Election 2020

Who Should Libertarians Vote for in 2020? A Soho Forum Update

Ilya Somin, Angela McArdle, and Francis Menton refresh their cases for Biden, Jorgensen, and Trump.


In July, the Soho Forum hosted a three-way debate asking the question "Who should Libertarians Vote For in 2020?" George Mason Law Professor Ilya Somin made the case for Joe Biden, chair of the Libertarian Party in Los Angeles Angela McArdle argued for Jo Jorgensen, and attorney and Manhattan Contrarian blogger Francis Menton defended Donald Trump.

A lot has changed since July, and with the election now less than three weeks away, the Soho Forum hosted another event in which those same three libertarians updated their arguments for their preferred candidates.

None of the participants have changed their minds on who to vote for, but they all agree on one thing: The stakes have gotten higher.

Somin blogs at The Volokh Conspiracy and has written Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter and Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom.

McArdle is the chair of the Libertarian Party of Los Angeles and the author of The Communist Cookbook: Delicious Dining for the Modern Marxist.

Menton blogs at Manhattan Contrarian and is a retired partner in the Litigation Department and co-chair of the business litigation practice group Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in New York.

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  1. Willie Nelson?

    1. Don’t boss him, don’t cross him

  2. If ‘none of the above’ wins does the office stay vacant for four years?

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    1. In Virginia, if you vote “None of the above”, they just count it as not voting.

      1. Yet another reason to vote out every incumbent.

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  4. Anyone who doesn’t vote for Trump is helping racist thugs to continue looting and burning our cities. Property matters more than any number of thug lives.

    1. +100000


  5. The libertarian of course.


    EXCLUSIVE: Fox News Passed on Hunter Biden Laptop Story Over Credibility Concerns

    But according to two sources familiar with the matter, the lack of authentication of Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop, combined with established concerns about Giuliani as a reliable source and his desire for unvetted publication, led the network’s news division to pass. Fox News declined to comment on this story.

    Some of Fox News’ top news anchors and reporters have distanced themselves from the story. During an on-air report that largely focused on how social media platforms handled this story, Bret Baier said, “Let’s say, just not sugarcoat it. The whole thing is sketchy.”


    It is getting difficult to find a good ratfucker these days.

    This “story” is dead.

    1. Yet, Quid Pro Joe called a four fucking day lid….because of this obviously incorrect story…am I right?

      Joe Biden is corrupt AF. Ain’t no two ways about that.

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    2. And ABC distanced themselves from the epstein scandal

    3. This “story” is dead.


  6. Breakdown of Ilya Somin’s case for Joe Biden:

    See children, orange man bad (come on)
    And if you don’t believe me, ask ya dad (ask him man)
    And if you don’t believe him, ask ya mom (that’s right)
    She’ll tell you how he’s racist all the time (she will)
    So kids say no to Trump (that’s right)
    So you believe like everyone else does (uh-huh)
    Then there’s really nothin’ else to say (sing along)
    Orange man bad, okay?

  7. I already voted and returned my ballot to an OFFICIAL ballot drop box. So I really don’t care what you guys think.

    I came |this| close to voting for Kanye, but I didn’t.

  8. Ilya Somin is a lying weasel.

    Note how he calls Trump and Proud boys bigots while handwaving away why he makes the claim. He won’t explain why they’re supposedly bigots because it’s a big pile of innuendo and assumption and implication used to assert opportunistic outrage.

    Then he barks about how Trump is refusing to condemn phony claims of violence from right, while ignoring the fact that DNC militias like BLM/Antifa have been operating riots and burning major cities for months now.

    What a piece of shit. I wish Nick and the others hadn’t let him get away with it.

    1. Proud Boys, whose minority leader said many of the various groups in various cities are minority majority…. Yeap. Definitely the issue. Ilya of course backed up his claim correct?

      1. If by backed up you mean didn’t bother to, then yes.

        It’s hard to lie if you have to provide evidence.

  9. Unless you live in a very close swing state, your vote makes no difference to the outcome. You may as well vote for whoever you think is the best protest vote, or to help your favorite third party get on the ballot next election without needing to collect signatures.

    If you do live in a very close swing state, the differences between Biden and Trump come down to Trump hating foreigners more, slightly loosening some regulations, slightly pushing some criminal reform, withdrawing a few troops from overseas wars, and nominating two great justices and one so-so; while Biden will spend and increase regulations like there’s no tomorrow, will probably start more wars, send more people to jail, tax and spend more, possibly hate foreigners a little less, and if he gets the chance, nominate social justice warrior judges.

    Biden will absolutely tank the economy. Businesses like predictability more than anything, and there is little telling what he will try and what he will get away with. Higher corporate taxes, higher minimum wage, and tons and tons of more social justice regulations, all unpredictable in design, in effect, in every way.

    Trump’s tariffs have and will screw the economy, but not nearly as much as Biden’s tax and spend social justice. That’s the biggest practical difference.

    All the scaremongers who said Trump would be the end of the world have been proven wrong over the last four years. Doesn’t mean he’s good, but he’s not the death of the Republic.

    1. The cool kids all say you’re a proggy so this here comment doesn’t exist.

      1. Can you start citing your strawman arguments? Thanks.

        1. Can you cite one example of me being the leftist that you consistently accuse me of being?

          1. So that’s another no on your citation of histrionic strawmen?

        2. Never mind. I have yet to see you argue in good faith. Not once.

          1. You should cry about it some more and see if it improves.

          2. Says the guy who jumps into threads and is often the first to start a team vs team argument with histrionic whining? Youre broken man.

          3. By the way. You sound more like cry baby jeff daily. You’ve admitted you don’t argue or debate, promoting what you think is sarcasm but is just incessant batching.

            1. I always assumed he was Jeff.

              1. He is getting close. Or is he the one who claimed jeff was one of the few true leftitarians here?

              2. Is he fat? That’s how we’ll know if he’s really Jeff.

                Because Lying Jeffy admitted he’s fat.

            2. If Tony was the brunt of my shtick you’d be egging me on. You’re taking personal offense because my exaggerations are based on truth.

    2. That is right. Hopefully people in those swing states get it. If not well we get four years of Harris-Biden or whoever she picks to be the VP once they railroad him out of there.

      Expect lots of gun grabbing, and of course climate change laws that will tank several industries and jobs while enriching dem donors.

      1. If Biden wins, I think a lot of state and local level Dems will feel emboldened to raise taxes, start all kinds of ridiculous programs, and pass disastrous social justice laws that will further ruin schools and workplaces.

        1. http://twitter.com/AntiSensor2nd/status/1314282117686267907?s=19

          This is what you are voting for. Remember you only vote for socialism, in any form, once. If it is voted in you will never have a right to disagree with them again

          1. Venezuela
            1992: becomes 3rd richest country in Western hemisphere
            1997: 2nd largest importer of f150s
            2001: elect socialist because “income inequality”
            2004: Healthcare socialized
            2007: free education
            2009: guns banned
            2012: “Venezuelans are living the American dream better than Americans” -Bernie Sanders
            2014: opposition leadership imprisoned
            2016: widespread food shortages
            2017: constitution and elections suspended

            1. Sounds like the DNC’s dream plan if you skip straight from 2001 to 2014.

    3. That’s a pretty reasonable analysis, I’d say.

    4. Unless you live in a very close swing state, your vote makes no difference to the outcome. You may as well

      not bother and do something productive or enjoyable with your time.

      1. That’s my plan. I’m so sick of predicting the outcome of an election by taking the inverse of my ballot. Now I don’t bother.

        1. If the inverse of libertarian is authoritarian, then yes… you can predict every election by the inverse of my ballot.

      2. I think there’s more value in your vote going to the LP than NOTA. If/when the libertarian party grows to a more significant number or if it continues to cover the margins in swing states I think you’ll see the parties attempting to woo those votes.

    5. All the scaremongers who said Trump would be the end of the world have been proven wrong over the last four years

      I think 220k people might disagree with you.

      1. When will Trump stop his killing spree?

      2. Right, because Trump forced the Dem mayors and governors to lock down their states and send infected old folks to uninfected nursing homes.

        What do you think Trump could have done? It’s a federal system.

    6. I generally agree with your analysis. I disagree only with the following point:

      Biden will absolutely tank the economy. Businesses like predictability more than anything, and there is little telling what he will try and what he will get away with.

      I don’t think he will be significantly worse than Obama on economic issues. He’s certainly not the danger that Warren, Sanders, etc are. It’s hard to say that Obama tanked the economy. Choked is more apt.

      1. No, Biden is promising Green New Deal light, single payer, paying off student loans, all sorts of expensive things, plus you know he’ll push to bail out the states and cities. Keep those $600 unemployment bonuses going.

        Absolutely he’s going to spend te economy into the toilet tank.

        1. But he will raise taxes to pay for 10% of his spending plans.

    7. Even in a very close swing state your vote won’t decide it. If there’s a 0 or 1 vote margin, there will be a recount and the final margin will be a few thousand votes.

      If you think your vote is wasted if you don’t vote for the winner, vote for Biden since he will probably win.

      Somehow people don’t think a vote for the second place finisher is wasted, even though it doesn’t change the outcome either.

      The only way to not waste your vote is to vote for the candidate you really prefer, so your preference will be correctly recorded for posterity.

    8. “Businesses like predictability more than anything” — and Trump is the paragon of predictability? Do businesses like tariffs, trade wars and restrictions on hiring workers from abroad?

      “the differences between Biden and Trump come down to… [standard left/right policy differences]” — if that was all, why would a non-trivial number of top Republicans break with Trump?

  10. New from Wapo:

    But even at the risk of infringing on the principle of free speech and decreasing engagement for a period — which is to say, hurting their own bottom lines — Twitter and Facebook must muzzle Trump as the election nears.

    So please take this into consideration as you both sides everyone and then deftly choose the left as leftitarians seem intent on doing.

    1. Bias in media and the tech companies is a right wing conspiracy theory.

    2. Just the idea that they can openly and unselfconsciously advocate that position should tell you how they think the messaging is sewn up for the proggies. Not even the pretense of concern for freedom of speech and such

      1. The reason that the establishment media isn’t bothering to hide the iron fist anymore, is because they’ve bet the farm. They’re all in.

        If Trump miraculously manages to get past their fraud factor, there will be an immediate coup. They’re not playing around anymore.

        1. i had a similar thought… that the comprehensive alliance of media, big tech and intelligence services are so over the top (and integrity impeachingly) in on manipulating a Biden win… is because they ‘don’t want to have to’ do what they otherwise would be forced to.

          Hey, you never know – if the dems are successful in what they are planning with the vote counting delays maybe he’ll be elected in non-0 ending year.

        2. You do realize that exactly this already happened, don’t you?

  11. For me, it came down to a simple calculus.

    One candidate’s supporters are agitating for the destruction of America, the other candidate and his supporters seem to believe in America, and despite its faults, thinks there should be an America.

    This is not an election which represents higher or lower taxes, a national healthcare plan or a reformed one, a regulated corporate sector or an unregulated one– it represents to have an America or to not have an America.

    In Biden’s minor defense, I do not believe that he personally wants to see the destruction of America, but many of his supporters do, and the Democratic party has, in general lurched so far to the left that many Democrats do in fact, want to see everything burn so a new version of America (sans international borders) can be built.

    My vote is free as my state will swing heavily for Biden, so I could arguably safely vote for Jo Jorgenson, but unfortunately it’s not her time, and she keeps trying to cozy up to the far left with her support of the racist philosophy of “anti-racism” which alas, is a movement that attempts to rehabilitate racist thinking but in its own vision, as a benevolent force for good… which it’s is very much not.

    In addition to all of the above, I don’t see the Democratic party in its current form as anything I can even mildly support. They get every cause that would nominally be a force for good (Police reform) and invariably poison it with racialist thinking and policy proposals.

    I have the dystopian misfortune of living in a blue city, and the local politics is not only figuratively, but literally trying to vandalize and loot the city in some twisted attempt to signal their virtue for “social justice”. If it were someone else’s city, it would merely be a comic distraction. But unfortunately the effects are all too real. And I know it’s happening in other locales as well. (I was going to post a link here, but I couldn’t decide on the most awful example, which included school districts no longer failing any paper turned in late, because time is racist).

    This is not a movement or party that wants to see America do well. They’re a party that wants to see the destruction of America and its institutions rotting and weakened so they can be toppled for their more egalitarian vision. They’re a party that’s going around the institutional dining room and sawing part way through every chair and table leg, and if someone doesn’t put a stop to it, we’ll all get the government they deserve.

    1. I am in a bit different camp. I will be happy if Trump wins, for the reasons you describe. But when I see the amount of work that people go through to defend Trump’s silliness, I want no part of it. When everyone I know is complaining about his latest tweet, I can happily say I didn’t vote for the asshole. And if they tell me it is my fault for not throwing a vote for Biden, I can tell them it is their fault for electing a brain-addled drool cup.

      And of course, I’ll do the same thing if Biden is elected. It will be bad for the country, but I look forward to getting my SALT deduction back.

  12. It is much easier to determine who you will NOT vote for.

    I will not vote for Quid Pro Quo Joe Biden; I’ll eat a fucking bullet, first.

  13. The negative consequences of a Biden presidency would be far worse than those of a Trump presidency, despite libertarians’ legitimate criticisms of Trump. And Trump has helped to make progress on some libertarian issues, such as tax cuts, court picks, deregulation, school choice, and criminal justice reform. Although my policy positions align more with Jorgensen’s, my vote would go towards the most realistic means to prevent a Biden presidency, which is in this case Trump.

  14. Jorgensen is best. Biden with GOP controlled senate is second best.

    1. Libertarian Party candidates fall into one of two categories.

      1. Carpetbaggers who couldn’t make it in the party that actually supports the political philosophy they believe in and who don’t give a rat’s ass about actual libertarian values.

      2. Nut cases like Vermin Supreme.

      1. There’s a whole spectrum in between those extremes though. Gary Johnson was fairly good (for a Republican), Bob Barr not so much. Ron Paul was practically a real libertarian. Jo Jorgensen and the late Harry Browne were pretty good on the issues and far from nut cases, but lacking even modest qualifications to be considered presidential.

  15. NOTA (None Of The Above).

  16. Donald J Trump.


  17. This present-day iteration of Reason is a distorted and flickering shadow of its compelling print version from decades ago, which I subscribed to for many years. From a purely libertarian standpoint, there is never a great choice during presidential elections. For me, it has always been a choice between the famous “lesser of two evils,” or to cast an inconsequential but at least somewhat emotionally comforting vote for whichever libertarian listed on whichever ballot. There will never be a viable Libertarian Party as such under the system established by America’s founders. John Adams prophesized as much. My vote in the California SSR doesn’t count for anything. The future of the United States is presently in the hands of a slim percentage of voters in mostly eastern swing states. Those people will decide between a centrist and nominally inoffensive Democrat career pol and an illiberal and traitorous authoritarian who has already damaged American democratic institutions and international standing.

    1. Biden used to be a centrist and nominally inoffensive (and hopefully ineffective) Democrat career pol. Now he’s an empty suit and a teleprompter, with Harris looking at her watch backstage.

      1. At this moment in American history, I’ll take the normal, decent empty suit with a teleprompter any day over the alternative. But the fundamental problem is that the two-party system has finally broken down. The solution is a transition to multiparty democracy, giving citizens the freedom to promote any number of competing political visions. We’re still living in 1789. “Multiparty democracy is not perfect. But it is far superior in supporting the diversity, bargaining, and compromise that the Framers, and especially Madison, designed America’s institutions around, and which they saw as essential to the fragile experiment of self-government.”

  18. Kennedy is back on Fox Business! Matt Welch is one of her guests! On now, with a replay at 11 Eastern.

    1. And when she had the opinion guy from the New York Post on, she seemed to agree that what Twitter is doing is censorship, but didn’t address it when he Welch was on. I’d be curious about her opinion on Reason’s coverage of the topic.

  19. I’ll be voting for Jo. I’m registered as a libertarian and have been since the 80’s. I’ve never understood why libertarians vote for a democrat or republican. Most of the libertarians I know say it’s because they dislike one candidate so much that they must cast their vote for the other guy instead of voting for the libertarian. So, if you can never vote for a libertarian, why even register as a libertarian. Just register as a republican or democrat.

  20. Stop pretending like Biden and Harris are viable alternatives.

    It’s a screwball party run by and for screwballs.

  21. Anyone arguing that Biden is the libertarian choice is no libertarian.

    This one is not close. You can argue for Jo. There are points for Trump, and loads of reasons to oppose trump.

    But Biden and Harris are both at “absolutely not” for libertarian voters.

    The left likes to talk about Trump as a Nazi. But Harris is far closer to a Nazi than Trump ever thought about being. Simply her actions in the backpage.com prosecution are enough to disqualify her from any real power. Anyone who is a libertarian would know that. There is no chance that a libertarian could vote for her.

    And Joe? You don’t have to point to his obvious corruption…. and if you bought that nonsense about Russian disinformation campaigns, please consider yourself far too gullible to vote…. There is plenty to disqualify him.

    I will stick with something very simple. He was involved in using the federal government to go after a completely innocent citizen and charge them with criminal offenses because of their political affiliation. In this case, I am talking about General Flynn. he was personally involved in the decision to set him up and in the strategy for how to do it. Not only that, but he had nearly four years to sit around and watch as Flynn lost his life savings and his home and nearly his freedom and never once spoke up and said anything about it.

    if you think that sort of person should be the president of the United States, you are not a libertarian. That is a flat fact. You can complain about Trump until the cows come home, but if you would ever even consider voting for this a******, do not call yourself libertarian. You are not libertarian.

    1. Well said.

      But lucky for Reason, they’re no longer a libertarian publication, so many of them have no trouble at all voting for Biden.

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    1. I’m more shocked that she’s still pretending to be libertarian.

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