L. Neil Smith, a libertarian’s libertarian (one of the first members of the Libertarian Party, he was a candidate for Colorado State legislature on the Libertarian ticket in 1978 with essentially zero budget, outperforming any third party candidate in the district before or since, the 2000 Presidential nominee of the Arizona Libertarian party, and a participant in drafting the party’s platform in 2004). He is the author of more than 35 books of science fiction, fantasy, and political analysis, including Down with Power, a practical guide to hard-edged libertarianism. He is the founder and publisher of The Libertarian Enterprise, a weekly publication which has, on occasion, even featured some of my scribblings.
In 2016, he dismayed and even enraged some prominent libertarians by endorsing and voting for Donald Trump in the presidential campaign. On several occasions he published articles explaining his rationale, to little effect. This week’s edition of The Libertarian Enterprise contains a new attempt titled “Once More, with Thinking”. He begins:
The other day, I was perusing the Internet, as one does, when I saw a message from a longtime friend of mine telling some third party that he thought I might have made a mistake, voting for Donald Trump. Two responses came immediately to mind: first, that I have been engaged in politics since 1962 and I don’t make mistakes like that; second, that I thought I had made my reasons for voting that way “perfectly clear”.
Apparently I had not, so I’ll take one more shot at it now and then forget it. If I can’t teach this lesson, then nobody can, and given that most people’s reaction to Trump is more visceral than cerebral, it probably can’t be taught. I don’t vote with my gut, or by the seat of my pants, I vote with my brain.
He then goes on to analyse the actual choices available to the electorate in 2016, why from his standpoint Trump was the best of those on the menu, and why he no longer considers not voting (which he calls “electoral pacifism”) an option. He concludes:
Donald Trump is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. He is certainly not a Libertarian, nor does he claim to be. For once, that’s quite all right. When I need my roof fixed, I don’t ask about the roofer’s politics, only if he can fix my roof. Trump is an uncategorizable one-off, possibly unique in history. He has traits in common with Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and even Lyndon Johnson. He built beautiful tall buildings in the business-hostile environments of the world’s biggest, most-corrupt cities. He’s just the guy to fix the American roof that was shot full of holes by three previous Presidents who happened to be evil morons.