As November 8th approaches, more and more Americans throw their hands into the air and lament that they must choose the lesser of two evils in this cycle’s presidential election. Whatever their reasons are, they find the candidates for the country’s two leading parties to be less than satisfactory, and they cannot in good conscience vote for either one.
And so onto the scene steps Gary Johnson and the Libertarian party, the third largest party and the only contender capable of taking on either side. People put their hands back down at their sides and begin to relax. They might even smile—finally, another option.
Of course, third parties are not original to this election. George Wallace and Ross Perot have led some of the most successful third party campaigns in American history—yet even they had little success. Many rightly blame the failures of third parties to a winner-take-all system in which people are not proportionally represented as well as to the exclusion of third parties from debates and voter access.
In spite of these setbacks, third parties are often viewed as much-needed improvements for the present system, and this year could potentially be the year we see one succeed. The popularity of anything outside of the bipartisan system is largely garnered from its success overseas (namely Europe) and the promise of more options, having a platform that more closely resembles one’s own. (Of course it should be mentioned that many would argue that third parties, while giving increased options, decrease the incentive for compromise between parties.)
Having said all that, I want to say just a few more words about the Libertarian Party in particular. I too think we need a third party, but the Libertarian party is not it. Sure Libertarians have a lot going for them—they are intellectually honest; they are strong advocates of the free market; they are non-interventionists. Yet all of their assets are rooted in what some would consider their greatest virtue: a desire for personal freedom and choice. And it is this foundation which must be labeled as thoroughly non-Christian. To be sure, there are elements of goodness to be found, but an ethic completely consumed with individuality and a desire for personal happiness does not open itself up to the self-sacrifice necessary for biblical compassion. The Christian religion is one of death to self in order to bring life to the world; it demands that we be responsible for one another. Perhaps the practicality of its platform is able to prop-up the Libertarian Party above its opponents, and the lesser of three evils it may be, but have no illusions, it is still not the righteous choice.