As an atheist, I have described myself as a reluctant culture warrior who doesn’t fit in to the usual categories and whose main interest is in opposing the current political aggressors in the culture war, who in today’s context are the people trying to force you to bake somebody’s cake. I’m a little too old to claim naiveté as an excuse, yet somehow I had thought this would be considered compatible with a principled libertarian position.
But the reaction of Johnson’s Libertarian apologists in an indication that, as much as they look down on the culture war and see themselves as floating above it, what that really means is that they have taken a position in the culture war, and they’re on the side of the Left. They would rather force you to bake the cake and make sure everyone knows that “the kind of anti-discrimination law we’ve had for many decades is not something he’s interested in rolling back,” in Doherty’s description.
It’s a misleading characterization—persecuting Christians for their views on homosexuality is not something the government has been doing “for many decades”—and also a curiously evasive one. On what other issues are libertarians supposed to accept the notion that they shouldn’t challenge a government intrusion just because it is widely accepted? And what would be left of libertarianism if they did? But it’s revealing nonetheless, because it indicates that the priority of Libertarian partisans is to avoid challenging the Left on any issue that can be associated with the culture war.
So no, they’re not pursuing the Democratic vote out of mere pragmatic calculation. They’re doing it because they have defined themselves by their opposition to conservatives, and specifically as being on the opposite side of the culture war.