Perhaps one of the biggest news stories in the world of libertarianism this year was former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson’s Libertarian Party record-breaking general election raw vote total of approximately 1.2 million popular votes. This figure wasn’t enough to clear a one percent threshold according to Reason’s Garrett Quinn, but the state by state gains over the Barr/Root ticket of 2008 were astounding. Libertarianism was and continues to be a thick strand in the sinews of the Tea Party movement, and it’s no surprise that a Libertarian Party candidate like Johnson, running against a progressive Democrat and an establishment Republican, garnered record-breaking numbers. Quinn, who followed Johnson on the trail for Reason during the last cycle, has an excellent piece on the future of the Libertarian Party in the December 2012 dead tree edition of the magazine. Here’s an excerpt:
On the right it is considered an axiom that the “mainstream media” is incredibly biased towards the left. Now, this is not a charge without merit - I think it’s hard to deny that most media comes from major cities that tend to lean liberal. But whether or not the media favors the left or the right, both sides know one thing for certain — their candidates will be covered extensively. Every word from Romney or Obama will make the news in some format.
But for anyone outside the two major parties, it is rare to even be mentioned, except in passing as a potential “spoiler” for one candidate or the other in a swing state. To the average voter, then, there are only two people running. One cannot be surprised then that the vast majority of Americans have never heard of third party candidates. They are presented a world where there are only two choices, as if the vast spectrum of political thought can only come in two colors, red and blue.
Take this quiz on USA Today for a perfect example. Immediately upon opening the quiz, you are shown a graphic that is half Obama and half Romney. Every option moves the bar one way or the other. For me, the first couple questions were about the economy and moved it to Romney. But then came questions about gay marriage, the War in Afghanistan, and cutting military spending, which knocked it to the blue side. In the end, my score came out 55%. Were the world truly consigned to two poles, then, I would have to vote Democrat.
It’s the one question I’m asked more than anything else: “Why do you stay with the Republican Party? You seem like more of a Libertarian to me.”
It’s a fair question, I suppose. There are a lot of issues where I don’t agree with many of my Republican friends: I think we should end the war on drugs; I think we should cut way back on the military aggression we show the world; I think government revenue should exceed government expenses; I think the federal government should be strictly limited to the powers expressly given to it in the Constitution.
There’s some common ground to be found with my fellow Republicans, for sure. And it’s those days that being a Republican is easy. When we’re on the same side of the talking points, it’s all good. But when we disagree, the name calling starts, the rumors start working their way through the rumor mill, and idiocy abounds. It’s those days I have to remind myself why I choose to remain in the Republican Party.
I have good friends in the Libertarian Party who offer constant reminders that they welcome my views of limited government and increased individual responsibility. When you look at the Libertarian platform, you’ll see that somebody like me lines up really well with the vast majority of a Libertarian’s beliefs about the role of government.
But even though I know I’d be welcomed enthusiastically into the Libertarian Party, and even though certain people who I used to think were friends have resorted to juvenile behavior when they disagree with me, I choose to remain in the company of these people. Here are a few reasons I have decided to stay with the GOP:
Like a number of libertarian-leaning voters I am planning to cast my ballot for Gary Johnson in a few weeks. There are a couple of reasons for this, but none more important to me personally than the fact that America is in dire need of an alternative to the Republican and Democratic parties. Every four years these two behemoths go at each other’s throats over mostly fringe issues, and we’re all supposed to pretend that we are really choosing between two different people. In reality, on most issues, there is scant difference. So given the chance to vote for a legitimate contender like Johnson, it is simply too good a chance to turn down.
But I also realize that no-third party candidates will be President this year, so I decided to take a look at who was running in several lower-level elections for my county in Pennsylvania. In four elections — specifically Attorney General, Auditor General, State Treasurer and U.S. Senator, there is a Libertarian Party candidate. But when I began to search for information on these candidates, not a single one had a website beyond a bare-bones Facebook page. As much as I would like to vote third-party in these elections, I can’t really do so because I don’t know anything about the people running. And I simply cannot take any candidate seriously when they don’t have a website in 2012. That to me represents the bare minimum in promotion and makes me extremely wary.
Just days after the end of the Democratic National Convention, it looks like President Barack Obama has managed to pick up a few points in national polling, which skews the view of the race because it’s a head-to-head match-up against Mitt Romney. With that said, however, there hasn’t been any real movement in the electoral vote count compared to our last few looks at the race.
Romney’s campaign is urging Republicans not to get too worked up about recent polling, but an internal memo shows that they are in a bit of a panic over the last numbers. President Obama has his own problems to worry about as a new poll out of New Mexico shows Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee, getting some support from Democrats, putting Romney within five points. Johnson, who served two terms as Governor of New Mexico, has also managed to pull support from Obama in Colorado.
There was a lot of speculation leading up to Rep. Ron Paul’s appearance on The Tonight Show last night. Breitbart quoted a source who said that Rep. Paul was a “Republican no more” after the events that transpired at the RNC and was seriously considering a third party or Independent bid for president, even this late in the game. Others thought that Paul would endorse Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee.
When asked by Jay Leno if he was planning a third party bid, Rep. Paul jokingly said, “No, not much. I have to prepare for 2016.” Paul explained that it would be too difficult to run as a third party, noting that had he done that, he would have never made it onto Leno’s show. Paul also made no mention or endorsement of Gov. Johnson. In fact, Jesse Benton, who served as Paul’s campaign chairman, said in advance of the show that Paul would not endorse Johnson.
In case you missed it, here is the full segment with Paul:
There had been some speculation over the last few months that Ron Paul may decide to continue his campaign as a third party or independent candidate, but The Weekly Standard picked up some comments yesterday by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that offers some insight into what his inner circle may be thinking:
Following an interview at a Des Moines radio station, I asked Rand Paul if he has encouraged his father to stay in the Republican party if he doesn’t win the GOP nomination. ”I’m encouraging him to try to win the Iowa primary. It’s kind of hard to think about leaving your party when you might be the nominee,” he said.
Asked if he would support his father as a third-party candidate, Paul replied: ”I’ve always said I think the Tea Party movement is best and most effective within the Republican party. The Tea Party movement as a separate movement would divide some of the Republican vote.”
“I have not been publicly in favor of a third party candidate and I have not been in favor of the Tea Party splitting off,” Paul said. “But I think people really need to rethink that question when a guy’s leading the polls in Iowa—to be asking about running as a third party when we’re still talking about winning the Republican nomination.”
The second paragraph is key, and it’s not just a concern about keeping the Tea Party movement unified. Even though Ron Paul is retiring and would seemingly have nothing to worry about in terms of punishment from running as an independent or third party candidate, such a move would probably hurt his son’s political career. You may say that’s not fair or deny that this would actually happen, but politics has a cruel way of eventually coming back around.
While reading Twitter this morning, I saw the ever erudite Larry Sabato tweet: “New “Justice Party” (if real) hurts Obama. Others will hurt Rs. Close election can be determined by few votes here & there going to Inds.” (Sorry; I’m not yet on “NewNewTwitter,” so I don’t have that embed function. Yet.)
Looking up this “Justice Party,” which I had never heard of before, I found some interesting things, namely, that it is basically a vehicle for the former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah to run for president:
SALT LAKE CITY — Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has formed a new political party and plans to run for president.
To be known as the Justice Party, Anderson sees it as a grassroots movement that over the long term will bring about the shift in American politics that he says citizens crave.
“The people are the ones who always bring about major change in this country, and we need to provide that power to people throughout the country,” he said Wednesday on KSL Radio’s Doug Wright Show.
“They want to see an alternative party. They recognize that these two militarist, corporatist parties have brought us to this disastrous place to where we are today.”
Well, I can certainly sympathize with that—and I’m very glad Mr. Anderson is using “corporatist” to describe the two parties. If we’re going to make any headway in this country, we need to get people to understand that we have today is by no means “capitalism,” but rather cronyist corporatism, and I think on that front, we are slowly winning.
Unfortunately, I don’t really think Mr. Anderson is on the right track, if you catch my drift:
I’m always heartened to see third parties, of any stripe, get more attention in the news media. Such as this story from the Daily Caller:
The Occupy Wall Street protests have attracted significant support from Democratic Party politicians. But two of the country’s most significant third parties say that the message of the protests is that the two-party system is broken.
Green Party Media Coordinator Scott McLarty told The Daily Caller, “the claim from some people that the Occupy Wall Street and related ‘Occupy’ protests express support for the Democratic Party is more than disingenuous, it’s plain dishonest.”
“Organizers have made it repeatedly clear that the protests are not partisan, to the point of barring representatives of political parties from speaking publicly at the protests,” McLarty said. “The protests aren’t only driven by anger over the Wall Street’s greed and recklessness, but also by the two party political status quo that enabled Wall Street’s theft of the country’s future.”
Now, I may not agree with the Green Party on a lot of things, but I completely agree that it was both parties that led us to where we are today (and if we look at the unemployment trends for the next decade, then yes, I also agree that they “enabled Wall Street’s theft of the country’s future,” via bailouts, bad regulation, and out-and-out collusion.)