Libertarian Party

How Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton Have Made the Libertarian Party Relevant

Will the LP take advantage of voter hate for Trump and Clinton to finally present a viable alternative?

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the likely presidential nominees of America's two major political parties, would be among the best-known and most-disliked candidates in history. What better time for the Libertarian Party (LP), the only third party that will be on all 50 states' ballots, to make its move into the mainstream?

Reason spoke with a number of senior LP officials, party supporters, and philosphical fellow travelers about the unique opportunity presented by the 2016 election. Though all agreed the LP was in a great position to present a distinct political platform through a legitimately viable candidate, some were more optimistic than others about the prospects for success, or even by what measure success could be determined.

Is the goal the White House, or just altering the national conversation by getting on the main debate stage? The LP knows voters want an alternative, but the party continues to struggle with its sales pitch and structural realities of a two-party system that marginalizes alternative choices.

The LP's three most prominent candidates,

Gary Johnson Wants YOU to vote LP
Gage Skidmore

including former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (who served two terms as a Republican and was the LP's presidential nominee in 2012), squared off in a debate-style forum hosted by Fox Business Network's John Stossel, which airs tonight at 9 P.M. ET. As the distant third-place finisher in 2012, Johnson scored about 1 percent of the popular vote and set an LP record of more than 1 million votes

A recent Monmouth University poll put Johnson at about 11 percent in a three-way race against Trump and Clinton, which probably says as much about Johnson's viability as it does about how nauseated voters are by the two leading major-party options.

But with the electorate expressing profound antipathy toward their two likely choices for president, is the 2016 election the capital-L Libertarian moment we've been waiting for? Or will this be another wasted opportunity by a third party to make inroads with voters who are increasingly sympathetic to libertarian principles, even if they prefer not to officially identify with the party?

"The biggest thing that stops people from voting Libertarian is inertia," Nicholas Sarwark, the LP's Chair, told Reason in a phone interview. "They haven't tried it before, but once they do, they'll find out the sky doesn't fall." He likens the conventional wisdom that any vote which strays from the two-party system is a waste to the scene in Ghostbusters when the heroes are compelled to choose the form of their destructor.

If Trump or Clinton are the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man of this analogy, Sarwark says the LP's candidate, who will be nominated in the party's May convention, will present an alternative philosophy that rejects the default war-mongering of both the Democratic and Republican parties. According to Sarwark, the LP's outreach is focused on spreading a positive message focused on encouraging people to embrace the "beautiful feeling of voting for what you believe in, and not against what you hate more."

The LP's Executive Director Wes Benedict told Reason that the combination of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) dropping out of the GOP race and the ascension of Donald Trump has led to a spike in Libertarian Party membership. From what he's observed in the comments left by new party members, Benedict believes a good deal of the boost is motivated by fears that a Trump presidency would lead to closed borders and a trade war with China.

When it comes to social issues, the LP's Political Director Carla Howell calls Democrats and Republicans "Johnny Come Latelys" regarding gay marriage and criminal justice reform. Howell told Reason that the LP "would love it if [the Democrats and Republicans] co-opted our issues, but they usually don't." She added that while Republicans talk a good game when they're running for office, "they don't substantively reduce government" once they're there, and the Democrats have never shown a true interest in "disentangling the United States from the Middle East."

A frequently deployed trope about third-party candidacies is that they act as spoilers, siphoning votes from one of the major parties and handing the election over to the other. The pathologically polite former President George H.W. Bush can barely bring himself to mention Ross Perot's name decades after the Texas oil billionaire garnered almost 19 percent of the popular vote in the 1992 Presidential Election won by Bill Clinton. Likewise, the name Ralph Nader burns like hot fire on the lips of Democrats who blame the consumer advocate for depriving former Vice President Al Gore of the presidency in 2000 and handing it to George W. Bush. In 2013, many Republicans blamed Libertarian attorney Robert Sarvis for tipping Virginia's gubernatorial election towards Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

But Sarwark says this perception is wrong, insisting that exit polls showed that Sarvis pulled more votes away from traditionally Democratic-leaning voters than from Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who he says was a "terrible candidate." 

Sarvis himself tells Reason in a phone interview that he also rejects "the premise that any candidate is a spoiler, but added that he would love it if a strong LP presidential candidate caused a 'major party candidate to flameout," which he said could be a "tipping point" in American electoral politics.

David Boaz, the executive vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute, says that his expectations of an LP candidate being successful against two major-party candidates as loaded with baggage as Trump and Clinton are tempered by the fact that he's seen third parties fail time and time again at making a significant impact on a national level.

Boaz, who worked on various LP campaigns decades ago, says that while Gary Johnson polling at 11 percent is an encouraging sign, "as you get closer to the general election, it's very hard to persuade people to vote for a candidate they think has no chance of winning."

He thinks Johnson's full-throated support for marijuana legalization, if marketed correctly, could draw in a good amount of young people who currently support Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) campaign for the Democratic nomination. Sanders pledged to push for the federal decriminalization of marijuana, and supports the right of states to opt for full legalization if they so choose. That has also polled very well among young people

Richard Winger, an attorney and the publisher of Ballot Access News, thinks the biggest hurdle facing the Libertarian presidential candidate is a lack of public visibility. Winger tells Reason that when former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) ran as the Libertarian nominee in 1988, the New York Times paid him no mind, but the fact that the Gray Lady prominently profiled Gary Johnson last month is proof that "things are changing." He says Republicans in particular are coming to the "sudden shocking realization" that their party is "having a terrible problem and therefore people are interested in looking for alternatives."

Winger, who donates his time and legal skills to fight local and state governments' overbearing restrictions that frequently deny alternative parties the ability to get on the ballot, thinks getting the Libertarian candidate on the debate stage with the Democrat and Republican candidates "would do the trick" at helping to convince the public that the two major parties are out of touch and not serving their interests.

Currently, candidates are required to be polling at least 15 percent nationally to

Isn't he cute?
Libertarian Party

make it to the general election's main debate stage. But Winger points to the lawsuit filed by the Libertarian and Green parties against the Commission on Presidential Debates, which argues that the entity illegally colludes with the two major parties to keep out the competition, as a crucial hurdle that could remake the American political system.

Whether getting a viable Libertarian candidate such as Johnson on the stage with Trump and Clinton is enough to level the playing field is uncertain. As Cato's Boaz notes, convincing a majority of voters that a third-party ballot is anything other than a wasteful protest is something that has not yet ever been achieved.

What is indisputable is that neither of the two major parties can sell themselves as a party that is reliably anti-war and pro-personal freedom.

The LP's Sarwark references a South Park episode to drive home that point. If voters can "let go of the fear" that the only two choices they have are between "the giant douche and the turd sandwich," he says, they might actually get a president committed to the philosophy of "don't hurt people and don't take their stuff." 

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  1. Here is a tip for you… Actually spend some time and effort covering Johnson this time rather than just complain about Rs and Ds. Like last time.

      1. They do have more than one writer.

        1. And writers can write more than one article.

          1. As long as they’re all about Trump, though, right?

          2. Wait, what? They can? Lies!

        2. I think all of Reason’s writers should publish under one name, maybe something like “Mylo Giannopoulos”..or something similar.

          1. How about “Reason Staff”?

    1. I thought libertarianism was about not covering your Johnson?

      1. Ha!

    2. joe, I realize you’re too short to see all the articles they post–the ones at the top of the page elude you–but they wrote a shitload about Johnson last time. But I guess you’re upset that they pick on your TEAM and the other TEAM that you hate but still need because you need an OTHER to hate and oppose.

      1. +1 black and white dude
        -1 white and black dude

  2. What is indisputable is that neither of the two major parties can sell themselves as a party that is reliably anti-war and pro-personal freedom.

    Is anti-war a pillar of libertarian thought because there’s a lot of contradictions there.

    1. What does it mean to be “anti war”? Everyone is anti war for the most part. Reason acts like we can avoid war if we just decide not to do it. Sadly, things are not quite that simple.

      1. For the US, yeah, we really can avoid war by simply deciding not to do it. That’s the primary benefit of having the strongest military ever.

        1. ^ This.

        2. And a well-armed populace.

        3. And the worlds two biggest oceans between us and literally everyone else that could possibly threaten us.

          1. Just keep a wary eye on Canada. I’m sure they still remember Benedict Arnold too, before he turned on us.

      2. They really are that simple.
        WW1 – no
        WW2 – yes
        Korean War – no
        Vietnam War – no
        Gulf War – no
        Afghan War – push
        Iraq War – no

        1. If the Gulf War hadn’t happened, the Afghan War might not have happened.

          One of Al-Qaida’s casus belli was US bases in Saudi Arabia as a result of the Gulf War.

          1. Good to see someone here actually understands the link – and yes that links to the 2003 Iraq as well since the only way to get out of Saudi Arabia (announced quietly in May 2003) was to regime change Saddam. Problem to me is that Gulf War itself was a necessary war. Allowing small countries to simply disappear (ie Iraq eliminating Kuwait) is a serious problem. And it is a perfect example of where ideological ‘consistency’ conflicts with the reality that the world is messy and we are not some irrelevant minor power that can simply ignore what happens in the world.

            There were certainly a lot of policy screwups in both the original Gulf War – and the aftermath of it – but that doesn’t mean that the choices that were made were simply ‘bad’ (with a non-interventionist counterfactual that is ‘good’). Sometimes the only choice is between a crappy and another crappy – and the actions you take have to actually turn one of the crappies into a lesser crappy (or even a ‘good’).

          1. I guess he’s saying that you could argue Afghanistan started the war by supporting Al Qaeda.

            But you could almost call WW2 a push as well since Japan might not have attacked the US had the US not been blatantly opposing Japanese expansion in the Pacific. (I find this to be quite a stretch myself…)

            1. “Japan might not have attacked the US had the US not been blatantly opposing Japanese expansion in the Pacific”

              Had the US not been competing with Japan for dominance of the Pacific, there would be an argument to be made there.

              However, when we talk of WWII as the “good” war, it’s because of the Nazis, not the Japanese. The war against the Japanese was a pretty run-of-the-mill war of conflicting economic interests.

              The US public didn’t *want* to go to war with Germany, and in technical terms we were “really” going to war with the Japanese, with the Germans as a mutual defense treaty partner.

              In retrospect it seems important that we helped defeat Nazi Germany, but that wasn’t why we got involved.

              1. ask the Chines and the Koreans and the Philippines If they thought the war with Japan was about economics. Japan wanted their economy but they also wanted them as slaves and treated them as such.

                1. “ask the Chines and the Koreans and the Philippines If they thought the war with Japan was about economics”

                  I would have that conversation with them, but I don’t vote in their elections.

                2. What Ron said!!

                3. “ask the Chines and the Koreans and the Philippines If they thought the war with Japan was about economics.”
                  I don’t see how Japan’s treatment of Koreans and Filipinos has any bearing on whether it’s conflict with the US was fundamentally about economic competition in the Pacific. Also, one’s moral superiority tends to dwindle considerably after dropping nuclear bombs on hundreds of thousands of civilians and firebombing entire cities to ashes.

              2. +1 Castle with one high man

              3. I always thought the Roosevelt administration was actually fairly eager to get involved in Europe and saw Pearl Harbor as a good excuse to just that? Otherwise they could have just stuck to the Pacific theater.

            2. People saying the war with Japan was unnecessary failed to realize the Japanese were on a major expansion drive across the pacific and had murdered millions of Chinese.

          2. Using a narrow view Afghanistan demanded some sort of action as a result of the Taliban allowing al Queda to freely operate within the country.

            I thought the threat of decriminalizing opiates (thus wrecking the market of their primary export) may have brought them to a different position.

        2. Revolutionary war- yes.

          Lots of freedom by avoiding war.

          1. There is a difference between throwing off an oppressive, imperial master and conducting military adventurism.

            1. And that difference is not “anti-war.”

              1. Another words. The difference should be the libertarian position. Not just saying anti-war.

                1. I see anti-war as NAP. Anti-war =/ pacifism.

          2. Two wars in US history were in-fact defensive in nature – the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The rest (other than the Civil, of course) were wars of choice.

            1. WW2 started with Prarl Harbor and then Germany declared war on us.

              1. You skipped the step where the US declared war on Japan in response to Pearl Harbor, thus triggering the Tripartite Pact requiring Germany to declare war on the US despite the fact that the *point* of the Pact was to try to keep the US out of the war.

                1. Japan attacks Pearl Harbor
                  US decalres war on Japan
                  Germany chooses to declare war on US

                  1. Yes, but now we’ve circled back around to *why* Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

                    And yes, you can frame Germany’s going to war with the US as “choice” acknowledging that the other “choice” was to violate their mutual defense pact with their ally in the middle of an active war, which is a choice they did technically have, but it wasn’t a very good one.

                    IOW, it is no stretch of a historical analysis, and is in fact the standard view, that if Japan had not attacked Pearl Harbor and provoked the US into declaring war, Germany would most definitely *not* have declared war on the US. At least not in 1941, and probably not ever as IMHO Hitler’s goals were never realistic.

                    1. Do it the orher way. Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. US declares war on Japan. Germany breaks treaty and does not declare war on US (USSR did not declare war on Japan until 1945 so one of the major belligerents absolutely made a choice such as that in this very war). Does US declare war on Germany? Do Americans let another generation of their boys die on European soil?

                    2. “Does US declare war on Germany? Do Americans let another generation of their boys die on European soil?”

                      I strongly doubt it – why would they?

                    3. Exactly. I see WW2 as a response to being attacked (Pacific theatre) and having war declared against the country by Germany (Europe). Not really a choice.

                    4. Yes, which brings us back to some guy’s comment that “you could almost call WW2 a push as well since Japan might not have attacked the US had the US not been blatantly opposing Japanese expansion in the Pacific”

                      Which makes it not 100% clear whether or not it would be fair to call WWII a defensive war for the US. You might make a case that Japan was 100% the aggressor and the US was being 100% defensive, but I think that’s a weak position on the face of it.

                      Was US dominance of the Pacific more benevolent than Japanese? Probably, but that takes us well away from the “self-defense” argument.

                      But overall, the point that I was getting at was that the part of WWII that we are now proud of is the Nazi-ass-kicking part, not so much the fighting-with-Japanese-over-Okinawa part, since the nobility of the latter thing is a little more fuzzy.

                      The wise and benevolent FDR *wanted* to go to war with Germany, but the US public did not.

                      This all supports the “you could almost call WW2 a push as well” comment in that even in the “Good War” the motives of the US Fed Gov weren’t as pure as is often represented.

                    5. Had we taken our foot off the Pacific pedal would Japan and the US eventually tangled over Hawaii? Likely.

                      Still don’t call it a push.

                      I have made an argument before over not completing total victory against Imperial Japan. It wouldn’t have flown with the public. But keeping them in check but not obliterated would have focused the USSR east and not into Europe, would have served as a foil against Mao, and we would have likely never set foot in Korea or Vietnam. Hindsight is great…and the public wanted a full surrender.

                      The Filipinos of the 40s far preferred the Americans to the Japanese.

                    6. And yes, you can frame Germany’s going to war with the US as “choice” acknowledging that the other “choice” was to violate their mutual defense pact with their ally in the middle of an active war, which is a choice they did technically have, but it wasn’t a very good one.

                      Hitler regarded treaties as pieces of paper that in no way obligated him to act unless he wanted to anyway, as Chamberlin and Stalin found out the hard way.

                      And, choosing to declare war on the U.S. was a really bad decision by Hitler.

            2. 1812 was totally about killing injuns, not fighting the british over the impressment of sailors. That was just an excuse because no one wanted to admit they just wanted to kill the brown people and take their land.

              Most of the major battles of the war of 1812 were US Vs Indians.

              1. Bladensburg?
                Hampden?
                Baltimore/Fort McHenry?
                New Orleans?

              2. Actually 1812 was about whether the Mississippi River system would be international waters or a domestic river. The conflict with the Indians was in the Ohio River valley then – and they were being armed by Britain from both Canada and potentially upriver too. The Brits did not recognize the Louisiana Purchase as legal – and the 1783 Treaty of Paris defined the Mississippi River as international waters. That’s why the Battle of New Orleans was so important. Even though the 1812 Treaty purported to restore the antebellum status quo – that’s not true.

            3. And Neville Chamberlain chose to appease Nazi Germany. Great plan.

              1. “And Neville Chamberlain chose to appease Nazi Germany. Great plan.”
                Actually, Hitler himself, in his recorded table talks, believed (and not without reason) that had he gotten war with Britain in 1938 over Czechoslovakia (which he had expected and was as I understand it almost surprised by Chamberlain’s appeasement) he would have won (or been doing better at least) by 1944. The reason being that Britain was not as well re-armed in 1938 as it was in 1939 or 1940. If he’s to believed then Chamberlain’s policy was more one of tactical delay than appeasement.

            4. We could have avoided the Revolutionary War by just submitting. But Americans weren’t like that back then.

        3. There used to be a lot of people here who blamed the US for WW2 because we stop selling stuff to the Japanese

          1. Guess those people support the govt. forcing Christian bakers to make cakes for gay weddings.

        4. War on Poverty – fail
          Resurrection of prohibitionism – fail
          War on Drugs – no surrender yet
          War on cops – urban myth
          War on Want – former Soviet Union
          Question: was that putch or push in the fake war on Afghan poppy fields?

      3. Just got through reading William Shirer’s Berlin Diaries. Over and over again in his diary, this anti-Nazi journalist’s entries note that the German people yearned for peace in 1939, and felt it unfortunate that world events forced war upon them.

    2. Well, war almost inevitably involves unprovoked aggression against individuals. That’s about as libertarian as you can get.

      Now, most libertarians will admit that war is sometimes necessary or unavoidable. But I think that in this context “anti-war” means opposition to wars that aren’t necessary. And most of the wars the US has been involved in have been of that variety.

      1. ^ This.

        “Anti-war” means “being against starting wars.”

        And no, not everyone is “anti-war,” despite the fact that everyone *says* they are “anti-war.”

        1. I wouldn’t use the word ‘anti-war’ in any event, unless one means pacifist.

          There are many positions in fact. There’s anti-war pacifist; pro-defensive war only; pro-defensive war of allies; there’s the utilitarian position of supporting only wars which prevent more harm than they cause; and there’s the pro-war as a matter of principle (e.g., for national glory, spread of democracy, revenge for 9/11, etc.).

          Usually, I think the utilitarian position is the one assumed, even by libertarians. Most criticism of neoconservative foreign policy intervention centers on arguments that the wars caused more harm than good, and assumed a level predictability of international affairs that was unrealistic if not positively delusional.

      2. I think an even more pure libertarian position might be more against the legitimacy of the state to declare war in a way that it does. The state claims to represent the individuals that reside within its borders and then declare war ‘on behalf of those individuals’. Perhaps this is noble in a defensive position (there is definitely a discussion to be had), but it is always messed up for military offensives.

        1. Since the 1960s it has been possible to take out the fat bastards–buried bunkers and all–that used to order conscripts to their deaths. That and the LP forcing an end to conscription have been major preventers of war.

  3. Will the LP take advantage of voter hate for Trump and Clinton to finally present a viable alternative?

    No. Next question.

    1. True, but it’s not the Libertarian party’s fault. They literally have no path to victory in the foreseeable future because the two party system is too entrenched. There’s a much better chance of one or both of the major parties fracturing and shaking things up than there is of the LP making major gains on its own.

        1. Well, if Trump gets the nod, you can count on at least one more LP vote headed your way.

          1. Thank you for your support.

      1. True, but it’s not the Libertarian party’s fault.

        Yes it is. Nominate someone with a big name, positive image, and strong media presence. That’s not Gary Johnson. Mike Rowe is my suggestion.

        1. The series finale for Dirty Jobs = Rowe as POTUS.

        2. Tell me about this world you live in where political parties get to tell other people that they have to be their nominee.

          My understanding is that Mr. Rowe is happy with his current situation and not looking to diminish it by running for President.

        3. Nominating impostors and cross-dressers has been tried already. Voters can see through the hypocrisy.

      2. Entrenchment only makes spoiler votes into a more effective vehicle for change. Only by simultaneously voting against the intellectual heirs of national socialism and soviet socialism do you effectively express a preference for freedom from coercion. Remember in economics class, the part about the difference between demand (begging) and effective demand (counting out cash dollars)? The analogy is every bit as close and apropos. Votes are the constitutional currency of American politics.

      3. Victory means abolishing bad taxes and laws. Only to looters does victory mean lying your way into a government job.

      4. Has nothing to do with whining about the two party system. The problem is that the main LP economic issues have near zero appeal. In theory, there’s a lot about free markets and free trade that could appeal. In practice, ‘open borders’ and ‘free trade agreements’ that have nothing to do with trade are nothing but avenues for cronyism. Libertarians are pretty much silent on cronyism (compared to Trump and Sanders). And the cronies who have coopted the phrase ‘free trade’ and ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ have all the reasons in the world to keep supporting the two-party system.

        Until the LP actually positions itself as the outsider on economic issues – and not just a voice of the establishment – it has no chance of getting votes.

        1. Anybody who has ever been directly threatened by IRS looters can appreciate the value of repealing the individual income tax. Parents fleeced by lawyers and bondsmen to get their kids back–kidnapped into rape cages over some a non-ethanol enjoyable drug–can appreciate decriminalization. Dull economic speeches by the German-with-funny-mustache institute do make people wonder if the free market is narcoleptic, but those lecturers never mention the LP (thank goodness). Finally, the LP platform does not say “open borders”–infiltrator misdirection to the contrary notwithstanding. It says “we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security…”

          1. Tax rates were a big issue 40 years ago when the top rate was high. It is a complete non-issue now. More importantly, it is mainly an issue among the high income whose incomes themselves are often cronyist and hence won’t vote LP ever. Even more importantly, EVERYTHING about current economic policy is designed to keep current asset prices high (stock prices, house prices, higher education (assuming skilled labor is an asset) prices, etc) – and the current high income are also the owners of most assets. That is a massive tilting of the playing field – away from the competitive pressures that a TRUE free market forces – and that tilted playing field is what harms the working poor, the young, the ambitious, the type-B middle class, and everyone who could be receptive to an LP message. And for once that means talking about how a free market can help address class and economic mobility issues – and that is where the Randians and Kochs and such are never going to be helpful.

            Ignoring social issues (meaningless outside the red-meat base of the two main parties – no one else cares which is perfectly fine with LP stance), the LP has got to stop being a tool on economic issues. Third parties must channel discontent with the status quo to get votes. As long as Trump/Sanders are channeling that, those votes will remain D and R. LP has got to address the issues of voters who support those two – with a different solution. That’s where the third party votes are.

        2. You mean, until the LP gives up and accepts pseudo-socialist economics? No.

          You’re right that LP economic positions are unpopular. Correct opinions usually are. The fact remains (despite your baseless claims to the contrary) that what is ca;;ed ‘crony capitalism’ is an artifact of the regulatory state. You might cite that Auto et al. paper about how unemployment in Michigan and Ohio hasn’t recovered from trade with China, for example; that labor markets haven’ adjusted. People like you blame free trade and free markets, but that’s wrong; the problem, as even the authors fail to notice, is precisely that: that labor markets failed to adjust. Why? Because of things like labor market regulations, privileged unions inflating wages, high (and labyrinthine) corporate taxes, etc. plague Michigan and Ohio especially. In other states, labor markets adjusted fine, as people moved increasingly into the service sector, and in the country as a whole the effect of free trade is overwhelmingly positive. But in regions where state or local policies prevent labor market adjustments, unemployment remains high. The solution isn’t to do away with free trade, it’s to do away with the barriers keeping wages from adjusting downwards (manufacturing wages pay on average like almost $10 an hour more than service jobs on average, so it’s no wonder why industrial regions have higher residual unemployment).

          1. Also doing away with regulations that inhibit competition will drive down profit margins and prices alike. In short, free trade isn’t the problem and doing away with it will at best just make people more equal in their poverty, at worst will allow domestic companies and labor unions to exert even more of a monopoly in their respective domains and squeeze consumers even harder than before.

    2. The problem with libertarianism is that to even promote someone is an anti-libertarianism act in itself. Libertarianism expects everyone to magically wake up some day and vote for some one no one knows.

      1. The problem with libertarianism is that to even promote someone is an anti-libertarianism act in itself.

        What?

    3. What in the LP platform is non viable? Flaws and all it is the best platform since the Cleveland Administration. In fact, the real flaws in the libertarian platform are rage-induced hallucinations suffered by the rare national socialist Republicans who attempt to read it.

    4. How is a 2-term governor not a viable alternative? Compared to a senator/secy of state with a poor record at both, and a real estate developer/reality TV show host?

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  5. Libertarian Moment(tm)

    1. Wait, I just realized something: Libertarian Mom(ent). Is it yours, T?

    2. But Libertarianism has no momentum.

      1. A turning point, or even a point of inflection, may be upon us. Votes have no mass, but the rate at which they come in can accelerate. Ours are headed in the right direction. The national LP vote was 2% of the total, I’ll wager, for it is common knowledge that all looters are liars and that secret ballots are an entrenchment of fraud. Texas showed 3% LP last election. Plus we’ve been publishing the best platforms out there since 1972. GOP nazis will always point to something and say “if not for that” we’d have their support. But they read in the papers that their antiabortion prohibitionist LOST by the 3% scored by the libertarian candidate. THAT is why kids in Colorado are no longer jailed and shot over hemp.

  6. Let’s not get too carried away here.

  7. Choose the form of the destructor… if elections had slogans, that would be a winner.

  8. Giant douche, shit sandwich, or wet noodle?

  9. “Will the LP take advantage of voter hate for Trump and Clinton to finally present a viable alternative?”
    Of course not. How can it? Forty five years and only 12,000 members. What kind of campaign chest could that raise? Many state LP organizations are lucky to have ten activists. Who, such as a John Stossel or John Napolitano, has actually been groomed to want to run? A viable alternative could not run on a pure LP platform and the LP delegates won’t nominate another squish after Bob Barr. Many LP activists question Johnson’s bona fides.
    Until the LP has a charismatic candidate, with national recognition, who can appeal to non-libertarians who are fed up with the two parties, then the task is hopeless.

    1. +1 libertarian billionaire

  10. I’m trying to decide if it is a good thing or a bad thing that Roller’s profile is titled “Live Free or Trump”. On one hand, more people will probably read it. On the other, are they the people who are going to be convinced by libertarian ideologies? Who knows…

  11. He likens the conventional wisdom that any vote which strays from the two-party system is a waste to the scene in Ghostbusters when the heroes are compelled to choose the form of their destructor.

    I’m guessing he has this T-shirt then.

    1. I don’t, but I feel like I ought to buy one.

  12. RE: How Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton Have Made the Libertarian Party Relevant

    Don’t forget Comrade Bernie.
    His social, political and economic policies will turn the USA into the USSR in no time.
    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Oh come on. Even as a libertarian, I find your bombast laughably obnoxious.

      Most of Europe has employed his ideal model and they haven’t exploded. And in fact, it is nothing like the USSR model was. As individualists, we still don’t like it and fight against it, but saying that the world will explode if one person makes it into one of thousands of political positions that affect Americans, is pretty over the top. Don’t you think?

      Besides, (and don’t take this as an endorsement) he is literally the only semi-non-interventionalist candidate. The rest are terrifying war hawks. And that worries me as much or more as your misguided fear of US becoming the USSR.

      1. Sanders is likely the anarchists’ candidate. He offers the greatest chance of all the candidates for a total system collapse. I think the pro dystopia preppers want him too.

        1. Lol either this is even more bombastic by device or you have clinical delusional disorder. Perhaps you should go check out a psychiatrist just in case.

          They’re all more or less the same. I see Sanders as a little more sincere and playing less of a game. I obviously disagree with a huge number of his state-expanding policies, but his ideal is the european model. Indicating that some apocalypse would happen upon his election as POTUS implicates that you live in dreamworld and need to come back to Earth with the rest of us.

          1. Perhaps you should spend less time trying to be bombastic and RTFP.

            Total system collapse would occur if he were to implement European-like programs and not as a result of his election. His stated desires have no mechanisms attached to reality. This is what the anarchists want. Sanders may be more sincere but only because he is an idiot.

      2. The United States does not equal Europe. It’s like comparing apples to to two-by-fours.

      3. Apparently you haven’t heard of Greece.

        ANd the northern European countries aren’t as Sandersesque as his worshippers like to believe. Many of those coutnries have privatized public services we would never dream of here, many have more balanced budgets than us and the general trend is movement toward less state spending, not more. Moreover, their systems aren’t nearly as capable of ours at taking in many millions of poor and assimilating them into the work force. As that happens, we are going to see more and more European countries either ‘explode’ (or have Greek-like fiascos) or become more and more like the US (or like the US was before president Bernie, should that happen).

        And you would do well to remember Obama’s commitment to anti-interventionism before he got elected to president. Talk is cheap as ever when it comes to foreign policy.

  13. No, the Libertarian Party won’t present a viable candidate. It’ll present some stoner instead because marijuana is apparently the only issue Libertarians with a capital L care about.

    1. Your judgmental misconception and general disposition about the marijuana discussion makes me wonder about how libertarian you actually are.

      Why should what someone elects to consume have any bearing on their effectiveness as a leader?

      Let me rephrase that: why should your KNOWLEDGE of what someone is consuming have any bearing on your PERCEPTION of their potential effectiveness as a leader?

      Could it be that your innate judgments about drug use are leading you to want to control what other people consume?

      Not very libertarian.

    2. It’s one issue where Libertarians back the majority opinion though, and the other parties don’t.

  14. What I want to know is which one is the giant douche and which one is the turd sandwich.

  15. I was generally unimpressed by these candidates, although I hated all of them less than anyone active in the R&D circles. That said, McAffee impressed me the most and Johnson disappointed the most. Peterson might develop into something in a few years. My personal hope is that Trump or Sanders get the nod and the next four years of pure shitshow will create the opportunity for a Paul or one of his ilk to put out the fire. That said, we are probably toast at this point and would best be served by a reboot.

    1. Sometimes Peterson makes me feel that he is more pandering to conservatives than withholding his libertarian principles. That’s just my point of view I guess. Agreed on “McAffee” [sic] though.

  16. Are the only people who comment on Reason articles anymore delusional schizophrenics who literally think the world is plotting to wait until they fall asleep to murder them? That is what I’m gathering.

    If Reason comment sections are decent representation of libertarian thinkers, we should be much less excited about a potential libertarian moment and much more concerned about the state of the current body of thinkers.

    1. You’re the best adbot ever.

    2. I think, compared to the comment selection at the New York Times, Reason is the paragon of lucidity. Granted, that really just says how bad the NYT is.

    3. Just roll with it. There’s a lot of wisdom and principle and well reasoned opinion here. You just have to dig through the muck. Most other sites are just an echo chamber.

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  19. “The biggest thing that stops people from voting Libertarian is inertia.”

    No, the biggest thing that stops people from voting Libertarian is that, on the left hand, they’re wedded to the “free” stuff the Dems keep handing out and, on the right hand, they’re so pantingly eager to cram their damned “social values” down everyone’s throats. Basically, American voters are too stupid, petty, and selfish to vote for a party that won’t promise to screw others in order to benefit themselves.

    “A frequently deployed trope about third-party candidacies is that they act as spoilers.”

    The Democrats and the GOP both need a good spoiling and, maybe, this year, the LP adding to their own internal rot will be enough to make a difference. But, LP, it’s not going to work unless people know you’re there and I’ve not yet seen a single TV advert offering yourselves as a sane alternative to the corrupt crook or the bombastic boor.

  20. Yes, the Libertarian Party has a great opportunity to win if it is Trump versus Clinton, but not with Johnson, McAfee or the other guy. It would have to be someone with a broader appeal, who can win over Republicans and Democrats.

    Libertarianism = classical liberalism = the principles of the US Constitution; individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise, equal opportunity under rule of law, the inalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

    Libertarianism is the mainstream of American politics. It is what “true conservatives” claim to stand for. It is the real liberalism.

    But libertarians want to be their own secret club on the fringe obsessed with marijuana legalization, Ayn Rand, even obnoxious 9/11 trutherism.

    When Rand Paul tried to broaden his appeal to win the nomination, libertarians turned against him. Some even ended up backing Trump.

    Gary Johnson can not win on personality or ideological purity alone, so how do libertarians expect to win?

    1. Libertarianism = classical liberalism = the principles of the US Constitution; individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise, equal opportunity under rule of law, the inalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

      That is Gary Johnson’s platform, basically. And he’s more qualified than Trump or Clinton.
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  22. I’d point out that While I know a lotta people believe Perot was a “spoiler,” the data suggests that is nothing but narrative spin.

    Bush Sr.’s approvals in election season 1992 were where Jimmy Carter’s were in 1980 (and much lower than W in 2004): bit.ly/1lr1HR6

    Clinton was beating Bush much worse, and Bush was polling 37-40% when Perot was gone: bit.ly/1M8d4yM

    Exit polls showed Perot didn’t affect the popular outcome: nyti.ms/1MqMPlw wapo.st/237J7D6

    “If Mr. Perot had not been on the ballot, 38 percent of his voters said, they would have voted for Gov. Bill Clinton, and 38 percent said they would have voted for President Bush.”

    Perot was not a conservative but center-left: bit.ly/1PNF0T7 Perot was pro-abortion, pro gun-control, and to both of the candidates’ left on free trade.

    For Bush to have won 270 EVs, he’d have needed to win almost every state he lost by less than 5, which doesn’t happen when a president has Carteresque election year approvals (bit.ly/1N3KgT2) Also note that he’d have needed WI, but Dukakis won that when Bush was popular, so Bush wasn’t going to win when he was very unpopular. Also, Perot’s highest totals were in either states already lopsided or poor in electoral votes.

    Even one of Bush’s old operatives has recently given up on the Perot myth. bit.ly/1IHzePS

    Some other good articles on this:
    bit.ly/1JWUW6L
    bit.ly/237J9e8

  23. A third party vote packs ten times the law-changing power of sucking up to the entrenched kleptocracy. This is ordinary historical fact known to anyone who can simplify a fraction and look up election results. Just as “free” is the key term that gives meaning to the First and Second Amendments, so “party” is the key word in spoiler vote mechanics. No party nominated Perot or John Anderson. In the spirit of the Nixon anti-libertarian law, they were fakes, chaff dispersed to conceal the LP. Those outcomes changed nothing but new hires.

    People like Fisher do not appreciate the legal effect because they’ve never read “Free To Choose.” Friedman shrewdly challenges readers to point to the Communist candidate elected in a landslide to move the unconstitutional income tax from Marx’s Manifesto to the 16th Amendment. Which Prohibition Party candidate became president and coat-tailed in the 18th Amendment? Those laws and amendments were the cumulative effect of spoiler votes boxing in the big looter parties, platform after platform, election after election. THAT is the case for voting libertarian–that and integrity.

  24. The answer to the question asked in the headline is “no.” That is because the Constitution, by providing that if no presidential candidate gets a majority of electoral votes the House (voting on a state-by-state basis) will decide who becomes President, essentially has forced the US to develop a two-party system.

    Thus, unless or until the LP becomes strong enough to replace either the Dems or the GOP as one of the two major parties, the most Libertarians can do to be viewed as “relevant” in a presidential election is to siphon off enough votes from the two major party candidates to force the House to decide who should become the President.

    1. Nonsense. Being “relevant” doesn’t mean they can win. It just means they can affect the outcome. Being able to draw off enough Sanders supporters to deny Hillary the Presidency would make the LP very relevant.

      And if the LP could actually win a State or two and throw the election into the House, running candidates in key strategic House and Senate seats could make them players in that arena as well.

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  26. One thing’s for sure. The more that voters are offered candidates they don’t like and that deliver more government and less prosperity, the more voters will consider voting Libertarian. That’s the way I’ve been voting, and I expect, and would bet on it, that Clinton/Trump will be no different.;

  27. Watched the Stossel “debate” last night, and Johnson was pretty good. He got a little garbled about abortion and forcing somebody to serve somebody they don’t agree with (neither are issues the constitution grants to the federal government). Despite these, when the choice is between a corrupt criminal former FLOTUS, a loud mouthed, misogynistic, incoherent reality TV actor, and Johnson, Johnson wins by a mile.

  28. Say NO to Trump. Its better for the world and the US

    1. I’d like to agree with you, but in my state the vote could go either way….therefore I cannot let this country go any further left, and will likely vote for the Republican (likely to be Trump.) If it were a slam dunk state either Repub or Dem, I’d vote libertarian for sure.

      1. So you’re going to waste your vote been the giant douche and the fat gasbag, when you could vote for the sane candidate?

      2. No state will come down to one vote. Vote LP if that’s what you believe.

  29. southpark quote is great…so between hillary and trump which one is the giant douche?

  30. State Department says halts review of Clinton emails at FBI request

    http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0WY5Q0

    1. Sure. Because throwing a political candidate in jail is inherently a political action. It reeks of dirty tricks. That’s why the Constitution says “They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.”

      Still, breaching national security for your own convenience … that ought to at least be a felony.

      1. She’s not in Congress. Nice try.

  31. Salon says It’s Hillary and Trump now

    http://www.salon.com/2016/04/0…..ded_party/

    1. So, what, the criminal and the maniac? Leaving Johnson as the only law-abiding sane candidate.

  32. We are already likely to have a 3-way contest in November – Hillary, Trump, and some other Republican, regardless of whether Trump gets the nomination or not. In a 4-way contest, the libertarian nominee is more likely to make into the debates.

    1. You mean less likely. In a 3-way contest, Johnson might reach the 15% threshold for inclusion. He’s at 11% already. In a 4-way race, the other guy will get way more media coverage and money and take most of those anti-Trump/Clinton votes.

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  35. Gary finally got a good photo in.

  36. The only point of comparison of Johnson and Sanders is on marijuana? – Johnson is a great person and leader. That’s why I voted for him last time. But Sanders is a much better fit to my progressive philosophy. This needs to be explored more.

    1. We haven’t already explored progressive philosophy? FDR mayne, he had like 4 terms.

      1. And that 15 years of Hugo Chavez was quite enough exploration as well.

        1. Hugo Chavez was a little schizo, but he never posed a threat to the U.S. He was made a scapegoat.

      2. Of course we haven’t already explored it, especially since it is playing such a large role in this campaign by the huge support for Bernie Sanders. – Europe can provide national health care, free college a livable social security, etc. – If they can do it, so can we. (See Michael Moore’s new movie: “Where To Invade Next.”)

        1. And it only costs another 2 trillion per year, on top of the 4 trillion the feds already spend. Yeah, that’ll fly with voters.

  37. The LP’s position on the “cake issue” is strikingly tone deaf. Yes, it would be better if businesses could discriminate as they please. But which position is more likely to lead to that result? Creating a religious exemption and then challenging the specificity of that exemption in court, or just denying the exemption?

    Evangelicals (real ones who attend church and would actually not take the florist gig for religious reasons) hate Trump. They also fear churches being forced to performing gay weddings. So why not make religious freedom a point of emphasis rather than one of the handful of issues on which the party embraces the progressive view of government intervention?

    1. The point is not that businesses should or shouldn’t be able to discriminate. It’s that it’s blatantly unfair that customers can discriminate for any reason they want, even totally bullshit reasons, whereas businesses are supposed to sell product to anyone who walks in the door. Businesses are not aliens dropped from the sky. They are comprised of people. And if those people act like jerks towards their customers, they’ll end up losing customers, and not because of any law.

  38. If the libertarian party can’t make a good showing in this election cycle, they are doomed to always be irrelevant. Neither the D’s nor the R’s have anyone worth voting for.

    1. Nonsense. Bernie Sanders would make the best president, since at least Jimmy Carter.

      1. Indeed! Don’t vote for a statist, vote for an actual communist!

    2. A perfect example is Martin Luther King. Can you believe how many people couldn’t understand the fundamentals of civil liberty and the prosperity that comes from it? He had to come up with many examples as to why any color is as equal as the next. It’s amazing looking at his speeches again and thinking how frustrating it must have been to get people to understand simple morality.

  39. convincing a majority of voters that a third-party ballot is anything other than a wasteful protest is something that has not yet ever been achieved.

    First you have to convince a majority of (eligible) voters that just voting in the first place isn’t a waste of time.

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  43. His vegan halo looks good, but have you asked Johnson if he’s a god yet ?

  44. I have a friend who thinks that Gary Johnson is going to draw votes more votes from Clinton than from Trump. Isn’t that backwards from the usual claim that Libertarians are just stoner Republicans??

  45. the LP’s outreach is focused on spreading a positive message focused on encouraging people to embrace the “beautiful feeling of voting for what you believe in, and not against what you hate more.”

    Why stray from what works? The LP’s outreach should be focused on voting against what you hate more — people hate Clinton and Trump more than Johnson.

  46. the ascension of Donald Trump has led to a spike in Libertarian Party membership.

    Define “spike”. From 10,000 to 11,000?

  47. “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” -Emma Goldman.1869 ? 1940.

    Elections are “an advance auction of stolen goods.” H.L. Mencken

    Bottom line: It really makes no difference which clown gets elected, the deep state will carry on exactly as before.

    In other words:” New boss same as the old boss” as Pete Townsend once said.

    Or, “Dream On”?:

    “……In your dream, Donald Trump is not a fraud,
    In your dream, Sanders is not a fraud,
    In your dream, all the rest are not frauds,
    In your dream, Obama is not a fraud,
    In your dream, Reagan was not a fraud,
    In your dream, all the rest were not frauds,

    In your dream, the constitution was not a scam,
    In your dream, the Supreme court is not a scam,
    In your dream, 9/11 was not a scam”
    In your dreams, the war on terror is not a scam,
    In your dream, al -qaeda was not a scam,
    In your dream I.S.I.S. is not a scam”

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