Recently, the Libertarian Party held its first nationally televised debate. Hosted by Fox Business commentator John Stossel, the two-part event was broadcast on most cable systems and the internet. A CNN poll in late March revealed that 39 percent of voters would consider a third party candidate if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were the nominees of the two major parties. Only about 33 percent are comfortable with Trump as the Republican nominee. The most recent poll from the Associated Press reveals even more potential for a third party to gain momentum, as 20 percent of polled voters stated they would vote third party if the Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton and if the Republican nominee is Donald Trump, according to businessinsider.com.
With a majority of Americans thinking their values are not represented well by either of the two leading candidates, there is great potential for a third-party candidate to prevail.
The Libertarian Party is the largest of all the third parties and is on the ballot in all fifty states. Its minimal government, maximum freedom credo appeals to anyone who believes the government has grown too burdensome. The Libertarian Party has not gone out of its way to recruit Christians; however, recent official statements may encourage Christians to take a second look at the party. Libertarians’ response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Hobby Lobby case from Executive Director Wes Benedict stands out:
“…Religion is not the issue. The fact that these employers have religious motives doesn’t matter. Employers have the right to associate freely with their employees… whether their motives are religious, secular, generous, greedy, or whatever.”
This ruling is a tiny island in a huge sea of Supreme Court rulings that have supported the federal government’s desire to regulate and control,” he stated in a press release.
The Libertarian Party Debate: Highlights
Each Libertarian candidate professed a desire to limit government to the enumerated powers listed in the Constitution. Austin Petersen in his introduction cited the Golden Rule as a principle for governing and his fiscal conservatism in running a debt-free campaign. Gary Johnson mentioned his leadership as governor of the state of New Mexico and his efforts balancing New Mexico’s budget. John McAfee described how the principles of freedom apply to minority positions in America. Christians disagree among themselves on the issue of gay rights; some would deny marital rights, but support civil unions, others hold positions closer to the extremes of endorsing gay marriage or forbidding it. The candidates on stage either held this to be a state’s rights issue or an issue of freedom for all. The candidates, with the exception of Gary Johnson, fully supported the right of a private business to refuse service on the basis of ‘gender preference.’ He expressed his support for laws that prohibited any and all discrimination by any business. Petersen and McAfee both denounced this as a big-government, anti-freedom approach. Petersen stated advising boycotts and other ways of showing support for gay rights are more aligned with Libertarian principles than an anti-discrimination government mandate.
Austin Petersen declared in the debate, “I’m pro-life, pro-liberty, and pro-freedom.” When asked about the woman’s rights, he brought up the coercion factor, pointing out many feel pressured by others to abort their children. He sees these women as victims of abortion, and said he believes they should be treated as such. With little time delegated to the pre-born life issue, candidates did not go into detailed explanations. However, a search on ISideWith.com brings up Gary Johnson’s stand, a ‘moderate’ position. He is pro-choice up to the point of the child’s viability, perceived to be about five months pregnant. McAfee is pro-choice, declaring women have the right to do as they please with ‘their bodies’. All of the candidates believe the government should not pay for abortion, nor should it indirectly force anyone else to through ‘insurance mandates.’
The Constitution Party holds the distinction of holding firmly to principles Christians value. Like the Libertarian Party, its platform upholds freedom of conscience in matters of education, faith, self-defense and association. The candidates’ platform directly condemns Common Core, gun control, Agenda 21 and Obamacare. A party holding to unapologetic pro-life and anti-gay marriage stands, the Constitution party’s full stance on the sanctity of life can be read at www.constitutionparty.com/the-sanctity-of-life-2/, the stand on ‘gay marriage’ can be found at www.constitutionparty.com/family/. These are two issues the Constitution party sees as both moral and legal, and the party takes a bold stand against the changing moral tide.
The Constitution Party also makes direct reference to God, biblical morals, and the Founder’s moral principles. There are excellent essays on the principles of the Founding Fathers, as well as some sage advice for Christians seeking wisdom on voting their principles. The Constitution Party has ballot access in seventeen states, including Florida, and is pursuing ballot access in another five. The case in Tennessee is currently in court.
Though many Christians’ views may not align with all Libertarians espouse, the consistent stand for liberty should be held in respect. The growing power and restrictions of government are adversely affecting the rights of Christians of all persuasions, in particular Catholics and others who hold to pro-life positions. The Republicans in the House have the power to deny Obamacare funding and don’t; Democrats pushed removal of religious rights. The Constitution party’s and Libertarian party’s stands deserve a closer look by Christians.
Penni Bulten is a homeschooling mom who is fascinated with the Founding Fathers and their faith. She can be reached at [email protected]