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The Libertarian Party's Paid Membership Numbers Take a Dive

But registered voters, total donations to the Party remain strong even in the face of historically large loss of members for post-presidential election year.

The Libertarian Party (L.P.) had many successes during and after Gary Johnson's 2016 run for president. Most prominent was Johnson's record-busting 4.46 million votes. Revenue to the national party last year hit an over-a-decade high of around $2.5 million. And registered voters for the L.P. hit an all-time high of over half a million.

Libertarian PartyLibertarian Party

Dues-paying active members of the national party rose 66 percent over the course of 2016. That figure has, however, dived enormously so far in 2017.

At the end of January 2017 the party hit its highest membership number of this decade, 18,908. That number dropped 24 percent to 14,321 as of the end of August (That number is still substantially larger than any other year-end figure for this decade.)

Seeing dues-paying member totals fall a year after huge waves of new members were attracted by the Johnson campaign was predictable, says national L.P. executive director Wes Benedict in a phone interview this week.

Benedict specifically predicted a 4,000-5,000 member drop by this time in an April report to the Libertarian National Committee. The actual year-to-date numbers proved him right.

Only 300 new paying members joined the party in August while over 2,000 failed to renew their membership. However, the trend line of monthly renewals has been on a slight upswing over the past year. So many new people joined last year that the numbers renewing and the numbers failing to renew have both increased lately.

The years after presidential elections have often (but not always) seen a dive in those paying the (now) $25 yearly for official dues-paying membership. For example, from end of 1992 to end of 1993, dues-paying member numbers dropped 16 percent, and 2000 to 2001 saw the same percentage drop. More recently, end of 2008 to end of 2009 saw a 10 percent drop, and 2012 to 2013, a two percent drop.

But post-presidential election year declines in paid membership have not been a universal rule; from end of 1988 to end of 1989 that figure grew 25 percent, and from end of 1996 to end of 1997 it grew by six percent.

And most of the past yearly drops are smaller in percentage terms than this year's so far (though the last quarter could see an upswing again). Benedict points out that the membership rise last year was substantially higher than usual, giving the L.P. a larger number of converts who they might fail to get renewed.

Total 2017 revenue will come in at about $1.7 million (with what's already come in by August beating the past decade's average for odd-numbered electoral off-years by around 22 percent); this means money strictly from the $25 yearly dues-paying member fees is likely going to be less than a third of total income for 2017. "August revenue is strong for this year compared to other post-election years," he says.

The inability to retain people attracted by the Johnson campaign bothers many party members. Mark Rutherford of Indiana, a candidate for national chair of the party in 2016, worries the national party "doesn't deliver perceived value" to enough activists.

It's possible that the national party messaging is turning people off, he says. Some pronouncements from the party's national office may come across as "our preaching that we are morally superior to you voters and, guess what? That doesn't win votes," and makes it seem as if the L.P. would "prefer to have a party of just 500 morally superior persons," he says.

Rutherford is, however, encouraged by moves like the recent hiring of a full-time press secretary for the first time in years. He thinks the national party needs to build up a more detailed and personal relationship with the national press, something he feels he's been successful with in Indiana during his many years in the past as the state L.P.'s chair.

State Party over National Party

While not thrilled by the drop in dues-paying national members, state officers stress the attention should focus on state and local candidates who need financial and volunteer support. Activist money "should be spent locally," Rutherford says. "It's hard to send someone to Congress unless they have huge name recognition and you can't get that out of the gate."

Candidates should "start on county commission, city council, then move up and do something else." But the party isn't "attracting people with ability to step up and do it, people with money and contacts. To be blunt, [such people] hang around successful people, and we are not [yet successful]," he says.

Candidates "can't just say taxation is theft," to succeed locally, Rutherford says. That sort of rhetoric is fine among fellow libertarian drinking buddies, but "if you go to the voter with that, he'll say, 'what the hell are you talking about?' Just say taxes are too high and let's get rid of these specific taxes, cut this specific spending." He's seen experience in Indiana where L.P. candidates can get on, say, a school board and convince colleagues that certain spending was counterproductive.

Benedict believes the party would be better equipped to help candidates if candidates encouraged more voters to become dues-paying party members. The party tries its best to retain members; "you would start getting monthly emails from us, after the first month start getting snail mail," and those who let their membership lapse "would start receiving phone calls" from party officials or volunteers, he says.

Caryn Ann Harlos of Colorado, Region One (which includes many other Western states) Libertarian National Committee representative, is one of the activists making those calls. Harlos says dues-paying members represent "a very tangible investment in our party" and their number should be as high as the party can make it. She is buoyed by the fact that overall party income is healthy and up.

This generation of voters is not as attracted to a paid membership model, Harlos says. And perhaps more emphasis should be placed on fundraising for specific projects.

Harlos thinks it's possible the wave of people alarmed by Trump, who got excited by Johnson, might not have a lot of interest in electoral politics right now. But they might well be on board again by 2020.

"There are three reasons I typically hear" when talking to lapsed members, she says in a phone interview this week. "One is the bad economy: 'I'm so sorry, I lost my job and $25 is a lot to me.' That is by far the number one reason. Two, is what happens every election, some people [didn't] like the candidate. And number three is, 'I'm done with [party] politics, I'm going to be independent.'"

One thing Harlos never hears is concern over internal party kerfuffles, whether the party's Twitter was saying the right thing, or whether national chair Nicholas Sarwark or vice-chair Arvin Vohra said something not properly libertarian. Even knowing the names Sarwark or Vohra is vanishingly rare among the rank-and-file, she says.

Potential members might not understand the value of the national party apparatus but Harlos hopes soon they'll see it better serve state affiliates with things like shared database programs and help with professional websites.

Andy Craig of Wisconsin, who helped launch the Libertarian Pragmatist Caucus this year, says he's frustrated by the overall scale of the numbers and the failure to convince more of those half-million registered voters to become dedicated activists or volunteers.

Craig's caucus strives for increased party and candidate professionalism. It is less worried about "the usual strict ideological" conflicts, "anarchists versus minarchists or radicals versus moderates," he says, and more about the party's ability to offer policy solutions that make sense to voters outside those intraparty debates, and to "do the hard work of actually running campaigns," so the party isn't just "putting a name on a ballot and hoping for the best."

Montana is one of only a few states where the number of dues-paying members hasn't fallen this year. Michael Fucci, the state party chair, attributes this to the attention gotten by candidate Mark Wicks, who took part in televised debates and drew a huge-for-the-L.P. six percent of the vote in this year's special Senate House election.

Unlike many state party officials, Fucci is happy with the help he got from national getting Wicks in the debates and advising on development and campaign finance issues. Harlos, who represents Montana on the LNC, has been "phenomenal, she's always there for us," Fucci says.

Minnesota, a state whose national dues-paying membership fell by over 30 percent this year, has eight elected officials in office around the state. Chris Holbrook, the state party chair, isn't that concerned with the national dues-paying member question. His state has added roughly 120 members to its own state party membership rolls in just the last two months, he says in a phone interview this week, after shedding dozens earlier in the year. "I believe (they) came on as 'never Trump' Republicans and a lot of those people have fled us" after realizing that the Libertarian Party has a strong and distinct set of beliefs, one more open to diversity and hostile to traditional social conservatism.

Holbrook thinks the national presidential ticket last year is a matter of "indifference" moving forward. "I think the diversion of resources [to the national Party or national campaigns] hurts local, municipal and state candidates." Johnson's campaign drew in new people last year, but when running recruitment tables at events like the state fair "maybe one in 10 people" mentions or even seems to know Johnson, Holbrook says.

As a small, underfunded organization, the Libertarian Party "can do a good, but not a great job" of recruiting to replace non-renewals, Benedict says. The party's use of the Johnson campaign's donor list itself to get new members wasn't as effective as they'd hoped; "we mailed over 100,000 letters" to former Johnson donors and got less than one percent positive response.

A third party walks a paradoxical razor edge with membership numbers and campaigns, Benedict says. "There's always an issue with expectation management. If you tell people that you aren't going to win, then they might not want to get involved at all" in financing or volunteering with the Party. "But if you say you are going to win this year, many involved may well end up disappointed after Election Day."

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  • Hugh Akston||

    At the end of January 2017 the party hit its highest membership number of this decade, 18,908. That number dropped 24 percent to 14,321 as of the end of August

    They probably all left to join the Glibertarian Party.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    Even Netflix doesn't have that high a churn rate.

  • MSimon||

    One of these days Libertarians will rejoin the Republicans. There is the Freedom Caucus and Rand Paul.

    The Freedom caucus joined with Democrats on the Rohrabacher Amendment.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Yep, Libertarians will rejoin Team Red once they decide that principles are dumb and they'd rather go to church with a bunch of clowns who have no interest in governing.

  • ThomasD||

    I blame that leppo feller.

  • CE||

    Do the Cosmotarians have a party yet?

    Oh, that's right, they don't need a party because they're always getting invited to them.

  • Flinch||

    Indeed. It is the Cocktail Party ruling DC for quite some time, and it felled the GOP first - they have been operating without a philosophy of governance for near a decade now. As for the "opposition" part of this punch and judy equation, I have no idea how long before democrats abandon theirs. With people like Warren reaching to the left of Mao, some kind of implosion has to be around the corner, but no idea when or what form it may take. Hope it doesn't take down the dollar with it.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    At the end of January 2017 the party hit its highest membership number of this decade, 18,908. That number dropped 24 percent to 14,321

    I know this is just due paying members of the big-L Libertarian Party, but still. Both of those numbers break my heart a bit.

  • ||

    And they still have the Pledge, right? I can hardly imagine a libertarian that would sign that.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Pledge to what?

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    To smoke pot while [bleep]ing a Mexican, of course.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Where do I sign?

  • colorblindkid||

    I pay for Reason. That's the extent of my political donations, and I get something for it.

  • SIV||

    Cucked?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I keep asking, but are you using "cuck" for real or ironically?

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    Pour the word on everything, like ketchup.

  • Flinch||

    Seems to work for Milo. What a strange bird... a complete libertine that still knows there is a line to be drawn when it comes to running a country. You don't see that everyday, and definitely won't in West Hollywood.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    He's pretending to use it ironically to avoid the consequences of being known as the sort of person who uses it for real.

  • ||

    This.

    IIRC, SIV is an alt-right type who things that America's "white" culture needs protection from the brown hordes.

  • Zeb||

    I don't think he even knows anymore.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I know. It's a catch-22 of our political philosophy. Still, both those numbers are rounding errors in the scheme of things which is why I'm a little disappointed.

  • Curmudgeon44||

    I have voted LP since its formation, and never even knew there was dues to be paid.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I used to be a paid member, until I moved out of the US.

  • mpercy||

    Pre-election comment I made elsewhere:

    It really pains me that with the crook and the cretin running for the two big parties, the Libertarians managed to also find two of the worst possible candidates. Even in years when my L vote was "wasted" I usually could feel good about having at least voted for a party platform that I agreed with. The statist cases being made by Johnson & Weld have removed that as they have advocated ideas that are 180-degrees out of sync the LP platform, which itself has some issues (unfettered immigration, amnesty are not specifically mentioned, but strongly supported).

    "Libertarian Gary Johnson Slams Term 'Illegal Immigrant' as Offensive, Defends Obama's Executive Amnesty"

    "Bill Weld on Rachel Maddow: 'I'm Here Vouching for Mrs. Clinton' "—headline, Reason.com, Nov. 1

    "Look, 73 percent of what Bernie says I agree with."

    He digs deeper by trying to explain that "And look, libertarians agree with socialism as long as it's voluntary..."
    Really? How can you have voluntary socialism? You can choose to live on a commune, and I'm pretty sure libertarians would support your right to do that. But that's not socialism. Socialism is force.

    And then he picked Bill Weld as his running mate. Supports a ban on semi-automatic firearms, notably the AR-15 and the "no fly no buy" concept. Depriving citizens of Constitutional rights without due process is not something I see as libertarian.

  • CE||

    Johnson was so bad, he only broke the previous LP vote record by 300 percent.

  • Not a Libertarian||

    True, very true.

    Now imagine if the Libertarian Party had nominated someone who isn't at all a libertarian, why their vote totals might have gone up 500%.

  • Cyto||

    I'll see your Johnson/Weld and raise you a Bob Barr.

  • Fk_Censorship||

    A celebrity with name recognition and a lot of controversy would have done better than Johnson. I'm looking at you, Mr. McAfee.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I fold.

  • plusafdotcom||

    Pardon my outrageous comments, BUT... part 1....

    I stopped calling myself a Libertarian (Capital L) when I started to notice how many "Libertarian" candidates began to sound like refugees from the Republican/Conservative "Party."

    To me, "Real Libertarian" candidates would scrupulously champion social rights and freedoms (like Freedom of Choice, Gay Rights, marijuana legalization, etc,) while opposing capital punishment, profligate spending and government waste (including on over-budget and corporatocracy-driven defence programs) and encourage Church-State Separation and Second-Amendment Rights !

    Didn't see any. Began to use the term 'libertarian' to "self-identify."

    I found so many people on so many blog- and FaceBook sites and groups were calling me Republican/Conservative AND Democrat/Liberal that I put together a "Who Am I?" page on my personal website... http://www.plusaf.com/aboutme.htm

    That list describes what _I_ consider a "libertarian" to be (In My Never-So-Humble Opinion.)

  • plusafdotcom||

    Part 2... continuation....

    Hell, morons who call me a Trump Lover ignore my observation that I've been saying for more than a year, now...
    As soon as Trump tossed his hat in the ring, I thought he had a good chance of being elected. Why? Even back then?

    Because I noticed that the Approval Ratings of Congress, on average, tended to range between about 7 and 15%. It was obvious to ME that the "average American voter" seemed to be sick of "politicians" and that pretty much Anyone who sold himself to the public as an "Anti-Politician" could get one hell of a lot of votes.

    Well, right I was. Not to mention that, as a classic businessman, Trump also knew the obvious art of telling whatever group of people he spoke to Exactly What They Wanted To Hear. Seems to have worked, eh?
    Sure, lots of bluster and claims that might never be delivered on, but, as I've asked Liberals AND Conservatives over the past year or so, please name ONE President who has Delivered on their campaign promises and/or party planks. Love the "Sound of Silence"? Ask that question in any group.

  • plusafdotcom||

    Part 3.... the conclusion....

    So, be it any candidate I've listened to, I've found that too many "Libertarians" are cut from the Conservative/Religious mold and would rather Thank God than pitch personal responsibility and just never shed light on the reward structures in America that keep people in poverty rather than help them even get ONTO the ladder of success for their futures and their families.

    End of rant, for now, but that's what I've observed and concluded. Of course, I've also never taken a PoliSci course or completed an MBA or any PhD program, and shit, what's a guy with a knack for observation, analysis and pattern recognition who's got nothing more than one BSEE supposed to know?

    According to both parties and all of their Cults' followers... absolutely Nothing.

    Cheers, gang!
    Now click my link and see what 'pigeon hole' or bin you think I fit in...

  • Hank Phillips||

    Both kleptocracy parties invest a lot in dissing our spoiler votes as a vote "for" (insert christianofascist or communofascist candidate name). Prohibitionists and communists understood how spoiler votes leverage the platforms of pragmatic looter parties. A 9% Populist vote in 1892 was the entering wedge for Karl Sr's Manifesto income tax. Concurrently, a 1.4% average vote count in 11 campaigns induced the Prohibition Amendment. LP spoiler votes are reversing these initiation-of-force policies. Our 328% spoiler vote increase will repeal a LOT of bad laws.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Maybe the LP could run someone who isn't terrible at articulating libertarian ideas next time? It's just a thought.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Maybe, just maybe, the chair of the LP shouldn't go out of his way to denounce genuine libertarians for not signing denunciations of anti-libertarians.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    Exactly right. Sarwark acts like a totalitarian. People vote with their feet and got the fuck away from that toxic person.

  • ||

    Where is 'articulating libertarian ideas' and why are they terrible there?

  • colorblindkid||

    #KMELE2020

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I'd vote for him, but i worry he'll be too busy making money to appear at any of the debates.

  • Trainer||

    Or maybe some of the dues this time can used to hire someone to explain what the party platform is and that, as a voluntary candidate, one of his responsibilities is to explain and support The Party Platform. There has to be some understanding of that concept to anyone who runs as candidate for any party.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Recording the platform in mp3 format is an option closed to both looter parties. It takes 20 minutes to present the LP platform in English, Spanish or Portuguese. Kleptocracy platforms take 3 to 4 hours, proving the old adage about many words and many lies. Plank-by-plank Youtube videos would work for us, but not the competition.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's 'cause we all went to the Pepe the Frog party.

    How's that for your libertarian moment?

  • BYODB||

    I wonder if it has anything to do with the chairman of the Libertarian Party being a schmuck that isn't a very good example of Libertarian. He just can't help himself from talking about things like social justice and how bad white people are, which is understandably not the smartest move in the universe.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    He's trying to find common ground with Democrats.

  • Pro Libertate||

    At least the GOP has some people who want more limited government. Why not recruit them?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Do you even social media? That's not what's hip right now. Either you're on the twitter outrage bus or you're off it. Which would you rather be?

  • Pro Libertate||

    The government is our enemy, not our friend. We used to understand that.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I was reminded of this speech by Obama.

    "Unfortunately, you've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems," Mr. Obama told the crowd at the Ohio State commencement ceremony. "Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works; they'll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices."
  • Pro Libertate||

    Jesus, at least we're free of him. If nothing else.

    We thought about it for a long time, "Endeavor to persevere." And when we had thought about it long enough, we declared war on the Union.
  • Juice||

    Now that Trump is in office, we should reject all voices who say that tyranny is just around the corner.

  • ||

    Yes, the great intellect of our times.

    History teaches tyranny IS always lurking around the corner. It's the rule; not the exception.

    Obama. Not gone enough.

  • Flinch||

    No, no. I can't and never will do twitter - I do not have a bumper sticker brain. Half the time, I need 1k characters more than this site allows, and truncating ideas to the point of discarding nuance and context bugs me. Stay away from the tweets - they seem to lower IQ by exposure. Just look at Sean Hannity: an average American who slid to a D+ student in his craft because he no longer reads enough. Hours cooked with relentless tweets to an audience that cannot care on account of stored up bile.

  • Hank Phillips||

    I've tried that. It doesn't work because the GOP is still entirely in the anti-conceptual thrall of the Methodist White Terror, the Klan, and christian National Socialism as in 1928. But because it is a venal party, spoiler votes inexorably force it to change its planks and repeal bad laws.

  • BYODB||

    Yeah, maybe, but if that's the common ground he's trying to stake out than he can fuck right off in my view.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I can see you're very serious about trying to spread libertarian ideas.

  • BYODB||

    And perhaps I should qualify that with I'm willing to tolerate a lot of 'not very Libertarian' stuff since I hesitate to apply a purity test to someone when it comes to an Individualist ethos but those social justice division issues are definitely 'over the line' for me. Gary was very tolerable for me as a candidate even with his flaws, but the Chairman can fuck off.

  • Pro Libertate||

    At this point, stabbing Leviathan with toothpicks beats the charge to authoritarianism we're on. I don't think Trump is worse than Obama (or Hillary Clinton) by any means, but he's miles away from turning the tide. Wish Congress wasn't so awful, too.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Hillary Clinton was definitely the worst president.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Her current presidency-in-exile is certainly annoying enough.

  • ||

    Her continued effort to claim to take responsibility for her failings, while actually blaming everyone else for them, is the most annoying part.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You know, I'm not sure a true-blue libertarian could right this ship by him/herself. Still, Clinton would be standing on the accelerator to go off the cliff. Trump's stomping all over the place, but he's so random that he's somewhat less of an immediate threat than she would've been.

    We're in a whole lot of trouble, in any case.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    And Trump has zero media support. Hillary would own the fourth estate.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Major media outlets gave Trump millions of dollars worth of free airtime during the campaign. They are currently running his speeches and statements in full for free. They have his apologists on news and opinion shows every week. Fox News, Breitbart, Limbaugh, and Infowars among others fall over themselves to praise Trump and deflect blame for his failures onto convenient scapegoats. I may not be much of a mathmagician, but that seems greater than zero to me.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Major media outlets gave Trump millions of dollars worth of free airtime during the campaign.

    And that was noted as being part of the Clinton/media strategy. Get the crazy, fringe candidate on TV as much as possible and she'd sail to victory.

    Fox News, Breitbart, Limbaugh, and Infowars among others fall over themselves to praise Trump and deflect blame for his failures onto convenient scapegoats.

    Aside from Fox News, I put the others in the same category as Daily Kos. I do understand that in these her modern times, they are... media. Perhaps I should have stuck to Establishment, credentialed Media such as your daily newspapers, major television networks etc.

    I don't know if there is a way to calculate the aforementioned media outlets in terms of market share, maybe Breitbart and Infowars dwarf the New York Times, NPR, the Boston Globe and CNN.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Here's some late breaking info on major media endorsements broken down by candidate:

    Candidate Daily Weekly Magazines College International Total
    Hillary Clinton 243 148 15 77 17 500

    Donald Trump 20 6 0 0 1 27

    Apologies for the formatting. But you are right, it's greater than 0.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Trump's whole thing is playing to people who feel marginalized by the media. So it's not clear that editorial endorsements really had any effect in the last election. It's not terribly clear that they had much effect in any previous election either, come to think of it.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I agree generally. I'm one of those types who believe the editorial endorsement is some kind of anachronism which really doesn't do anything in the modern context of media. I was really just questioning - and I may be wrong- but I'm merely questioning whether we can really compare things like Infowars and Breitbart to CNN, NPR, The Washington Post, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, NBC, CBS, ABC. And I'm not trying to be snarky here.

    When one visits infowars, you're getting a blustery raving conspiracy theorist. You're not really going there for hard-hitting news. I know they get millions of views, but I also estimate the sum of those millions of views, and quite possibly a fair chunk of them are coming from Palin's butt plug.

  • Chumby||

    I visit Infowars because I'm a fan of Bill Hicks' material.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Make that Gary "Hillary is a wonderful public servant" Johnson.

    Weld also said during the campaign that thought Hillary was the most qualified candidate for the job.

    And people wonder why long time LP members like myself lapsed on their membership.

  • ||

    Weld saying those things was jaw dropping.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Inability to understand the definition of "winning" accounts for a lot of looter recidivism. Gaining 300% in vote share, ballot access, spoiler vote control over 11 state outcomes and rapid dissemination into other countries and languages is winning. Repealing looter laws is icing on the cake.

  • ||

    No, you're wrong! Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are more like the magazine editors of national-level libertarian politics.

    Also, Miller Lite is less filling.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Tastes great!*

    *Well, not really.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Tastes like something!*

    *Warm piss, I suspect. Crusty... any confirmation?

  • SIV||

    I blame GayJay.

  • BYODB||

    He certainly didn't help, but honestly I think Gary would make a better Chairman of the Party than a candidate at this point.

  • SIV||

    GayJay is a dope-addled stoner.

  • BYODB||

    And?

  • ThomasD||

    Then he should be a shoe-in.

  • MSimon||

    Mao was Chairman of his Party.

    What could it hurt?

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Schmucks are the best example of Libertarians.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    So what size shoe you wear?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Still think the LP needs to focus on the states and maybe lesser federal offices. Not that they couldn't also field a candidate for president, but it might be a good time to try to enlist some decent candidates for Congress and state office, and, you know, actually try to win. Lots of disenchanted people out there, especially small(er) government Republicans and independents.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I agree, the presidency is-- for the time being, a dead end for third party politics.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's even fixed in at least of the major parties--ask Sen. Sanders.

  • ||

    Even if Gary had trotted off on an insane majority, he was still going to have to lock horns with McCain, Schumer, and Pelosi. For the last several elections at least and absent running some insane cult of personality, the Presidency has been a bit of fool's gold for legitimate 3rd parties, IMO.

  • ||

    Considering Johnson was actually an effective state governor in a majority Democratic state, he probably would have gotten along with all of those people just fine.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    New Mexico Democrats aren't like Beltway Democrats.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    To wit.

    He entered politics for the first time by running for Governor of New Mexico in 1994 on a low-tax, anti-crime platform,[3] promising a 'common sense business approach'. He beat incumbent Democratic governor Bruce King by 50% to 40%. He cut the 10% annual growth in the budget, in part due to his use of the gubernatorial veto 200 times during his first six months.[2]
    Johnson sought re-election in 1998, winning by 55% to 45%. In his second term, he concentrated on the issue of school voucher reforms[4] as well as campaigning for cannabis decriminalization. During his tenure as governor, Johnson adhered to an anti-tax policy, setting state and national records for the number of times he used his veto power:[2]

    Now, sit back and imagine those kinds of tax-cutting, veto-the-fuck-out-of-everything shenanigans going on in say, California, New Jersey or New York.

  • Mickey Rat||

    So Johnson would have bombed Syria too?

  • Fk_Censorship||

    Only Aleppo.

  • MSimon||

  • Brother Kyfho||

    Rohrabacher was one of the founders or near founders of Society for Individual Liberty with his buds Dave Walter (former LP Chair) and Don Ernsberger. They've been friends since their high school days. I think Ernsberger works for Rohrabacher's office now. Rohrabacher seems to have taken a Deep State/neocon turn with his infatuation with Oliver North, but the GWOT may have snapped him out of it.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Corrupting honest candidates by putting them on looter payroll is not winning. Winning is getting rid of the laws that put honest people in prison, onto morgue slabs, and into bankruptcy. Altrurian commies got their income tax through Congress, and it's STILL THERE! To them, that is the victory to end all victories. And they accomplished this without electing anyone.

  • DJF||

    Many many years ago I was a member of the Libertarian Party but I got sick and tired of all the begging for dollars letters I got in the mail. It seemed like any money I sent them was used to send me more letters asking for more money.

    Have they changed since then?

  • CatoTheChipper||

    No.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's all like that. I donated money to Rand during the primary, and I still get lots of e-mails.

    Weird that GOPers preferred Trump to Paul. We're so fucked up.

  • Hugh Akston||

    The robocalls and physical mailings dried up for me after I de-registered to vote. I may still get the occasional email, but they all go straight to the junk file before I see them.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's an option.

  • lap83||

    GOPers couldn't agree on who they preferred is the main problem

  • lap83||

    not that I think all of the other GOP candidates were preferable to Trump

  • mpercy||

    Yep, this.

  • Zeb||

    That is why I don't donate to any political organizations ever.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Jeez, you gotta pay to be a member of this loser club?

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    That was also my takeaway. Guess I'm never registering

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Those LARPing meetups don't pay for themselves.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    And I guess party candidates don't strip for free.

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    It's never the people you want to strip at political conventions, who end up stripping at political conventions.

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    Except that time at the Dixiecrat convention when Strom Thurmond did a pole dance. He was ripped. But they hushed it up.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    The uptight squares who don't think it's wonderfully silly can suck it.

  • Ken Hagler||

    I haven't voted for a Libertarian Party candidate since Michael Badnarik. Why would I want to give money to a bunch of Republicans doing a bad job of pretending to be libertarians?

  • ||

    So you're probably is that Gary Johnson was too far to the right for you? On what issues?

  • ||

    er problem.

  • Juice||

    Gary Johnson's main problem was that he was a scatterbrained doofus.

  • ||

    Compared to who? Trump?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You can be scatterbrained in general without needing to be compared to anyone.

    If you are running as a national politician you should know where Alleppo is or at least something about it. The Syrian civil war was a talking point of the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, so you should know enough about Syria to skewer that bitch in a debate.

  • MSimon||

    The good hash comes from Aleppo.

  • Chumby||

    Aleppo pepper is king. Great pepper flavor without much heat.

  • ThomasD||

    Hope that's not a euphemism.

  • Trainer||

    Throughout the whole campaign I kept wondering if the party was doing anything to keep him in line or if their campaign process is as laissez faire as their economics.

    I mean, someone could have reminded Johnson everyday what the platform was he was running on, that he really shouldn't deviate from it and that he shouldn't say good things about other candidates when he could blow those questions off by stating how good he is. They could have been informing him on national and international issues and events and how they related to the party he was running for so he could answer questions properly. That would have been a really good use of some of those membership fees but instead it seems they just wound him up and let him go.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The alternatives were a woman-bullying mystical infiltrator, a force-initiating whack job, a terminal patient and a complete noob who'd just joined. Gary was voted the pick of the litter.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    Ironically those same traits are Trump's strengths.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Trump is agressively scatterbrained. Johnson is apologetically scatterbraint away with ed. You can get away with doofusness if you are audacious about it.

  • Brandybuck||

    No more scatterbrained than Badnarik.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "Dues-paying active members of the national party rose 66 percent over the course of 2016. That figure has, however, dived enormously so far in 2017."
    Maybe people figured out that contributing money to LINOs is bullshit and a waste of money.

    Better to just run yourself as a Libertarian or help actual Libertarian candidates in other ways besides money.

  • Princess Trigger||

    Maybe they can get a government subsidy?

  • brady949||

    (Insert "This is fine" dog here)

  • MSimon||

    Its a tax not a fine.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    The Bernie supporters aren't coming just because you discuss weed all the time and the establishment isn't suddenly gonna respect you because you run Bill Fucking Weld

    If you learn those lessons maybe people won't be so ashamed to join. That and fire whoever runs your Twitter because that North Korea tweet a while back was horrific

  • Brother Kyfho||

    Excellent points. The reason more people don't join the LP is NOT because we're principled and just a tad on the radical side. Look what Ron Paul did for the movement, look at what GayJay did for the movement - we got a bunch of votes, aa-a-a--a-a-a-nd that's it. We start from bupkiss for 2020. Ballot access in the northern mid west and rust belt is going to be BRUTAL.

  • ||

    Well, what's the fucking point? Even in an election year featuring the two most hated candidates in living memory, the LP can't break 5% of the vote. Gary Johnson had the benefit of being the only person in the race that was neither insane nor corrupt. Didn't matter.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    What do you care? You will never vote Libertarian and want us to fail.

  • ||

    I voted for Gary Johnson in the last election.
    Which was the first election I could vote in since I naturalized as a US citizen.

  • ||

    Canada.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    A refugee. I knew it!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Cannot undermine the USA from the inside out without a steady influx of people from socialist countries who actually despise the freedoms that we have (less and less) in the USA and vote according.

  • ||

    You're right, America needs to keep out immigrants from Canada and Europe, because those people will bring their socialist culture with them. Immigrants from Somalia only! And pre-Christian Iceland! Where's a Tardis when you need one?

  • ThomasD||

    A furriner with a funny accent!

  • SIV||

    BUILD THE WALL

  • loveconstitution1789||

    For some reason, I just don't believe you.

    (1) You don't advocate any Libertarian principles here.
    (2) You spew lefty lies here
    (3) You attack anyone who advocates Libertarian principles at Reason.

  • ||

    You are a deeply confused person who doesn't understand what libertarianism is.
    Please stop calling yourself one, and go post somewhere else.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    anyone who advocates Libertarian principles at Reason.

    Is that what you all are doing.

    I turned my ballot in blank.

  • chemjeff||

    Yeah, I left the president line blank myself. I certainly was not going to vote for Hillary or Trump, but I could not bring myself to vote for Gary Johnson. His position forcing the gay wedding cakes to be made was just too much for me to bear.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You know, they throw those away?

    They literally don't care about the difference between people who showed up to vote and actual votes tallied.

    Whatever. It's a free country for you to waste your right to vote. I know I know, you are making a "statement". How many people have you convinced that what you did was an action that furthers good 'ol Libertarian principles?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    You know, they throw those away?

    Maybe where you live. In my area, you can see the "NV" (No Vote) Tally in the results.

    It's a free country for you to waste your right to vote.

    Trump would be President whether I had voted for Trump, Hillary, or my cat Mittens. It's not clear to me how a vote can be wasted or not wasted.

    How many people have you convinced that what you did was an action that furthers good 'ol Libertarian principles?

    I show up in the public records as having voted, saving me from potential retaliation for not vote, while not requiring me to was time thinking about which button to push.

    PS - I'm not libertarian and I also don't think "libertarian principles" are actually a thing, so I don't care if I'm furthering them.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Hey dumb-dumb. Nevada does not separate "no votes". They have a count of "none of these candidates". I will assume you live in Clark County since that is where most of the stupid lefties live.
    NV 2016 election Clark county
    Jesus Christ, you lefties are stupid and cannot even get your shit straight to lie about who you voted for and why.

  • Calidissident||

    Did I miss something? Where did I see them say they live in Nevada? They said in their area you can see the "NV" tally, standing for "No Vote." That wasn't their state abbreviation.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Haha. That was probably not the abbreviation (NV) for Nevada.

    I guess that I am the dumb dumb on that part.

    What state, so I quickly look that up?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Pennsylvania.

    I'll save you looking it up:

    MONTGOMERY COUNTY
    ELECTION RESULTS GENERAL ELECTION NOVEMBER 8, 2016

    Choose not to Vote 429/429 100.00%
    NP - No Vote 4,087 100.00%
    Total ... 4,087 100.00%

    For the people who only left some votes blank, you can figure subtract the votes for that particular office from the turnout. For President that was 446,969 - 438,652 = 8,317 people who left the President slot blank in my county.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Even better is that you thought Hillary would win and wanted her to win- then thought you were smart enough to waste your vote as some lefty political statement.

    I wonder how many people did the same thing? Hahaha. Then Trump wins. Haha.

    Thanks. I have not laughed that hard since I read something you wrote yesterday.

  • Cy||

    Just because you disagree with some of the people on here having a conversation, doesn't mean you have to be a complete douche to them.

  • CE||

    I could see such a person voting for JOhnson.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I guess.

    Turns out Trump knows how to nominate Libertarian-ish cabinet members and a SCOTUS justice probably better than Johnson would have.

  • Hank Phillips||

    My wife naturalized, and voted libertarian. The LP misses a lot of opportunity for dues and donations for lack of platform translations.

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    "Gary Johnson had the benefit of being the only person in the race that was neither insane nor corrupt."

    Well, I'm sure he's not corrupt.

  • jelabarre||

    Well, what's the fucking point? Even in an election year featuring the two most hated candidates in living memory, the LP can't break 5% of the vote. Gary Johnson had the benefit of being the only person in the race that was neither insane nor corrupt. Didn't matter.

    Because the American voters are cowards. Simple as that. When it comes down to voting for Kang or Kodos. they'll still vote for one of them (when it comes to describing the stupidity of the American voter, that episode explained it best).

  • Ron||

    Libertarians loose on several levels
    1. Few people are open boarders proponents
    2. Libertarians won't support anyone because no one is good enough,they eat their own, sometimes thats a good thing. but lets face it the libertarian candidates were awful last year even worse than Trump the one person anyone should have been able to beat.

  • ||

    Gary Johnson was not awful. He's a successful two-term state governor who started his own business (and not with a loan from daddy).
    The problem is the tribal natural of the two party system, and everyone's apparent willingness to get sucked into it.
    Too many people who buy the logic that they MUST vote for the Republican or Democratic candidate, because otherwise, the Republican or Democratic candidate will win. You must vote for Trump because Hillary, or you must vote for Hillary because Trump.
    Even when the candidate of a fringe party is literally on paper more qualified, not to mention more centrist in his actual positions, than both of the canadiates of the two major parties. Seriously. Two R's nominated an idiot and the D's nominated someone who was a shitty SoS who is apparently incapable of taking responsibility for her own failures. Even ignoring his policy positions, Johnson was better qualified.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I voted for him. I mean, sure, he didn't wow us, but at least he isn't a total whackjob. Trump and Clinton both are.

  • ||

    Exactly.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Of course, you say Clinton is a whackjob... now. She lost and is gone from politics forever.

    It has to fit the narrative that Trump is a whackjob or how did he possibly beat Hillary if she was not also a whackjob.

    If she was not a whackjob then she should have won, of course.

  • Zeb||

    Well, I guess you should know whackjob if anyone does.

  • ||

    Pity him. His mind is incapable of wrapping itself around the possibility that a libertarian, of all people, might ACTUALLY hate both Trump and Clinton.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Aw, poor Hazelmeade has no idea what Libertarians support and what they don't. I mean you cannot jump between being an ardent Hillary supporter and then troll around a Libertarian site if there is no wiggle room between Libertarianism and being a lefty.

  • ||

    Arguing with you is sort of like taunting a brain damaged invalid who keeps raving about the illuminati. It feels almost cruel.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I see the nonsense you write on here, so yeah.

    Why don't you explain how whackjobby you are not.

  • Chumby||

    Johnson was also having the time of his life.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Being good as a governor of a Democrat state is not the same as being good as a national politician. Nobody mentions this but Gary Johnson was disliked by many in New Mexico for vetoing much of the crappy legislation coming out of their state Legislature. I don't know a great deal about New Mexico but I suspect a better Democrat running against Johnson would have defeated GayJay.

  • Dick Puller, Attorney at Law||

    How does it feel to lose a popularity contest to Hitler?

  • WakaWaka||

    HazelMeade liked Gary Johnson and I think that explains what a terrible candidate he was. He was a watered down progressive that endorsed humanitarian interventionism overseas. Yeah, he was a better human being than both candidates, but policy-wise he was no better than either of them and nominally worse on some issues

  • Ron||

    Hazelmead and others

    I read your comments and I'm still not impressed. At the start of the campaigns I actually tried to get relatives to look at the libertarian candidates, they were to close minded in the R world. I was on board but after watching these guys campaign I was embarressed that I ever tried, they just stepped all over themselves. Unfortunately i think the political system has gotten to the point that anyone who should be president is to smart to run for president and that will be Americas downfall. it really has turned into idiocracy.

  • jelabarre||

    At the start of the campaigns I actually tried to get relatives to look at the libertarian candidates, they were to close minded in the R world.

    I was outright telling people that couldn't decide whether they despised Trump or Clinton more, yet didn't want to vote for Johnson, that they should at least vote for Stein. It **STILL** would have been a better use of their vote than voting for Chucklehead or SheDevil.

  • chemjeff||

    Gary Johnson worse than Trump? Oh come now.

    I do think that one reason that the LP didn't get more votes was because the HDS seemed particularly strong on the right. They had people believing that Hillary was going to institute some Marxism or somesuch. If the D's had run Bernie Sanders then I think the LP would have received more votes as the hated Hillary would have been out of the picture.

  • MSimon||

    I prefer "free booters" to "open boarders".

  • Calidissident||

    I don't disagree with 1, but there's a lot of issues you can say that about in the LP platform. For some reason though, people who are against 1 like to portray it as the major roadblock to success.

    Johnson was definitely a flawed candidate, but I think people are dreaming if they think it was so easy to get even 5% of the vote, let alone win. There's a reason no LP candidate since Ed Clark beat even 0.5% of the vote until Johnson. And it's not like Johnson was the only 3rd party candidate. Stein got about 1% of the vote. McMullin got 1% of the vote where he was on the ballot, excluding Mormon-heavy areas. Darrell Castle didn't even get 0.5%.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If Johnson won and ran the USA like New Mexico we would be doing as well or better than Trump. A lot the mess is Congress' to fix and the president does not have much to say about repealing laws only that no new bills would become law.

    Me thinks that Congress would like Johnson even less than Trump as Johnson would probably push for massive cuts in every part of government.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The libertarian platform plank on energy was copy-adapted by God's Own Prohibitionists and won them the election. The four parties out to prevent your access to energy polled dead even with the two parties whose planks called for keeping energy safe and legal. That alone is reason enough to vote libertarian.

  • lap83||

    I still think McAfee should have been the candidate. I was not feeling the Johnson

  • Juice||

    He's crazy. Crazy sells.

  • lap83||

    right? especially this time around

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's where we get into more trouble. If crazy worked this time, why not go crazier next time?

  • ||

    The most libertarian and electable moment I saw from Gary Johnson was when he was the least Gary Johnson I'd ever seen him.

  • Zeb||

    It would at least have been more fun with McAffee as the candidate.

  • chemjeff||

    I am guessing that more people wanted the Ron Paul version of libertarianism rather than the Gary Johnson version of libertarianism, and they let their preferences be known.

    The problem as I see it, is that Gary Johnson libertarianism is rather milquetoast and not very inspiring (and not very coherent either), and Ron Paul libertarianism seems scarcely different than standard-issue Republicanism, so why bother? Just vote GOP, it's close enough.

    We need a Milton Friedman-type with charisma and a desire to actually run. Don't know where to find this type of person though.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Ron Paul was an anti-interventionist goldbug who argued for federalism and against the war on drugs. He consistently voted against bills and budgets that increased federal spending. How is any of that like standard issue Republicanism?

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    It's just like the Republicans Salon believes all Republicans to be.

  • ThomasD||

    Do not make the mistake of thinking that Salon believes what Salon says.

  • chemjeff||

    The pro-federalism and anti-spending positions are standard-issue Republican rhetoric, to be sure, even if it didn't match mainstream Republicanism in practice.

    He's anti-interventionist, anti-Fed, and anti-WOD, yes, and that most significantly distinguishes him from mainstream Republicanism. (Well, maybe not the anti-interventionism bit anymore, more Republicans seem to be coming around to that position.) But that is still just three issues out of a whole bunch. On the rest, there isn't a whole lot of difference. I don't find it a compelling argument to say "vote for me - I am just like the Republicans on 90% of the issues!"

    And personally, he always came off as a bit paranoid and nutty to me. But that is just my impression.

  • Hugh Akston||

    The only position Ron Paul had in common with other Republicans was his opposition to abortion, and even there he was hesitant to impose federal policies on states that wanted to permit it.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Some Republicans are fiscally conservative as is Ron Paul. Some Republicans want smaller government as does Ron Paul.

  • Brother Kyfho||

    And the ones that get close, blow it completely on foreign wars (we need a strong "defense" bullshit).

  • chemjeff||

    Oh I don't know about that.

    Take a look at his position on immigration for example. It is perfectly in tune with Republican orthodoxy.

    He takes the "global warming is a hoax" position when it comes to climate change, which is also consistent with Republican thinking.

    He takes the "SCOTUS changed the definition of marriage" position with regards to the gay marriage ruling.

    So I think it's a stretch to say that the ONLY position that he had in common with Republicans was abortion.

    But I will also confess that I never did really like Ron Paul because he came off as a nut to me, so that is definitely coloring my thinking on the matter.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "He takes the 'global warming is a hoax' position when it comes to climate change, which is also consistent with Republican thinking."


    o Notice the seething disdain for not following lefty climate change dogma.

  • Zeb||

    Get it through your thick skulls, assholes: anyone who disagrees with lc1789 on anything is a goddamn communist.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Zeb|9.15.17 @ 3:04PM|#
    Get it through your thick skulls, assholes: anyone who disagrees with lc1789 on anything is a goddamn communist.


    Get it through your thick skulls, assholes: anyone who is a socialist and pushes lefty agendas and then is called out on it by lc1789 requires me to make a stupid comment.
    FTFY

  • Zeb||

    anyone who is a socialist and pushes lefty agendas and then is called out on it by lc1789 requires me to make a stupid comment.

    Nah, I'd be making a lot more stupid comments if that were the case.

  • CE||

    To be fair, global warming is a hoax though.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    But not necessarily because of human activity that needs adjustment.

    In other words, you cannot stop the substantial warming of the Earth with current technology.

  • ||

    It would probably make your head explode if I pointed out there there are a substantial number of libertarians who not only believe that anthropomorphic global warming is a real thing, but that there are libertarian policy solutions to it that don't involve a complete government takeover of the economy and/or some sort of agrarian socialist cultural revolution.

  • Brother Kyfho||

    Cow pucky.

    We're a year or two from the start of an ice age. Check the sun spots.

  • chemjeff||

    To call it a "hoax", i.e., a deliberately constructed falsehood, is a big stretch. That is Team Red tribalism speaking, not facts and reason.

  • Cy||

    A bunch of people making things up (they were caught doing it) to justify massive amounts of spending/taxation/protectionism fits quite nicely into the definition of a hoax.

    Funding/promoting/bribing people to get bad/altered/skewed information to get a desired result.

  • ThomasD||

    Paranoia and nuttery in defense of liberty are pretty much par for the course.

    How else should we be?

  • chemjeff||

    How about "sane and rational in defense of liberty"?

  • ||

    What are you, some sort of leftist?
    This is lefty progressive talk!

  • chemjeff||

    I know, right?

  • Cy||

    Sane and Rational are left to things like opinion.

    Freedom is pretty straight forward.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    We need a Milton Friedman-type with charisma and a desire to actually run. Don't know where to find this type of person though.

    Such a person wouldn't waste his time in politics.

  • WakaWaka||

    You're wrong in your analysis, chemjeff. In 2008, nearly none of Paul's positions were standard Republican. Now, a lot of Republicans have moved more in his direction. As Dave Smith said in his interview with Reason "conservatives have gotten a lot better and progressives have gotten a lot worse".

    When the Libertarian Party candidate is advocating the maintain funding for Planned Parenthood, endorsing humanitarian conflicts overseas, and proposing carbon taxes- how does this align with shrinking government at all? The Libertarian Party isn't very 'libertarian' anymore and they're going the way of the Reform Party

  • Brother Kyfho||

    > Ron Paul libertarianism seems scarcely different than standard-issue Republicanism

    Thaa FUU-U-U-U-U-CK?!?!?! Standard-issue Republicansim HATED Ron Paul. He would not play ball with them on anything. ANYTHING!

    And antiwar?! Fuggedabodit!

  • Hank Phillips||

    Milton Friedman called attention to how the 1928 socialist platform became law with no socialist candidate elected. Platforms and spoiler votes are what change the laws, the Supreme Court rulings and Constitution. Compare the 1972 LP platform with Roe v. Wade and you will be face-to-face with the most important fact of political reality.

  • creech||

    Is this "dive" in the year after a presidential contest normal? In 1989, the year after Ron Paul ran, the membership total soared about 40% as the Party actively solicited those who donated to Ron Paul but had never joined the Party.

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    So a surge and growth, followed by shrinkage? Call it the Johnson Effect.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    *golf clap*

  • MSimon||

    Growth and a surge, followed by shrinkage is how it actually works.

    I have experience.

  • Number 7||

    I don't want to belong to any party that would have me as a member

  • MSimon||

    A shortage of members improves a guy's chances.

  • Kroneborge||

    Agreed to focusing on smaller offices. Should take the national budget and try and get some libertarians elected to congress/state offices in small states like New Hampshire.

    Learn and prove to govern, and show how a libertarian model works in the real world. Then expand as resources allow.

  • CE||

    LPers have been saying that forever, but it doesn't work that way. Why would everyone donate nationally to support a dogcatcher in Iowa? A presidential race gives the most bang for the buck, spreading libertarian ideas on a national (albeit small) stage. Harry Browne had it figured out.

  • Cyto||

    Unfortunately for us, Ross Perot happened.

    And thus ended any hope of a third party candidacy breaking through the media embargo.

    They were happy enough to treat Johnson seriously before the "real" parties started going toe to toe. Then suddenly it became mission one to discredit all third party candidates as nut cases. And then when the debates approached, the deafening silence began. Most journalists didn't even bother to cover the fact that Johnson was being excluded from the debates. Because he's not a "serious" candidate.

    The problem with trying to solve this problem is that you sound like a conspiracy theory nut. Because the only thing that is stronger in the national media than colluding with democrats is colluding with both democrats and republicans. If the media was really interested in being the 4th estate, they'd outright reject the current commission on debates and try to come together around a real debate format that allows for some participation by other candidates like the Libertarians and the Greens.

    When the major parties refused, they'd have to agree not to give any coverage to the debates set up by team red-blue. Which would be very difficult to stick to. But if ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, FOX and CNN all agreed to simulcast their debates in prime time, even without team blue-red, then maybe they could win.

  • Brandybuck||

    Newly registered Libertarians were in a rude shock when they discovered that the Alt-Right had lied to them and the Libertarian Party wasn't actually a white male identity group, despite the overwhelming majority of members being whiter and pastier (and definitely more male) than Richard Spencer. So they quit and went back to the Nazis.

  • ||

    "we mailed over 100,000 letters" to former Johnson donors and got less than one percent positive response."

    Ouch. Not even the 2% 'close' rate average we see in sales.

    18 000 members is tiny. They have a lot of work ahead.

  • Crusty Juggler - Lawbertarian||

    Rutherford is, however, encouraged by moves like the recent hiring of a full-time press secretary for the first time in years. He thinks the national party needs to build up a more detailed and personal relationship with the national press, something he feels he's been successful with in Indiana during his many years in the past as the state L.P.'s chair.

    I think this would help future candidates not be blindsided by plagiarists on national television.

  • CE||

    "our preaching that we are morally superior to you voters and, guess what? That doesn't win votes," and makes it seem as if the L.P. would "prefer to have a party of just 500 morally superior persons," he says.

    If you want things to be different, you have to be different. Take a morally defensible stand and people will join you. Start compromising and more people might join you, but they will want to do things the same way they've always been done.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Plus, many Americans feel the corruption in our levels of government building. Its palpable.

    As Libertarians, if you take the defensible stand and advocate why you won't go corrupt, people can see a reason why you're different than the Democratic Party or the GOP.

    As the Democratic Party disintegrates, the LP could absolutely be the GOP's chief challenger.

  • Cyto||

    Here's my two cents worth:

    The problem the Libertarian Party has is not the policies it holds. Strict down-the-line libertarian responses are pretty good politics and I'd certainly be enthusiastically on board.

    The problem is the people. The party attracts a lot of people who are just downright kooky. And not "Gary Johnson seeming a little stoned and out of touch" kooky, but the kind of kooky where you are worried they are going to start smearing feces on the wall any second.

    So even if you break through and get folks to come have a look around your tent, they see the preponderance of freak show performers and they just quietly walk right back out to team blue or team red.

    I don't know that there is a cure to this problem, beyond somehow magically skipping the "we are a small minority party" period and having a membership in the tens of millions, rather than the thousands. These are the people who are enthusiastically drawn to the "You let your freak flag fly, and I'll let my freak flag fly" core of the libertarian message. It also explains a large fraction of the HnR crowd.

  • ||

    The party is gonna have to renounce anarchism, get rid of the Dallas Accord, re-work or eliminate the Statement of Principles and Preamble, and stop playing word games with stuff like, "We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist...": from the platform, because all it does is draw in the wackadoodle, fringe element that you are talking about.

  • Brother Kyfho||

    The AnCaps are the only thing keeping the LP going as long as it has been.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Good point. Being different is a magnet for whack jobs, especially as plants inserted by kleptocracy pack-hunters. But the Nolan design has thwarted all manner of false-flag attacks. The Nuremberg-era NAP ensures that the LP is the exact opposite of German National Socialism. The short platform is the advantage the LP ought to continue to press, despite a shortage of conceptually-enabled candidates who understand how spoiler votes change laws.

  • Matt N||

    "Candidates "can't just say taxation is theft," to succeed locally, Rutherford says. That sort of rhetoric is fine among fellow libertarian drinking buddies, but "if you go to the voter with that, he'll say, 'what the hell are you talking about?'...."

    This sort of thinking is exactly why the LP will never go anywhere, and partly why I was only a member for one year.

    If the so-called 'party of principle' has given up articulating its principles, then yeah, they might sucker a shitload of Ds and Rs and eventually gain significant office seats, but those candidates won't be libertarian so what have you achieved? Or if they are libertarian and they act like libertarians in office by, say, abolishing the income tax, or consistently and unapologetically applying the 1st amendment, those people who voted them into office would shit their pants.

    There are only two ways the LP will see wide ballot success:

    1) Accurately describe what libertarianism is, and convince people that it is the way forward
    2) Pander to R & D voters where they stand (possibly helped along by total collapse of the other parties)

    (2) will achieve ballot success for the LP at the expense of libertarianism
    (1) probably isn't possible - mostly because people generally are just fine initiating violence when they don't have to actually participate

  • ||

    While I disagree with your prescription on what the LP should do, at least I can see that you understand the calculus involved.

    If you want to call it pandering, go ahead, but that's the nature of politics. Thus, (2) is correct in the first pair, (2) is correct in the second pair, with the addendum that speaking for a doctrinaire version of the libertarian philosophy should not be part of the party's mission anyway. Libertarianism to the Libertarian Party should be what conservativism is to the GOP, and progressivism is to the Democratic Party.

  • Cyto||

    Yeah, you can't lead with a slogan like "Taxation is Theft". That ship has sailed. It will be a long, long battle to get that ship turned back to harbor.

    It is similar to the Communist Party leading with "work = slavery". Everyone knows the difference between getting paid to do a job and being a slave. So most people just think you are a nut.

    I think you can still explain libertarian principles and win, without having to lead with prostitution, taxation is theft and a gold standard.

  • ||

    "It is similar to the Communist Party leading with "work = slavery". Everyone knows the difference between getting paid to do a job and being a slave. So most people just think you are a nut."

    Precisely. Well, everyone but our own fringe element.

    Based on my own observations at Conventions, utterances of "taxation is theft" is positively correlated with "I don't have a pot to piss in." In other words, guys who'll spend their last dollar on more bullets for the coming showdown with the government, then shake their fist at the government for "taking all their money."

    I generalize there, but only a little.

  • Brother Kyfho||

    > Or if they are libertarian and they act like libertarians in office by, say, abolishing the income tax, or consistently and unapologetically applying the 1st amendment, those people who voted them into office would shit their pants.

    Utter nonsense. Ron Paul is a pretty hard core libertarian. About as much as you can be without actually being an AnCap (truth is I think he is one, just in the closet). Ron Paul never had a close re-election campaign. Justin Amash and Tom Massie both won 2016 by comfortable margins. Amash actually could be considered more hard core than Paul by some..

  • D.Polemiker||

    The real-world analogue to Libertarian activism is robust engagement in laissez-faire capitalism. Capitalism is a 24/7 voting machine. Perhaps engagement in commerce is the reason for a declining interest in Libertarian activism.

  • Trainer||

    Oh my goodness! I'm dizzy from that downward spiral where everybody was blaming everybody else around and around and around...

  • rkoffler||

    I'd gladly renew my membership if I saw the LP producing reasonable messaging, but I fail to see this. Cato and Reason do a 1000% better job explaining libertarian positions than the LP, which seems to be a hopelessly poor communicator. Will I ever see the day when the LP starts changing the widespread impression that "libertarianism = anarchy"? I'm losing hope.

  • SteveC||

    Word of Duverger's Law is slowly spreading.

  • John B. Egan||

    Good Lord! Johnson and his frat-boy sidekick Weld were absolutely embarrassing! They acted like doofus college freshmen on Spring break, while on TV, punching eachother on the shoulder and slapping each others' backs... And he couldn't answer basic questions as most adults who casualy follow the news, much less as a normal (not Trump) presidential candidate, like 'What is Aleppo'? Really?!?!?! .. Or name ONE world leader.. Nope! Not a one!

    Please.. never run these clowns, or any other similar clowns ever again.

  • creech||

    B.S.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    Hmmm. I'd look into this if I were you.

  • Nuwanda||

    The LP is essentially an advocacy group that has meetups ever few years for elections. They put up the least-kooky candidate they can find and give it a whirl. Sometimes it sticks, other times, meh, not so much. Sometimes the candidate is a little whiny, or professorial, or doesn't know what Aleppo refers to in the current geo-political context, but that's OK, because it's all an ongoing experiment in suck-it-and-see.

    And they are a nicely white organisation, which must really rankle since they've so assiduously been sucking no-borders cock for many a long year.** The folks walking across the border don't seem to care about the LP's efforts on their behalf and immediately vote Democrat despite the Dems having a more restrictive immigration policy. Methinks the immigrants are smarter than the LP, or Reason, et al.

    Go figure. What a pisser. It's like schlepping for the Devil but he never takes you out for a drink.

    Oh, and the the anarchists. I mean, imagine innocently turning up at an LP meeting and some evangelist lays it all out for you. "You don't need a government, man. Are you nuts? We can all work it out together, through negotiation and private protection agencies. You've got a reinforced basement, right?"

    **I wonder if ICE agents find stashes of Reason in the dwellings of immigrants. I suspect not.

  • KevinP||


    That doesn't win votes," and makes it seem as if the L.P. would "prefer to have a party of just 500 morally superior persons,"

    ... of whom 50 are already on the Reason staff.

  • TheOriginalDaveH||

    "That sort of rhetoric is fine among fellow libertarian drinking buddies, but "if you go to the voter with that, he'll say, 'what the hell are you talking about?".
    So instead go to the voter with Libertarian-Lite and then wonder why you don't light their fire.

  • Brother Kyfho||

    Exactly. Why are the Progtards growing so fast? How did the so called "antifa" movement grow from nothing a year or so ago?

    If you don't take a radically different approach to the human condition (from the duopoly) why should ANYONE listen to you? If you're doing/advocating the same thing as someone else, who needs you? They could just vote R or D and actually have their candidate get elected. Product/message differentiation is KEY.

  • Flinch||

    A couple thoughts of my own. First, The Occupation has taken a toll - pursuing a negative growth agenda grinds people down mentally, and I find a certain degree of positivity is what works being a libertarian. I know some people missed that, and it's because in 2009 [almost immediately upon taking office] methodology calculating GDP was changed to include patent research etc, for an approximate fluff upwards of 2 to 3%. Go back and correct for an apples to apples comparison, and the quarters of positive growth in 8 years can be counted out using one hand.
    Second is something many don't want to consider: we can [and should?] co opt the christian vote as the GOP is in the process of providing it's LAST allowable lip service. No, don't go after abortion on moral grounds - privatize planned infanticide citing there is NO provision in the constitution for maternity regulation. Further, the law begins and ends with congress, not a handful of men in black. When the bench tosses a law "off the books" it really means is that any US attorney ignoring a ruling is likely to be tossed summarily and sanctioned for their incompetence. Back to congress though... by scheduling record breaking vacation time this year, the GOP circus has declared itself [un]officially dead and just a bunch of undeclared democrats. So the christian vote is about to become a free agent.
    Third... "what's an Aleppo?" Yes, that's constructive criticism - don't take it personally.

  • GILMORE™||

    THANKS, NICK SARWARK'S TWITTER FEED

  • Kevin47||

    You mean the party that endorsed Hillary and favored forcing bakers to bake is losing money?

  • Nuwanda||

    A project of Cato, libertarianism.org, exemplifies the mixed messaging and useful idiocy of modern libertarian outfits.

    Here they champion the non-aggression principle of Islam and indulge in Jedi-like hand waving and mind tricks; nothing to see here, move along, move along. These aren't the terrorists you're looking for:

    http://bit.ly/2h7txdt

    I assume there's a fair bit of crossover between libertarian orgs so they all get tarred with same brush. How do you defend this half-baked bullshit? You can't. You stop paying your membership and walk away.

  • Locris||

    Probably has something to do with a new book title coming out.
    Jeff Flake goes to Congress.
    or maybe
    The Ghosts of Jesse Ventura.

    Possibly
    I Aleppo Go Of My Mind.

  • Hank Phillips||

    This discussion was gradually infiltrated to saturation by NSDAP velociraptors lying about the borders plank, ignoring the energy plank, evading the link between asset-forfeiture and economic collapse and pretending that the rapid repeal of many an idiotic law is not the direct result of LP spoiler votes snatching away totalitarian wins. Attacks on Sarwark by mystical-bigot cross-dressers are the best evidence of his effectiveness in using the ballot to beat back bullies. The LP just earned as many votes as the entire State of Virginia. With emulators in 2 dozen countries the LP can stand to shed some repellent impersonators and welcome actual supporters in their stead.

  • CalSteven||

    I was a long time Republican and volunteered to campaign for the McCain campaign in 2008, which was a fun experience. But I was disturbed by some of the racist attitudes of some of my fellow volunteers. In 2016 I was really shocked when Trump won the nomination, and although I don't think he is a racist I do think his mental instability would make him a dangerous president. (He is doing much better than I expected.) I decided to support Johnson. I went to a dinner meeting with people from my local LP and was very impressed with them. One of them gave me a Libertarian bumper sticker which I put on my car. I volunteered to do one afternoon campaigning. I changed my registration and paid my $25 dues to the party to become a official LP member, and of course voted for Johnson.

    Since the election I have been taking part in political discussions on Facebook and I have found that I really can not defend the extreme libertarian positions which say that we really don't need government at all. I also have friends, and family members, of all different opinions (as well as different races) and I don't always want to be defending other people's positions. I am not really happy with any of the parties that I want to identify with any one of them. This week I changed my voter registration to "No Party" and took the bumper sticker off of my car. I am glad for my experience with the LP and I wish them well, and so support them on some of the issues.

  • PlaystoomuchHALO||

    Keep running loser nutjobs for president, and you you can expect the party membership to drop to zero.

    Seriously, there are some parts of the platform that are just in opposition to reality.

  • Hateful Reactionary||

    When Bill Weld got nominated it should have been clear to everyone what would happen. When he endorsed Hillary, it was clear to everyone. They will break 10% the first time they run someone who isn't weird and actually believes in freedom.

  • Widsith||

    If they actually put forward a Libertarian candidate for the next Presidential election they might get a vote and a financial contribution from me. In 2016 they got neither.

  • jelabarre||

    I gave up on the LP because they seemed more interested in the mutual-masturbation of competing on just how cleverly they could phrase press releases only read by each other, and less (or not at all even) on communicating the message of libertarianism (small-L), individual liberties and the free-market to the regular folks who weren't already committed (in more than one sense) party members.

    That and the fact that they were falling all over themselves in defending the likes of Microsoft, one of the most anti-free-market and customer-hostile companies on the planet. The open-source field should *theoretically* be the most fruitful ground for promoting libertarianism, but the LP and assiciated "think" tanks continued to sabotage that. I deal with enough clueless dimwits in the rest of my life, didn't want to be in a political party with them.

  • Lajaw||

    The reason Libertarians can't win is because you smoke too much dope, you don't understand Liberty and you don't get the U.S. Constitution. Abortion, Sodomite marriage and open borders are your illegitimate offspring. Most of the country does not agree with you and for that, the Libertarian Party will never succeed.

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