Editor’s note – this post is a user diary that has been promoted to the front page to provoke discussion and does not represent an editorial endorsement by RedState.com.

Dear Libertarians-

I write this as a conservative who is a Christian first, American second, conservative third, and used to be Republican fourth.  Now I have no party affiliation due to my former party being taken over by a narcissistic, sociopathic, raging lunatic who forced himself on us like a drunk frat boy who wants to take advantage of an innocent sorority girl.

I’m not arrogant enough to think I understand your party or your principles better than you do, or to tell you what to do.  But I’m a student of history, and I’ve studied politics long enough to see patterns and trends, and to see when a party is making the same mistakes over and over again.  Based on that understanding, it would be remiss of me to sit back in silence and watch as you go down the very road my former party has gone down for decades.

So this is my sincere warning to you to change course before it’s too late.

You’re about to make an important decision for the future not only of your party, but for the country.

It appears you’re strongly considering giving your party’s nomination to Gary Johnson, the same guy who you nominated in 2012.  I have a simple message for you:

Have you learned nothing from the GOP’s failures?  In 2012 we nominated the guy who was such a bad candidate he lost to John McCain in 2008, who subsequently lost badly to Obama.  Romney then went on to lose to Obama as well.

Right now Gary Johnson is tied for the lead in the latest poll of libertarians, but he’s winning in various state primaries and most likely in the delegate count, although Austin Petersen is gaining ground from what I’m told.

Johnson was your nominee in 2012, and he went on to win .99% of the popular vote in the general election.  That’s not gonna cut it.

Most voters didn’t even know he was running until they saw his name on the ballot, and even then they didn’t know who he was.  Johnson didn’t even bother to reach out to conservatives who at least shared his views on limited gov’t, so he wasn’t even considered as an option for people who didn’t like either Obama or Romney.  Many of those people stayed home.

Now, it’s 2016, and Johnson is running for the Libertarian Party once again. So you would think he might change his approach and try to convince people who are socially conservative that they might at least consider voting Libertarian.

But he hasn’t done that.  Instead, he’s doubled down on the standard mantra you hear libertarians use as their motto:  We’re fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

Never mind that it’s a pretty lame motto, but beyond that, it’s just not accurate.  One doesn’t have to be socially liberal to be libertarian.  In fact the whole point of being libertarian and favoring limited gov’t is that when it comes to social issues, you can believe and practice whatever you want within the boundaries of our laws.  That means if you believe in following the Constitution and drastically reducing the size of gov’t, if you’re a social conservative you should be equally welcome in the Libertarian Party with people who are socially liberal.

Gary Johnson seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be a libertarian.  He seems to think it means you have to be socially accepting of everyone, and if you aren’t, the gov’t has to step in and FORCE you to be accepting.

Now, ideally we all should be socially accepting of others, and we should have zero tolerance for bigotry, racism, and hatred in this country.  But when I say “we”, I mean us, the citizens of this country.  It’s our job to call out racism and intolerance among our fellow citizens, not the job of the federal gov’t.

In America, you have the right to be a racist, homophobe, bigot, misogynist, and more.  There’s a difference between the kind of people we should be and the kind of people the Constitution allows us to be.

For progressives, these two things are one in the same.  They want to legislate their beliefs and values on the rest of us.  That’s ironic because for the past few decades this is the very thing they’ve accused conservatives of doing when it comes to issues like abortion and gay rights.  In reality, it’s the progressives who think gov’t should be involved in legislating morality, it’s just their version of morality that they wanna legislate.

This is a very important distinction that Johnson either doesn’t understand, or simply doesn’t agree with. So in that regard he’s actually more aligned with big gov’t progressives than he is with libertarians.
His main opponent, Austin Petersen, understands this distinction.  This was clear at the Libertarian debate hosted by John Stossel.

The candidates were asked about religious liberty and how they would protect it.   Johnson said people shouldn’t have the right to refuse to provide goods or services to someone because of their faith, and that a Christian baker should be forced by the gov’t to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding.

But then Petersen followed up by asking him if a Jewish baker should be forced to bake a cake for Nazis.  Johnson gave an answer that even surprised the libertarians in the studio audience, who clearly weren’t against him.  He said the Jewish baker should be forced to bake that cake.  That’s exactly the answer Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would’ve given.  It’s certainly the wrong answer for a libertarian to give, which has even hardcore libertarians questioning just how much of a libertarian Johnson really is.

It appears he favors getting the gov’t out of our business only when it involves things he likes or agrees with, and giving the gov’t power over us when he disagrees with how we wanna run our businesses and our lives.  This isn’t libertarian, it’s anti-libertarian, and it’s something the delegates at the convention should strongly consider when choosing who to nominate later this month.

Maybe this is why Johnson hasn’t made any effort to reach out to people like me who are socially conservative, but who are seriously thinking about voting Libertarian this November because we simply won’t vote for Trump or Hillary, no matter what.

 

 

In the most recent debate Johnson also said that “if you discriminate on the basis of religion, I think that that is a black hole”, implying
that Christianity allows people of faith to discriminate against gays and other people they don’t see eye to eye with solely based on their identities.  This is wrong on several levels:

1)He doesn’t understand the Christian faith, because it calls us to love and accept all people, but that doesn’t mean we accept or approve of their behavior.

I can love someone and still choose not to participate in any behavior of theirs I believe is sinful or just inappropriate, and the gov’t shouldn’t be in the business of forcing me to participate in that behavior.

 

2)We’re actually allowed to discriminate against behavior and practices we find sinful, and sometimes not even sinful, but maybe just distasteful. We have the freedom to do that.  When a Christian baker refuses to bake a cake for a gay couple, he’s not discriminating against them because they’re gay, at least not if he’s correctly applying Jesus’ teachings in the Bible.

He’s discriminating against them because they want him to participate, and thus condone, their gay wedding, which he believes is wrong in the eyes of God.  He’s discriminating more against the gay wedding than he is against the gay couple, it’s just that they’re demanding he participate in their decision, and thus forcing him to discriminate against them also, by necessity.

He shouldn’t be forced to make this choice and violate a firmly held tenet of his faith, especially when there’s probably another baker right across the street who would be happy to bake the wedding cake for them.
In our daily lives we discriminate against people all the time.  Sometimes I hang out with people at my apartment.  There are some people I know who are really down to Earth and fun to be around, and other people who are more annoying and not that pleasant to hang out with.  I usually choose to ask the former to come to my apartment and not the latter.  That’s discrimination, but it’s not based on identity, it’s based on behavior.

 

This freedom to be who we wanna be, even if that means we wanna be a bad person, is something libertarians and conservatives should be united for.   In fact I’ve already written about the importance of that, which you can read here.

 

Gary Johnson doesn’t understand that politics is a game of addition.  You have to be able to build strong coalitions between groups who don’t agree on many things, but who agree on the most important things.  This is one of the fatal mistakes Sen. Cruz made.  He only targeted a narrow audience and didn’t attempt to reach out to people who weren’t part of that audience.

Johnson is doing the same thing by only targeting people who are socially liberal, while ignoring people who are socially conservative, but also socially tolerant.

This is another distinction Johnson doesn’t get.  Just because I’m socially conservative, doesn’t mean I’m socially intolerant.  In fact, many Christians I know who are socially conservative are just as tolerant of people whose lifestyles and behaviors they don’t approve of as liberals are.

If Johnson is the nominee of the Libertarian Party, he’s bound to run the same type of narrowly focused campaign he ran in 2012 and repeat the same mistakes Sen. Cruz made in the primaries.

He simply doesn’t have the personality, charisma, and broad appeal to be able to win people over and bring new voters to the Libertarian Party.   Austin Petersen does, and more importantly, he actually understands that these things, while superficial, are often the deciding factor in politics in terms of gaining people’s trust.

You have to win people’s hearts before you persuade them with your mind.  I’ve seen no evidence that Johnson can do either, or is even making any effort to do so.

 

Although there are some big differences between Petersen and Johnson on some important issues, they also have a lot in common, and generally share the same philosophy of gov’t, at least compared to Hillary and Trump.  In other words, they have a lot more in common than different when compared to the big gov’t alternatives.

So when two candidates present a similar choice ideologically, you have to look at the other factors that make them different.  What this boils down to is tactics, strategy, tone, and personality traits.

On all of these factors, it’s my opinion that Petersen comes out clearly ahead.

Your party needs a fighter, because make no mistake about it, this election is gonna be a fight for the soul of our country, and it’s gonna involve fighting two opponents who have no moral compass and no principles or value they live by.

Johnson is a lot of things, but a fighter isn’t one of em. He’s just too laid back to be on a debate stage with Hillary and Trump.  You better have a candidate on that debate stage who knows how to fight and has the fire in the belly for it, otherwise Hillary and Trump will bite their head off.

Johnson has admitted that he smokes and/or ingests marijuana in other forms from time to time.  I have nothing against that, and he’s free to do it.  But being relaxed and zoned out in the presence of two candidates who’ve fought dirty all their lives would be a disaster, especially since Johnson already has a chill demeanor.   I’m sure he’s great to hang out with, but Hillary and Trump won’t wanna hang out with him, they’ll wanna turn him into political roadkill.

Libertarians need a boxer in that ring, a candidate who knows how to throw a punch, rhetorically and intellectually speaking. Johnson can’t even take a punch, much less throw one.  He’d rather make love than war, which is great- if you’re not at war.  But we are at war- with progressivism and the candidates who represent it like Trump and Clinton.

We need someone who will call them out on their bs. Johnson won’t do this.  In fact he’s bragged that when he ran for governor of New Mexico, he didn’t mention his opponent at all in his entire campaign and still won.  In an ideal world, we would want all of our politicians to operate that way.  But that’s not how it works in the real world.

Johnson may have been a good candidate in another election cycle when things aren’t so heated, but he’s the worst possible one for this election cycle. We saw how being a nice guy with a wonky approach worked for Jeb Bush, and the same thing will happen to Johnson if he were to go up against Trump in a debate.

You won’t have that problem if you nominate Petersen, as the Fox Business debate made clear.

 

This is why I believe conservatives should do everything in our power to help Austin Petersen win the Libertarian Party nomination, and libertarians should join with us in that effort.  Even if not all of us ended up voting for him in November, those of us who are serious about having a real choice between liberty and authoritarianism this fall deserve to have a candidate on the ballot who shares our values and principles, regardless of his chances of winning.

I believe Petersen is that candidate, and if you’re a libertarian delegate, he at least deserves a second look, if not your vote at the national convention.  This is a change election, and your candidate will be left in the dust, just like every GOP candidate was in taking on Trump, unless he learns from their mistakes and represents a new face with a new message that truly represents a change from the past.

Johnson is literally more of the same. Petersen is a radical departure from the old guard libertarians, who only seem to care about the controversial issues that divide us, rather than the bigger issues that we should be able to solve together.

There’s a new generation of libertarians out there, and just based on the conversations I’ve had with the ones I’ve talked to, they see the bigger picture.

They understand that there are bigger issues at stake in this country, and no libertarian will have a chance to capture the attention of the American people unless he addresses those issues and takes them head on in a clear and concise way.  Petersen is already doing that, Johnson is not.

 

Ever since it’s creation, the Libertarian Party, has been the anti-establishment party, railing against the corrupt system that prevents third party candidates from having any influence in our elections.  And yet now you appear to be getting ready to create your very own establishment around Gary Johnson, your nominee from 2012, as if nothing has changed in the past four years.  In reality, a lot has changed, and only a bold new candidate with bold new ideas can both represent and address that change.  Petersen is that candidate.
You’ve always given a voice to the Americans who felt betrayed and unrepresented by the two main political parties.  But you’ve always been a quiet voice that most Americans didn’t take seriously.  Gary Johnson represents that quiet voice.

Austin Petersen, on the other hand, represents a loud voice for freedom, which is exactly what you’ll need to get your message out to the masses.

 

 

Don’t make the mistakes we made.  It’s tempting to go with the safe pick, the guy you’ve known the longest.  But one thing that’s usually true in politics is that the safe pick is usually the weakest, and most likely to lose.  The Democrats found that out in 2008 with Hillary Clinton, and the GOP has been bashed over the head with that lesson every election cycle since we had Reagan as president.

Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Mitt Romney. He can’t win, and he’s not even trying to reach out to new groups of voters, just like Romney didn’t.  If you don’t even try to persuade new voters to join your cause, you don’t deserve to win.  Austin Petersen talks about this, and it’s clear he understands it.

It’s time for the Libertarian Party to go big or go home.  You have one viable option for your nominee, so you have to ask yourselves, do you wanna have a chance to win, or do you wanna stay 100% ideologically pure, and continue being irrelevant?  It’s up to you, but choose wisely, because the fate of the country hangs in the balance.