How Should Libertarians Vote?

Continuing the series of posts examining how libertarian-leaning folks should vote (assuming they think it’s worth voting at all), Reason has published essays on the libertarian case for Obama (Mike Godwin), Romney (Robert Poole) and Gary Johnson (Nick Gillespie). Some may also be interested in this post by law professor Brad Smith explaining why he will vote enthusiastically for Romney, and this essay by Shikha Dalmia arguing Romney is the most protectionist GOP candidate in ages. Then again, perhaps Katherine Mangu-Ward is correct, and libertarians shouldn’t vote at all.

UPDATE: Reason board member Manny Klausner e-mails to note that he is enthusiastically voting for Gary Johnson, but also encouraging libertarians who live in battleground states to vote for Romney if the election looks like it will be close. He writes:

It seems to me that the WORST possible move for a libertarian would be to vote for a statist candidate who may win the election — and doesn’t need your vote to win. In my view, this implicates the voter in the bad policies pursued by the candidate once they take office. To me, the only exception to this is a close election where your vote arguably could be decisive, so that voting for the lesser of the evils might well be appropriate.

Moreover, on the issue of drug policy — a high priority for libertarians — I’d point out that a libertarian in a non-battleground state emphatically should not vote for Romney, who shows no sign of doing anything other than supporting the counterproductive war on drugs. Voting for the Gary Johnson/Jim Gray ticket is a commendable way to express dissatisfaction with the War on Drugs — a “cure” that is far worse than the disease.

I generally agree with this sentiment, but would also note that the Obama Administration has pursued the drug war most vigorously while the Republican VP nominee has expressed some sympathy for allowing states to decriminalize marijuana for medical purposes, if not more broadly. In all likelihood, however, neither Presidential candidate is likely to alter the drug war’s current course.