Monday, August 8, 2016

Can you #FeelTheJohnson?

Word on the street is that there are some very serious Republican names (and thusly attached money and political capital) who are part of the #neverTrump 'movement' that are planning to endorse Gary Johnson and Bill Weld on the Libertarian Party ticket, this month. It seems the plan might be to stagger the endorsements to generate maximum hype and media attention so that it 'takes' with staunch anti-Trump conservatives and Republicans. 

Good ole Gary Johnson, bless his heart.

These folks, and I'm sure many other Republicans and conservatives who (understandably) despise Trump, have a strong need for an outlet and need a vote to cast and be counted -- even if it's a reluctant one for the LP (which is the only other party that will be on the ticket in all 50 states, by the way). Of course, I have no problem not voting, or protest-voting third party because it might feel good for a moment -- but for these folks, the idea of 'not voting' is against everything they believe in -- especially since it legitimizes a 'non-tactic tactic' (not voting) which they always rail against. You know, that ole chestnut of, "If you don't vote, you have no right to complain," which is a bunch of bullshit, anyways.

But let's get back on track, here. A recent FOX News Poll had Johnson pulling 12% against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which is above and beyond the best numbers the Libertarian Party has pulled in its entire history. In addition, polling suggests that either Johnson pulls equally from both Trump and Clinton, or that, surprisingly enough, he actually hurts Clinton more than Trump. Considering this, mixed in with the fact that Trump and Clinton are both some of the most polarizing and hated candidates in US history, shows that we are absolutely at a crossroads for the Libertarian Party. If we don't capitalize on the chaos these two gloriously vilified candidates have wrought, then it will be an unbelievably missed opportunity for libertarians. You've got to strike while the iron is hot.

Yes, yes -- I know. I can see the howling and screeching surrounding this situation by libertarians, already...

"Gary Johnson and Bill Weld aren't libertarians! They're failed Republicans!"

"We ('we'? who's this 'we', suddenly?) don't need nor want the endorsement from failed and washed-up conservative shills!"

"The Libertarian Party, Johnson and Weld will have to basically sell their souls to work with and capitalize on such endorsements! They might help in the short-term,but they will hurt in the long-term!"

"These are rats abandoning the sinking ship of the Republican Party! Don't let them on our ship when it's making its maiden voyage!"

I can see this stuff being said because it's what I would say -- but hear me out. Yes, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are extremely imperfect 'libertarians', and Weld even moreso -- but this is still a huge and much needed boost for the Libertarian Party (which I also recognize doesn't necessarily represent all 'libertarians'). Hell, this could snowball to see other big names throw an endorsement their way -- maybe even some Hillary-hating democrats. Unlikely, of course, but it's a nice thought to entertain for a moment.

In the end, this should really give Johnson at least the 3% boost he needs to reach 15% support in the general election so he can get in on the debates -- and that's what matters, here. The Libertarian Party is not going to win, and I don't think anyone has any delusions about that -- but it would really be something to see even such an imperfect libertarian voice up there against the ubiquitously vilified Trump and Clinton. It's not really about the election or actually voting for the LP ticket -- it's about getting the word out and showing people that there is an alternative way to look at everything -- not just in who to vote for, but much more importantly -- to be exposed a radically different, and yet cohesive set of ideas and political philosophy to get intrigued by and start digging into more on their own. That they no longer have to shoehorn themselves in to a 'red' or 'blue' tribe and adopt political positions they don't really believe in or would otherwise support simply for the sake of identitarian political maneuvering.

And this is a big one, as bittersweet as it is -- but these kinds of endorsements mean that we've entered the mainstream.  It's no longer merely on the fringes where only fringe-folk skulk around in (at least that was the perception, and you and I both know it). The social capital gained is immense, creating increased opportunity for achieving critical mass.

All we need to do is show everyone the rabbit hole, and some of them won't be able to help but start to peer in -- and the General Election debates will give us the widest audience and the biggest opportunity to do that. This is the long game we're playing, here, and we can't be short-sighted and let the perfect be the enemy of the good. As Sun Tzu says, "Opportunities arise as you seize them."

I know it's outside of our comfort zone, and it's not usually something we would do, but this election has put a lot of different people in a bit of an uncomfortable position, for different reasons, hasn't it? Let me be uncomfortable with you, for just this moment. Let's make #FeelTheJohnson a thing. Don't you want to #FeelTheJohnson? Don't you? Come on.

Ah, there we go. Now that wasn't so bad... was it?


  1. Relevant: John Hospers, first LP presidential nominee, on pure vs. impure Libertarianism.

    2016 is the year of the populist. The Johnson/Weld ticket is, without a doubt, populist in the tradition of libertarianism. For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst the dogmatic inquisitionalists, Johnson/Weld is the best ticket the LP has ever put forward, gives them an idea of how to move forward (i.e. "American-style centrism based on principles of classical liberalism"), and will catapult them into the mainstream.

    Enjoy it boys, no longer is the LP a bunch of fringe afterthoughts. Now get out there and canvass canvass canvass.

  2. Looks like the rumors that it was happening towards the 'end of August' as noted in my post were off by a couple of weeks. As of today, we have a mix of both *explicit* and *implicit* endorsements of the LP and the GJ/BW ticket from some celebrities (such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor of CA), major editorial boards, op-eds, and GOP leaders and reps such as Mitt Romney, Scott Rigell, and Mitch Daniels calling at least to let them in the debates.

    Here's a list so far -- here's hoping it grows.


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