Just as the Republican and Democratic Parties failed to elect semi-likable candidates, the United States’ patented third-party, The Libertarians, have failed as well.
In 1980, the Libertarian ticket of Ed Clark and David Koch received 921, 128 votes; a record for the Libertarian Party of 1.06% of the popular vote. What one ought to find most astounding regarding this is that Clark and Koch managed to garner such support against both an incumbent President (Jimmy Carter, 1977-1981), and victor Ronald Reagan; who painted the United States red with Republican Support, winning 489 of all 538 electoral votes, and kickstarted the “Reagan Euphoria” or “Reagan Revolution”. This is the political equivalent of The Shadows putting a dent in the sales of Beatles’ records at the height of Beatlemania.
Taking into account that Ronald Reagan is among the most popular U.S. Presidents in history, the success of the Libertarian ticket of Clark and Koch is indisputable. Their success in 1980 now begs a question…
If the Libertarian Party’s most successful run was during one of the biggest landslide elections in history, and was also against a Republican candidate who ran on a Libertarian-appealing platform, how well can the party do in an election where both the Republican and Democratic nominees are widely unpopular?
Due to the fact that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the only alternatives, one would think: quite well. In order to pull in a fair amount of votes (most likely far more than they ever have before), all the Libertarian Party had to do was produce a… well… Libertarian.
Unfortunately, they did not.
The insistence on ending the war on drugs is an unspoken requirement to one being justified in calling themselves a Libertarian. So essential is this position to the creed of Libertarianism, that even many who are considered Conservatives first, Libertarians second, have advocated for legalizing all drugs; this group includes William F. Buckley Jr., Rand Paul, and Milton Friedman, just to name a few.
This, like many others, is an area where Gary Johnson finds himself lacking as a Libertarian candidate for President.
Johnson has made marijuana legalization a major part of his campaign for President. This, on the surface, should please Libertarians. However, Johnson wants to legalize marijuana… but only marijuana.
At a CNN Libertarian Town Hall in June, Johnson said “We are not espousing the legalization of any drugs outside of marijuana”. But this, of course, is not in line with the vast majority of Libertarians who wish to end the entire war on drugs.
The popular Liberty-oriented blog, The Libertarian Republic, published an article on August 1st 2016 where it criticized Johnson’s stance on the issue, the author going as far as claiming that “Libertarians absolutely unequivocally believe in ending the war on drugs entirely, for all drugs… Johnson has never come out explicitly and stated that he’d like to legalize all drugs, but that’s what ending the war on drugs means.”.
This spells trouble for Gary Johnson if the most popular and influential Libertarian blog cannot seem to fully get behind him.
Also mentioned in the article was Gary Johnson’s remarkably anti-Libertarian stance on the recent ‘Gay cakes, Christian Bakers’ controversy. In the Libertarian Party debate hosted by Fox News early this year, Johnson was found to be in favour of forcing Christian businesses to serve gay couples, despite their religious objections.
The ‘Christian’ and ‘Gay’ factor is besides the point. This issue can be used to represent quarrels between any kind of groups of people. Rival candidate for the Libertarian nomination at the time, Austin Petersen, was quick to point this out.
“Should a Jewish baker be forced to bake a Nazi cake?”, Petersen asked the current Libertarian candidate for President. “That would be my contention…” Johnson replied stuttering and sounding remarkably unsure of himself.
In the comment section for the video of this exchange between Petersen and Johnson, a user wrote “Huh, a Libertarian who sucks at Libertarian-ing.”. A sad truth about this election cycle.
If the Libertarian Party’s candidate for President is not a supporter of both religious freedom, and market freedom, then what makes him different from a Democrat?
Johnson’s lack of Libertarian qualities is clear, but his biggest sin to Libertarianism might have been choosing Bill Weld as his running mate. Vice-Presidential candidate, and former Governor of Massachusetts, Bill Weld harbours positions on guns that one could be justified in calling ‘less than Libertarian’.
Weld has supported blanket gun bans as Governor of Massachusetts, and in a recent interview with revolt.tv, likened semi-automatic weapons with “weapons of mass destruction”.
Together, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld form the most un-Libertarian candidate one could likely conceive. And in being so detached from their party, movement, and voter base, are throwing away possibly the best chance the Libertarian Party has ever had at making its mark on the Presidential stage.
In this election, Leftists and Liberals who believe in holding politicians accountable to prevent corruption, have no viable candidate.
In this election, constitutional Conservatives have no viable candidate.
And in this election, Libertarians who wish to end the war on drugs, support Religious Freedom, and are pro-gun, have no viable candidate in Gary Johnson.