(The opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not represent the opinions of SmallBizDaily.)
By Cliff Ennico
If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, how should you vote in November?
In my last two columns, I offered some suggestions and a few historical observations that may or may not pan out.
But as some of my readers have pointed out, you can’t dodge the bullet forever. Here is the decision I have reached (after much soul-searching), for better or worse.
The reason we in the small business/entrepreneur community are having trouble making up our minds is that each major party offers us at least one position we cannot agree with:
- Most of us believe in small government and individual freedom – entrepreneurial startups do not thrive in socialist economies — and both parties are pushing for massive increases in the size of the federal government (albeit for different reasons);
- Most of us believe in low taxes, and the Democrats are pushing for massive increases in taxes on successful, upper-income Americans (the definition of “upper income” being notoriously slippery);
- Most of us want to keep regulations and government interference at a minimum, yet both parties want a say in who we can hire or fire and how we run our businesses; and
- Most important, we believe in equality of opportunity (if not outcome) for all Americans regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, sex or sexual orientation, and are horrified by the wall-building, exclusionary rhetoric of many Republican candidates (or at least Trump supporters).
In last week’s column, I highlighted the strong possibility of a major structural shift in American politics after this election. We will be seeing a proliferation of third parties trying to grab a piece of the American center and bridge the yawning gaps between the two major parties. Frankly, we should embrace rather than fight this trend.
That is why I am voting this year for the Libertarian Party.
I can already see the emails from some of you: “Wait a minute! You’re voting for that lightweight Gary Johnson? You’re throwing your vote away.”
I didn’t say I was voting for Mr. Johnson (although frankly I have nothing against him – he seems competent enough, and his “Aleppo moments” in my opinion contrast favorably with the majority of Millennials who think Syria is part of New Jersey).
And yes, I did look at their website and noticed an Elvis Presley impersonator named “Elvis Presley” running on the party ticket in Arkansas (although I have nothing against Elvis – hey, Richard Nixon thought he had a future in politics).
What I said was that I was voting for the Libertarian Party, and not just as a “one off” protest vote. I think we as a community have a vested stake in making this party a viable part of American politics.
The Libertarian Party was formed to promote civil liberties, non-interventionism, laissez-faire capitalism and the abolition of the welfare state (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_Party_(United_States)).
The party generally promotes a classical liberal platform (what John Locke, David Hume, and Thomas Paine were talking about in the 1700s), in contrast to the Democrats’ progressivism and the Republicans’ conservatism. Gary Johnson, the party’s 2016 presidential nominee, says that the party is “more culturally liberal than Democrats, but more fiscally conservative than Republicans.”
Reading the party’s platform on specific issues (see www.lp.org/platform) is a lot like reading the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Some of their ideas (like abolishing the IRS) are never going to happen. Some of their ideas (they favor gun ownership, and abolishing the death penalty) won’t sit well with many Americans. While the party platform favors a strong national defense, its tilt towards isolationism and its adamant opposition to compulsory military service (even in the face of foreign or terrorist aggression) will require some rethinking in an increasingly hostile world.
But I think most of my readers will agree with 90% or more of what Libertarians stand for. It’s a platform we can get behind.
There are only 411,250 voters nationwide registered as Libertarian. The party has never won a seat in Congress. Some of the parties’ candidates are, shall we say, not ready for prime time (it’s not too late – you can volunteer to run for office on the Libertarian Party ticket at www.lp.org/operation-elect-us).
But the party is on the ballot in all 50 states, and I suspect lots of voters disgusted with both major party candidates will find Mr. Johnson an emotionally satisfying “protest vote”. Whatever happens this November, I think our community needs to get involved and help make what is today a fringe party a part of the mainstream political discussion. Hey, this is how the Republican Party got started in the 1850s. With a national organization, solid funding, and credible candidates, there’s a good chance the Libertarians could garner 20% to 30% of the popular vote in the next Presidential election cycle – more than enough to make a difference.
There is no political party for our community right now, so let’s make one. We are entrepreneurs, after all.
Cliff Ennico (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series ‘Money Hunt’. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2016 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Follow him at @cliffennico.