Imagine Liking Your Presidential Candidate
Quick without looking, what is America’s third largest political party: a real one not just a bunch of alleged independents who say a pox on the other two? The Libertarians.
They have an interesting philosophy as long as you don’t get mired in debates at the extremes, which is the favored indoor sport of hard-core aficionados. More importantly they have ballot lines in all 50 states. That means they don’t have to waste time and money defeating the Democratic and Republican duopolists by rounding up petition signatures. And a way better mascot — the porcupine.
This weekend, they gathered in Orlando (really? in late May?) to nominate former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson as their presidential candidate and former two-term Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld as their vice presidential candidate.
Disclosure: Bill and I were in the second grade together and we reconnected at Harvard where he was – count em – two full complete years ahead of me. Whoa, how did that happen? Maybe because he is the smartest person I have ever met?
I might end up disappointed but I am going to support and encourage them. Here’s why.
What Do Libertarians Think?
Here is an article that provides a useful primer. It lists five key ideas quoted in brief below. You’ll find more color in the article itself.
- Individual Freedom – The idea of individual freedom defines the libertarian movement – it is a party of limited government in all forms.
- Social liberals – The push for individual freedom puts libertarians on the left side of the political spectrum on many of the major social issues.
- Economic Conservatives – Libertarians have faith in the free market and believe that there is little government can do to pressure businesses or individuals that would be better than the “Invisible Hand.”
- Abortion – Despite the socially liberal bent, this is an issue where libertarians disagree.
- Non-interventionist foreign policy – Libertarians want America to “abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world,” and its platform on defense reads like a criticism of America’s foreign policy direction.
They Might Win
Definitely dropped some readers there because the odds are high that they won’t especially if you think the only way to win is to get 270 electoral votes. But that is not the only way to win. You can win by keeping anyone else from getting to 270 and tossing the election to the House of Representatives.
Here’s how that works. Each of the 50 state delegations gets one vote: Wyoming 1 California 1. There are more Republican states than Democratic ones and it is hard to imagine a red state preferring Hillary to the other two. Sanity might prevail. This article explains it.
This scenario would leave my buddy Bill out in the cold because the Senate picks the Veep but only chooses between the top two finishers. I am guessing he would get something good for all his effort though.
Revamping the international order would make being Secretary of State more than a frequent flyer mile job.
Libertarians Stand for Something
Libertarians seem to prefer philosophy to politics. They battle endlessly over purity. The Cato Institute is the keeper of the philosophical flame and they don’t always agree even when their philosophy has at least a good chance of gaining attention.
Aaron Ross Powell says “Don’t Dilute Libertarianism Just to Beat Donald Trump” while David Boaz views Johnson Weld as “A Libertarian Ticket Sane Republicans Can Get Behind.”
On balance, I am on the side of a philosophy that is clearly ready for prime time.
The Lesser of Two Evils is Still Evil
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are wretched candidates. One is a clown and the other a crook. Any enthusiasm for one or the other seems to be grounded in the hope that he or she is not as bad as the more odious foe. I would be embarrassed to vote for either one let alone tell a friend I was going to do so.
In 12 tries, I have voted for three Democrats, three independents and six Republicans. I have won less than I have lost but I have been happier about the three independent votes than the others.
Most of Us Don’t Matter
Let’s do geography first. I live in the District of Columbia where 92% of my fellow citizens will vote for the Democrat no matter who is running. One vote in a 92-8 race makes no difference whatever. Check your own state. Most of you live in places where your vote does not matter either.
Now let’s do demographics. I have no scientific evidence to prove it but LibertyPell readers are about five standard deviations off the mean when it comes to intelligence and critical thinking. You are not easily bamboozled. According to my readability scores, you have to be a college graduate even to understand these stories. Now here is an ugly truth: smart people are irrelevant to the outcome of elections. If we have a voice it is with our checkbooks not with our votes.
Nothing shouts political insider quite like the Democratic and Republican parties. If you are deeply committed to one or the other, you might not mind, but if you think they are out for themselves rather than their voters, a poke in the eye with a sharp stick is a strong temptation. And a viable third party going forward is a very sharp stick.
The two existing coalitions are based on followership. What groups are available to be scooped up, overturned to shake the money out and transformed into a flock of sheep-like opponents of the other team when it comes voting time? A third party offers at least the possibility of leadership. What would you like to stand for that might actually accomplish something?
Once a party is on the ballot in most or all of the states, the next step is to get itself noticed. Newspapers and television are followers of public opinion rather than creators and a key to getting noticed is participation in the presidential debates.
That requires the approval of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is a private nonprofit organization controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties allegedly for the benefit of the voters.
Since 2000, the rule has been that a party must have 15% support in the polls to be invited on to the stage.
That seems to be the next hurdle.
More to Come
Stay tuned and tell your friends.