Monday, October 17, 2016

Constitutionalists/Fiscal Conservatives: Dump Trump; Vote Johnson!

If you believe in limited government and strict constitutionalism, as I do, voting for statist poster child Hillary Clinton is probably a nonstarter. But you've heard the Republican Party mouth some pretty words about those principles in the past, so you might feel that voting for their candidate Donald Trump is your only option. I hope you don't and I hope you'll consider voting for the Libertarian Party candidate, Governor Gary Johnson, instead. (No, it's not wasting your vote, I'll explain why in a minute.) First, why shouldn't you vote for Trump?

Our $19+ trillion nation debt is killing us with higher costs of living, slower wage growth, reduced fiscal flexibility, interest payments eating up more and more of the federal budget, and is a ticking time bomb. Trump (like Hillary) would only make it worse. When Clinton proposed $275 billion in new federal infrastructure spending, Trump said he would double those spending hikes (outbidding his own previous proposal). A recent analysis said that Trump's tax plan would jack the national debt up another $7.2 trillion over 10 years. Fiscal conservatism?

And how does Trump view the Constitution? Last December he vowed that, if elected, he would sign an executive order mandating the death penalty for cop killers. Killing a police officer is terrible, to be sure; but that doesn't give the executive branch authority to create brand new capital crimes out of whole cloth. Many of us decried Obama's use of his “pen and phone” to try to circumvent the Constitutional legislative process. Trump would make Obama look like a piker.

Even though most of Trump's ideas involve gorilla-stomping all over the Constitution, constitutionalists are told they MUST vote for Trump because he says he'll nominate originalist judges who will defend the Constitution. It seems counter-intuitive to me that Trump would nominate judges that would thwart his own agenda at every turn. It seems more likely he will merely lead the party (and the country) further from its Constitutional moorings.

Someone who knows plenty about the federal courts and the Constitution is Alan Gura. He is the litigator who led America's gun owners to victory in two landmark Second Amendment cases before the United States Supreme Court: DC v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. Here is what Gura thinks about supporting Trump because of his potential Supreme Court nominees:

I have no illusions about what Hillary would do to the federal bench. Sad! But there is something deeply contradictory about the notion of electing a power-hungry strongman on the theory that he'll appoint judges that respect and enforce constitutional limits on government. Did Hugo Chavez appoint great judges? Did Putin, Mussolini, or Erdogan? Would it have mattered had they sort-of kinda suggested that they would?

As much as I care about the courts, worrying about jurisprudential doctrine is a luxury for people living under basically free and stable governments, for people who have access to food and toilet paper. And absolutely nothing in Trump's history suggests that he'd honor his proposed judge list or otherwise pick decent judges, while each of his proclamations indicates that the Supreme Court would be among the least of our concerns under his regime. True, the Trump gamble—that he'd be a figurehead who'd delegate authority to responsible people, or be resisted by the bureaucracy and media (or, laughably, by that stiffest-spined creature, the Republican Congress), while hewing to a judicial selection principle anathema to his personal brand—might pay off. Should Trump win, I'd at least delight in Hillary's loss, and fervently hope that he'd prove me wrong on every count. But I wouldn't bet my country on it.”

What about Governor Gary Johnson? He was a successful entrepreneur who became a two-term Republican governor of heavily Democrat New Mexico. During his time in office he vetoed over 750 bills, cut taxes 14 times (and never raised them), balanced the budget and left the state with a billion-dollar surplus. His VP candidate, Bill Weld, was also a two-term Republican governor in a blue state (Massachusetts). According to the Cato Institute: “Weld cut spending, balanced the budget, improved the state’s bond rating, and cut numerous taxes. Even with a Democratic legislature, Weld has a stunningly successful fiscal record.” Now as Libertarians, the Johnson/Weld Team would bring those same small government principles to DC. Johnson has said one of his first priorities would be submitting a balanced budget to Congress.

So fiscal conservatives and other advocates of limited government could certainly support Gary Johnson. But since it's nigh on impossible for a third-party candidate to win, isn't that wasting your vote? I don't think voting your conscience should ever be considered a “waste.” If you need more though, how about this: If we can help Governor Johnson get 2% of the vote here in Iowa then the Libertarian Party will become officially recognized as a “major party” by the state. That means Libertarian candidates would no longer have to waste time and resources gathering signatures in each race just to get on the ballot. If we can help Governor Johnson get 5% nationally, the party would get similar recognition from the federal government. This all would mean a more active and competitive third-party in future elections.

As we know from the private market, competition is a good thing. With a little competition from a stronger third-party maybe the two old broke down parties might have to run candidates for high office that people WANT to vote for, rather than candidates they HAVE TO vote for. But that will never happen as long as they can reliably harvest your vote no matter how God-awful their candidates are. Vote for a change: vote Gary Johnson for president.

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