I will address the single biggest issue dividing libertarians in general, but especially on this board. Who do I endorse to help enslave me this November?

The three main contenders considered are Jo Jorgensen (L), Donald Trump (R), and SMOD (G). Because the risks and benefits of SMOD are self-explanatory and if you were planning on voting Biden (D), well, it is already too late for you I will focus on the first two alternatives. Let us assume you have resolved to vote, as that is its own ethical question which deserves a separate discussion. It is at this point that I will admit to having a bit of privilege in that my state will undoubtedly vote for Biden, so I have no concerns about who to vote for, my vote doesn’t matter beyond a signal of disgust at the other choices and approval of who I vote for. [1]

I will endeavor to make the case that voting for Jo Jorgensen is the more principled libertarian vote relative to voting for Donald Trump. Let us first examine the candidates’ history.

Trump is an aged, philandering, uncouth billionaire, so basically every libertarian’s wet dream while Jorgensen is a lecturer on psychology at Clemson, not exactly enhancing her libertarian cred, I will admit. What have they spent the last few decades doing politically?

Jorgensen is straightforward, libertarian candidate in a house race, on to vice presidential ticket in 1996 (when she would have been just 39, and won the spot with 90% of the convention votes), and then onto the 2020 Ticket where she edged out Jacob Hornberger and Vermin Supreme. As a libertarian I will let you decide whether the fact she has never successfully run for any office is (dis)qualifying. I will say she wasn’t my first choice, but the options generally weren’t great and I thought the vice-presidential field was honestly better in terms of speaking ability (Sharpe 2024!).

Trump is quite complicated in my opinion, in no small part because he is self-contradictory, but also has wielded power and thus been made to trade off various principles (if they exist) in light of political realities. Trump ran in 2016 as the ‘America first’ politician which included something very enticing for most libertarians: a non-interventionist foreign policy and something very mixed: an anti-immigration stance. As a republican he also ran against ‘Obamacare’ and for tax reductions. I would say the last two were delivered in some form, while the non-interventionism and anti-immigration policy amounted to more of a status-quo position in practice.

We’re still in NATO, the UN and have bases in 2/3rds of the countries in the world. We’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who knows when we’ll really leave. We did a bit of bombing in Syria, and even had ‘boots on the ground’ there for some time. We’ve been lucky it didn’t turn into an even greater shit show since then, though not for lack of trying.

In regards to immigration we are still in processing about 1 million immigrants a year, there has been a very slight decline (around 2%)[2], but nothing like what either side predicted/hoped/feared. I would say this mild downturn in immigration is likely because of Trump, though I have no way to prove it, and it is well within the normal fluctuations that can happen for any reason.

On gun control, Trump has again, been status quo at best. Bump stock ban, but at least nothing worse, right? How about spending? Total disaster, Trump has not delivered a smaller government, but ramped up spending and deficits to never before seen heights (see why deficit spending matters).

On property rights, Trump has helped in terms of reducing regulations, most notable may be his attempt to redefine the navigable waters of the US to something a bit saner. Of course Trump has also come out in support of eminent domain and made use of it on both sides of the transaction (benefited personally and politically). This is a mixed bag, as most things Trump are.

On police reform my feeling is that Trump is all over the place, he initially made concrete moves to help reduce the prison population (First step act) and has made a few high-profile commutations or pardons. But, with the emergence of Black Lives Matter protests, and in particular, related violence, Trump has stood somewhat against that movement, and in particular against the violence. Whether he is suppressing the protests by nabbing innocent protestors or is acting to protect the lives, property and rights of Americans will depend almost entirely on what news articles you deem truthful.

So, with that very brief overview of Trump’s stances complete, let us see where Jorgensen stands.

Jorgensen has proposed a 50% cut in the size of the government, legalization of all drugs, bringing all the troops home, and has come out strongly in support of expanded gun rights (not just status quo). But wait, there is more. Perhaps most controversial is the candidate’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement. It should be hard for any libertarian to disagree with the stated aims of reducing uncalled for police violence. Where most will diverge is whether bringing race into things is first of all, relevant and secondly helpful or hurtful to obtaining meaningful results. This could be a whole ‘nother article, which I do plan to write one day. My position is that whichever way you feel about the BLM movement (and no, she doesn’t approve of political violence, or refused to differentiate it from protesting as some have claimed) [3] is that this level of disagreement is much smaller than the other high profile issues. My need for a 50% smaller government, true constitutional gun rights being enforced, bringing the troops home and the legalization of drugs exceeds niggling over the details of police violence. Yes, I’d prefer she had a different view here, yes I am a bit of a yokeltarian, but that doesn’t make her worse than Trump just because of one essentially cultural issue.

Of course, we can only see what Jorgensen says about issues and her policies because she has never been truly put in a position to enact those policies and the obvious disadvantages that puts Trump at by comparison.

While I may agree with much of what Trump is doing, especially when put into contrast with the Democrat alternatives, as the One True Libertarian, I can say I agree with Jorgensen much more than Trump, and as such plan to vote for her this November. I can understand a vote for Trump, but I don’t see any merit to the claim that he is more libertarian than the LP candidate is. At best there is a single portion of one issue where Trump may or may not be more libertarian than Jorgensen and a raft of others where Jorgensen is miles away better than Trump on.


[1] I think there may be a good argument that we should vote pragmatically, particularly in swing states, but I have heard some say they wouldn’t vote for Jo Jorgensen for various reasons, which I think are misconstrued, or not based on strictly libertarian reasoning.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_the_United_States

[3] “I think we should support the protesters, but, at the same time, get rid of the opportunistic people hijacking the movement.” Jorgensen points to the people who have used the protests to loot and commit violence: “They are going around basically inserting themselves into peaceful protest. And I’ve seen many clips of the protesters saying, ‘Stop it. Go away. You’re not helping us. We don’t want you here.’”