Election 2012

Success, Libertarian Party-Style (Or, the Glory of Low Expectations)

If you scripted Gary Johnson's character in a movie, critics would roll their eyes and advise you to tone it down.


Gary Johnson

If you scripted Gary Johnson's character in a movie, critics would roll their eyes and advise you to tone it down. A self-made millionaire who serves two terms as a popular state governor and climbs Mount Everest before running for president is a bit much. But he's a real character, and very arguably, was the best qualified candidate in yesterday's presidential election, running, as he was, against a Democratic incumbent who had never held a real job and had all of one unfinished term in the Senate under his belt before putting in four truly unimpressive years in the White House, and a wishy-washy, one-term governor Republican challenger. For his efforts, Johnson pulled in, according to Google's election coverage, 1,139,562 votes and just one percent of the vote. Those are the most total votes every gained by a Libertarian presidential candidate, and a hair under Ed Clark's 1.1 percent in 1980.

Yay, Libertarian Party.

There are all sorts of reasons why an impressive candidate like Johnson wasn't treated as a serious contender by the media and the voting public, and while none of them reflect well on the United States and its denizens, they remain facts of life. Yes, the Democrats and Republicans have gamed the political system to exclude competitors; yes, the main media outlets have drunk the establishment Kool-Aid and largely do their best to marginalize anybody who doesn't have a D or R by their name; and yes, the public has allowed itself to be brow-beaten into treating two private organizations as permanent, institutional representations of legitimate political expression. All true. But that's the way it is. Occasionally, some eccentric Ross Perot-ish candidate can bypass those barriers with sufficiently large checks, and eventually, one or both of the current major parties will implode, but for now we have what we have.

The question, once again, is: Are libertarians best-advised to continue expending time, sweat and tears on a political effort that seems doomed to batter its head against a closed system? I'm not necessarily saying "no." Frankly, I don't see a welcoming home in either the Republican Party of Todd Akin or the Democratic Party of Elizabeth Warren. But if a Gary Johnson can't be taken seriously, it's difficult to imagine the Libertarian Party gaining any traction short of a massive social disruption in this country. And, while both Republican and Democrats seem dead-set on ensuring that an economic catastrophe occcurs sooner rather than later, that's an unpromising hook on which to hang your hopes.

Given the closed, kabuki-theater nature of American politics, in which the state seems to ever-metastasize no matter which party claims momentary favor, I think a strong case can be made that running or supporting candidates for office is entirely a dead end. Ballot initiatives certainly look more promising, as do lawsuits. Much can also be said for working on technologies, like encryption, that help to put areas of life beyond the state's reach. Or supporting organizations, like Wikileaks, that can short-circuit policies and humiliate officials.

This isn't a new discussion, but it's one that we need to keep having.

NEXT: Gay Marriage Wins Support in all Four States Voting on the Matter

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Clearly, things have to get worse before people will retreat from the status quo. I was hoping to slow down the rush off the cliff a bit, to buy some time, but that’s looking less likely. Unless the House is going to turn to full Dr. No mode, which is highly unlikely.

    1. Really, I can’t figure out why the LP is still doing worse than it did 32 years ago. You would think with the Internet and all, publicizing a third party candidate and building a groundswell of public support would be a cakewalk now compared to the obstacles faced in 1980, when there were only 4 TV channels and no easy way to organize at the grassroots level.

      I remember 1980 — I saw ONE tv ad for Ed Clark, my parents voted for him, and he got 1.1%. And some unknown Congressman named John Anderson got 6.6%. Running against Ronald Reagan, who talked a great small government game back then.

      Even with far more information and far more news sources, people seem more easily manipulated into voting Team Big Two. I guess it gets drummed into their heads every day how close the race is, and how important their vote is, and they buy into it.

        1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U…..tion,_1980

          John Anderson
          5.7 million votes

      1. The LP is generally dismissed as fringe. Like the Nazis, without the evil. To some extent, it’s true, as the LP houses significant minorities that are, well, out there.

        While the same problems hold true for the major parties, their varieties of irrationality are more generally accepted.

        1. Like the Nazis, without the evil.

          Ladies and (mostly) gentlemen, I present our new slogan!

          1. You know who else was like the… oh wait, never mind.

      2. You would think with the Internet and all, publicizing a third party candidate and building a groundswell of public support would be a cakewalk now compared to the obstacles faced in 1980, when there were only 4 TV channels and no easy way to organize at the grassroots level.

        What everyone needs to realize is that the internet is not a positive force for good people to get their word out, it a system of communication that lets everyone get their word out, including the bad guys. So while yes, the libertarian party can do more talking and reach more people in novel ways, so can the Democrats, the Republicans, the Jihadis, the commies, and everyone inbetween.

    2. They are not getting worse. The economy is getting better. It is time that this movement matured at stopped depending on a bad economy to get people to listen. We have to articulate our ideas in a way that they will listen. Congress approval is still 10%. People’s eyes have been opened it is time to capitalize.

  2. I’m done with voting.

    It’s like being asked to choose which of the two armed thugs in my house gets to rape my wife, and if I say “neither” one of them is going to do it anyway.

    1. I thought John and I were supposed to be the source of “yummy tears”. The garment-rending from people who but a few days ago were saying it didn’t matter whether BO or MR won is kind of baffling.

      1. Every single thing on the ballot went the opposite of how I voted. President (that was a forgone conclusion anyway), state senate, state house, house, senate, and ballot questions.

        With no exceptions.

        What’s the point?

        I’m done.

        1. Almost the same here, except ultranerd and possible repressed pervert Keith Rothfus beat Mark Critz.

        2. So you only understand after your pointless, meaningless vote is pointless and meaningless?

          Take a fucking math class.

          1. I already knew, but the election going 100% opposite my ballot was a bit too much.

            Fuck it. I’m done.

          2. Epi, this is where we welcome him with open arms.

            You should really do it, because my boobs might get on him if I did, and that wouldn’t go well.

            1. You should really do it, because my boobs might get on him if I did, and that wouldn’t go well.


              Also, tell us more about your boobs, nicole.

            2. There’s nothing about that sentence I didn’t like. The second one, of course, not the first one.

            3. because my boobs might get on him if I did, and that wouldn’t go well.

              Yeah. I don’t think my wife would approve of some strange woman smothering me with her mammaries.

          3. Take a fucking math class.

            Uh, maybe YOU need to. 1 vote = not much. Millions of votes = victory. You know how you DON’T get victory? By repeatedly ignoring any chance to get more votes for a candidate.

            I mean really, it’s like some people suddenly become retarded on this subject. A SINGLE vote, BY ITSELF, doesn’t make much difference. Many votes, however, do. Any argument on voting that ignores the influence large numbers of people can have is worthless, which is exactly why Mangu-Ward’s main argument against voting is fail. It ignores that getting a whole BUNCH of people voting a certain way CAN make a difference, and ignoring individual votes because they make almost no difference on their own concedes defeat to the groups of people who continue to vote.

            1. Oh man, it’s truly embarrassing watching those who fundamentally don’t get math talk like this. Seriously, dude, don’t make yourself look like this. You seem like a good guy. Just…don’t.

              1. I understand the statistical significance of 1 vote is incredibly small. But I also understand that millions of votes would be significant. What I DON’T understand is the idea that we shouldn’t try to GROW the amount of libertarian votes because 1 vote by itself isn’t enough.

                1. I only control one vote.

                  Maybe you are some sort of Chicago style political machine with a million dead voters doing your bidding, but I dont have that.

                  1. I only control one vote as well. Together with other people, however, we might eventually have enough to decide an election. Arguing that people shouldn’t ever vote because they aren’t winning right now works toward lowering the amount of votes we could conceivably get. A downward trend in libertarian votes, rather than an upward trend, is the last thing we need.

              2. I understand how insignificant my one vote is, but I also realize that the ten minutes (max) filling out the ballot aren’t all that important either. It’s not like I don’t waste any time doing anything else. And I do get a bit of satisfaction from doing my small part to stem the tide

        3. Every single thing on the ballot went the opposite of how I voted.

          I feel that I’ve done something morally wrong if anyone or anything I vote for wins. =)

      2. You tears were never going to be as good as Obamatron tears.

        Those people are beyond parody.

        1. Tulpa’s tears have been every bit as delicious as any Obama idiot’s would have been. The problem is that there’s only one Tulpa. Wait, shit…

          1. Don’t make me slap you.

            1. What an unsubstantive threat.

              1. It’ll be a hard slap!

    2. To be fair, sarc, they get to rape you both.

      1. To be fair, sarc, they get to rape you both.

        He has needs
        like I do
        We both want
        to rape you

        1. Why was I expecting that link to go to a sketch comedy show?

        2. Where is STEVE SMITH when you actually need him?

  3. Every obstacle that GJ faced was also faced by Ron Paul’s campaign, but RP still managed to make a splash. So take the excuses and shove them. He’s just a terrible, uninteresting politician who will soon be forgotten by the few non-LP-leaners who know who he is.

    1. I must say, I’ve found him to be stunningly boring.

      He was on RedEye a few months ago – just awful. How do you fuck up RedEye? That’s like a nightly laugh fest – not so with Mr. J.

      Fuck ’em all – I voted for myself for President this year. Next time I’ll do the same, or just not vote.

    2. Not true at all, unless you are referring to 1988.

      By the Time 2008 rolled around Paul had already made somewhat of a name for himself as a long sitting Republican congresman who definately did not follow the status quo.

      Further, since Paul had run in 2008 he was already a known commodity on the national level and with the media. Johnson however was not and since they represented relatively the same wing of the Republican party Paul got all of the media attention and Johnson was ignored.

      1. Ron Paul was barely known to anyone outside libertarian circles and his House district in 2008.

        And how suddenly GJ’s “credentials” of being a two-term governor of NM and climbing Everest got cheapened… they’re not as impressive as being a relatively powerless Representative for 30 years.

        1. And not nearly as impressive as a short stay in the IL legislature and a partial Senate term.

    3. What no LP people want to admit. Ron Paul polled even with Obama. When he ran as part of the LP he did worse than Johnson. The liberty movement was moved forward by Ron Paul joining the GOP….

    4. Ron Paul only received 0.47% of the vote (437K votes) when he ran as a Libertarian in 1988. Well under the 1980 record of 914K – 1.06%. He had been in Congress as a republican prior to that, so he wasn’t a newbie at the time. Johnson got 1.0% – 1139K.

  4. It’s a bit of a wash….

    Liberty won’t come from the ballot box; it will come from changing social circumstances that will be driven by invention of new technologies.

    On the other hand, these doomed political exercises can help spread ideas. Case in point, I was completely oblivious to libertarian literature when, in 2004, I started reading up on political candidates, and followed a link from Badnarik’s campaign website to the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

    1. Some number of people have to really want limited government to get it. I don’t think that has to be a majority, but it can’t be the tiny number it is right now.

      As we continue our decline, we can only hope that whatever is left of American pragmatism will convince us to try freer markets and more limited government again. Before it’s too late. We have a huge economy that can protect us from feeling the real pain for a while, though.

      While I doubt a Romney win would’ve changed the assessment above much, at least there was a slight chance that we’d slow the growth of government some. Now that chance is mostly gone.

  5. I’m for continuing the takeover of the Republican Party, so that it returns to being, you know, republican, and allows the promulgation of libertarian ideals.

    Fuck the Democrats. Their slavemaking prowess is peerless.

    1. The coup would be to jedi mind trick the religious (you know, since you can) into thinking Team Blue is for them due to all the (gov-sponsored) good deeds and all, and then you’re set.
      Until then people like Bachman and Santorum are actually taken seriously in that party

    2. Pretty sure the RNC said “fuck you” to that a few months ago with the delegate rule change.

    3. Local REC’s is where the battle is…

  6. Johnson needs to try again, wherever he can. And if that means in a Republican Party that realizes it needs to tap its libertarian element, then so be it. The LP needs to continue to field candidates. But it needs to realize up front that it can’t win right now and set achievable, disruptive goals. Pick a few state like California or New York where the Republicans won’t even bother, and set a goal to get 15% of the vote in those states. Buy air time. Make appearances. Call the Republican out for conceding. Call the Democrat out for being just like the big government Republican. The bad thing about California is the run-off style general election that keeps third parties off the ballot for statewide races. But there’s got to be somewhere the LP can drop anchor and just cause commotion. It’s the next step.

    1. No third party will ever get 15% anywhere unless it is running to win. Only the true believers (like us?) will vote third party when there’s no chance of victory, and the totals prove it. But get a serious campaign going, like Ross Perot did, and he hit 19%.

      1. I knew some non true believers that are republicans that voted for Johnson in CA because they figured Obama had the state locked and they might as well help the libs with some popular vote numbers.

  7. Libertarians best bet is a forced takeover of the Republican party. Why Republicans? Libertarians at least have a beachhead with Ron and Rand Paul, and Johnson did briefly run for the Republican nomination. Its even likely that Johnson would have done well in the primaries if he didn’t have to compete with Ron Paul for the more libertarian minded vote.

    1. Why Republicans?

      To be succinct: you’re more likely to find socially liberal Republican than you are an economically conservative Democrat.

      To the Democrats, the economic and the social are the same. Not so for the Republicans.

      1. A small sample size, but I know more economically conservative Democrats than I do socially liberal Republicans. They all seem to be fundies and neocons, which drives the reasonable people to the other major party, even if they don’t like the overspending and overtaxing.

        1. It’s always been the opposite for me. The Republicans I’ve met seem to have a higher percent of social liberals than the Democrats I encounter have of economic conservatives.

          And the voter population may be harder to pin down, but the politician population definitely seems to skew that way.

    2. Exactly… Romney did well in the debates by sounding like Ron Paul… Someone needs to put together some clips of Romney 2008 and compare him to Romney 2012 in the debates against Obama. That is where you will see the Ron Paul influence the most.

  8. The optimistic outlook would be that more voters will become disillusioned with both of the major parties and begin to look elsewhere for leaders. For libertarians, it’s absolutely essential that people like Rand Paul and Mike Pompeo rise in the ranks of the GOP so that there is a louder voice for limited government.

    I think the GOP lost last night because once again they picked a moderate conservative who did not draw enough of a distinction from his democratic opponent. When people are faced with two similar choices they will go with the devil they know most of the time. Libertarian influence in the GOP can help to grow leaders that will create definitive distinctions from the progressive left counterparts.

    I have zero illusions that the left will be any more conducive to libertarian principles in the next four years, so I don’t see the point in hoping that limited government voices rise from that side of the aisle. If we truly want to see these values become more common than the system must be changed from the inside. It’s not going to come from a third party.

    1. Turnout was 14m voters fewer than 2008. Romney received fewer votes in 2012 than McCain did in 2008. In falling waters, the Obama camp pulled out all the stops to maximize votes, including the silly email blast campaign that should be a case study for Robert Cialdini’s next Influence riff. Romney generated zero excitement, and failed to put up an effort to maximize the support that was there.

      A libertarian who puts an organization together and stresses the process of getting elected could probably make a strong show in the Republican primary if he makes his campaign as much about the process as the politics.

    2. The data supports your theory. Notice that the Tea Party House of Representatives is still basically intact while the GOP presidential candidate couldn’t draw flies. As of now, Romney has fewer votes than McCain did in 2008. McCain.

      1. Tea Party gained at least one, with Massie in KY-4.

  9. Look, let us all just admit up front that you can’t win the Presidency without holding some electors. Those would be House and Senate members. That’s where people who believe in Libertarianism should be fighting. I talked to six people who said they watched the minority party debates, 1 of whom voted for Johnson, 1 of whom voted for Jill Stein, and three of whom all at least considered voting for Johnson or Stein. The way forward is through the House and the Senate. We need to put up the sacrificial lambs to get enough attention to contest House and Senate races. We need to contest (and win!) those races so our presidential candidates aren’t sacrificial lambs. But, really, if you want to join a winning team, pick either side of TEAM BE RULED. If you want to vote your principles, stick around.

    1. Are you claiming that the electors are Congressmen? They most certainly are not.

      1. No, sorry. I’m saying that you have to be able to win congressional districts (at least!) to win electors in a real presidential race.

        1. Nice try, but no dice. I know what you are now, you ignorant buffoon. You’ll rue the day you exposed your ignorant buffoonery.

          1. Ha! That’s just what an ignorant buffoon would say.

    2. I agree. I think the LP should put a big chunk of their fundraising into House districts that are “open” (in other words, NOT my district, where Jimbo Moran is entrenched and often runs unopposed). They should run a token Prez candidate to keep the party around the national scene, but funnel the bulk of the money into House races.

      1. Connolly of course won easily too.

        that said, i agree with this. i’d even extend it to state races. get a faction in a state delegation, see who is ready for the big leagues, and run them in a House race.

        1. Yep, a AAA minor league system, like the other two parties have going, would be great.

      2. Even those are tough to win. Start at the state assembly level, where it’s cheap to get the word out, and build up a pool of reasonably qualified candidates.

        1. i think the median raised for a state legislature election is about $70,000. my state delegate spent about $1 million — and that’s in NoVa.

    3. Gary Johnson was a two-term governor. He was a well qualified candidate. He needed to raise a lot more money a lot earlier if he was going to be taken seriously though.

  10. Our only recourse is to drink tears and say I told you so.

  11. Libertarians will never win because voters want their free shit and they want to control the lives of other people.

    That 50% or so of eligible voters who sit it out are probably the ones who could turn an election towards libertarians, but they don’t vote because they know that it is an exercise in futility.

    Did I say they? I meant we. This was my last election.
    It’s time to stop caring about things over which I have absolutely no influence or power.

    1. I won’t be a douche like Epi, I’ll just say welcome. This is the same shit that I had to mull through when I gave up my vote. That’s probably the one thing I can actually be glad about living in MA for, it made it much easier.

    2. Yes, the sad thing is that while 47% (or some percentage anyway) of the electorate may be parasites who pay no taxes and live off welfare programs, well over 50% are EITHER dependent welfare parasites who want your money (and that includes General Motors) OR moral zealots who want to dictate what you do with your body (and that includes Bloomburg and Michelle Obama).

      So the choices are either ally yourself with the welfare parasites, or the moral zealots, in the hope of temporarily defeating one.

  12. I really, really hope he drops the “Fair Tax” if he decides to seek the Libertarian nomination again. I wanted to donate to him this time but I couldn’t since he was determined to push for it in every media appearance.

    1. My words fail me. I literally have no words.

      1. That’s hardly fair. Was the comment that taxing for you?

      2. Yeah I agree, it’s pretty unbelievable that the Libertarian Party presidential nominee would base his entire platform on advocating double taxation and sending out welfare checks to every American.

        1. would base his entire platform

          Lie #1

          advocating double taxation

          Lie #2

          sending out welfare checks to every American.

          Lie #3.

          That has to be a record.

          1. Do you know what the “fair tax” is? It doesn’t sound like it.

            1. He didn’t base his entire platform on it (so that was a lie on your part), he said it should be implemented only on repeal of the Income Tax and its structure (so lie #2 for you) and the prebate only goes to the poor.

              In short, you are a liar. A hack. Lack of integrity.

              1. I thought the prebate went to everyone.

                Rich, poor, doesn’t matter. You don’t pay taxes on X amount of consumption.

              2. Prebate goes to everyone.

                1. Not based on what I read.

                  Regardless, crazyfingers was, at best, being deliberately misleading.

                  1. Not based on what I read.

                    You need to read some more.

                    The point of the prebate is that no one pays taxes on some baseline amount of consumption. Kinda like the standard deduction.

                    If the income tax was gone and replaced with the Fair Tax, there would be no need to disclose income to the government since that income is not taxed. They wouldn’t know who is rich or poor, so the prebate goes to everyone. Think about it.

              3. Prebate goes to everyone, but it is not “Welfare”. The largest benefit is to the poor, whom would also suffer the greatest under a consumption tax.

                It is also a much better way to handle not taxing basic living expenses than creating large lists of exempt items.

                1. Especially because people have differing opinions on what a “basic living expense” is.

              4. Actually no, the Prebate goes to everyone, requiring it to only go to the poor requires you to report your income to the government or even worst submit a statement of net worth to them on a regular basis.

                However his characterizing it as a “welfare” check is about as idiotic as it gets since all it is doing is refunding taxes you will pay on a poverty level existance meaning effectively the poor will not pay any taxes at all (not really much different than it is now), it will not raise their net income by a single cent.

  13. Shouldn’t this be in the “Top Stories” section? Here’s your headline:


    Gary Johnson at 1.0% with 1,139,562 votes and counting.

    G-Money FTW!

  14. I think a strong case can be made that running or supporting candidates for office is entirely a dead end.

    Don’t give up now dude. Do you really think Colorado and Washington would have just legalized MJ if the LP hadn’t garnered all the attention it has over the years by calling for an end to the drug war?

    1. Seriously, on all facets of liming government intervention, we provide the intellectual firepower.

    2. Yes, I do think they would have. The great majority of agitation for legal pot has never been by ideologs of individual liberty, but specifically by people who’ve wanted that particular liberty for reasons particular to its circumstances, not for love of freedom in general.

      However, to the extent libertarianism is a going concern, the chief effect of the LP on it has been to associate ideas of individual liberty with a political party (which association has negative vibes in nonpartisanship-loving America) of radicals/extremists (a big minus in pragmatic America) who are perpetual losers (an enormous disvalue in America where although there’s some sympathy for slight underdogs, there is opprobrium for extreme losers). Libertarian ideas do their best among people who are not self-consciously libertarian and do not seek to distinguish themselves on that basis.

  15. The problem is in part, a failing of the Libertarian Party. It simply is no doing enough to get its message heard by the average American. It’s nice that Gary Johnson had ads on YouTube. But how many Americans visit YouTube looking for political candidates. The vast majority of people who saw the ads were people who were already going to vote for Johnson.
    If the Libertarian Party wants to make a serious push to become a viable (i.e. electable) third party, it is going to have to place ads where the average voter will see them: television. Consider, during the Olympic Games in London, both Obama and Romney aired political ads. One a night for 17 nights during a program that had some of the highest ratings. Why weren’t there Gary Johnson ads, touting what he believes and what he would do as President? Imagine for 17 nights, the average American being introduce to Gary Johnson. That would have raised his name recognition and most likely increased his position in the polls to the point where he would have had a serious claim to be included in the debates. But that means spending money and it doesn’t seem like the Party is interested in doing that.

    1. TV ads would certainly help, but the problem is that every cable TV news channel, every right and left wing national and local radio host, and every major newspaper and political website tells everyone every day that only the D and R guys have a chance.

      Then the national polling organizations poll 1000 uninformed and undecided voters, and they confirm that they have only heard of the top two party guys, if they are even given any other choices.

      1. Maybe they should run a party recruitment ad in a non-election year when it is cheaper.

    2. The Republicans and Democrats had 2 billion dollars in funds. The Libertarians had…less.

  16. The media blackout of Gary Johnson was quite brazen this time. I guess when the LP candidate is a no-name like Browne or Badnarik it’s no threat to give him a few interviews and mention him in passing. But when he’s a two-term governor with a relatively more mainstream platform, they can’t risk it.

    Even on election night, I didn’t see any TV channel and very few websites even reporting the LP totals. I recall seeing them at least on CNN in previous years, didn’t I?

    1. You did. I distinctly remember seeing Barr’s totals on the bottoms of every network screen.

      1. I noticed this too, and I was pretty annoyed.

        Then again, I also thought the popular vote total was curiously absent up until the point when the networks all called Ohio for Obama, and then suddenly they needed something else to talk about.

  17. Our society will never go the way of liberty. To do that would require a majority of the populous to favor liberty over percieved security. But most humans naturally fear change while living in a world filled with change due to technological and philosophical advances. So they will flock to government. Government is an attractive solution for two reasons. First, government can provide the perception of security to anyone who isn’t willing to think about it too much. Second, government can arrest the rate of change by retarding progress to some extent.

    Get used to the status quo.

    1. If you ever added up the myriad choices you are left free to choose, and compared them to the very small number that are proscribed, you’d see you’re exaggerating this case enormously. If people were really as you thought, you’d have your alarm clock set by law; instead of having a few choices disallowed you in restaurants like half liter sodas, you would have only a few allowed menu items; your color of car would be dictated by law according to your occupation or something; your occupation would be decided by some board; there would be only 1 program at a time on radio or TV; you would have no choice of clothes, and you could do your laundry only on a particular day; and so on. The fact that even the most totalitarian societies have never gotten regimented to the degree easily imaginable by extending this process proves that people do not seek that level of security. We are immensely closer to total freedom than you think, on an objective scale where every possible choice counts.

  18. it’s difficult to imagine the Libertarian Party gaining any traction short of a massive social disruption in this country.

    Economic collapse is a massive social disruption right?

    So in two years then.

    Cool i look forward to it.

  19. Trying to take the long view, Gary had no name recognition, no money, no press, lousy campaign materials, a dysfunctional political party, didn’t even get Ron Paul’s endorsement… yet somehow he got 1.1+ million votes. Way more than Buchanan 2000 and Nader 2004.

    There must be something positive going on here, somehow…

  20. Or supporting organizations, like Wikileaks


    Someone needs to start a new organization…or like 1000 of them.

    The attempts of the Wikileader to bestow godhood on himself is just too much to take in for me to ever truly support wikileaks.

    1. I’m always wary of any group with that much influence. They haven’t done much I disagree with, but that can always change.

      I’d say to look at Anonymous as an example, but it’s hard to call them a single group when literally anyone can lay claim to the name.

  21. You can’t get there from here.

  22. Maybe the best path for libertarians is to focus on ballot initiatives and courts.

    The courts have been hit or miss of course (mostly miss) but we did score some points on the Commerce Clause in the individual mandate case (although losing on the tax argument).

    This year, while not a clean sweep for libertarians, we had good success with the ballot initiatives. With several states legalizing gay marriage and marijuana, and anti-libertarian initiatives going down to defeat in California and Michigan. Several states also passed symbolic measures against ObamaCare.

    Plus, courts and ballot initiatives have a more *direct* effect on the law than elections. When we elect people we only elect a representative who can change his mind or cut deals. There’s no guarentees of any legislative outcome we like. Why get caught up in the bullshit of trying to pick the least-bad person who will craft the legislation that is slightly less bad from a libertarian perspective when you can just go straight for the actual law?

  23. Also, we should support market-enabling technologies like Uber and Airbnb, Craigslist and Ebay.

    Almost all of these bypass a shit ton of regulation and the government really can’t do anything about it short of banning them, which I don’t think they will get away with.

    Even if Uber gets banned in NY and DC, it isn’t going anywhere in most of the rest of the country.
    There’s only going to be more and more of these individual-to-individual style business transactions as the internet continues to develop. And that’s going to get increasingly hard for the government to control.

  24. The Tea Party has done more in 4 years than the Libertarian Party has done in 40. I would love to see an analogue pop up in the Democratic Party. But maybe that is asking a bit much from the emotionally challenged absolutists in the LP.

  25. I see two main challenges for the Libertarian Party. I’ve been a Democrat my entire life but started looking at the LP a few months ago. As I read up on libertarian political philosophy, I also saw all the distortions and fallacies which are used to counter libertarian arguments. Most of these distortions and fallacies seemed to be coming from the Democratic Party. It’s one thing to provide arguments that counter these distortions and fallacies. But the thing which disturbs me about the DP, is that it wraps up its rhetoric with the message that people in other parties are evil, heartless, and stupid while people in the DP are smart and good hearted. This causes many people to almost automatically discount any counterarguments from the LP. That’s the first challenge.

    The second challenge is that if you look at the comments in social media today, you see people lamenting the passage of measures which they feel negatively impact their life in some way. Yet, these very same people are lamenting the failure of measures to pass which would have had a negative impact on someone else. People seem to have lost the notion that personal freedom comes with the price of personal responsibility as well as not interfering with other people’s lives.

    1. In giving this some further thought, I think there’s a third challenge to the Libertarian Party. I applaud the fact that the LP evaluates public policy from a rational and dispassionate perspective. Unfortunately, many people vote emotionally. The GOP takes a paternalistic approach which emotionally appeals to religious conservatives and the Democratic Party takes a maternalistic approach which emotionally appeals to social progressives. The LP might make some headway if it asked people if they want to support political parties which treats them like children.

  26. I wrote the post linked months ago and it hold true now. The liberty movement has been damaged by Johnson’s run. I saw this in a Facebook thread of people from all walks of what I like to call the liberTea movement. Ron Paul called for the GOP to enlarge their tent. Our founders did to reverse the policies of King George. It is time to put this behind us, stop putting so much emphasis on meaningless presidential elections and work grass roots to take over the GOP and start winning local and house races:


    1. I don’t see how doubling the pro-freedom vote could possibly damage the liberty movement. Or were all 2 million Ron Paul primary voters supposed to back Romney, for the good of the Republican Party?

      If Rand Paul runs in 2016, I’ll back him enthusiastically, even if he mainstreams his platform. But Romney and liberty have nothing in common.

    2. You Ron Paul cultists are going to kill the liberty movement you helped to put into the corner of the spotlight for 15 minutes.

  27. The party of Todd Akin? Really? There were a ton of Republicans who wanted him to quit after his stupid comment, and part of the reason he got nominated in the first place was that the Dems ran ads to benefit him because they knew he was the weakest of the primary candidates.

    I don’t disagree with that the Republicans are going to have to back off on the cultural issues if they ever have a hope of winning, but Elizabeth Warren is a darling of the Dems and one of their convention stars and Akin is a pariah to most of the right.

  28. Why not both get libertarians into GOP AND support the Libertarian Party? That way we can have more options. Millions of people haven’t even heard of Gary Johnson so it is our duty to inform people about him, the party and what libertarians stand for but we need to talk in a way ordinary citizens can understand, use simple definitions such as more civil liberties, less taxes for the middle class, no wars, freedom for gays etc. I think the problem is the libertarian mindset doesn’t appeal to the majority because liberals hate the idea of small government and the conservatives hate the idea of abortion and gay marriage but people need to understand that free markets doesn’t equal corporate fascism and gay marriage doesn’t threaten their own personal lives and civil liberties is something that is granted by the constitution. There are many ways of reaching people if you noticed most of the academia is hijacked by the socialist leftists. We need leaders, teachers, activists, artists, politicians; right now we all look like crazy anarchists. Also you need the support of women there are so few females among libertarians.

    1. Yes, there are many ways to work for liberty and we need to do them all. If people want to try to work in the GOP then do it (and god help you), but don’t whine to me about choosing to work in the Libertarian Party. Anyone who thinks the Gary Johnson or the Libertarian Party are the enemies of liberty needs to pause and think how stupid that thought really is. Condemning other people who work for liberty because it isn’t exactly how you think it should be done is less helpful to the cause than you might think.

  29. Maybe Reason could drum up more attention the next election cycle by sponsoring an EconCheck website with press releases. I found FactCheck.org to be a huge disappointment this election. FactCheck never countered the assertion that Bush or the Bush tax cuts caused the recession. And FactCheck never attempted to clear up the fallacy that tax rate changes equal tax revenue changes. Nor did it ever attempt to clarify where the economy should be in terms of recovery based upon previous recessions. Economists write about these things on their web sites but how many people go look for this information? If more people were aware of just how much the major politicians are twisting the truth about fiscal policies then maybe people will start paying attention to third party candidates.

  30. Another post-election blog, making the case for the libertarian movement going forward.

  31. “I think a strong case can be made that running or supporting candidates for office is entirely a dead end.”

    That case is made airtight by Patri Friedman in his Beyond Folk Activism article.

    Libertarians should direct the vast majority of their liberty-advancement efforts toward seasteading.

  32. I think a strong case can be made that running or supporting candidates for office is http://www.drdrebeatsbydreau.com/ entirely a dead end. Ballot initiatives certainly look more promising, as do lawsuits.

  33. This in the vein of the lovely and talented Katherine Mangu-Ward’s recent survey of anti-voting logic, recapped by her at a fine dinner speech in DC at America’s Future Foundation a few days before the election. It also could feed into the FreedomWorks-Campaign for Liberty-Republican Liberty Caucus argument about the long march to take over one of the major parties, county executive committee by county executive committee.

    Either version has something to be said for it. But one could also decide to build the Libertarian Party, strategically, at the county and state level, and not view it is all dependent on the presidential race (by the way, thank you Gary Johnson and Jim Gray for running).

    We just ran a candidate in DC (me) who got 6% of the vote, twice what was needed to finally get permanent ballot status. Now we can run people in upcoming special elections (our mayor teeters on the precipice of indictment) or in 2014, as many underemployed libertarian wonks in DC as we can find, without having to spend money on a petition drive for each one.

    Someone was elected to DC’s school board from the Foggy Bottom-Georgetown ward this year because he was unopposed. It could have been a Libertarian, if we had not been concerning on a city wide race of Delegate as required by law to get permanent ballot status.

  34. We did get permanent ballot status in DC. So in 2014 when all the reason staff in DC either don’t vote or vote for the Democrat they can actively not vote for Libertarian Party local candidates.

    (Just pulling your iPod earplugs. šŸ˜‰ )

  35. I’m amazed at the arrogant ignorance of many of the commenters–and the article. Instead of repeating dozens of GOP-inspired myths ( few women in the Libertarian movement) and recommending things Libs are already doing, people need to actually research the movement and its plans and missions.

    I recommend looking at http://www.libertarianinternational.org checking out the thinkpieces and links.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.