Election 2016

Trump Is Such a Republican, Hillary Is Such a Disaster & Libertarians Matter More Than Ever

3 takeaways from the the Indiana presidential primaries

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SNL

Here are three big takeaways from the Indiana presidential primaries, in which Donald Trump won on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side.

There is bad news for diehard Republicans and Democrats, but there's absolutely phenomenal news for libertarians and independents who have been looking for an exit from the political status quo for decades now.

1. Donald Trump has always been very popular with Republicans and will only get more so. However divisive a character he is nationally (and he is, with two-thirds of Americans holding an unfavorable opinion of him), Trump has always been extremely popular among regular Republicans and voters who lean Republican. In fact, his favorability rating with them has never dipped below 50 percent. From Gallup:

Gallup

Hardcore ideological conservatives dislike and distrust Trump despite his general adherence to the litany of programs, policies, and postures that define them. Sure, he's appallingly anti-immigrant, he's anti-abortion, he's in favor of having a gigantic military. His campaign slogan—"Make America Great Again"—and his contempt for political correctness also square perfectly with conservative mind-sets. Yet it's clear that Trump isn't a philosophical or "principled" conservative sprung fully formed from the pages of National Review or The Weekly Standard. His crudeness and lack of basic knowledge of government functions (at one point, he said that judges sign laws) is an issue, too.

Similarly, party elders (folks at the Republican National Committee and the upper reaches of Congress) hate the fact they effectively had no say or influence in or on Trump's candidacy. FFS, we're the national-security party and this guy walked right through out front door! No billionaire anywhere has ever really been an outsider, but the Donald actually comes kind of close in this context, especially since he flouted all sorts of etiquette and protocols.

Some #NeverTrumpers will stay that way—Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse tweeted his continuing boycott of Trump last night despite sharing the candidate's awful anti-immigration and pro-military views—but many more will ultimately come around to #BetterTrump for the same reasons Trump has always been popular with Republican voters. Despite the lack of ritual incantations of William F. Buckley or the Founding Fathers, Trump is in fact an excellent (and, from a libertarian perspective, appalling) representative of what the GOP has long said it was all about. Or are the 59 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters who view him favorably (a figure that will only climb) just that dumb?

[Article continues after video, "6 Ways Conservatives & The GOP CREATED Donald Trump"]

2. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party are in deep disarray. Hillary Clinton is starting to resemble the Chicago Cubs, one of the baseball teams she once unconvincingly lied about liking. She couldn't close out against Barack Obama in 2008 and now she's stretching things out uncomfortably against a wheezing-and-huffing old man who is actually preaching Democratic Party redistributionism circa 1969.

Sanders' appeal has two basic thrusts. First, he's not Hillary Clinton, who wore out her welcome first as a faux-feminist, long-suffering first lady; then as a senator from New York who was reliably pro-Wall Street, pro-war, anti-civil liberties, and tough on crime; and then as an ineffective secretary of state who was a towel girl for a suprisingly interventionist president (who, let us never forget, has generally been worse for civil liberties than George W. Bush). Second, though an independent, Sanders unapologetically pushes what most liberals and certainly all progressives take as gospel truth: The government owes you free health care, free college, free everything. All we need to do is expropriate the banksters' money before putting them in jail and giving everyone good manufacturing jobs right here at home and then taxing the hell out of them. In the early debates, Clinton would literally roll her eyes when Sanders laid out his basic platform, assuming the crowd was with her. It wasn't.

Despite decades of being misidentified by the right as a "leftist" or "socialist," Clinton (like her husband) was generally a centrist Democrat (hence, the hawkish foreign policy and her willingness to pass AMT patches every year to help out relatively wealthy constituents in the New York metro area). In order to fend off Sanders, she's been tacking left all primary season, dissing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that she pushed hard as Secretary of State, calling for a higher minimum wage, coming out against the Keystone XL Pipeline, and what have you. The fact that she, the presumptive Democratic nominee since Obama won re-election, has had to run to her own left and is still breaking a sweat to put Sanders down for good is a sign that the Democratic Party leadership is every bit as out of touch with their constituents as are the Republicans.

Gallup

This is (hopefully) the last election of the "long" 20th century. Political parties are not generally philosophically consistent organizations that build outward from a common core of beliefs. Rather, they are collections of special-interest groups who then create an ideology that makes it all seem logical and coherent. What exactly is the philosophical continuity between, say, being against abortion and higher marginal tax rates while favoring interventionism and amendments against flag burning? Or being pro-union and pro-choice?

The groups comprising the current versions of the Democratic and Republican Parties are changing, dying, morphing, or simply recognizing that there's little or nothing left to bind them to one another (Was that Bill Clinton, the first black president, telling Black Lives Matter protesters to screw off?). The result are fractious intra-party fights and less and less appeal to large groups of people. This is the main reason why party identification is at or near historic lows for both Democrats and Republicans: These worn-out old coalitions are less relevant and representative than they were 40 or 50 years ago.

Reason

3. This is an incredible time to be a libertarian and an independent. A few weeks ago, a Monmouth University poll found that 11 percent of respondents would pick the 2012 Libertarian Party (LP) candidate, Gary Johnson, in a three-way race with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The former two-term (Republican) governor of New Mexico, Johnson is a socially liberal and fiscally conservative character who supports more-open borders, free-er trade, pot legalization, a non-interventionist foreign policy, balanced budgets, abortion rights, and marriage equality. Which is to say, more than either Clinton or Trump (not to mention Sanders or Cruz), Johnson represents where most Americans are on most issues.

The LP picks its nominee at the end of the month. If it's Johnson, who has more executive experience than Hillary Clinton and who built several successful private-sector businesses (though not at the scale of Trump), expect all sorts of weird things to start happening. First will come panic from the solons in both parties, who will castigate Johnson as an admitted pot smoker (he is!) and claim that winning election twice as a Republican in a Democratic-majority state doesn't mean anything (it does!). Naysayers will also yammer that New Mexico is a place of no significance, so who cares that he ran the joint successfully!

Then will come the attacks on Johnson's policies and positions themselves: How dare a presidential candidate suggest allowing people to just come to America and, assuming they don't have a criminal record or a communicable disease, work legally! What is this, America in the 19th century? How will we ever bring peace to the Middle East if we're not constantly sending troops there? If we don't bail out student loan debtors how will we be able to bail out Wall Street with a straight face? And on and on.

Johnson isn't perfect by any stretch (I've detailed some of my issues with him here). But he is different from either Clinton or Trump, just as the basic LP platform presents a different ideological matrix than the ones presented by the foundering Republican and Democratic Parties. The LP is small enough that, unlike the major parties, it has no special-interest groups that it's trying to lasso into a single, large voting bloc. At this stage, all it's got are some basic principles by which it might attract more and more people sick and tired of the same-old same-old in every election. IMO, there's no plausible way that Johnson or the LP pulls more than the low double digits at best in this election, but there's every reason to believe that a strong articulation of a socially liberal and fiscally conservative political philosophy will allow the most motivated independents somewhere to go and start a long-delayed reboot of major-party politics. Again and again, polls show that we want a government that does less and cost less, at least in the abstract. This could well be the moment when those ideas start to get fleshed out in a national election and jump-start a shift away from a 20th-century model of a massive and unsustainable welfare and warfare state to something more suited to 21st-century realities.

If longstanding political affiliations are fraying—and they are, as evidenced by declines in voter identification, "enthusiasm gaps" up the yin-yang for major party candidates, and more—that's because Americans are tired of picking between choices that were created in the mid to late-20th century. Nobody's first pick for a car is a 1974 Plymouth Duster or even an early '90s Oldsmobile, right? Why shouldn't our politics actually upgrade to something at least made in this century?

NEXT: Jane Jacobs at 100

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  1. This is an incredible time to be a libertarian and an independent.

    To the extent one isn’t tainted by association with Trump or Clinton, yeah. To the extent one expects libertarian candidates and policies to be enacted, not so much.

  2. #NeverJohnson

    John McAfee 2016

    1. HE’S JUST PANDERING TO THE BASE, SIV!!! HE’S NOT EVEN REALLY A LIBERTARIAN!!!

      1. If a novelist was trying to come up with a stereotypical Libertarian Party candidate, would their character look like Johnson or like McAfee?

        I think McAfee.

        1. Considering that the popular perception of Libertarians is that they’re to the right of the Republicans, I’d have to go with less facial hair. Like maybe just a little bit under the nose.

          1. Clark Gable?

          2. Burt Reynolds?

          3. Charlie Chaplin?

          4. Catholic Girls?

          5. Bea Arthur?

        2. Walter from that stupid movie with Jeff Bridges.

          1. ^You mean that “goddamned masterpiece of a film” with Jeff Bridges

  3. Johnson had jolly well better be in the debates.

    1. Dream on.

  4. I’m gonna go with #3 as the Not.

    I was tempted to go with #1, but someone has to be voting for him.

  5. Trump Is So a Republican, Hillary Is Such a Disaster & Libertarians Matter More Than Ever

    No, yes but the left doesn’t care, and no

  6. Fuck you, Nick.

      1. !

        1. 🙂

  7. OT:

    How impressive is Leicester City? That was a really fun Premier League Season.

  8. Libertarians Matter More Than Ever

    Stop it. Just…stop.

  9. Libertarian Moment, because everyone needs a narrative.

  10. I like Gary but he needs to stop with the stupid peace sign shirts.

    1. A Republican Who Smokes Pot should sport a stylish business suit. Maybe with a discreet marijuana leaf lapel pin and a watch complication that always chimes at 4:20.

      1. I don’t care if people smoke dope or take whatever drugs, frankly. I really can’t stand marijuana “culture” with the flags, and the shirts, and the entire songs or plays or movies or books written solely about smoking. We get it … you’re into it.

        MJ Evangelists are worse than Jehovah’s Witnesses sometimes.

        1. ^This.

  11. If the LP nominates Johnson, I’ll be more disappointed in them than in the Republicans.

    Johnson: Pre-Godwinned for your convenience!

  12. Wish in one hand, shit in the other…

  13. I absolutely don’t agree with Johnson on everything (I personally rather have Austin Petersen), but he represents my views far more than Clinton or Trump. If he’s the Libertarian Party candidate in November, he’s the guy I’ll be voting for (even though it doesn’t matter in Kentucky, which will be one of the few states to give its electoral votes to Trump).

  14. Libertarians Matter More Than Ever

    What, all 5 of us?

      1. Holy shit, we’re up to six now?! LIBERTARIAN MOMENT!!!11!!!!!! WOOT!

        1. There’d probably be more but there are people who don’t think having open borders is a good idea. We’ve also gotten a good look at what happens when the US twiddles its thumbs on the world stage.

          Until enlightenment strikes at a global level I’m much happier with a strong military and strict control of who is coming into our country. I find it odd that so many libertarians want the US off the world stage while at the same time inviting the world to move in.

          1. I don’t know why libertarians run for office to leave people alone and tell more people to also rum for office to leave people alone.

          2. ^Yup. Those are the two most unappealing positions of doctrinaire liberatrianism to be sure. If we didn’t deploy the circular firing squad on ourseleves so much we might find more people willing to work together for free markets and smaller government.

      2. Seven

  15. Trump is in fact an excellent (and, from a libertarian perspective, appalling) representative of what the GOP has long said it was all about.

    That’s what makes all this “burn it all down” rhetoric so depressing. There’s no “anger-at-the-GOP-establishment revolt”, if there were Ron Paul would be President right now, or at least Rand would be locking up the nom. Trump is going to “save” the GOP by just out admitting the GOP has never been more than D-lite and attract the less-insane half of the D party vote. Look at his criticism of McCain and Romney. Did he take issue with their RINO-ness? No, it was their failure to win. The GOP sold their souls and got nothing in return, Trump’s going to see to it that they get a good trade. Do whatever it takes to close the deal is Trump’s only principle. As part of that, he’s appealing to the establishment he’s supposedly running against – look, guys, I’ve got an R next to my name so why do you care what my actual positions are as long as I win? And that’s all they care about, winning. If they have to become a pro-Big Government, Free Ponies For All party they’ll do it. Trump is not destroying the GOP and clearing the decks for a pro-liberty, Constitutionally-limited, rule-of-law party, he’s simply admitting it’s all just an act and producing a better show for the rubes. We’re all Democrats now.

  16. “Under my plan energy prices would necessarily skyrocket.”

    That was Barack Obama in 2008.

    The large majority of the cost of everything you buy, paint, eggs, tennis shoes, hair spray, anything made of metal, your iPhone, etc is the cost of the energy it takes to produce that thing and deliver it to you. When Obama said that he was telling us the was going to fuck us, to make us poorer, to make us work harder and suffer. The idiots he was talking to elected him president twice. Saying that should have disqualified him for election to any office in the land.

    Those same morons are paying carbon taxes to stop global warming, a supposed catastrophe for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

    Now we have a choice between three people that think theft as a foundation for our society is a great idea.

    I see no libertarian moment and no real hope for one.

    1. I fear that libertarians are “whistling through the graveyard” in thinking the LP will pull low double digits.
      When the dust settles, the LP vote for president will be in the 1-2% range. Jill Stein of Green Party may even outpoll us if she gets the Bernie retards.

      1. Jill Stein of Green Party may even outpoll us if she gets the Bernie retards.

        Christ, I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re probably right. Is it too early to start drinking heavily and maybe score some smack?

      2. Right – I expect an all-time high for the LP, but double digits is way, way too optimistic and people who are saying they want a third option in the spring are vastly more likely to back down on that stance or just stay home.

    2. By “energy” he meant “health insurance”.

  17. I hope the LP candidates don’t start making veiled warmongering promises. In fact they must do the opposite – expose them in Trump and Clinton. People won’t like it but that’s ok. It’s like scolding a child. They pretend that they don’t hear you. But they are listening.

  18. There’s always 2020.

  19. Didn’t you troll the mongoloids enough last night, Nick? THER AIN’T NO LIBURURTARN MOMENT WHUT CUZ THEREBE THEM WHUTS COMMYS

    1. Your skill with yokelese is . . . suggestive, Warty.

  20. Milton Friedman became well known through his “Free to choose” program that aired on PBS in which he debated many in opposition to liberty.

    As PBS states: “Each month, PBS reaches nearly 109 million people through television and over 28 million people online”. I’ve said it before, a show mirroring “Free to choose” would reach alot of individuals. This time the host should be Gerard Casey as the main host and debater, followed by the LP candidates as guest hosts or debaters. Bring back openers and debaters such as Thomas Sowell and David Friedman. Then there is Bob Murphy, Tom Woods, Walter Block, Thomas Salerno, etc. that would be on the side of liberty, and would be very good at debating those in opposition to it.

    Those who are against economic liberty (and in most cases personal liberty) such as Paul Krugman, Summers, Thomas Piketty, Brad Delong, Goolsbee, Krueger, Jeffery Sachs, Romer, Andrew Kliman and other individuals such as Bernie Sanders and many a republican congress critters and candidates from all sides should be invited.

    Aside from the shows, they ahould be placed in “free on demand” section on cable, and spread throughout the internet to include DVD sales.

    1. Hear, hear!

    2. I think this would be a positive, constructive way to bring Liberty, and the LIbertarian party to the mainstream. It would also expose marxist, socialist, Keynesian economics for what they are and have lead to.

    3. Unfortunately I think you’ll be pitching this show to a bunch of Bill Moyers acolytes.

    4. Milton Friedman became well known through his “Free to choose” program that aired on PBS back when there were only 9 channels to choose from and no VHS, DVD, or streaming options.

    5. Aside from the shows, they should be placed in “free on demand” section on cable, and spread throughout the internet to include DVD sales

      So I’m paying for all of this?

    6. Sadly a libertarian show like Friedman’s would never get made by The Propaganda Broadcasting Service in these dark times. Can you imagine all the white liberals bitching on NPR and refusing to sell PBS their junked cars in support of such a programme?: “My social security check supporting social darwanizm?!” Libertarianism works in Somalia!”/ “Think of tha children!”

  21. Would that it were so.

    Here’s what’s really going to happen: a tiny minority of people will take the plunge and vote for Johnson, a larger minority will vote for either Trump or Clinton out of fear that the other candidate might win, and the majority will just put a check next to whoever is listed next to the party with which they traditionally identify.

    The thing is, if you’re voting in the election you probably take it somewhat seriously. Maybe not enough to actually do any research, but enough that your vote means something. You can do it once every four years. Unless you know that a majority of people will join you in a vote for a third-party candidate you will more than likely make the safest vote, which will be for one of the two parties.

    Nobody wants to be the first out of the trenches.

    1. “Nobody wants to be the first out of the trenches”

      One might agree but only if the secret ballot is outlawed. Vote your conscience instead of aligning with some goober or crook that will eventually and inevitably disappoint you or screw you.

      1. I agree with you in principle, but what I’m saying is that the people you need in order to create a real upset, i.e. the people who aren’t just going to vote the party line, generally see two choices: a “wasted” vote based on positive ideals, and a strategic vote to prevent a perceived worst outcome. They won’t go out on a limb because they don’t think anyone else will follow them. The perception is that the LP can’t win because not enough people vote for them, so they don’t vote for them, they vote for the anti-Hillary (or anti-Trump) instead. It’s circular reasoning, yes, but there it is.

    2. This is probably true, and the most depressing thing I will read today. I suppose we will have to be in a crisis of epic proportions before what you describes changes, and then it most likely will not be anything as benign as an election.

      1. I give a lot of thought to this. Honestly, I’m not sure that libertarianism in its truest sense is really cut out for elected office. God knows that the tendency amongst libertarians to demand total ideological purity doesn’t help. And, frankly, we’ve been culturally indoctrinated to accept Progressivism as the normal, rational, moral way for close to a century. That’s not easy to get rid of. I think before we see a serious chance for a libertarian president, or even Congresscritter, we’re going to have to see a sustained cultural shift.

    3. Wouldn’t it make more sense to work the ground floor than the penthouse?

      Get more LP candidates on local ballots where they won’t be drowned out by the two party machine.

  22. “Yet it’s clear that Trump isn’t a philosophical or “principled” conservative sprung fully formed from the pages of National Review or The Weekly Standard. His crudeness and lack of basic knowledge of government functions (at one point, he said that judges sign laws) is an issue, too.”

    Wait. Those guys at the National Review know how things work? They’ve been pushing this meme that all we have to do is stop giving money to Black Welfare recipients and we’ll be ok. Is that true?

    1. It’s not “the” National Review. It’s just “National Review”.

    2. Re: American Stultified,

      They’ve been pushing this meme that all we have to do is stop giving money to Black Welfare recipients and we’ll be ok. Is that true?

      What is Black Welfare? Is that like an under-the-table welfare, away from the prying eyes of the government?

    3. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s racists, amirite?

  23. Heh. I have that Ring album.

  24. Gotta love how much America Hates Hilary. First she loses her party primary to nothing more than a trial balloon and 8 years later she can only beat a straight-up national socialist via the party’s corruption of superdelegates.

    1. She can’t take a hint, eh?

      Shameless egoism and lust for power does that to people.

  25. Trump is not anti-abortion. He’s largely a social libertarian. He favored gay marriage 10 years before the BHO. GOP libertarians don’t like him but socons like him less.

  26. Point #1, TL;DR version: Trump is the Al Czervik of the Republican Party.

  27. GILLESPIE: “Sure, he’s appallingly anti-immigrant”

    This is why I have little use for “The Jacket” these days. That statement is how the dinosaur media tries to portray conservatives as racist. The majority of them are not anti-immigrant. They are anti-ILLEGAL immigrant. There is a difference unless you’re being downright disingenuous.

    1. Yeah, it’s disappointing that the folks who are supposed to represent rational, reasonable, logical discussion have decided that you can either favor totally open border with no immigration policy whatsoever or be a vile racist bigot. I don’t think anyone benefits from that kind of false dichotomy. It certainly doesn’t make us look like the serious, adult alternative to the mainstream.

      1. ” it’s disappointing that the folks who are supposed to represent rational, reasonable, logical discussion have decided that you can either favor totally open border with no immigration policy whatsoever or be a vile racist bigot.”

        Agreed. Things are rarely that black-and-white. It’s unfortunate that supposedly freedom-loving guys like Gillespie have fallen for that false dichotomy.

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  33. OK, seriously. I couldn’t bring myself to spend time reading the whole article. Let me ask you a question. The National Review or The Weekly Standard. Sarcasm? This defines conservative? I have experience writing. I mention that because from that experience I know what sarcasm is a challenge in writing. Nobody sees your facial expression or hears your tone of voice. They don’t see that sly smirk on your face while you’re waiting for them to get it. It’s really better to just say exactly what you mean and say it as clearly as possible, trying hard to make misinterpretation impossible. Once you master that, you might want to try sarcasm. But be advised that even the best really have to work at it. It’s an art.

    Here’s the thing. An example. You mention “diehard Republicans” when you’re actually talking about something completely different. Do you really expect readers to get it? For cryin’ out loud! Some of the Reason readers are Cruz and Rand Paul supporters. If you’re writing at a 3rd grade level, you’re not going to communicate. (Note: I’m not advising getting more writers with a 3rd grade knowledge level.)

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