Should I vote Freedom or Libertarian?

Voting tomorrow in the Ontario election will be difficult for me. I have never had as much difficulty making up my mind on how I would vote for an election as I have for this one. For the first time I have been given the opportunity to vote for one of two political parties that both have important things to say and are both offering platforms that will bring about true prosperity to the province of Ontario. I have had to take a serious look at both political parties and decide who it is that truly deserves my vote more. I speak of course of the Freedom Party and the Libertarian Party.

I am fortunate that both political parties are running a candidate in my riding (St. Paul’s) and so I don’t have to pick between vomiting and not voting.

Both parties offer a vision of a more modest state that does not unnecessarily interfere with the lives of the individual and recognizes the free market as the primary driver of prosperity. There are some nuanced policy differences but the differences are so small or so technical that there isn’t much to choose between them. I would feel comfortable that with either platform the individuals in Ontario will be better off.

So without policy to offer me a guide to choose I turn my eye to the parties as organizations.

I have to say I have been impressed with the Freedom Party during this election. I have posted several of their adverts, and with one notable exception, they have been the best political adverts of this campaign. They are clear, to the point, and offer a policy idea that makes me stand up and cheer (screw you Liquor Control Board of Ontario).

Furthermore the Freedom Party leader has been able to attract a decent amount of media attention given the low profile of his party. They have also organized themselves enough to run candidates in most of Ontario’s ridings. This is no small accomplishment for a political organization that is perpetually strapped for resources.

The Freedom Party has worked hard to earn my vote whilst the Libertarian Party has been pretty much invisible.

Still, I can’t bring myself to vote for the Freedom Party and the reason I can’t is the party’s leader: Paul McKeever.

Some of you, if not most of you, are likely pretty confused by all of this.

“Hang on!” you may be crying out, “what do you mean there are two libertarian parties? Why would there be two parties splitting the libertarian vote? It’s not like there are so many of you to begin with.”

The explanation to your reasonable confusion is silly: Paul McKeever insists that the Freedom Party is objectivist and not libertarian.

I won’t bother going into the difference between objectivism and libertarianism because, as my friend Peter Jaworski points out here, one is a moral philosophy and the other is a political philosophy. By insisting that the Freedom Party is objectivist rather than libertarian basically Mr. McKeever is saying you have to not just agree with his policies but also agree with the moral philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Plenty of people’s political philosophy is rooted in their personal moral philosophy. In fact I would wager that this is true of most people. But from different origins political movements come together around specific political principles and goals. It doesn’t matter why two people agree that the political principle is good, as long as they can work together. I don’t care that Mr. McKeever is an objectivist because I agree with his political goals.

This isn’t good enough for Mr. McKeever. In fact he can be pretty insulting about it. He has on several occasions spoken derisively about libertarians. To my mind this means he doesn’t really want my vote. If ideological purity is what he wants then he doesn’t want me.

So I will be voting Libertarian Party because I agree with the party’s policies and the party leader doesn’t purposefully alienate me.