After watching the absolute disasters that were the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, it has become quite evident that the 2016 election is the year for third party candidates to gain ground on the two major parties. Google searches have been on the rise for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, poll numbers have been up for Gov. Johnson, and national media outlets have been giving the Libertarian candidate airtime as well. Despite the recent acknowledgement of the former Governor of New Mexico, it appears that many feel hopeless of a Libertarian president this election. But how soon until the Libertarian Party actually has a viable road to the White House?
Now, first off, there’s no need to throw in the towel on the 2016 election for the Libertarian Party. Trump won the Republican nomination after many people thought that there was no way for that to come about and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders gave Hillary Clinton a fight all the way to the convention after polling nowhere near the former Secretary of State at the beginning of his campaign. So to say a Libertarian candidate, in this case Gary Johnson, has no chance at the presidency, is ridiculous. We have to be realistic, though, because the current two-party system that America has in place will do anything to keep an outsider off of the debate stages this fall.
The unfortunate outcome of that last statement is that the Libertarian Party will continue to be suppressed in American politics until a candidate reaches the debate stage. For a candidate to do so, they must be polling at 15% or greater in the average of five different national public opinion polls. At the moment, it looks unlikely that he will get to that 15 percent with such little time to do so. But, in a recent CBS News Poll, conducted from 7/22-7/24, Gary Johnson was shown polling at 12 percent compared to 40 percent for Trump and 39 percent for Clinton. An NBC poll also shows Johnson at 10 percent. Despite not being at the coveted 15 percent, these numbers are promising for Libertarians as they show that interest has grown in the party.
Since Johnson isn’t polling at the necessary percentage, let’s give a realistic answer to the earlier question: how soon until the Libertarian Party actually has a viable road to the White House? In short, I personally don’t believe that 2016 is the year for a spot on the main debate stage as the two-party system is still very much in place for now and the timeframe is too short for Gary Johnson to reach that 15 percent goal. That doesn’t take away from the fact that this election is going to be important in the long term for the party as it has raised awareness of Libertarian ideas and candidates which will only make 2020 a greater year within the party. The 2016 election has hurt the two major parties immensely as they both seem to be separated from a portion of their parties and have been trying drastically to convince that portion to stay on board. So far, to no avail. This only opens the door to these people looking for a new party to call home. With the Libertarians being represented on national media outlets, the chances of the party growing have become greater than ever because of the sizeable groups of the “Never Trump” movement and the “Bernie or Bust” movement.
The 2016 election still may not be the year of the Libertarian Party but, it is certainly the year for growth and awareness. Future elections will only become more achievable and this will be the last year that only two groups are represented in front of the nation. This will be the end of the two-party system that has plagued American politics and will open the door to other parties, particularly the Libertarian Party, to claim a spot on the national debate stage. A Libertarian future is achievable as long as we get out, talk about Libertarian ideas, and vote this November to show that we don’t want, or need, a two-party system.
* Jason Fedok is a 19 year old journalism major at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who has a love for politics. He is a lover of liberty, defender of the US Constitution, and an opponent of big government.