There's been some low-level sniping between some of the supporters of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson in the last couple of weeks. While part of that reflects bona fide policy disagreements, there is also a sense that libertarians who prefer one candidate are obliged to campaign against the other. But if last night's debate did anything, it settled the value of having two libertarian-leaning figures on the stage. When Paul's hardline libertarian moral defense of drug decriminalization was followed immediately by Johnson's consequentialist approach, the benefits of the Paul/Johnson duo became clear: Each guy got to make the arguments that the other one didn't, and the audience got to hear a broader case for a controversial position than the format allowed either man to offer by himself.
In the unlikely event that one of these candidates actually comes close to winning the nomination, their loyalists can duke it out. But for now, let them double-team all the authoritarians on the stage. Whether they mean to or not, they're helping each other.
And then there’s this screenshot from a friend:
The question was along these lines: who favors “enhanced interrogation techniques?” From left to right: Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Gary Johnson. A pictures speaks a thousand words, doesn’t it?
Personally, I wouldn’t worry about splitting the libertarian vote. As the Reason piece above suggests, we can figure that out when one of the two gets close to being viable for the nomination (and if that happened, I’d bet that there would be some discussions between the candidates). In the meantime, let’s enjoy having two libertarians on stage and holding the others’ feet to the fire.