I've heard several people who dislike the major party candidates for President say that they intend to vote for a third party candidate. I personally think this is not a great idea, for reasons best saved for another blog, but it is our Constitutional right to vote for the candidate we each deem best suited for the office. Emphasis on best suited.
Gary Johnson, former New Mexico governor, and his running mate William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, are the 2016 Libertarian Party candidates. Johnson and Weld each certainly have a more palatable demeanor than spluttering Donald Trump, and on the surface seem logical and well-reasoned. But keep in mind that the whole premise of Libertarianism is less government. A lot less government. On social issues, this means no laws against same-sex marriage or abortion; the legalization of prostitution, and the elimination of all drug laws. Libertarians also believe that not only should gun sales and ownership not be controlled by law, but that an armed citizenry is essential for protection from domestic and foreign threats.
When it comes to immigration, the Libertarian stance is, predictably not more laws, but fewer. The official web site states that "to argue that illegal immigration is bad merely because it is illegal avoids the threshold question of whether we should prohibit this kind of immigration in the first place." The party's proposed plan is to create a guest worker program and to merely fine and tax workers currently working illegally in the US, while allowing them to stay, albeit on probation. The rationalization is that the US needs the workers, and the additional money thrown at "securing the border" has had little effect, so legalizing illegal immigration will save money, frustration, and government resources.
Most Federal agencies and departments would disappear under Libertarian policies. Here are some of the more notable planks in the Libertarian platform:
Shutting down the entire public education system and the Department of Education. According to the official Libertarian Party platform, "recognizing that the education of children is a parental responsibility, we would restore authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government." Schools should be provided by the "free market" or children should be home-schooled, at parents' discretion and at their own expense. Further, Libertarians would end all federal government involvement in education, including Pell Grants, loans, school accreditation, Title IX requirements, and Head Start funding. The theory behind this stance is that the US Constitution does not give the federal government any authority over education. Any government involvement in schools or education should be only at the state level, because state constitutions have been given such authority.
Eliminating all public assistance, including food stamps and subsidized housing (there is some question within the party as to whether unemployment benefits should be completely abolished). The party platform states that "the proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals." Those in need should ask charities, churches, or the community for help. To help the needy get jobs, the platform also calls for an end to minimum wage laws. To help people start businesses, the platform suggests eliminating most of the government regulations that entrepreneurs must follow, including OSHA, EPA, and licensing regulations.
Abolition of the federal income tax and the IRS. No government spending = no need to collect income tax, right? But clearly the government has to have some source of funding for the few services that remain. Lottery sales; consumption (sales and excise) taxes; voluntary taxes (i.e. residents of a city would pay a voluntary tax to be able to obtain fire and police services); and usage fees are some of the ideas for raising funds for services. Libertarians are against all taxes forced upon us by the government; sales and excise taxes and usage fees are considered voluntary because we choose to purchase the goods or use the services.
Privatizing Social Security. Libertarians would phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system. The party claims that individual retirement accounts would both lead to better return on investment, and be unavailable for the government to "borrow". For those who have already paid into the system or are already receiving Social Security benefits, selling trillions of dollars of assets - that the government won't need under a Libertarian regime - would more than cover those obligations.
This is just a taste of Libertarianism, but you get the point; it involves dismantling a good bit of the federal government, essentially leaving only the protection of individual rights, prosecution of those who infringe on those rights, and national security. While the chances of all of the above policies being passed and implemented are slim even if Gary Johnson were to be elected, they represent the party's ideals. For those considering a "protest vote" against the two major parties, consider carefully about where that vote is going.