by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Libertarian Party just nominated two former governors, New Mexico’s Gary Johnson for president and Massachusetts’ Bill Weld for vice president, in a year when more voters than ever may look for a third choice.
But Johnson and Weld at times seem to be working hard to push away one particularly homeless voting bloc that could ally with Libertarians this year: social conservatives. From their rhetoric to their policy proposals, the Libertarian nominees seem to be running against conservatives more than for liberty.
Weld and Johnson held their first post-nomination joint interview on Tuesday, on liberal network MSNBC. “We’ve never bought into this anti-choice, anti-gay…sense of the Republican Party,” Weld said, as his first comment to the national television audience.
The message was clear: We don’t need those backward Christian Right bozos as much we need as you MSNBCers.
Johnson has sent similar signals, suggesting that his love of liberty is second to his revulsion to religion. In January, for instance, Johnson said he would make it a federal crime for women to wear the Burqa, the full-body covering worn by women in certain strains of Islam. Johnson recanted a day later, while continuing his warnings about the threat of Sharia — Islamic law — in the U.S.
This spring, Johnson pushed aside freedom of conscience. When asked in an Oregon about laws and lawsuits requiring caterers to participate in gay weddings, Johnson took the big-government side — for coerced baking in the name of gay rights. When later asked about this anti-liberty view, Johnson made the standard liberal conflation between selling off-the-shelf cupcakes to a gay customer (which is straight-up discrimination against a person) and refusal to participate in a ceremony (which is a freedom of conscience issue, a freedom of association issue, and often a free speech issue).
The dress-code libertarianism and bake-me-a-cake libertarianism Johnson has embraced isn’t libertarianism at all — it’s left-wing social engineering enforced at gunpoint. Coming from Johnson and Weld, it reeks of raw identity politics. The only consistent theme is that religious people are bad.