Libertarian Ideas Are Great, Voting Libertarian Self-Defeating

November 11, 2020 Updated: November 17, 2020


As of this writing, the votes separating Donald Trump and Joe Biden in the swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are less than the numbers gained by Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen who garnered close to 1.7 percent of the popular vote.

As Joel Pollak wrote on, “If Jorgensen’s votes went to Trump, instead of allowing Biden to win these states, the president would win re-election, with 289 Electoral College votes.”

Whether this is absolutely true is, of course, unknowable, but given the current leftward-lurching Democratic Party that seems about as libertarian as Chairman Mao, if push came to the proverbial shove, the majority of Ms. Jorgensen’s voters likely would have gone to Trump.

She seems like a decent person but Jorgensen—interviewed here by Jan Jekielek for his compelling American Thought Leaders series—is a textbook example of what I termed a “moral narcissist” in my 2016 book “I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already.”

What the moral narcissist claims she believes (in this case Jorgensen, but there are many similar self-described liberals and progressives as well)—not the actual results of those beliefs—is what defines her as a person and makes her good.

Joel Pollak made those results in Jorgensen’s case painfully clear in the link above, but they are arguably even worse in the long run.

The more libertarian ideas are debated within the Republican Party, the more that party’s candidates will have to respond to them and, potentially, espouse them. They will have real world implications.

When you waste them on something as inconsequential as a fringe and almost entirely ignored Libertarian Party candidacy, particularly in something so hotly contested as a presidential election, you vitiate them and are ultimately self-defeating, not to mention, as we have seen, sabotaging the only viable candidate who best carries your ideas.

Trump is far from a pure, or even relatively pure, libertarian, but compared to Joe Biden—especially given what surrounds him from Bernie Sanders to Kamala Harris to AOC—he’s a veritable Ron Raul.

Moreover, the “deplorables” who are, oddly, more libertarian than Trump on the street level—they wish more than anything to be left alone by government—could push or could have pushed Trump more in their direction during a second term, especially after the pandemic.

Which leads to the ultimately more important question of the efficacy of ideological purity. Is it self-defeating in and of itself?

Taking almost any ideology to extremes raises significant problems. On the left, it couldn’t be more obvious because it leads to the likes of Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. But ultra-libertarianism has problems as well, though thankfully not as fatal.

I have become increasingly libertarian over the years, but believe that government has a role, and not just in national defense and public safety. Some social safety net is finally necessary too, for moral and practical reasons, but must be designed to lift people out of that net, not keep people addicted to it.

Ideological purity tends to blind you to the reality in front of you or become what Thomas Sterne in the 18th Century termed “hobby-horsical.”

For the 2012 election I spent an hour interviewing Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson for PJMedia (then Pajamas Media). Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, spent the entire time talking about the importance of legalizing marijuana.

Now although I was not and am not adverse to this (with the caveat that potheads can indeed be blockheads and that there are serious potential health issues), I rank and ranked the issue way down the list of presidential priorities, somewhere near the bottom.

But try as I might to raise serious questions of foreign and domestic policy, Johnson kept returning to his hobby horse of legal “grass” as if that were the linchpin of human freedom and the most significant issue we faced.

I walked away from that interview disappointed in much the same way I reacted to the interview linked above with Jorgensen, of whom, I admit, I was only tangentially aware. Her candidacy seemed finally to about her and not even about the ideas she so adamantly espoused.

With all due respect, and I mean this because I don’t know the woman, that’s moral narcissism in action. We see it everywhere.

Be libertarian as you want, but do it in a way that gets results. Otherwise, it’s just another charade.

Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJMedia, and now, a columnist for The Epoch Times. His most recent books are The GOAT” (fiction) and I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasnt Already” (nonfiction). Find him on Parler and Twitter (for now) @rogerlsimon. 

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.