There are no Libertarian Party members currently serving in Congress, but there are a few Congressmen who are considered small-L libertarians. The most prominent members are Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Representatives Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY). All three men have taken quite the beating from the GOP establishment over the years – they’ve been called “whacko birds,” they’ve had committee seats stripped from them, and they’ve had their legislation tabled after being promised a hearing. These men and other outspoken anti-establishment voices have taken it all in stride, knowing that they were being chastised for their decision to stick to their principles.
With their streak of principled voting and taking stands against their own party when need be, many wondered which way they’d fall when it came to voting in the upcoming presidential election. Now, to be sure, no one thought that any of these principled libertarian-leaning conservatives could ever vote for Hillary Clinton… but the question was “could they vote for Donald Trump?”
As of now, we’ve heard definitively from two of the three most important libertarians.
Rand Paul promised some time back that he would honor the pledge he made during the presidential campaign to vote for Donald Trump.
“I took a pledge when I ran for president to not run as an independent candidate and to support the Republican nominee,” Paul said. “I stand by that pledge, and I think that anybody who signs their word to a document ought to take it seriously before they sign a document. So I don’t think there’s any question that those who signed the document ought to say, ‘you know what? I honor the pledge.’”
Though I don’t imagine that Paul’s opinion of Trump has changed much since he made these comments in August of 2015.
Rep. Thomas Massie has now also made his vote known, he too will be voting for Donald Trump come November. Massie filled out a “Who’s Getting Your Vote” survey for the folks at Reason Online and replied to their question on who he was voting for with this statement: “I’ve voted for Bob Barr (Libertarian) and Pat Buchanan (Reform Party) for POTUS in the past, but this year I plan to vote for Donald Trump.”
He said something similar on a Cincinnati based radio show Wednesday. When asked about having to vote between Clinton and Trump, Massie replied that he would vote for Trump in an effort to affect “change.” “I think you’re more likely to get change. I don’t know if it’s gonna be a good change, but you gotta break eggs to make an omelette… Either Donald or Hillary is gonna win, and I think Donald Trump is more likely to sign my legislation, that I want to get passed, than Hillary Clinton is.” Massie also added that he liked Trump’s stated choices for the Supreme Court, while promising that he would fight Trump if as President he attempted to act against the Constitution.
Rep. Justin Amash is the only one of the three men who has not yet voiced his support for Mr. Trump as President (and likely never will). He has made statements indicating that he finds both major party candidates, Clinton and Trump, unacceptable, however he has also chosen thus far to not speak definitively to the issue of whom he will be voting for.
I haven't decided yet on Johnson, but I know I'm not voting for Hillary or Trump. @Enopoletus @JessDelaVega86
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) August 3, 2016
It would seem that Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson would be his most obvious choice, but Amash is a pro-life libertarian who also disagrees with Johnson on religious liberty and with Johnson’s running mate, William Weld on gun control and the Supreme Court. In fact, after Weld’s comments about choosing justices like Breyer and Garland for the court, Amash tweeted his frustration.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) July 30, 2016
But he still believes that Johnson is the best choice of these three candidates for the job.
I haven't come close to pointing out every disagreement. He's still better than the other two. @KevinBuist
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) July 30, 2016
If these three men can be used as a bellwether for libertarian-leaning conservatives, it seems likely that Mr. Trump will have a hard time defeating Mrs. Clinton. Paul is voting out of a desire to stand by his promise, Massie is hoping for change (any change), and Amash cannot bring himself to vote Republican. This does not bode well for the GOP.
If you’re a libertarian-leaning conservative, we’d love to hear your thought process on voting in the upcoming election – post your thoughts in the comments below.