Libertarian Party's Patrick Byrne Is 'Almost Definitely' Not Going to Run for President

To which many Libertarian Party enthusiasts might respond, So you're saying there's a chance?


Fashion game definitely on point. ||| Free State Project
Free State Project

Ever since election night of 2016, it has been clear that the Libertarian Party, through all its fits and starts over the decades, has managed to create a uniquely attractive prize: likely ballot access in all 50 states for a presidential candidate at a time of unusual major-party upheaval and discontent. All this for the low, low price of wooing fewer than 1,000 delegates at the 2020 national convention.

Wherever such Libertarian speculation can be found, including right here, the most-often-cited potential candidate from the "rich businessperson" category is the charismatic founder and blockchain evangelist Patrick Byrne. After all, Byrne was an enthusiastic backer of two-time Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, he financed the 2016 anti-political-duopoly documentary Rigged, and he is present on the Libertarian state convention circuit.

Sure, Mark Cuban has already said he's "seriously considering" a run, but it would likely be as an independent. The Dallas Mavericks owner told PJ Media in July, "I could care less what happens to the Democratic Party. I could care less what happens to the Republican Party, I could care less what happens to the Green Party or the Libertarian Party, any of the parties—if they all disappeared, I'd be happy. I think, you know, what's missing is a little bit more democracy for our republic."

Besides, Byrne wears his libertarianism right there on his sleeve. So I asked the Overstock CEO in Salt Lake City last week if he was considering a go at the nomination.

"It has been sort of encouraged and offered to me to run," Byrne said cautiously, not entirely comfortable with the topic. (Most of our conversation was about the revolutionary potential of blockchain, which his company tZERO made a huge breakthrough with this week. I'll publish that part of our conversation on Monday.) "I need the job like a hole in the head. I would have estimated my chances of doing it as 10 percent at the beginning of the year; they may be double that now."

Byrne's motivation, scant as it is, stems from his worry that the country is facing both a constitutional crisis ("it looks like such a circus back in Washington, it's driving me nuts") and a philosophical one, in which the very foundations of classical liberalism seem to be threatened on all sides. "I'm really not interested in running," he amended. "I can say almost definitely I'm not going to run. That's how I should summarize it: I can tell you almost definitely I won't run. Things have to get even worse."

So what's Byrne's analysis of the historic (and historically disappointing) Gary Johnson/Bill Weld campaign in 2016?

"I was a huge fan and supporter of the Libertarian Party, but if it couldn't get anywhere last time, I wonder if it's going to ever get anywhere," he said, "because you had two candidates who had minus-60 percent favorability rating….If there were ever a chance for a third party, it was 2016. Now I wonder if that just shows that they're not ever going be viable."

Byrne would probably need to exude more confidence about the L.P.'s prospects if ever his "almost definitely…won't" stance turns into a "what the hell, let's try this," but there is a lot of time between now and Memorial Day weekend, 2020.

Reason has interviewed Byrne several times over the years, including in 2009, 2015, and 2016. You can watch the latter below:

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  1. Bill Weld did a good thing when he basically endorsed Clinton in 2016. But with Russia hacking the election and handing it to Putin’s Puppet, there really is no need for a Libertarian Party candidate in 2020. As Tony often explains, we have a two party system in this country and the winner in a Presidential election will always be a Democrat or a Republican.

    So with an alt-right Russian intelligence asset currently in the White House, libertarians must vote for whoever is the Democratic Party nominee. The 2020 election is far too important to throw your vote away on a candidate with no chance of winning. Besides, you shouldn’t even have to “hold your nose” or “vote for the lesser evil.” The Democrats already have several exciting potential candidates with plenty to offer us libertarians: Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and so on.

    1. Spartacus and his running mate Pocahontas. That would be an exciting multicultural combo.

    2. How about Schumer/Feinstein? Then that pesky 2nd Amendment could be nullified by Executive Order and the Great Utopia can be forced into existence .

  2. “I can tell you almost definitely I won’t run. Things have to get even worse.”

    So that’s a yes?

    1. Yes, everything is just terrible.

  3. What’s the MyPillow guy doing in 2020? Can we get him to run?

    1. LOL

      Probably, but he’s a pretty big Trump supported I think. So he wouldn’t want to run until AT LEAST 2024 I would imagine!

  4. is still in business?

    1. Apparently they’re actually still a pretty big online retailer. I bought something there a couple years ago, because it was a sweet deal that popped up on google for some particular item.

    2. My first reaction. I thought it was nostalgic olde internette by now.

  5. Asked many times, and never satisfactorily answered: who would have been better on the LP ticket in 2016?
    (And the “who” has to have been available. So you can’t just say “John Stossel” or “Clint Eastwood.”) And by “better.” I mean more votes, more favorable media, and huge upsurge in LP registrations.

    1. “And the “who” has to have been available.”

      You got me there.

      1. Ah, how about Whale Sex Guy?

        1. Or the Student Council President looking guy? He seemed earnest.

          1. Was that the guy in the PJs? He looked pretty ‘student council’ in the typical passive-agressive style. Like that twit who ended up as hall monitor.

        2. Al Gore?

    2. Rand Paul with Gay Jay on as VP might have worked better.

      But I was pretty sure the Team Red establishment would thwart Trump and put Rubio on the ticket, even if they had to use the DNC primary playbook to to it. Shows what I know.

    3. HOLY BALLS! A Clint Eastwood/John Stossel ticket would have been fucking awesome!

      Too bad Clint is too old now 🙁 If any famous person should have gone all in on politics, it should have been him. Mayor of a cute town is not enough for somebody as awesome as him.

  6. “’s Patrick Byrne Is ‘Almost Definitely’ Not Going to Run for President”

    You read it here first.

  7. No one with any brains or integrity wants the job.

  8. You’re burying the lede here – why is the picture of Nick on a stool interviewing Sean Bean on a throne?

  9. Pretty sure I’m not alone in getting the PP ad with the Pacific Islander gal ‘resisting’.
    Just guessing that she really doesn’t have to worry about Roe-Wade unless she hangs around until closing time.

  10. He’s not going to run. Why would anyone think he can get past Vermin Supreme?

  11. Shit, Ron Paul should just do one more half assed run. I’m pretty sure he would have got double the votes Johnson did without even doing a single bit of actual campaigning… Keep in mind HE actually got an electoral vote in 2016, which Johnson didn’t do, even though he wasn’t even running! LOL

  12. We need to get Hugh Mungus in there. He’s got the name recognition we need.

  13. Matt why not ask about the Altaf Nazerali suit? Karpak, Mitchell, Bagley and Deep Capture? Reason was pretty tough on Ron Paul over his inattentive newsletter editing. But Byrne is on a different level.

  14. I wish he would run for the value of having a smart personable libertarian spread the message of libertarian view to the many disgruntled with the major parties. That is the only way to winning over some who are open to the message of smaller government and greater individual freedom.

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