With less than a week until the LIbertarian National Convention gets underway, I want to take a moment to share some thoughts — and to ask for your vote.
By: Gary Johnson
This letter first appeared on Gary’s Facebook page.
You know me. I first joined the Libertarian Party in 1993. For the past five years, I’ve been traveling to all corners of the nation, attending as many Libertarian gatherings as I can, taking the principles of Liberty to the airwaves, and spending hundreds of hours listening to you and discussing the path forward to solidifying the Libertarian Party as the real alternative to the Republicans and Democrats.
Finally, our work is paying off. Building on the work of those who have gone before us, we have put the Libertarian Party in the national conversation. Just last week, Fox News did three separate stories in one day about the role the Libertarian Party will potentially play in 2016. It’s safe to say that has never happened before, and I’m grateful to be a part of making that happen.
We probably haven’t agreed about everything. In fact, I don’t know anyone who agrees with me 100% of the time. But we DO agree on the fundamental idea that government should be small, and Liberty should be great. We agree that the force of government must not be used to take our freedoms from us, and we agree that the Libertarian Party best represents our shared vision of a government that protects Liberty as the true American value.
Together, in 2012, we made history by garnering more votes for a Libertarian presidential candidate than ever before. But that is nothing compared to our opportunity in 2016. The Republicans and Democrats have handed us what is undoubtedly the greatest opportunity ever to compete on an equal footing with the two “major” parties. The pollsters see it. The media sees it, and most important, millions of Americans see it.
The spotlight is on us — and we have to perform.
With the nominating convention upon us, I want to be sure your questions are answered and your concerns addressed. I hope we have an opportunity to visit personally in Orlando, but in the meantime, I want to address a few concerns that have been raised by some.
In a nationally-televised debate among three of the Libertarian candidates for President (A debate that should, by the way, have been more inclusive of all the candidates.), a highly unlikely hypothetical question was raised about whether a Jewish baker has the right to refuse to serve a Nazi sympathizer asking for a “Nazi cake”. I responded to that question in the legal context of whether a public business has the right to refuse to serve a member of the public, as distasteful as it might be.
The simple answer to that question is, whether all like it or not, U.S. law has recognized the principle of public accommodation for more than 100 years: The principle that, when a business opens its doors to the public, that business enters into an implied contract to serve ALL of the public. Further, when that business voluntarily opens its doors, the owners voluntarily agree to adhere to applicable laws and regulations — whether they like those laws or not.
To be clear, anti-discrimination laws do not, and cannot, abridge fundamental First Amendment rights. I know of no one who reasonably disagrees. In the highly unlikely event that a Nazi would demand that a Jewish baker decorate a cake with a Nazi symbol, the courts, common sense, and common decency — not to mention the First Amendment — all combine to protect that baker from having to do so. It’s not an issue, except when distorted for purposes of gotcha politics.
Does a public bakery have to sell a cake to a Nazi? Probably so. Does that bakery have to draw a swastika on it? Absolutely not. And that’s the way it should be.
Of course, we all know that this conversation is really “code” for the current, and far more real, conversation about society’s treatment of LGBT individuals. I have even heard some talk of a “right to discriminate”. And of course, we have states and municipalities today trying to create a real right to discriminate against the LGBT community on religious grounds — the same kinds of “religious” grounds that were used to defend racial segregation, forbid interracial marriages and, yes, defend discrimination against Jews by businesses. That is not a slope Libertarians want to go down.
Once again, my belief that discrimination on the basis of religion should not be allowed has been distorted by some to suggest that a legitimate church or its clergy should be “forced” to perform a same-sex marriage. That is absurd. The various ballot initiatives I supported across the country to repeal bans on same-sex marriage all had one provision in common: A specific provision making clear that no religious organization, priest or pastor could be required to perform any rite contrary to that organization’s or individual’s faith. That protection was supported almost universally by the LGBT community — even though most legal scholars agreed that such a protection already exists in the Constitution. We just wanted to leave no doubt.
I was the first major candidate in the 2012 presidential campaign to call for full marriage equality, and Libertarians have long stood for equal treatment under the law for all Americans. As your candidate for President, I will not tarnish that record.
Another concern some have raised, with the help of some misleading blog reports, relates to the finances of the 2012 campaign. As you know, the Federal Election Commission is a government agency. Dealing with them is not unlike dealing with the IRS. It can take years and far too much money to resolve issues.
Due to the nature of FEC reporting, our 2012 campaign reports continue to show a substantial “debt”. That is in no way unusual. Most major national campaigns have the same reporting issue. The actual debts listed by the FEC have, in reality, been resolved and the resolution has been submitted to the FEC for approval — months ago. Our attorneys continue to work with the FEC to gain acceptance of our submissions, and we are confident they will ultimately do so. This is a tedious and burdensome process that plagues virtually all major campaigns, and says more about the nature of government regulation than it does about our finances.
The key fact for you, as a Delegate, to know is that NO funds being raised for the 2016 campaign will be used to reduce the 2012 debts shown on our campaign disclosure reports.
I hope this information is helpful, and encourage you to bring any additional questions or concerns to me directly at the convention.
As Libertarians, we have an opportunity in this election to truly make history. It is important that we do it right. National polls are already showing me to be in double digits against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — and we haven’t really gotten started yet.
But understand this: Despite all the media attention, polls and excitement, I know that my first task is to earn your vote at the nominating convention in Orlando next weekend. And I am dedicated to that task.
We have taken amazing strides — together — to put the Libertarian Party on the national stage as a serious, credible alternative to the Republicans and Democrats. Next weekend, I am asking you to allow me the honor of taking even greater strides, with your help and support. We have known one another since the days when we were fighting for even the slightest recognition, and I have not forgotten that you were doing the hard work even before it became fashionable, as was I.
I look forward to seeing you in Orlando. Our campaign will be hosting a social event Friday evening. Please join us. Likewise, we will have an “office” set up in Salon I of the convention hotel, and I urge you to stop by. I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Gov. Gary Johnson