The following post originally appeared on Medium.
I got an email the other day from Penn Jillette, a dear friend of mine, asking me to consider adding my name to a growing list of individuals endorsing the Johnson/Weld ticket for 2016. I have considered it, but have decided against it for a couple of reasons.
First, I’m not sure anyone needs another voice in their ear telling them how to vote. Second, even if I were, I’m still looking for my candidate. Governor Johnson may end up getting my vote, but I won’t be making an endorsement. I can’t imagine Governor Johnson will be losing any sleep over it. Considering how hard his campaign is courting disgruntled Bernie supporters, my endorsement may be the kiss death.
The fact of the matter is that I have endorsed only one candidate in my many years of public life. That candidate, as you know, was Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Ted Cruz is someone with whom I share bedrock principles and values. Additionally, as a Senator from the great state of Texas, he is someone I had the opportunity to get to know on a personal level. And, although he wasn’t a “perfect” candidate — I accept that he comes off as a bit (a lot?) stiff — the more I got to know Senator Cruz, the more I liked and respected him. The Senator is a good man who cares deeply about this country. He is a true-blue constitutional conservative. But don’t take my word for it — do your own homework.
As host of a nationally syndicated talk radio show, more often than not, I have some limited personal interaction with candidates for president who are campaigning to win the support of my audience. Naturally, my personal experiences influence my opinion. Governor Johnson is no exception. We had him on the show last month; it wasn’t exactly his best work. My biggest issue with Governor Johnson is that I don’t think he trusts the people enough. I have concerns with the Libertarian Ticket’s view on several issues, the most notable being abortion. But I also agree with many of its positions. I personally go back and forth between calling myself a Libertarian, Constitutional Conservative and a Classical Liberal. The net of my belief system: abide by the Constitution and leave each other alone. Governor Johnson certainly gets closer to that than the respective nominees of the two major parties.
Though I will not be endorsing the Libertarian Ticket (I don’t plan on endorsing anyone this election cycle), I do believe it is important that more voices are heard. One of my hopes earlier this year was for a Senator Ted Cruz vs. Bernie Sanders general election, and not (only) because I’m a strong supporter of Senator Cruz. I loved the idea of having two consistent and starkly contrasted ideological directions for the future of America: Limited Government and Maximum Personal Liberty and Responsibility or Maximum Government and Limited Personal Liberty and Responsibility. This is the debate I wish we were having as a nation.
Instead, we have two candidates whose positions are almost impossible to define. On foreign policy, Hillary Clinton is to the right of Donald Trump. On trade, Donald Trump is to the left of Hillary Clinton. Even setting aside my opinion of their respective principles and values, the choice for our country is far from black and white. It feels as if up is left and down is black. I believe having a few more voices in the debates is a great idea, especially if those voices are more ideologically coherent than those of our major party candidates.
I do not know how to achieve the right balance between the competing, legitimate interests of setting the stage for productive debate vs. greater inclusivity. But I think it is important to show the American electorate that there are other viewpoints and other options. The two party system is incapable of adequately serving all of the shades of gray that exist in our country. It’s producing far more losers than it is winners. The concept of a big tent party may not be over forever, but it is certainly on hiatus.
I do hope that enough people will come out in the polling to get Gov. Johnson (and possibly Ms. Stein as well) into the debates. The more voices, perspectives, and choices (within reason — a 12-candidate debate is not conducive to productive debate (see Republican primary) the better for our country during these, shall we say, interesting (and frightening) times.
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