Libertarians, What Next?

Last night’s election was not just a repudiation of liberal arrogance and media condescension, although it was certainly that. Other things happened. For example, the Libertarian Party failed to reach its most recent goal of 5%. This is big news and, in an election that featured the two most reviled candidates in modern elections, a reality that must be addressed.

Johnson failed.

Centrism failed.

The “moderate libertarian” failed.

“Fiscally conservative, socially tolerant” failed.

Johnson was unable to reach 15% to enter the debates, and then unable to reach 5%. At each interval, Johnson supporters lowered the bar of what they considered success. First, they were going to win. When that failed, they were going to be in the debates. When that failed, they were going to reach 5%. Now, they are surely saying, “Next election is ours! Rand2020!”


Stop and learn the lessons of this election. Your centrism failed. Johnson failed. That whole avenue of moderation was widely rejected last night.

All we’ve heard from Johnson supporters is that only a moderate like Johnson can win elections.

Except he didn’t.

He hasn’t.

And he won’t.

Stop and process that before we proceed.

We don’t need to try a moderate by a different name. We don’t need a different Republican who is okay with pot and gay people. We don’t need to swap out the moderate policies of Johnson with the moderate policies of Rand. That. Didn’t. Work.

It didn’t work under the best of circumstances.

Einstein suggested that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

Well, last night you got your results.

You failed.

So drop it and let libertarians have the Libertarian Party back.


5 thoughts on “Libertarians, What Next?

  1. Pingback: Liberals, This is Why You Lost |

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  3. True, but Johnson got the ball further down the field than prior efforts.
    I was at the nominating convention and kept waiting and hoping for the compelling argument from McAfee that he could do better, but didn’t here it. My impression was that he would be more easily dismissed than Johnson.

    • I don’t believe the increase in votes had anything at all to do with Gary Johnson. In fact, all third parties saw increases of equal amounts from 2012 to 2016.

      In 2012, Jill Stein received 0.36% of the popular vote.
      In 2012, Gary Johnson received 0.99% of the popular vote.
      In 2012, Virgil Goode received 0.09% of the popular vote.

      In 2016, Jill Stein received 1.02% of the popular vote, an increase of about 300%.
      In 2016, Gary Johnson received 3.28% of the popular vote, an increase of about 330%.
      In 2016, Castle received about 0.18% of the popular vote, an increase of about 200%. By my calculations; I didn’t find hard figures on Castle’s results.

      The way it looks to me is that more Americans than ever were disgusted by the candidates produced by the two primary parties, and responded by defecting to third parties. Because Stein’s media attention relied solely upon social media, there weren’t very many people who were even aware of her candidacy. Not to mention the Green Party has a pretty bad reputation of being fringe, kooky environmentalists.

      But we already had about 3 times as many people out there talking about libertarianism as others had talking about Constitutionalism or Greenism. So if they had 300 people out there spreading their message, we had 900. Of course we would see more growth, based simply on the numbers. Have we seen growth that was atypical for third parties? Not at all. Johnson may have performed slightly better for the Libertarian Party with his 330% increase than Stein did with her 280ish% increase, or Castle with his 200% increase, but it seems to me that the Libertarian Party’s growth is due to Trump and Hillary more than it is to Johnson.

      • Very good points about the numbers. After all these years it seems, at least at the national level, our results are largely driven by who we are not.

        The challenge as I see it is to improve how far we carry the ball down the field and who is the best to help do that. I went with experience, relatability, resources, and electability. While I wish more emphasis had been placed on preparation (Aleppo, e.g.), it is still my opinion that of the candidates available, Johnson was best positioned. I had honestly hoped to a more compelling argument from McAffee, but did not hear it at the convention.

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