Still Voting Libertarian

Why can I not vote for Trump or Clinton (or pretty much any other democrat or republican)?

There are a large number of reasons. Here are some of them. These are based on my belief that the purpose of the government, as described in the Declaration of Independence, is to secure (or protect) the rights of individuals. All other purposes, however important they may be, are secondary.

In no particular order:

  • The Patriot Act. In the fever of anti-terrorism prompted by the 9/11 attacks, the Patriot Act was passed which extended huge powers to the federal government in fighting terrorism with little court oversight.

    98 Senators (including Clinton) voted to pass this. The only vote against was Russ Feingold who stood against it because of the huge increase in government power without sufficient judicial oversight. The house also passed the measure with 357 in favor and 66 opposed including Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders.

    Winner: Feingold, Paul, Sanders

    Losers: Bush, Clinton

    In 2006, the Patriot Act was renewed with the Patriot Act Reauthorizing Act. President Bush had strongly campaigned for that, and 89 Senators voted in favor, including Clinton. Feingold (along with 9 others) voted against. The house also approved it with 280 in favor and 138 opposed including Paul and Sanders.

    Trump has called for an revival of the Patriot Act.

    Winners: Feingold, Paul, Sanders

    Losers: Bush, Clinton, Trump

  • Guantanamo bay was established in 2002 during the first Bush term shortly following the 9/11 attacks. Guantanamo continued to be used through the remainder of the Bush terms and and has remained in use through both of Obama’s terms. Now, the fact that Guantanamo bay exists does not bother me a great deal. Prisoners have to be kept somewhere, and if for some reason it makes sense to keep them there, fine. As a result, I’m neither in favor of, nor opposed to keeping Guantanamo bay operational.

    However, what I am strongly opposed to is the violations of human rights that have occurred, and continue to occur there. It is well documented that some of the prisoners there have been, and continue to be detained, without being formally charged with some crime, and without being allowed legal counsel.

    I have no problems locking someone in jail for life, or even executing them, for the crime of terrorism. But you MUST go through the legal process of charging them, trying them, and having them be found guilty.

    Any president who would create such an institution is a severe risk to the rights of every individual. For this significant infringement alone, Bush ranks in my mind as the single worst president we have ever had. He has violated more fundamental human rights than any president that I am aware of.

    Obama made a campaign promise to close Guantanamo bay. He has even made some gestures toward closing the facility. However, two things stick out in my mind. First is that now, nearing the completion of his second term, the facility is still in operation. Second, his efforts towards closing the facility have been about moving prisoners around, NOT about addressing the rights that have been denied them.

    A president must stand for human rights, or he (or she) should not be president of the United States. Obama has allowed these civil rights violations to continue, and is therefore unsuited to be our president.

    With respect to the current crop of candidates, Trump has said that he favors keeping Guantanamo functioning, but has not really addressed the issue that people are there without being charged.

    Hillary Clinton has echoed Obama’s desire to close the facility. In addition, she was the co-sponsor for a bill to preserve habeas corpus (the right to not be illegally detained) to the Guantanamo prisoners. I have to give her points for this.

    The libertarian candidate has also state that those detained at Guantanamo bay, or elsewhere, must be given due process through courts or military tribunals.

    Winners: Johnson, Clinton

    Losers: Republican Party, Obama, Democratic party (for allowing it to continue for the last 8 years).

    Worst offender: Bush (he should face charges for this)

  • As a direct result of the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping was another major infringement on individual’s rights that became significant during the Bush administration.

    The power to conduct warrantless surveillance on communications comes from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978. It gives the president power to authorize surveillance in two ways.

    Surveillance may be done without a warrant provided it is strictly to gather foreign intelligence and there is no likelihood that it will acquire the contents of communication to which a United States person is a party. A United States person is someone who lives in the United States (citizen or legal alien) or an unincorporated association which has a substantial number of members who live in the United States, or a corporation that is incorporated in the United States. So pretty much any person, business, or organization that is in the United States legally is covered.

    With that severe of a restriction, warrantless surveillance should be basically forbidden within the United States.

    Surveillance that would involve a United States person requires a warrant, and the court should determine that the search minimizes the requirements of data pertaining to US persons. Warrants are issued by a special court named the FISA court which oversees these requests. Requests come primarily from federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, primarily the FBI and NSA.

    During the Bush administration, warrantless surveillance by the NSA of persons within the United States was authorized by executive order. This clearly violates the FISA directives and continued until 2007 when the Bush administration claimed that they were returning review of surveillance to the FISA court.

    However, in 2008, the FISA Amendment Act was passed which relaxed some of the FISA court requirements, and warrantless wiretapping has allegedly continued. A federal judge found in 2010 that illegal warrantless surveillance had continued into the Obama administration.

    It is difficult to say to what extent this has continued because of the lack of transparency. The FISA court has also been criticized as rubber stamping NSA requests for surveillance, effectively eliminating court warrants.

    In documents released by Snowden, it shows that the FISA court accepted the government’s argument that ALL Americans’ records are relevant, and this allowed the NSA to gather a huge amount of personal information witout any court oversight.

    Clinton has spoken out against warrantless searches, which is good. However, much of this has been done during a term where Clinton was Secretary of State and should have been able to do something to curb those abuses. In that office, I find it nearly unimaginable that she was not aware of, and probably somewhat complicit in what was happening.

    Trump condemned Snowden for releasing documents about the NSA. He has called for expanded surveillance of American Muslims, and would not rule out warrantless searches.

    Johnson has strongly condemned what he refers to as ‘spying on citizens’.

    Losers: Bush, Obama, Clinton, Trump

    Winners: Johnson

  • Another direct result of 9/11 is the use of torture (or enhanced interrogation techniques). This was highlighted during the Bush administration where it’s use was justified as a means to defeat terrorism.

    Obama promised in his campaign to end this, and issued an executive order two days after taking office directing that torture not be used.

    In 2006, in an interview with the New York Daily News, Clinton condoned torture, or at least allowed that it was up to the president’s discretion. During her campaign, she said that torture cannot be an American policy ever. The fact that she could have ever condoned it is disturbing to say the least.

    Trump has stated that he would bring waterboarding back.

    Johnson condemns torture in all cases.

    Losers: Clinton

    Worst offenders: Bush, Trump

    Winners: Obama, Johnson

  • As a libertarian, I simply cannot happily vote for anyone who does not hold the rights of an individual as inviolate. Rights are not traded for security. They are certainly not infringed on to secure government power, advance personal agendas, or to enact social programs.

    As first lady, Clinton stated “We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society”.

    The rights of individuals is the foundation of the libertarian party.

    Losers: Clinton

    Winners: Johnson

  • Undeclared wars demonstrate a complete lack of belief in the constitutional powers delegated to the president.

    The constitution recognizes the necessity of conducting wars, and clearly defines how to do so. The constitution grants Congress the sole power to declare war. Once they do so, it is the responsibility of the president, as commander in chief, to conduct that war.

    Unfortunately, most presidents have chosen to ignore that procedure completely, including all of our modern presidents.

    The last, formally (and correctly) declared war was World War 2. Every war since then has been waged by executive order only without the proper, and constitutionally mandated, decalaration of war by Congress.

    Clinton cosponsered a bill requiring Congress’ approval before military action in Iran, and I suppose that that must be construed as a step in the right direction. However, I have not seen any statement regarding the overarching problem that the President does not have the right to wage an undeclared war.

    Both Trump and Clinton favor continued military involvment (in one way or another) in our current batch of wars. They have each favored scaling back in some instances, but that is the limit.

    Johnson favors almost total withdrawl from our current set of wars. He also has spoken against the loss of Congressional approval in military intervention.

    Lowers: every modern president, Trump

    Draw: Clinton

    Winners: Johnson

  • The national debt is a disgrace. We have not had a truly balanced budget in my lifetime. Even in the Bill Clinton administration (which advertised a budge surplus), the national debt increased every year. However, since then, the deficit has skyrocketed during both the Bush and Obama administrations.

    We have gotten so used to having a national debt which we are apparently never going to pay off, that we seem to think that it is okay to spend more than we bring in.

    Unfortunately, I have seen little or no recent interest in either of the main candidates in addressing this problem. Clinton has spoken against the debt historically, but her strongest statements come back in 2010 and were primarily spoken in criticism of the Bush administration.

    Trump has spoken against the debt more recently, and he has used it as one of his reasons that we should vote for him. He claims that we need a businessman to bring us back. This despite the fact that he has declared bankruptcy several times, has bragged about not paying taxes, and has refused to disclose tax documents that might give insight into his true financial ability.

    Johnson has spoken strongly of the need to balance the budget and begin to pay off the national debt.

    Losers: Bush, Obama, Clinton, Trump

    Winners: Johnson

  • My next topic is the war on drugs. Anyone who does not understand that it is a horrible idea really needs to go back and study prohibition. You’ll see that it did little to prevent alcohol use, cost lots of money, and created an environment where crime grew. Being able to look back at that period gives us an invaluable understanding of the futility of prohibition by giving us a good look at the before, during, and after periods.

    I can only assume that a significant portion of people refuse to study history, because the idea that the war on drugs could be any different is baffling. Don’t get me wrong… I am opposed to drug use from both a religious and personal view, but the politicians who continue to wage this war, and oppose the efforts of states to legalize drugs, demonstrates a complete inability to learn from the past, and that’s not a quality I want in leaders of this country.

    Clinton has spoken of the need to stop imprisoning marijuana users, but that’s about it. I have not seen any statement from her suggesting that she would support across the board legalization, or at least decriminalization of other drugs. Trump’s approach is similar… little or no support for legalization of marijuana.

    Johnson is in favor of full legalization of marijuana and has spoken in favor of legalizing other drugs, or at least reducing the legal penalty. He still does not advocate across the board legalization.

    Losers: every president since Nixon

    Wishy washy: Clinton, Trump

    Least wishy washy: Johnson

    I wish that Johnson advocated for across the board replacement of handling drug problems (where nobody else was harmed) as a health issue rather than a legal issue. I believe that he is less vocal on that than other libertarians to appear a bit more mainstream, but I can’t be sure of that.

I realize that Johnson has been responsible for some pretty strange statements, that seem to demonstrate a lack of familiarity with foreign leaders and issues. That’s unfortunate… I would like a president who was familiar with all of those issues. But on the other hand, no president can know everything involved in every domestic and foreign situation. That’s why he’s got a cabinet and other advisors. The fact that Johnson is not as well versed in foreign policy as Clinton is unfortunate. But it is also a fact that foreign policy is, in my mind, of secondary importance to domestic policy, and in that arena, Johnson stands firmly behind every single stance that I would like to see enacted.

Clinton, though a good match in some areas, is a terrible match in others. And I don’t consider Trump a match in any area in which I have a strong political opinion.

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