Why I’m voting Gary Johnson for President

Published on September 7, 2016 by

UPDATE 10/17/2016: I have since switched to supporting Evan McMullin, as outlined in this blog post.

Over the past month and a half since resigning as precinct secretary/treasurer for my local Republican Party because I oppose Trump, I’ve done some serious thinking about who I will vote for.

After going to the Gary Johnson rally a few weeks ago, I was ready to commit to him as my candidate, but then Evan McMullin announced his candidacy the Monday after, and I felt I should give him a chance. But I’ve decided that McMullin really isn’t experienced enough, he started too late, and he doesn’t have the resources necessary to make a real impact in this campaign. (He managed to hit 9% in a Utah poll, compared to Johnson’s 12%, but isn’t even getting 1% nationwide even when the poll lists him as a candidate. And the anti-Trump super-PAC that was supposedly going to help him get on the ballot is shutting down.)

Yes, there are some important issues on which I have some differences with Johnson. In some cases, I’m actually more libertarian than he is. But I side with him on a lot of issues and he’s proven his competence to govern. (On ISideWith.com, Johnson sides with me 80%, which is the best of any of the remaining candidates.)

So I’ve decided to support Johnson. If he can get in the debates, I think he might be able to win some electoral college votes, and there’s a slim chance he could deny both other candidates an Electoral College majority. (Fivethirtyeight.com’s projections currently say about a 0.5% chance.) The recently published Washington Post/SurveyMonkey poll of every state found Johnson at 23% in Utah, to Clinton’s 27% and Trump’s 34%, so there may be an opportunity for Johnson in my state (although the poll didn’t include McMullin, so his impact is uncertain).

Now, to deal with some objections:

    1. But a vote for Johnson is a vote for Clinton! (Or: But a vote for Johnson is a vote for Trump!)
      No, it’s not. Let’s imagine Clinton and Trump are tied, and I get to choose who I vote for. If a vote for Johnson were equivalent to a vote for Clinton, then my voting would break the tie in Clinton’s favor. But it doesn’t break the tie. It has exactly the same effect on a tie that not voting at all would have. Which means that, from the perspective of those who claim that a vote for Johnson is a vote for Clinton, everyone who doesn’t vote is equivalent to a vote for Clinton. And since about 40% of Utah’s voting-age population doesn’t vote, all of them should count as votes for Clinton. Added to the about 25% who will actually vote for her, that gives Clinton about 65% of the vote. Trump might as well give up now. (Substitute Trump for Clinton in the above and adjust the numbers, and the same argument applies.)
    2. OK, but if you don’t vote for Trump, Clinton might win! (Or: If you don’t vote for Clinton, Trump might win!)
      Well, if you don’t vote for Johnson, Trump or Clinton might win!
    3. But Trump says he’ll implement [policy that I like]!
      I feel sorry for you because you think Trump can be trusted.
    4. But Johnson can’t win!
      It is highly unlikely. But it is possible. However, voting is not always about winning. If it were, then there would be no point in voting for candidates who are way down in the polls. Right now, I think the Republican Party (and the Democratic Party, for that matter) need to be sent the message that when it comes to candidates, they chose . . . poorly. I think voting for Gary Johnson is the best way to send that message.
    5. But Johnson isn’t a conservative!
      No, he’s not. But he’s generally in favor of limited government and fiscal responsibility, and against crony capitalism, all of which are relatively conservative positions — especially compared to Trump and Clinton.
    6. But what about the Supreme Court?
      This. And this.
    7. But Johnson is pro-abortion!
      Johnson believes Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, and that the issue of abortion should be left to the states. I believe he’s correct as to how the Constitution should be interpreted.
    8. But Johnson smokes marijuana!
      He’s stopped for the campaign, and he’s promised not to smoke it if elected President. Besides, it’s been a while now since I decided the War on Drugs has been a failure, with costs and unintended consequences that far exceed any benefits. I favor decriminalizing drugs and dealing with drug addiction as a public health problem, not a criminal matter.

I’m sure some people will have other objections, but I think that covers most of them.

If you are enthusiastic about voting for Trump or Clinton, then I doubt I can say anything to persuade you to vote for Johnson. But if you’re looking at the choice of Trump or Clinton with distaste, then I suggest you give serious consideration to Johnson.

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