I adore Gary Johnson’s platform. I personally liked him the most out of all the LP candidates this cycle. Hell, I even liked Bill Weld, and written in defense of him in the past (despite his personal affection for Hillary Clinton, which I do not share. At least the man is honest).
Having said all of this, I must make a realistic prediction for the 2016 election outcome. It’s my job to analyze and predict political cycles, and even when I am wrong, I must speak honestly and objectively – no spin.
So, it is with a heavy heart that I must confess I do not see anything higher than a 3% voter turnout for Johnson/Weld 2016. And there are a number of factors for this, but I will highlight the few key among them for me:
“What is Aleppo?”
Whether we want to admit or not, the now-infamous “Aleppo” moment was in many ways the beginning of the end for Johnson’s once-promising hot streak.
In a country infected with mainstream media obfuscation and special interest inundation, one must stay 100% on top of his game in order to perpetually stand out from the crowd as a real challenger to the status quo. And, in 2016, even that wasn’t too hard of a prospect: simply speak the truth and don’t fuck up. Well, Johnson has delivered by leaps and bounds on the first charge, but failed miserably at the second. Before “Aleppo”, Johnson’s poll numbers were impressive as hell for a third party candidate; unprecedented, even. But from that moment on, the media used Johnson’s words against him, and was unrelenting. And, only a few weeks later, Johnson’s numbers (even with the apparent rigging of some of the polls to omit millennials) are simply dismal.
Anyone who reads that result and doesn’t think Johnson’s perceived lack of foreign policy knowledge has anything to do with it, has no clue how this game works.
“You’re not a libertarian!” “No, you’re not a libertarian!”
Let’s be honest: libertarians are some of the most annoying little shits in the political sphere right now. Especially on social media.
Keyboard activism and stubborn purist attitudes do nothing to actually help the cause they claim to stand for, and the committing of the no true Scotsman fallacy left and right is leading to a rift within the movement as a whole that is painfully visible to the uninitiated passerby. In the year when everyone has their eyes on a viable third option for a presidential candidate, Johnson’s own party has never looked more ridiculous, petty, and heterogeneous. We should be absolutely ashamed of ourselves for allowing our public persona to be ruled by such self-important, empty-headed children. And yet, that is exactly where we are found.
It is absolutely no wonder that the non-libertarians who were polling in favor of Johnson early on have now all but dispersed. But be careful… if you make this argument to the wrong libertarian, you will be accused of being a “liberal.” And that might just ruin your day for five seconds.
Bill Weld’s Clinton Apologetics
Yes, I pointed out at the top of this article that I have written in defense of Weld in the past. And on those same points, I still do; however, this apparent lack of motivation to say anything even remotely critical of Hillary Clinton herself is baffling. But had this merely been a case of Weld standing on the sidelines and refusing to mudsling, I could have accepted that as merely a display of class. In fact, it would have been refreshing.
But Weld has gone a step beyond mere silence, and has on more than one occasion gone out of his way to defend Clinton against any number of things, from the accusations that she isn’t qualified, to the seriousness of her email scandals. Governor Weld, please… even if you personally believe Clinton is not a corrupt person, do you honestly think she needs your help? Do you honestly think she isn’t going to win this anyway? Would it not be a much more productive use of your time to talk up your running mate, rather than talk down the criticism against one of your opponents? This is nonsense.
A week out from elections, and the VP pick on the Libertarian ticket for president is making appearances on national television specifically for the purpose of defending Hillary Clinton. This being done, bear in mind, after Weld has already had to clarify several times when headlines falsely quoted him as outright endorsing Clinton. These are waters Weld should not be treading, and yet he seems unable to stop himself.
And there we have it: the holy trinity of the Johnson/Weld 2016 train wreck.
Two out of these three issues could have, and should have, been prevented by Johnson himself. With rates of failure like that, it becomes hard to place all of the blame on the media or the in-fighting. Johnson could have still risen above such silliness and showed brightly just on his own merits. And he’s had enough screen time by now for that to have been possible. But instead of preparing for a fight, Johnson went into this race expecting a waltz. This is not how the game is played, Governor. And we wanted you as our nominee precisely because your past political experience presumably already taught you that.
All in all, this was a great opportunity missed, and I frankly don’t know if I will ever seen another one like it in my own lifetime. The purists are somewhat to blame, as is the mainstream media, but the Johnson/Weld camp itself is far from blameless in this, and could have done much more the damage control things that weren’t directly in their control. Instead, we are now at this place where a once-conceivable 5% for 2016 (and, in effect, a real future for the Libertarian Party) now seems aeons away once again.
I hope to all things good and sacrosanct that I am wrong.
This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Micah J. Fleck, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC
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