I’m giving serious thought to changing my party affiliation.
This isn’t about Donald Trump, though I suppose his rise to Republican Party presidential nominee nudged me in this direction. It’s just that I now find myself disagreeing with the Republican Party, or at least a chunk of the party, on many things.
Immigration is one such thing. While Mr. Trump and many in the party want Mexico to build a wall along its border with the United States, I favor immigration reform. And by reform I mean allowing more people to enter this country legally for jobs that employers are struggling to fill.
Closer to home – in the N.C. General Assembly – Republicans have forgotten that they’re supposed to be the party of smaller, less intrusive government. For every good thing they do – like cutting income taxes and erasing burdensome regulations on business – they do something bad, like telling cities, towns and counties which laws they can enact. Since when did state lawmakers know better than local leaders how to govern their counties and communities?
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But I won’t become a Democrat, a member of what I like to call the Nanny Party, which believes that government knows best how to run everything – business and industry, health care, education, the Internet – despite evidence to the contrary.
I’m most likely to join the Libertarian Party, which is essentially the Live and Let Live Party. I’m especially fond of the preamble to the party’s platform. It begins this way: “We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.”
The Libertarian Party and I do part company occasionally. On foreign affairs, for example, the party’s platform says the United States should avoid “international entanglements.” That sounds nice, but I think we now have ample evidence of what happens when the United States retreats from the international stage or leads from behind: The world becomes more dangerous, not less so.
But mostly, the Libertarian Party and I see eye to eye.
On personal liberty: “Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and must accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make.” Among other things, that means you’re free to smoke a cigarette in the comfort of your home, but expect no sympathy from the government when you get lung cancer.
On economic liberty: “Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.”
Section 3 of the party’s platform, which addresses international affairs and other security matters, is where we sometimes disagree. But even section 3 has much to recommend it. On free trade and migration, for example: “Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.” Amen to all of that.
And amen to this, on rights and discrimination: “We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation.”
Given all of the above, would I be wise to switch parties? Probably not. A vote for the Libertarian presidential candidate would be a perennial waste of a ballot. People who follow politics expect the Libertarian Party to enjoy one of its best presidential elections ever this year, perhaps getting as much as 7 percent of the vote. That’s right, 7 percent.
Also, the Libertarian Party doesn’t field candidates for local elections in Johnston County, so I’d still be voting, most likely, for Republicans every other November. But I wouldn’t get the chance to decide which Republicans were on the November ballot because I’d be closed out of the party’s primaries.
So I shouldn’t switch, right?
No, but what kind of voter am I if I don’t vote for the party that best supports my beliefs? Not much of one, I suspect.