s wiser to invest at interest and stay ahead of inflation’s ravages. Which they do.)
        Now it is painful to have to cut back your lifestyle. And they are unlikely to do so. That means that all of the heightened tax bite is likely to come out of their savings / new investment, instead.
        But the flow of investment was what built new factories (or kept old ones from folding due to wear and tear).
        Less investment means fewer jobs and less productive jobs. (And raises in pay are justified by increased productivity.)
        So “Tax the Rich”, in practice, is likely to make it tougher for working people to find a job or get a raise.
        But Junior won’t have to drop out of Princeton, and hotdogs won’t replace wine & brie.

        *Think that lavish lifestyles can eat up all the income? Try (on paper, of course) to actually consume a million dollars in one year. But you must actually consume it; you can’t have any part of that income left as accumulated assets — such as fancy cars or Swiss chalets, or securities portfolios — which would be “savings”, anyway. Nothing can be left of the $1 Million except memories. You’ll discover that it’s impossible to eat that much caviar. And it’s cheating to transfer the income to someone else (such as your local synagogue, or your children). The rules were that you had to CONSUME it.

        1. I like fireworks and could put on sports and entertainment extravaganzas. I could also fund basic research.

    2. >running the country the best he can within the constraints of democrats who refuse to accept the last election, let alone the next.

      I’d say he’s more of a narcissist grifter whose larceny is far less dangerous that that of the professional politicians. His cronies are also a lot less good at stealing in broad daylight, hence the convictions.

      That said, he’s the only candidate who overtly opposes going to war for the sake of subsidizing defense contractors. So he’s got that going for him.

      I wonder if we’ll see pictures of him holding hands with Michelle Obama at some future date. Democrats said awful things about Bush, but obviously the Obamas didn’t believe it.

      Any time someone claims that an election is some existential crisis, just show them a picture of W and Michelle sharing candy.

      1. Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. Nice Trump 2020 slogan there…

        1. The far less well known “Hanlon’s Campaign Slogan”.

      2. “His cronies are also a lot less good at stealing in broad daylight, hence the convictions.”

        Oh, come on, his cronies were perfectly good at stealing in broad daylight before Trump was elected. It’s not like they were acting any differently 5-10 years ago.

        It’s more a matter of, anyone who works for him paints a target on their back, and loses their official, “Political establishment get of jail” card.

    3. “Then vote.”

      I’d rather masturbate. It’s more productive than voting.

      1. Make sure to have a spotter.

      2. You don’t do both??? Well what the hell are the curtained booths for then?

    4. Haha, I didn’t know COVID-19 has read Das Kapital.

      1. What is with you simps and your impulse to take offense on behalf of China?

        It’s weird

        1. Chipper’s always hated the Uighurs, even before Pooh Bear built the death camps. They’re the whitest Chinese.

        2. Your claim that I defended China is as imaginary as your sexual exploits.

          1. You embarrass yourself, eunuch.

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        3. Nardz;
          The internet is open. Anybody can log in here and comment. Almost certainly including members of the Chinese military who get paid to defend their country (including doing so on websites).

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    6. Laong2 does not understand logistics curves, law-changing spoiler vote clout, leverage or history. Voting to help a looter party shoot your child over plant leaves does make sense–if you want the kid dead and your home forfeited to a cop union.

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  2. Speaking of endless wars, here’s some interesting speculation on what might happen after this (intentional) clusterfuck of an election.

    The point of this whole post is to get you very worried about what has happened to the American military since 2008. Obama and Biden had eight years to change it into an organization that, at the top, wants to continue to fight wars to keep their careers going — something Trump’s extraordinary diplomatic skills are ruining — and, at the bottom, has young people who have been marinated in identity politics, LGBTQ theory, and critical race theory. Trump may have had minimal sway over the upper ranks because his policies are killing their jobs and he may have minimal sway over the lower ranks because the ideological corruption runs too deep.

    If Pelosi, Soros and the Deep State are planning a coup come January, don’t be too sure which side the military is going to be on.

    1. While it’s always good to stay alert and never get complacent, don’t buy the “military has abandoned Trump” line, even from conservative writers. The article is spot on about the attempts to undermine Trump’s support among the services, but my take is, they wouldn’t be running that bullshit Atlantic story if they really thought that troops prefer Biden. And if Trump really thought Biden was leading with military voters, we’d be seeing a lot more talk about Benghazi and Seal Team 6- two topics about which the military is VERY passionate.

      My assessment is, if it even gets that far, we may see a split within the military, with top brass, career staff weinies ( the Vindmans of the world) and their bootlickers on one side, and mid-level officers and junior and senior NCOs on the other. The junior enlisted will be divvied up between them. Retired generals look good on TV, but whether anyone NOT bucking for a pentagon job will follow them is questionable. There’s been a steady trickle of media designed to undermine Trump with the military, but the actual warfighters know who got them their pay raise, who’s protected their benefits, and who made sure they were able to get resources, equipment, and funding.

      1. they wouldn’t be running that bullshit Atlantic story if they really thought that troops prefer Biden

        ^ This. When I saw that story hit, I said to myself “huh, Trump must still have pretty strong support from the military.”

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    2. Obama and Biden had eight years to change it into an organization that, at the top, wants to continue to fight wars to keep their careers going

      Generals prefer peacetime careers. From their perspective wars get Generals fired.

  3. >>Sadly for us, his opposition to “endless wars” doesn’t translate into ending them.

    aw sad face. fewer troops is less war.

    1. I seem to recall that he tried really hard, on several occasions, to end a couple of them, and damn near everyone screamed bloody murder about it.

      1. He ended the war against ISIS by defeating them. That’s one less war, and no new wars to replace it

        1. And he prevented a war with Iran by taking out Suleimani.
          I seem to remember this publication clutching their pearls pretty hard about that… and about pulling out of Syria

          1. Exactly.
            All of the above were pissing and moaning that Trump just started WW3 in the Middle East because of one dead terrorist, and one year later Israel and the UAE and Serbia and Kosovo have made historic peace agreements.
            They’ve been as quite as mice about those peace agreements too, even though they’re paradigm shifting.

      2. That’s how I remember it.

        And by that I mean it’s true.

        1. d. all of the above ^^^

  4. Trump a libertarian?

    Snicker

    1. If we can’t have a Libertarian President, I’ll settle for one who negotiated a full withdrawal from Afghanistan, single-handedly killed a $3.5 trillion stimulus bill, and promised to veto the Green New Deal.

      In fact, any “libertarian” who refuses to support withdrawing from Afghanistan, refuses to head off a $3.5 trillion stimulus bill with, and refuses to pull the rug out from under the Green New Deal–if doing any of those things requires them to vote for Donald Trump–is a phony libertarian.

      Sitting there with your thumb up your ass while the Democrats criticize the Afghanistan deal, try to pass a $3.5 trillion stimulus bill, and promise to push through the Green New Deal certainly doesn’t make anybody principled.

      Being principled is about standing by our principles–even if doing so requires us to vote for Donald Trump.

      1. Exactly. Trump is not a libertarian, but he’s the closest we’ve come in 40 years. I didn’t vote for him the first time around because I thought he was a loud mouthed clown who was manifestly unqualified to be president (I voted for Johnson). But I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far.

        I’m ordinarily not a person who votes for the “lesser of two evils” just because those are the only two choices. I abstain instead if there’s no one worth giving my vote to. But in this case, despite his multitude of flaws, and because the threat from the leftist nutbags is more than I can stomach, I’ll be voting for the flawed, loud mouthed, not-libertarian Trump this year.

        1. What are they going to say if come June of 2021, we’re still in Afghanistan, the Green New Deal has been passed, and a Democrat Congress has passed a $1 trillion bail out of the states and their pension funds?

          Are they going to tell us that it would have been the same if Trump were reelected–because neither Trump nor Biden were libertarians?

          There’s this thing called the Nirvana fallacy.

          “A person using the nirvana fallacy can attack any opposing idea because it is imperfect. Under this fallacy, the choice is not between real world solutions; it is, rather, a choice between one realistic achievable possibility and another unrealistic solution that could in some way be “better”.

          Because neither Trump nor Biden are perfect solutions doesn’t mean one is vastly superior to other, and the timeline with Trump being reelected is vastly superior to the one where Biden is elected.

          I look forward to opposing Trump on all cylinders again–just as soon as he’s reelected.

          And I shudder to think what the populist landscape will look like in reaction to the Green New Deal and $1 trillion bailout of the states come 2020 and 2024. Populism in all its forms–from left to right–is always a reaction to elitism, and this crop of Democrats prides itself on their elitism. Even the communists had the good sense to at least pretend they were looking out for the working class. These Democrats hold nothing but contempt for average working people. The reaction will likely to be much darker than what we saw in reaction to the elitism of the Obama era.

      2. #LibertariansForRecordDeficits
        #LibertariansForTradeWars
        #LibertariansForBorderWalls

        #BeingPrincipledByAbandoningYourPrinciples

        ????

        1. Tax cuts
          Prison reform
          No new wars and troop reduction
          Better judges
          Reduced regulatory state

          Oh, he’s not perfect. #LibertariansForTakingTheBallAndGoingHome

          It isnt a principle to cry and stomp your feet if you dont get everything you want.

          1. “It isnt a principle to cry and stomp your feet if you dont get everything you want”

            And yet you do it anyway.

            1. Do you have random Google links you didnt read to prove that dear?

              1. Oh Mr. Troll don’t be cranky just because you asked me for something you didn’t know you were already given because you know absolutely nothing about the subject!

          2. “…ForTakingTheBallAndGoingHome”

            Aka “the LeBron”

        2. I don’t know why we’re talking about deficits or trade wars–regardless of whether Trump or Biden is elected, I don’t expect either one of those situations to change. Do you expect Congress to start slashing the budget if Biden is elected? Do you expect Biden to suddenly start lowering tariffs with China?

          Making decisions based on outcomes that won’t change regardless of which choice you make is irrational, right?

          Choice 1: I get A, B, C, D, E, F.
          Choice 2: I get C, D, E, F, G, H.

          Making your decision based on whether you get C, D, E, and F is irrational–because you’re getting that regardless of which choice you make.

          If you decide on Choice 1, you get A and B, and you don’t get G and H. If you decide on Choice 2, you get G and H, but you don’t get A and B. So the rational decision is based on whether you want A and B or G and H.

          In this situation, choosing Trump will almost certainly get us out of Afghanistan and will keep us out the Green New Deal and avoid a $3.5 trillion stimulus bill. Choosing Biden will get us the Green New Deal, probably get us the huge stimulus bill, and is less likely to get us out of Afghanistan.

          Making your decision based on outcomes that won’t change regardless of which choice you make is fundamentally irrational. The question is whether you want the things that will be different depending on who is elected.

          1. ” Do you expect Biden to suddenly start lowering tariffs with China?”

            I do actually expect something along those lines. Maybe not instantly, but Biden, both ideologically, and for pocketbook reasons, is NOT motivated to be tough with China.

            1. I think you’re misreading that.

              For one, Biden’s long term support has always been the big unions, and they’re not in favor of increasing trade with China at the expense of American workers or American manufacturers.

              Second, there isn’t anything about Democrats that favors trade with China–not on moral grounds and not because they’re ideologically pro-capitalism. If anything, they want to cancel China for their misbehavior. And they think specialization and exchange is even dumber than creationism.

              Meanwhile, just from a political perspective, now that Trump has pulled the plug, what’s the political incentive for President Biden to repair our relationship with China? Why would that be of political benefit to the Democrats or Biden himself?

              1. For one, Biden’s long term support has always been the big unions

                I have to wonder if Biden’s opinion even matters in his own campaign anymore.

                1. FWIW, I doubt he’ll run for reelection in 2024.

                  He’ll be 82 come November of 2024. Do you see him crisscrossing the country at that age to make fundraising and campaign appearances?

                  Most likely he resigns sometime after the 2022 midterms and before the 2024 election. A vote for Biden is probably a vote for President Harris.

          2. So, um, like, when can we vote for someone other than a Republicrat? When does the stranglehold of these usurpers get broken?

            1. As soon as you’re actively anti racist enough, after you’ve baked the cake

            2. When Obama and Bush were running, there wasn’t much of a difference between the candidates. This time isn’t like that.

              The last time I voted was in 2000. I’m normally a principled non-voter. I didn’t vote for Bush in 2004. I didn’t vote for McCain. I didn’t vote for Romney. I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. This time it’s different.

              It isn’t that the Republican is so fantastic; it’s that the Democrat is far worse than usual, and it isn’t just the Democrat, it’s the Democrats in Congress. We need Trump in the White House to stop them from making the Green New Deal a reality, from instituting Medicare for All, and to keep them from bailing out the state pension funds to the tune of $1 trillion (just for starters).

              That isn’t a legitimate threat every election.

              This time it really is different.

            3. I assume you’re speaking as a libertarian.
              In that case, the answer is when we libertarians are a national force in U.S. politics.
              And that comes after we are a local force in U.S. politics.
              Thus, the way ahead is to field and to back good LOCAL candidates.
              And to win enough local races that voters in those locales start to see our views and our candidates as a viable alternative — not just as “throwing your vote away to make a statement.”

      3. Biden voted for all the wars.

      4. I’ll settle for…

        You sure are a cheap date Ken.

        1. “If we can’t have a Libertarian President, I’ll settle for one who negotiated a full withdrawal from Afghanistan, single-handedly killed a $3.5 trillion stimulus bill, and promised to veto the Green New Deal.”

          It may not seem like asking to keep things as they are is a big request since it’s the status quo right now, but after Biden has sent the state pension programs a bigger bailout than TARP and after Biden’s Green New Deal has been passed and signed, won’t those be the most important issues?

          If Trump doesn’t get us out of Afghanistan, we may get out of Germany, Japan, and South Korea before we get out of Afghanistan. That isn’t a cheap request. That will be a gargantuan victory for libertarianism.

          If war is the health of the state, then whatever else voluntarily removing our forces from other countries is, it must also be libertarian.

          1. I’m not voting for Biden.

            If it were up to me the military budget would be slashed and we would have a true defense force. Leaner and meaner. The waste and graft will continue no matter which of the two you support.

            Trump has increased the military budget every year. What is it now 100 billion more. Now tell me again.

            Really nobody needs to make excuses for supporting Trump. If that is what you are just be honest about it.

      5. Been following Reason back to Postrel days and ’80’s print. Now it seems infested with postmodernist weeds. Still, I read for the comments, where folks like Ken Shultz and some others seem still understand the concept of liberty and limited government. Sad to be steadily and corrosively losing that. Entropy, stuff rots. Takes effort to sustain liberty…

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  6. “Sadly for us, his opposition to “endless wars” doesn’t translate into ending them.”

    This is willfully self-inflicted ignorance at best.

    If President Trump is reelected, we’ll be out of Afghanistan by the end of April if not sooner.

    Joe Biden wouldn’t have had the balls to negotiate an agreement with the Taliban, and what Gary Johnson thinks hasn’t mattered since 2003.

    1. “If President Trump is reelected, we’ll be out of Afghanistan by the end of April if not sooner.”

      Why is he waiting for re-election? Why not do it now?

      1. Good question.

        That’s a question Trump has been asking, too.

        The fact is that the deal Trump inked with the Taliban in February of 2020 has us pulling out of Afghanistan completely at the end of April, 2021 (14 months from when the deal was signed on February 29, 2020). The deal has a number of hurdles in it. The Taliban does this, we do that. The argument from the Pentagon has been that if he pulls out of Afghanistan ahead of schedule, that will reduce the incentive for the Taliban to follow through on their promises at those agreed upon stages. They do x, we withdraw 4,000 troops. If we withdraw 4,000 troops ahead of time, then they have less incentive to follow through on their side of the bargain.

        That being said, the real block to the plan so far has been the U.S. backed government in Kabul, who keeps dragging their feet on the agreement. The fact is that they don’t want the U.S. to leave, and so they’ve been slow to follow through with their agreement to release Taliban prisoners and negotiate a power sharing agreement.

        So what did the Trump administration do about that?

        They withheld U.S. aid to the government in Kabul until they started releasing Taliban prisoners again.

        Meanwhile, President Trump has been pushing to leave Afghanistan early–primarily as a means to push the Kabul government to make concessions to the Taliban. President Trump is basically telling them that if they fail to enter into a power sharing agreement before the deadline, he’s leaving Afghanistan forever anyway.

        The Kabul government keeps trying to muck up the negotiations in the hope the Joe Biden will win the election–and then all bets are off. If Joe Biden wins the election, we may be Afghanistan forever.

        Here’s the right wing New York Times writing about President Trump trying to get out of Afghanistan before election day.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/world/asia/afghanistan-troop-withdrawal-election-day.html

        If you didn’t already know about all this, I suggest you stop using whatever news sources you’ve been using, and start using something else.

        1. Basically, the Kabul government needs time to get its loot to safe places like the Caymans, Monaco, and Switzerland.

          1. This is the origin of a “golden handshake” or a “golden parachute” in mergers and acquisitions. When a larger company is taking over a smaller company, the guy who was running things may have little or no incentive to cooperate with the merger. You’re taking his job away!

            The Kabul government has no future in a country that’s controlled by the Taliban, but because President Trump is the President of the United States, he’s pursuing the interests of the United States rather than the interests of the government in Kabul. It’s the same reason he pulled our troops out of harm’s way in Syria rather than went to war. Trump’s interests are those of the United States–not the interests of the Kurds.

            Trump is not a neocon. He is a pragmatist, thank God. He’s leaving Afghanistan for the same reason that Reagan withdrew from Lebanon, the same reason that Bush Sr. didn’t topple Saddam Hussein and occupy Iraq in 1991, and the same reason that Bill Clinton didn’t invade and occupy Rwanda–because it wasn’t in the best interests of the United States to do so.

            I don’t see that kind of pragmatic thinking coming from Biden at all. When the Obama administration decided whether to go into Libya or whether they wanted to go to war in Syria, it wasn’t the best interests of the United States they had in mind. They were concerned about the best interests of the Libyans and the Syrians.

            Anybody who’s done with neoconservative foreign policy should take a long look at Trump’s record. He’s the exact opposite of that.

      2. He is busy traveling throughout the country, trying to get re-elected, one thing at a time.

  7. Not surprised to hear Trump is struggling with his Johnson.

  8. There has been a perpetual push from ostensible “libertarians” to vote Republican since before Trump, while ignoring the LP’s own and magnifying whatever perceived flaws of the LP candidate as disqualifies to “trve” libertarianism. As if, on the whole, the Republican party does a better job of representing libertarian interests than Libertarians. I’m sure many blacks watching white liberals destroy their communities can relate.

    And this while conveniently ignoring the entirety of the track record of the GOP (a few libertarian-leaning republicans notwithstanding. They are often viewed with the same ambivalence as the Squad on the left), as if the GOP is immune from the same extravagances and corruption of power when they are in control.

    And this comes from the same crowd pushing a very specious brand of libertarianism that seemingly ignores the entire civil wing and the horrified looks when they explain their vision of libertarianism to the unsuspecting public at large.

    1. Look, I’ve got fairly good Libertarian credentials. I joined back in ’77, I founded a college chapter of the LP, I ran for state Rep once, wore out multiple pairs of shoes going door to door, would regularly donate the legal maximum and dump spare cash into the bucket at campaign headquarters.

      There’s a reason I got out of the LP, in the late 90’s, and it isn’t because I stopped being a libertarian. It’s because I could see the writing on the wall, campaign regulations had made the LP into just a way of wasting the time and money of libertarians. And the futility of it all was causing the party to be taken over by cranks and grifters.

      I’m still not at all happy with the Republican party. But the Democratic party scares me spitless. They’re moving left so fast they’re leaving a vapor trail, and ideas like Court packing are gaining wide acceptance fast. Ten years ago they might have been a normal political party, today they’re halfway to becoming a totalitarian revolutionary movement.

      And I don’t think they’ve got what it takes to kick out the revolutionaries.

      1. But the Democratic party scares me spitless

        Me too.
        I’m a Canadian with no intention of ever moving to the States, but the reason I’m so concerned about this is because I see the Democratic party as a destructive force in Western civilization.

        1. Actually perhaps an existential threat rather than just a destructive force.

      2. I am a soon to be ex-libertarian voting for Trump. I made my decision when libertarian nominee JoJo started pandering to BlackLivesMatters!

  9. It is time for my stupid little essay…

    I have made a decision to vote for Trump. It didn’t come easy, and while I think I have previously thrown that out of frustration in the comment thread, I may not have been fully committed at the time, but now I am. Please bear with me.

    As a libertarian (emphasis on small-l), I have no illusions about Donald Trump’s flirtation with either conservative (emphasis on small-c) or libertarian values, but I do see the importance of this election on the scale of grand narratives.

    At this time, the tit-for-tat in regards to specific policies is secondary to those questions of said grander narrative. Throughout most of my life, elections at the national level have been over issues. To legalize gay marriage or not, to raise taxes or not, to regulate such-and-such business sector or not, to create or expand a welfare program or not. These issues were and always will be very important to various factions, but when I look back on them, compared to the current over-arching narrative, they’re just details being hammered out in a working democracy.

    But what has been happening lately, is a sect of intensely anti-American ideologicals have swept into the mainstream, and they’re not arguing about details, they’re attempting to re-write the entire American experience as one of racism, colonialism, patriarchy, hate and violence. They’ve created an entirely reductive narrative through a prodding, never-ending project that has gained alarming mainstream acceptance. As I see it, the flow of the current (if you will) from Trump’s self-declared opposition is not whether to reform the police or not, but whether to HAVE a police or not. It’s not a question of reforming our immigration system, but a question of how soon we can eliminate our (and by extention, everyone elses) national borders. It’s not how and what we emphasize protecting in the constitution, but how quickly we can get to work on shredding the entire set of founding documents and replace the whole structure of our rights, economy, and judicial system with something that either rubs dangerously close to Marxism or makes its Marxist intentions crystal clear.

    1. Simply put, from the left side of the perspective, the question isn’t whether we’re improving America, or even reforming America, the question how quickly and violently should we tear down America.

      Donald Trump, for all his faults, real or perceived, is at least on the side of Having an America. Whatever his specific policies (including the ones with which I vehemently disagree: the CDC believing it can regulate national housing policy, to name one) at least he and his supporters (whatever their faults) come firmly down on the side of Having an America.

      Given our choices in the current election, I am casting my vote for Donald Trump, not because I support a set of tarriffs or even a specific set of immigration policies, but that it’s the only vote I see that will send a clear signal that I want to have An America.

      1. It’s real nice that you see this. Why is Biden ahead by 7% or so?
        I think it will take more than your one vote or my one vote or the votes of other devoted reason blog posters to Have An America after 2020.

        1. The question is why isn’t Joe 50 points ahead? Hillary knows the answer.

        2. My vote is free. My state is going for Biden. Therefor my vote, not matter what it is– is lost in the storm.

          However, to the point of your post, I’m not sure what polling numbers have anything to do with what I said.

        3. He’s ahead because having 95% of the institutional media in your corner MATTERS.

      2. “but that it’s the only vote I see that will send a clear signal that I want to have An America.”

        Wanting to ‘have an America’ is quite a climb down from MAGA. I guess we have Trump’s expert negotiating tactics to thank for that. Bait and switch is what they call it.

        You think voting will send any kind of signal? Isn’t that a case of too little too late? You’ll be lucky if they get around to counting your vote.

        1. As I stated above, from the standpoint of election math, my vote is lost. But even in a strong Hillary/Sanders state, if they see assumed-to-be-forever-blue voters at least voting for Trump (who previously didn’t) it might send a message. Who knows.

          1. I’m sure it will send a message: “Guess we’ll need to boost the funding for those reeducation camps we have planned.”

          2. I suspect that America carrying out a meaningful election today is beyond her capacity; a bridge too far. Any voting, counting, message sending, etc is certain to be perverted by others. I’m surprised at the faith you seem to have in the election. I doubt it’ll fix anything.

      3. Yeah, He’s got my vote. For the last 4 Presidential elections I’ve vote 3rd or off party. Can’t do it this time. Plus I like Trump’s tax cuts, and his stance o China. I also relish that his mere existence causes so much consternation in established and new politicians and talking heads, and media and cultural elites. I do love his mud in your eye approach. Though I dread the prospect of hearing him speak.
        Plus we really don’t who the dems are running. If Biden were to win Uncle Chucky and winebox Nancy would be tripping over each other to evoke the 25th amendment.
        Their campaign signs should read “Harris and TBD”

      4. That’s about the way I feel about it. Republicans don’t impress me, Democrats have me scared spitless.

      5. I tend to agree with you. It seems the Extreme Left is attempting to make it’s Big Move right now and it may have reached too far, too soon. I would venture to guess that the backlash will result in a win for Trump. I may even be convinced and I’ve never voted for a Republicrat for President beside Dr. Ron Paul in almost 40 years of voting.

    2. The scariest thing to me is seeing that lurch to the far left in people I know who aren’t Democrat apparatchiks and haven’t been particularly ideologic. It’s like pod people have come in to replace normal folks.

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  11. I voted for Johnson and I’m not a Republican. But I’ll be voting R this election.

    I’m also a NJ voter, so I’ll probably also be voting for Biden.

  12. Trump is no libertarian, but on foreign policy he’s the closest thing we’ve had to Ron Paul in my lifetime. Not sure why Reason wants to knock him in an area where he’s been very good.

    1. I think Reason let their guard down during the proposed “liberalitarian” alliance, and got taken over. Their only real function anymore is to encourage potential Republican voters to vote Libertarian by running down Republicans.

      Some of the old-timers still sneak in some real libertarianism occasionally, but they have to be careful about it.

    2. You sure? U.S. drone strikes went up 432% since Trump took office.

      During President Obama’s two terms in office, he approved 542 such targeted strikes in 2,920 days—one every 5.4 days. From his inauguration through today, President Trump had approved at least 36 drone strikes or raids in 45 days—one every 1.25 days.

      The raid in Yemen that cost Owens his life also killed 30 other people, including ‘many civilians,’ at least nine of whom were children. None of them were mentioned by Trump in last night’s speech, let alone honored with applause and the presence of grieving relatives. That’s because they were Yemenis, not Americans; therefore, their deaths, and lives, must be ignored (the only exception was some fleeting media mention of the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, but only because she was a U.S. citizen and because of the irony that Obama killed her 16-year-old American brother with a drone strike).

  13. Voted for Gary Johnson last time. That was it, 3rd parties are useless and democrats are insane.

  14. Jo Jorgenson is 10x better than Gary Johnson ever was.

    Also Trump is 10x better than I thought he would be.

    1. Jo lost me entirely when she caved to anti racism. Anti marxism is the main principle I will not condone in any manner. I dont give a fuck if she didn’t understand what she said. She supported cultural marxism even if done through ignorance.

      1. Yes, that did trigger a lot of racists. And you.

  15. Wonder how many Reason staff will vote Jorgenson. I’ll wager that one and all will cast a straight Dem ticket. Hypocritical bitches

    1. Jorgenson is the honest, principled suicide pact. I respect anyone who votes for her. We’re just not in the libertarian moment.

      1. I’m sure she means really, really well. She’s not suited for the big chair yet. She’s got my vote for Rep or City Council whenever she wants it.

        President…? Trump’s an asshole, but largely means well, and loves this country. If only because it has a lot of his hotels in it. Low bar.

        Biden’s straight up senile, and his backers and VP choice are seditious and evil. Make it a choice in a vacuum between Trump and Jim Webb, and no craziness from the past twelve months? I might have a hard time deciding.

        Not the choice we’re given right now. These fuckers want to turn you into a serf, once they’re done redistributing your hard work to everyone else. And they aren’t bothering to hide that anymore. It’s really, really scary.

        Give me the Libertarian candidate protest vote for President when the biggest issue is to ratify NAFTA or not. Not now

        1. Trump only loves himself.

        2. ” It’s really, really scary.”

          And you think voting for Trump is going to fix anything? This seems naive or partisan. I don’t see anything good coming from the election, and advise you to tend to your own garden. You must have more important things to do than wringing your hands over what promises to be another travesty of an election.

      2. Your vote is completely insignificant, with no statistical chance at all of influencing the outcome. Might as well vote your principles.

        1. “Your vote is completely insignificant”

          Maybe he’s on the electoral college, but otherwise, yes.

        2. You, eunuch, are completely insignificant.
          It’s why you’re entire being is consumed by resentment and desperate attempts to seek approval

  16. I voted in every election since I was 18, up to and including supporting Gary’s Johnson four years ago. Haven’t voted since and am not even registered. I just can’t choose between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich.

    1. I mean this in the kindest way, but that’s not even all that glib, and unfortunately, says a bit about you. I love Matt and Trey’s work; that’s simply not applicable to this situation now.

      Cartman riding Cthulhu might be…

      1. So Trump is mint-berry crunch…
        It all makes sense now!

    2. I consider it my responsiblity as a citizen to hold my nose and participate in the functioning of the system, while also working to improve it and get better choices.

      I’ve never really been convinced that sitting out leads to positive changes, but I do understand the moral angle and feeling like you can’t endorse someone. I get that totally.

      1. “I consider it my responsibility as a citizen to hold my nose and participate in the functioning of the system”

        Doesn’t that make you a sucker or loser in the eyes of the president? Or does that only apply to soldiers who sacrifice themselves?

        1. “Or does that only apply to soldiers who sacrifice themselves?”

          Soldiers don’t sacrifice themselves. The state sacrifices them.

          1. “The state sacrifices them.”

            The suckers and losers. Wiseguys have ways to avoid all that.

  17. Who is Gary Johnson voting for this time around?

  18. “Sadly for us, his opposition to “endless wars” doesn’t translate into ending them.”

    Because Hillary would have ended all foreign wars and brought the troops home – or, more likely, just left them there without support.

    1. Whataboutism.

      1. Talking about Hillary in regards to an alternative to Trump isn’t remotely whataboutism FFS.

        1. When the topic is Trump, and sometime brings up Hillary, it is indeed whataboutism.

  19. Libertarians for Trump = Libertarians for the Bigglyest Government in American history growing at the fastest rate.

    The Trumpy the Clown Show!

  20. Trump is not a libertarian, but he listens to and respects Rand Paul and I think that’s great. Also Trump devolves power to the states (e.g. covid response) and I think that’s great too. Biden will centralize power in the federal government.

    At this point I see the future as being in the hands of the people – you and me – to make political choices using the power of social media. For example, to respond to Russian aggression or abuses, it shouldn’t be our president yelling at Putin (will do nothing), but instead Russian Americans who’ve lived here for decades in many cases, bestowing the blessing of peace and freedom they learned here back on their ancestral homeland (either in online or irl). And if they learned nothing then certainly nothing the president could do would help – would likely only worsen the situation.

    And Trump has so far preserved liberty, whereas the KHive will get accounts banned for ‘racism’ among other pretexts. So I support Trump because I’m a libertarian who doesn’t put my faith in government any more to solve our problems. They are far more likely the cause of them. (E.g. the economic disruption caused by unnecessary covid lockdowns.)

    1. “At this point I see the future as being in the hands of the people – you and me – to make political choices using the power of social media…”

      Why do you think that power is currently, or will remain, in the hands of the people? Big Tech has been doing their level best to jam their fist onto the scales, this time around.

      1. Of course, but it’s our job to fight for free speech on social media instead of running from the battle as too many of us do. For example, COVID threads on twitters are often just echo chambers. People fear the vitriol of the other side and so just preach to the choir. This gives the other side the authority to censor. In other words, the root problem isn’t censorship but cowardice. And yes the same dynamic has happened even here on Reason. (And as always – thank you Reason for not banning me again for supporting free speech.)

      2. As much as they shut down, they can’t shut it all down.
        Every little bit helps

    2. ” I’m a libertarian who doesn’t put my faith in government any more to solve our problems.”

      You just put your faith in voting in elections. And seem to think that voting for Trump (out of naivety or partisanship) will solve anything.

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  22. Ah, the bake the gay Nazi cake people …

  23. Has anything changed in the looter platforms? Has the GOP quit licking the blacking off of the Drug Czar’s boots? Have the Dems decided electric power generation isn’t a felony? It takes hous to read through some 70,000 words of cowardly, slimy evasion, but I get the impression nobody here has even begun. The LP platform takes less than half an hour to read or listen to. Accept no Substitutsky!

    1. Back on the ol’ pipe again eh Hank?

      1. Hank loves his crank.

  24. Well, since I’ve started reading Reason a big issue for libertarians I learned was the reaction of interventionist wars. Only attack when attack. Where there are no interests stay out.

    Trump has a natural instinct to want to keep America out of wars. I thought this would appeal to libertarians.

    He doesn’t get enough credit for his stances on the military. There’s only so much he can do against the powerful military industrial complex. Remember when he didn’t want to invade Syria stating perfectly sensible reasons not to? Look at how progressives reacted and all that ‘muh Kurds’ crap. They were siding with the commie Kurds. They can’t even back the right Kurds.

    That’s because they didn’t give a fuck about the Kurds. They just did it because they hate Trump. Until then, they thought Kurds was something you sprinkle on poutine.

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    2. “Remember when he didn’t want to invade Syria stating perfectly sensible reasons not to? ”

      The chance to invade Syria was foreclosed when Russia invaded first, beating US to the punch. This happened during the Obama administration.

      “They can’t even back the right Kurds.”

      You mean the non-PKK types who make up the leadership in Iraq? Progressives have always had a soft spot for the Kurds, going back to Winston Churchill, who expressed feelings of regret at their treatment by Western powers.

      1. At least you realize Obama was outwitted by Russia – to the extent you wanted to be involved in Syria. In that one move, America ceded their pole position in the Mid-East.

        Let’s not forget Obama and his team of clowns also bent the knee for China.

        Mr. Chess created a foreign policy mess.

        1. You’re a fucking idiot and always will be.

        2. Who are the right Kurds the progressives refuse to back? I don’t follow your take on the middle east. How can you credit Trump for not invading Syria, but criticize Obama for that? Is it just simple partisanship or is there something else to it?

  25. I love how Trumpistas will credit Trump for anything good that happened in America in the last four years, no matter how incidental and how little he may have had to do with it, but will then turn around and blame anything bad that happened under his administration as the wiles of those dirty democrats in the house, particularly on the budget. It apparently doesn’t matter that Donald Trump fought to stamp his signature on all those stimulus checks. No, you see, he’s a fiscal conservative!

    I just wish I knew what magic lamp he rubbed as a child that caused everyone in the world to assume a storied conman, rapist, grifter, and general lifelong fuckup was instead a 5D chessmaster and that all his idiotic foibles are only part of a grand scheme to “own” the people pointing out that he’s retarded.

    1. “America in the last four years, no matter how incidental and how little he may have had to do with it,”

      Obama’s economy!

      Yeh. No. There were some clear policy initiatives that helped spur the economy.

      Nice try though.

      1. The economy didn’t get “spurred” you dumbass. GDP averaged 2.5% growth BEFORE the virus and now Trump will end his term well below Obama’s GDP.

        And the GOP spent trillions we didn’t have. You bootlicks can’t stop lying for the Con Man.

        1. Show me on the doll where the Orange Man touched you.

  26. discuss the president’s actual record on policies dear to libertarian hearts; critique Joe Biden on same

    lol, nobody gives a shit.

    Wow, you people are in a bubble of your own making. The Dems are backing mini violent revolutions in their own cities and Biden literally threatened that it would continue as long as we don’t give them what they want. People do not care that much about abstract policy right now. The barbarians are at the gate. Wake the fuck up.

    1. Know how retardededly evil the Dems are?

      Despite their obvious support of the riots (Harris would sleep with BLM, Adler narrating Fractured Fairy Tales saying Antifa is a myth, DEMOCRAT Mayors and Gov. refusing to quell the violence) and defending the police, they now try to position themselves as having supporting law & order from the beginning culminating into perhaps one of the most outrageous lie yet when Biden said ‘it’s Trump who wants to defund the police’.

      They’re like the little evil manipulative psychopath child even the most remedial of psychiatrists figures out is on a path to commit crime.

      This party seriously needs the proverbial bullet in the head.

  27. Now I know why anarchists can’t stand “libertarians”..bunch of unprincipled grifters. Just come out of the closet as the GOP enablers that you are.

  28. If you want to see a bloody, drawn out civil war, in the streets of your own home town, go ahead and vote for Sleepy Joe Tyranny, or do anything else that lets him claim victory. There are 80 million gun owners out there that are fed up beyond comprehension and just waiting for an excuse.

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  30. The GOP has become the party of rednecks, Bible-beaters, and con-men felons. It’s called Trumpism.

    Democrats suck too but they don’t lie about it.

    1. No, they lie about it every day. Just like you do. Democrats are loaded with Commie totalitarians and race-baiting haters. Fuck them, this atheist will take bible thumping rednecks over leftwing shits every damn time.

  31. Voted Johnson in 2016. Will be voting Trump this go-round. Until the dems can get rid of the socialist cancers in their party, I will vote Republican.

    1. But it took a GOP POTUS and Senate to hand out $3 trillion in taxpayer money blowing up the deficit over 7x where Obama left it.

      1. Non sequitur much? Don’t answer. You’re a left-wing shitstain.

      2. I presume since you don’t like the GOP POTUS and Senate ratifying the Democratic House’s CoViD rescue bill, that you’re against the Democrats who initiated all this.
        So while you don’t want to approve of the GOP, you disapprove of the Democrats?
        So can’t in good conscience vote for anybody.

  32. No president, not even a libertarian, can stop the military-industrial complex. It will eventually end itself – and the rest of civilization along with it.

    1. He had two years when his party had control of both houses of congress. He could have done something. The announced a scale back and the Democrats freaked out so he said “sorry” and sent more troops.

      1. Republicans in the Senate don’t like Trump. They only ‘support’ because of their constituents.
        Every time Trump fires someone, he gets in political trouble.

  33. > they have to vote for us

    Four years and nothing libertarian to show for it. I do NOT have to do what Trump tells me to. Fuck him. Maybe if he had ended one single war. Maybe if he actually replaced ObamaCare with something that wasn’t a clone of ObamaCare. Maybe if he actually cut some spending. Maybe if he actually reduced the size and scope of government.

    Plus I live in California. Is he so mathmatically innumerate that he thinks 4.5% of likely Gary Johnson voters will swing the state to him? Really? What color is the weed on his planet?

    1. If you are sincerely a libertarian,
      You are NOT going to like 12 years under Biden-Harris.
      Welcome to hell.

  34. Suderman has done it again. Sucked all the fun about going to the movies!
    It has to be hard to be Suderman!

  35. I have examined the Republican candidate, and the Democratic candidate, and have concluded that I don’t have a favorite flavor of shit sandwich.

  36. It’s one thing to register as a Libertarian, it’s another thing to waste a vote. A specific registration as Libertarian can create a public statistic that the major parties can see, and either respect or fear. A sufficient number of registered Libertarians represents political influence. Ron and Rand Paul have been unquestionably influential. They are Libertarians who vote with the Republicans and Conservatives. Arguably, the Libertarians are one element of the right-wing group, but take note. They are only effective as part of the group.
    I registered as a Libertarian, even though I didn’t agree with the Libertarians on all issues. I also ran as a Libertarian for an elective office which offered no compensation. Had no-one run against me for the position, I would have won. Those good souls who voted for me may have wasted their votes because there were very few Libertarians registered. No Republican ran. The Democrat won a cheap victory. I learned something.
    This is going to be a close race. As we all know, EVERYONE WHO VOTES FOR A MINOR PARTY IS WASTING A PRECIOUS VOTE. There are only two choices in our binary system, and the sanctimonious purists who see the major contest as “a bad candidate vs a worse candidate,” are not entitled to their simplistic opinion. By not voting for the Republican/Conservative “bad guy,” the sanctimonious purists may actually elect the Democrat/Progressive/Socialist/Anarchistic “worse guy.” In fact, this is exactly what happened in several voting districts in 2016..
    Some Libertarians out west voted for the Libertarian candidate, which deprived the Republicans of just enough “right of center” votes to give a local victory and one or more electoral college votes to Hillary. Imagine if Hillary had won the electoral college because of the Libertarian Party. Thanks guys, but what were you purists thinking? Trump, bad, bad was better than Crooked Hillary. Duh. And don’t even mention Ross Perot. He was hopefully a “lesson learned.”

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  38. I feel the group discussion and suggestion that Trump has not started new conflicts forgot about the situation with Iran. President Trump came into office with a multinational agreement to limit Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. He threw this away because of his jealousy of his predecessor. The agreement brought stability to the region and provided a basis to develop more far reaching agreements with Iran. So while Trump has not entered a hot war he has created an unnecessary cold war.

  39. Digressing from Trump for a moment… I really really love this Roundtable podcast – it’s the highlight of my podcast-listening week. This week, specifically: so happy to hear Nick’s reference to Bugs Bunny and Hoboken – glad that we were watching the same things growing up. And thanks, KMW for the recommendation for another John Green book, and the proper reference(s) for “turtles all the way down.” I love it when some or all of you dive down the geek tunnel (adding my mixed metaphor to the stack). I keep thinking I should do a reaction video to one of the weekly podcasts – I am always yelling and arm-waving with or at you.
    Once again – thanks and keep up the great work!

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