Should Libertarians Vote?

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Libertarians do not like the state. That is a commonly known fact among those who have a hint of what libertarianism is. As we travel further south on the political compass, though, they begin to hate to touch anything related to the state.

Libertarians who don’t want to touch the Fed’s fiat papers switch over to gold and crypto. Libertarians who don’t want the CIA and NSA reading over all of their stuff cover their webcams and keep their phone set on airplane mode. And the more radical strains of individualist libertarians do not even want to engage in the Democratic process.

Their line of reasoning is coherent. If the state is going to continue to tax people, and you vote for a politician that is going to allow this taxation to continue, you have endorsed someone who is complicit in the violence that the state uses. Because of this, many radical libertarians will not vote for a president. Some may write their own name in, which is a creative way of stating your self-sovereignty, but it is a dodge of the overall question.

But one must look at the present situation. One must take stock of the status quo and search for how we are going to get from point A (big government) to point B (small or no government). Libertarians have long lacked an effective strategy to usher in a libertarian social order, but that is a broader issue that shall not be discussed here.

Looking at the way the Democratic process is set up, we can see that the state has given us a choice. We are all “surrounded by a coercive system; [we] are all surrounded by the state” according to Rothbard. We are already in this position, so we may as well make the best out of it.

As Murray Rothbard said: “Since you are in this coercive situation, there is no reason why you shouldn’t try to make use of it if you think it will make a difference to your liberty or possessions.” We cannot vote the state out of existence. It would be really nice if we could, but we can’t. Instead, for presidential elections, we are faced with two candidates that will be different.

No two humans are the same, and this applies to presidential candidates too. Chances are, they are not going to create a net reduction in government. No president has brought the government back to the scope it was before FDR’s presidency, yet no president will if we refuse to vote one into office.

We are given a choice, and if it looks like one candidate is going to expand government less than the other will, or even reduce some parts of the government, it would probably be wise to vote for them. As Rothbard said, “I don’t see that it’s immoral to participate in the election provided that you go into it with your eyes open.”

If you want to remain what you see as principled and refrain from voting in its entirety, that is your choice. You have that option. But if you want to maybe make a difference in the amount that government is going to expand, voting is an option.

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