With the impending nomination of Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for president, many disenchanted conservatives have been casting about for an alternative. Some have landed on Gary Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico and current candidate for the Libertarian nomination for president.
Johnson, who was also the Libertarian nominee in 2012, has much to recommend him—much more than a typical third-party candidate—but he is far from a perfect alternative. Conservatives should take a hard look before rallying to his standard, especially given his announcement today of Bill Weld as a running mate.
On questions of religious liberty, Johnson’s instinct is often to take a position more like that of a secular Democrat than a Republican. Asked whether government should ban Muslim women from wearing burqas, Johnson initially supported the ban before reversing himself the next day. More recently, on the question of whether bakers should be compelled to bake wedding cakes for gay couples, Johnson (unusually for a Libertarian) again came down on the side of government coercion. More troubling was that, in his answer, Johnson also combined two questions that have very different legal implications.
Selling Goods Isn’t the Same as Forced Participation
The cake-baking question rose to the surface again in the March 29 Libertarian Party debate when Johnson said bakers should not be able to choose what sort of wedding they cater, calling that sort of choice a “black hole” of discrimination. Fellow candidate Austin Petersen then asked Johnson if a Jewish baker should be required to bake a cake for a Nazi-themed wedding. Johnson avoided giving a direct answer, but Petersen made his point, saying “government is not supposed to make us into better people,” and suggesting that private boycotts were a more legitimate way of achieving societal change. (Petersen later posted the exchange to YouTube.)
Johnson conflated a refusal to sell goods to gay people with a refusal to participate in a gay wedding.
It is possible that Johnson was caught off-guard by the question, but he combined the two questions, just as many activists and members of the media have, conflating a refusal to sell goods to gay people with a refusal to participate in a gay wedding. The two are very different.
Johnson likely spoke out of a feeling, shared by most Americans, that discrimination is odious. In that, Petersen agreed, as did much of the audience, based on the applause. But the hypotheticals cited were not instances of discrimination against customers as we typically understand it, but of declining to create an artistic product for a specific purpose. The former is the sort of discrimination in public accommodations that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was intended to prevent. The latter is compelled speech, and a violation of the First Amendment.
Think Through the Differences
Consider the first situation. Imagine going into a bakery and seeing rows of cupcakes in the display… [Read Further]
TW Editor Notes: The Libertarian Party takes the Constitution from a naturalistic rather than biblical worldview. That means they honor the words of the Constitution but not the foundations upon which the founders built it. As a party they are pro-abortion and for open boarders. This editor believes the Constitution Party is a far better choice because it places the Constitution solidly on the original intent of the founders which requires “a moral and religious people”. The Constitution does not work without this foundation.