Libertarian Party

What Would Success (or Failure) Look Like for the Libertarian Party This Year?

Reason TV talked with Libertarian Party delegates and candidates about goalposts for 2016.

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The Libertarian Party nominated as their president and vice president two former Republican governors, Gary Johnson of New Mexico and William Weld of Massachusetts, at their convention in Orlando, Florida over Memorial Day weekend. Reason TV was there to ask delegates and candidates what the party aims to achieve this year and what sort of vote totals and electoral breakthroughs would constitute success, or failure, for the Libertarian Party.

Watch the full video above, or scroll down for downloadable versions. Approximately 3 minutes. Produced by Zach Weissmueller and Josh Swain. Music by Chris Zabriskie. Subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel for daily content like this.

Watch all of Reason TV's coverage of the Libertarian National Convention by watching the playlist below.

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  1. Getting less than the ‘margin of victory’ in votes will be failure.

  2. if the news media at the end of the campaign still confuse libertarianism with something to do with Ayn Rand… that will also be failure.

    1. Rand was a libertarian but all libertarians are not necessarily Randists. (But I’d wager that the majority of those who founded the LP certainly were.)

      1. Objectivism might be viewed as an offshoot or school of libertarianism, but a very narrow one.

        Rand was a narcissist who was too insecure to tolerate any type of disagreement or rejection (or so it seems…I obviously never knew her). She brought people into the fold, which was a valuable contribution. I also think her critiques of collectivism are much stronger than her defense of capitalism or something sort of libertarian. I for one would be happy for her to be less associated with the movement, though.

    2. Add to that “if people in general still confuse libertarianism with anarchism or social Darwinism.”

      Those seem to be sneeringly-derogatory misconceptions commonly bandied about.

    3. Religious conservative infiltrators really dirty their drawers at the thought of trying to sneak past political objectivists to turn the LP into a YAF affiliate. Petr Beckmann resigned from The Intellectual Activist after they were so infiltrated and turned against the LP.
      Ayn Rand wrote the non-aggression principle uniformly hated by communist and fascist infiltrators alike.

  3. Lets be honest – anything short of winning is a failure, not a success. Within failure you can of course categorize (abject, miserable, etc).

    1. Something…something…realistic goals…

    2. anything short of winning is a failure

      that’s not true at all.

      and i’m possibly the most-cynical/jaded/bored with the LP person around here.

      they can have a huge impact if they either beat the margin of victory (possible), or break 5% (meh)

      the problem would be, ‘a huge impact on what?” – because the candidates are so issue-squishy that its unclear what major policy-area they would actually potentially move the needle on in any way that wasn’t happening regardless of their efforts.

      1. Are we in it to win or just for a merit badge or participation trophy? Perhaps the LP has for too long played for incremental improvements (oh look! we got another 0.1%!!!) One can make progress even in a loss but to accept that progress as success is wrong, it still remains a failure and should not be the goal.

        1. Are we in it to win or just for a merit badge or participation trophy?

          Like it or not, the United States democratically elects its representatives. The only way their will ever be a libertarian representative government is to make more libertarians.

          Politics is a lagging indicator. A grass roots goal is the only way to an increased and lasting liberty. Do shit that furthers that cause and the Teams will certainly continue to do their part in driving the disgusted to us.

          And it would go a long way to not appear nutty. That a striptease at a convention is tolerated in the name of liberty, doesn’t mean it’s actually wise to perform one.

          1. It depends upon what you mean by “make more libertarians”.

            If you mean people who actually believe in non-aggression, understand negative (vs positive) rights, and have the principles to resist the urge to “do something” every time we are challenged…..then dream on.

            Principled libertarians (small l), I suspect, occupy a very narrow swath of personality types. Further confounding the problem is that libertarianism requires an above average intelligence to grasp (let alone articulate without sounding like a monster).

            If you mean, can we convince enough people into believing that libertarians are “socially liberal and economically conservative”, as is the general misunderstanding….then maybe.

          2. I’m in it to disarm looters and repeal bad laws. The LP has done that very effectively for 45 years. Where’s the draft? Abortion and guns are legal; seen any porn laws lately? States are repealing asset forfeiture and prohibition like 1933. Those Kleptocracy bastards are gonna haveta cross-dress to look like us, change their platforms to imitate ours, lie through their teeth to steal back the spoiler votes given to us all over These States in 2014.
            Let THEM bet on the stupidity of the average voter. We are the few, the proud, the principled!

        2. We need to deny both “real” candidates an outright victory so that the House gets to vote in Paul Ryan. At least, that’s how it goes down in Bill Kristol’s feverdreams.

  4. I’ll consider never again hearing or reading the words ‘libertarian moment’ a success.

  5. If the only “libertarian delegates” you can find to appear on camera are pasty, quasi-shaven youths, or old drunks who seem to have a stroke in the recent past, that would be ….well, unsurprising i guess. I liked the state rep from Washington.

    1. Well, at least there’s young people and women.
      He also didn’t have a neck beard, I consider that a win.

  6. If shreek pays his bet, that’s a success.

    If Robby cuts his hair, that’s Not Okay and a failure.

  7. Getting in the debates?

    Taking one state?

    A quadrupling of registered Libertarians?

    A loss for the Republicans by less than the margin of votes for Johnson? (assuming he only pulls from one Team)

    Three out of four above?

    1. Changing idiotic laws is winning! The LP has repealed, modified, weakened and nullified totalitarian enactments for 45 years now, beginning with forced conscription of cannon fodder. When spoiler votes weren’t going to change things fast enough, the looters had their courts repeal medieval abortion laws. Those are victories. Every day our kids are not kidnapped for ransom by goons with guns enforcing victimless bullshit is a victory. Having us go whoring our platform after special interests and bootlicking Nixon’s presstitutes for coverage or poll percentages… THAT’s cowardly betrayal of principles. It is what Nixon was betting on when he used the IRS to pay the media to ignore us. Let ’em. The looter soft machines do not ignore our spoiler votes for a millisecond. They KNOW what competition is, and there is nothing they hate worse. That is what enables us to change the laws.

  8. I’d say that doing well enough in 2016 to be viewed as a legitimate alternative in 2020 from the start would count as a success.

    1. Agreed, but how do you measure that?

      1. as noted above

        – beating the margin
        – moving the needle on a specific issue that shows that the LP is closer to the public than either of the other 2

        simply providing a protest-vote for a fringe element in either party wont do it.

      2. Media coverage in 2020, results in early polling.

        Same is true for state and Congressional races in 2018/

        A lot of it depends on how the LP behaves in the next round. They have to avoid nominating joke candidates.

        1. They have to avoid nominating joke candidates

          That would be a positive step. Maybe a Paul or a Massie willing to run LP from the start.

          1. We can dream.

            And for that to happen, the LP needs to seem like a serious party and have a decent showing this round.

          2. Paul is too busy endorsing Trump to run for prez as LP.

          3. Ron Paul is an abortion-banning pediatrist using the state to increase business for his profession–much like all the lawyers in Congress. Abortion banners are Prohibitionists, Tea Party assholes, Constitution Party impersonators or God’s Own Prohibitionist Republicans. The first three have combined to get no votes for themselves. But the stench they rubbed off on the Republicans have made them perpetual losers at 2 to 1 betting odds.
            It does not speak well for the intelligence of LP leadership that men with guns eager to coerce women have been allowed to reduce the libertarian population by 25% by association in that straddle plank. Any association whatsoever with rapists, physician murderers and cop-killers crazed by coercive “baby parts” brainwashing is just plain stupid.

        2. Yes. Petersen, Stern, Badnarik, the Anarchist… we’ve had too many crank applicants and not enough libertarians. But every year there are LP candidates for the Senate, House, statehouse and gubernatorial campaigns we should observe and tap. It’s not like they have to campaign harder than McKinley. Every spoiler vote is a law-changing victory.
          Oh… and verifiable elections. With a QR code you alone can scan to verify how your vote was counted, each American could independently verify the honesty of the election process. I will bet $100 right now that Gary’s votes were miscounted by at least half last election.

  9. Success level 1: getting 5 percent of the vote in states where that earns automatic ballot access the next year.

    Success level 2: getting 10 percent of the vote so they have to show it on Election Night coverage.

    Success level 3: winning some Electoral votes and throwing the election to the House of Representatives

    Success level 4: Victory!

    1. Level 1 is most realistic but we all know how the protest vote shrinks when the voters actually enter the voting booth. A 5% level would make the LP more publicity-worthy on the local level in the future where “balance of power” actually has more impact on many local races. Already, the local LP candidates get invited into lots of debates; having achieved 5% nationally will make local media, organizations which bring in candidates to speak, etc. etc. sit up and take notice.

    2. I do hope for a few electoral votes. I would hope that they would come from a purple state, where it would have the biggest impact. A state like vermont might give one though, if Sanders isn’t the nominee.

    3. i would add one lower level. as a few others have mentioned, getting enough votes to be more than the margin of victory between the other two. that might not be as big a deal in this cycle, if it is trump that lost… because the GOP establishment already is prepared to blame trump, and would not take the hint to re-evaluate their platform.

    4. Wrong. on 1. they simply lie abt the counts. On 2. I have witnessed newcasters ignoring libertarians with 10% of the vote and even rounding up the Kleptocracy numbers to make them add up. 3. Been there… and that electoral vote is a thorn in the side of the Kleptocracy to this day. 4. We win every time a law we oppose in our platform is repealed or weakened. We have had thousands of such victories. The income tax men with guns force you to pay came from the communist manifesto. That party never got a percent of the vote, never appeared on teevee make-believe counting, never got an electoral vote… But just you tell the IRS to go back to Germany and they’ll show you who won that Constitutional Amendment.

  10. What Would Success (or Failure) Look Like for the Libertarian Party This Year?

    Exclusion from a Presidential debate that ends in a murder-suicide.

    1. Brilliant, and madly casual! And in fact, that’s what we’ll probably get now that Scott Adams (a non-anarchist libertarian lite) has been coaching both looter candidates in “weapons-grade linguistic kill shots” and such paraphernalia of voter persuasion. We could end up the last ones standing–like the Old Dutch Clock or the Chinese Plate, after the Calico Cat and the Gingham Dog ate each other up.

  11. I suppose that nominating a libertarian candidate would be a start, but on that point the party seems to have stumbled coming out of the gate.

    1. I seem to agree with him on about 90% of things. That’s libertarian enough for me.

      1. Everyone has a line, it’s a big grey area in the small l camp.

      2. Yep. Gary is close enuf for government work. Plus he doesn’t point guns at women, or own head, or fill out whining butthurt reports calling everyone racist–just because Scotsmen can’t be elected president any more than Canadians. Tiddy Crucifix also committed th’ youthful folly iv being borrrn in th’ wrrrong counthry. Git over it alrrready!

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  13. Success might include greater than 1 in 100 citizens knowing who the F Gary Johnson is by Election Day? Sometimes it pays to dream big. The Libertarians already failed at their runner up goal this year of insuring that “all candidates and officials will succeed in keeping their pants on in public for the election season”.

    1. He got .99% of the vote in 2012. He has already acheived your target (assuming .01% know him but voted for someone else).

      1. Thim Raypubican an’ Dimmycrat looters pritindin’ t’count th’ votes SAYS he got less’n a percentage. Look up the Al Franken vote count and ye’ll find a 245% disparity in the decisive recount votes on closer scrutiny. Last mid-term Texas–half of which kept beer illegal when Kennedy defeated Nixon–gave 3% of the vote to LP candidates.

  14. The Libertarian Party – the last best hope of the Beltway establishment.

    1. Yes. Trump and the LP can soon show the Republican rank & file (after they lose 2 to 1 like bookies are betting they will) that their only hope of ever getting a hand in the till again is to tar and feather their antiabortion warmongers and run ’em out of town on a rail.

      Let’ ’em eat Tea Party!

  15. success: Average voter says they know who Gary Johnson is and what he stands for.

    Failure: Same voter says “he loved him in Different Strokes”

  16. Victory is getting someone who never held a gov’t job elected POTUS. That’s Trump. Elect him once, it means nobody has to take conventional political labels or organiz’ns seriously in the USA again. That opens things up for people to accept all possibilities. Nothing LP could reasonably do in the foreseeable future would improve prospects as much as this.

    1. But, but, but, but? FASCISM!

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  19. Great piece, and I’ve shared it.

    But a reality check on the notion of breaking the two-party system and having a plurality three-party system overlooks the powerful force of the winner-take-all system the Founders set up (in reaction to the multiple-party parliamentary system in England).

    A winner-take-all voting system drives the electoral process to two parties (and those parties closer together as they vie for the center of the electorate. As mentioned in this video, the last time this happened, the Federalist party evaporated and was replaced by the Republican party — there weren’t three parties for more than a couple of years.

    We could replace the Republican party, or the Democratic Party–after all, we have the best parts of each and not the worst parts of either.

    The reason for the two-party system is that if you lose an election even by one percent of the vote — or even one vote — you lose, period. You might as well not have shown up. With three parties, the likelihood of a winner declines, so two things happen: One or one or the other party tries to co-opt the challenger, as happened with the communist/socialist parties in the 1920, co-opted in part by both major parties. The other is the party in decline yields to one of the challenger parties — as happened to the Federalists.

    Ordinarily I would expect the Democrats to try to co-opt some of the Libertarian party positions on social issues, but the Republican debale puts them uniquely at risk.

    1. This truth was in my college political science textbook. Since learning it long ago, I’ve always viewed the Libertarian Party’s success as successfully forcing the Republicans and/or Democrats to produce more small-l libertarian policies or elected officials.

      Thus, we can consider Ron Paul and Rand Paul a Libertarian Party success–more so than Gary Johnson, who is not in one of the two major parties and thus simply cannot win because he does not have access to the resources concentrated in the two major parties.

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