Dalmia: 2020 election presents major dilemma for Libertarian voters | Michigan Radio
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Dalmia: 2020 election presents major dilemma for Libertarian voters

Oct 21, 2020

In the last presidential election more than 250,000 Michigan voters cast their ballots for third-party or write-in candidates. Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Michigan by fewer than 11,000 votes.

Shikha Dalmia is an avowed Libertarian, but sees a bigger concern than supporting her party in the 2020 presidential election.

Dalmia is columnist at The Week, and a senior analyst for Reason.

Reason, a the Libertarian magazine and website, recently shared who its writers are supporting in the presidential campaign. Dalmia is voting for Democrat Joe Biden. She noted in the article that there is, “No bigger Libertarian cause right now than to prevent Donald J. Trump from getting re-elected.”

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Dalmia says Trump is an economic interventionist who is very aggressive in trying to pick winners and losers in the marketplace, something she calls a "a huge Libertarian no-no."

"But in my view, his bigger problem from a Libertarian standpoint is an open glorification of state violence," Dalmia says. "There hasn't been a president, I can think of,  who just sort of openly glorifies foreign dictators who have used the worst kind of violence against their own people. And he relishes it himself."

In 2016, more than 172,000 Michiganders voted for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson.

Libertarians and other third party voters are often criticized for voting for a candidate who they know will not win. Dalmia voted for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, in 2012, but she also voted for Republican President George W. Bush's reelection in 2004 and for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

She says she voted for Bush in 2004 because she wasn't excited about Democrat John Kerry. She sat out the 2008 election and voted for Gary Johnson in 2012.

"He was the first libertarian candidate who had ever excited me," Dalmia says. "He was the [former] governor of New Mexico. He seemed to have something that Libertarians often don't have, which is a governing philosophy. In the case of Hillary Clinton, I thought the stakes were too high because Trump had already been showing some of what he was going to be."

Johnson ran again in 2016 and more than 172,000 Michiganders voted for him. This year the Libertarian Party candidate is Jo Jorgenson. Dalmia says many of her colleagues will vote for Jorgenson. But she says Libertarians she knows in swing states are seriously considering Biden.

"The reason they vote Libertarian instead of the two main party candidates is because we need competition in the political system," she says.

Some of the suspects in the alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer have called themselves – or been described by their attorneys as – Libertarians. On the surface, the idea of wanting less government aligns with Libertarian Party principles.

Dalmia says she’s concerned about extremists or fringe groups co-opting the Libertarian message of limited government.

"Some of these groups there are closer to vigilante groups. That's not libertarianism."

Further reading: 'Why this libertarian is voting for Biden' by Shikha Dalmia for The Week

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