The Good & the Bad: John McAfee’s Campaign In Review


McAfeeI thought I’d do an article about the guy who I once put as my second choice for the Libertarian nomination, and somehow worked his way to third and eventually closed for me probably last of the top six. This is none other than the man, the legend, the warrior, the cyber security king and the only other man who was at the Orlando convention with highlights besides myself: John McAfee. Some people have called him the most interesting man in the world and I was someone who had many highs and lows with him as a candidate. Let’s dive in on the good and bad about McAfee 2016.

I want to make the point that I feel I observed the McAfee campaign pretty closely from inception and while in this article I might come off a bit negative towards him, people can look at my earlier articles on his campaign and the interview Justin Moldow and I did with him when he first announced, to see I was a bigger fan of him originally. I got to speak to the man on a Google Hangout in January for a couple hours and really did love the guy. He was a legend. I got to see him in debates and interviews and really thought he was kind of a tech mogul version of Theodore Roosevelt. With that said, I gave him only two positives and six negatives, so let’s see why.

The Good

  1. Holy Shit! This guy talks about real tech issues!

John McAfee, when it came to technical issues in America, clearly gave the best impression over other people who ran in the 2016 cycle. On the issues of cyber security and the FDA he represented what I’d like to see in a candidate. He stepped up to focus on his strong traits and built a brand for himself. It was fun to watch and clearly filled a void none of the other candidates were capable of even talking about properly.

Also, due to his background in tech, I actually noticed a trend of people knowing who the hell he is. I’ll be honest… I mention Gary Johnson to an average, non-political person, and maybe only one in ten times they’d know who he is (that has gone up a lot for Gary after becoming the nominee). If I were to mention Austin Petersen to an average non-political person, I’d probably have to devote a solid decade of my life to finding someone who knows who he is and I’d bet a solid $500 they’d know him via some sugar daddy website before politics. With John McAfee, everyone knows him. They normally know him as that dude who offed his neighbor in Belize and made that annoying anti-virus software, but holy shit they know who the hell he is.

McAfee’s tech focus on the campaign was fun to watch and him being a real name offered help as well.

  1. The man can talk…

Austin Petersen and Gary Johnson weren’t really who I’d call the best presenters we could have hoped for. Austin comes off sort of childish, visibly nervous and he just tries too hard to impress. Gary Johnson comes off as sort of this regular guy and everyman, but that doesn’t always work for a lot of voters. John McAfee talking had the look and voice of how I’d predict a real life Ra’s al Ghul to present. He was very quick, funny and came off as intelligent. The guy presents well and does it in a way I feel could command a room.

Simple as that. Now the negatives…

The Bad

  1. Worst branding of a political campaigns I’ve ever seen.

I’m just going to ask what the hell the McAfee campaign even was at the end of the day? I became a fan of him and his campaign due to it focusing on a very unique set of issues in tech earlier on, and also branding liberty well with it. However, the campaign got rebranded in the sense I felt like it became a promotion for some new type of rave drug. And it embraced that to the point he legitimately was making his campaign a nightclub or rave-type scene. It was well… bizarre.

I have many friends who were on the John McAfee camp and I’m sorry, but come on… Did you actually think the ‘Let Life Live’ message with these broad messages about changing the world would seriously work? Also, doing random videos where your candidate was shown touting a gun saying the South American cartels are coming to kill him?

No one would have ever bought this and I’m sad to say, but I feel it would have collapsed the whole Libertarian Party as the ultimate fringe brand. I could be wrong, but until someone explains how I am, I will hold this view.

  1. It was two different John McAfees.

I interviewed John McAfee for a solid 48 hours after he first announced his run and spent two hours online talking to the man. I really liked the guy and we went over a big host of issues. I asked him about the non-aggression principle and he said he didn’t know much about it and hasn’t actually read it through yet. He said the idea of privatizing roads was a dumb one and that he could see a disaster with it being attempted. He said he wouldn’t cut Medicare for people currently on it and the same for social security. He also said he’d cut the budget, but would instead of laying people off pay them to go work at startup businesses for several years and not disrupt the economy. These ideas… I liked them. The issue is that he quickly backtracked from these statements and went to become a much harder core libertarian in the primary. Also, a much vaguer one where substance wasn’t as key to mentioning the word “Freedom” over and over again.

Also, examining how he had radically shifted from his Cyber Party platform just six months prior, I’m not sure McAfee knew his own views. It honestly felt that he went from my pragmatic libertarian views and essentially spent four months evolving into an anarchist to try and win the primary.

  1. Judd Weiss as the VP.

This is probably the hardest one to mention, because I really like Judd Weiss personally. When I first started out in the liberty movement in 2011, Judd actually started talking to me recognizing me from my work in the Seasteading Institute, said hello, welcomed me to the convention I was at and introduced me to a couple of people. He’s someone I’ve valued as a friend ever since and I hope tomorrow, a year from now or thirty years from now to still call him a friend. I want him to be the dude taking photos at my wedding party, my divorce celebration and all the weddings I’ll likely have following that. He rocks and I do want him to run for office again.

That being said, I see him as McAfee’s VP as holding two faults. The most obvious one being he just is a little green. He announced on April Fools and honestly, I spent a solid two weeks thinking it was a joke. It felt like for the race John McAfee said he could bring if the nominee, Judd just wasn’t the guy ready to do it. The second being honestly that Judd was too much like John McAfee. They are both badass guys who hang out with cool crowds and do things their way. For me, John McAfee should have picked someone like himself in the sense he’s a businessman, but someone more blue collar. I honestly felt John McAfee should have personally gone to Las Vegas and knocked on the door of Rick from Pawn Stars saying he wants him as his running mate.

I hope Judd can still post my photos online, I want to buy you a drink next time I see you and I just hope you don’t get offended by me being honest here.

  1. McAfee’s Past

I’ll be totally honest. I never met a single non-libertarian say they’d vote for McAfee in a Trump vs Clinton race. Gary Johnson, yes. Austin Petersen, yes. Marc Feldman, yes. John McAfee, no. People I spoke to thought he was crazier than Donald Trump and under more legal issues than Hillary Clinton. Something which, despite the fact I really like the guy, I can’t deny is not true.

My grandfather even saw the CSPAN debate and called me up after that to say the McAfee guy is out of his Goddamn mind. My grandfather being someone who’s right now saying he’s about 50/50 on voting for Johnson in the general election. I feel that due to who he was in Belize and recent acts that he’s done with being drunk in public and carrying weapons that he’d be impossible for many people to stomach.

  1. He was a complete dick to Gary Johnson.

Gary Johnson ran a totally clean campaign, attended more debates over any other candidate, gave every candidate opposing him a clear shot, is a principled libertarian and did nothing to attack his opponents. McAfee, without warning, just randomly went after him, saying he’d never vote for him and never really explained why. It was around the time of that rumor Gary booked all the hotel rooms, but after everyone got to Orlando, it’s pretty obvious not even the Romney campaign could afford to book all the rooms at the Rosen Hotel, let alone Gary Johnson.

I feel John, with a very vague reasoning, just showed he wasn’t loyal to the LP in the same sense Marc Feldman, Darryl Perry or Austin Petersen were and the campaign became more obvious it was a bucket list thing for him.

  1. He peddled around a penny stock while running for president.

John McAfee randomly became the CEO of a company with no revenue or assets, used his media from his campaign to market the stock and saw it go up from $0.30 to $5.00 a share. I was in Bitcoin for two years and worked out of an office on Wall Street for around that time. I’m sorry, but this was totally a pump and dump deal from face value. I hope it’s not and hope he works on some sick ideas in the tech space, but from the way it was presented, it was a complete pump and dump,

Also, if anyone followed his campaigns social media, they were visibly marketing this stock by just talking about how John McAfee is so great he made it go up. Overall, it was an unneeded amount of sketch to throw McAfee off for me to a point he went from two to three and eventually last of the big six.

Concluding thoughts

I’ll be honest and say I’m upset I couldn’t write an article saying I loved the John McAfee campaign. I did in the beginning. I really thought the guy kicked ass and still sort of do. However, he just did so many bizarre things that I feel the focus lost clarity and the campaign became a really awesome man fulfilling his bucket list over just actually doing something of value.

Plus… when it comes to McAfee, I’ve had everyone ask me one simple question: Do I think he killed that guy in Belize? I really can’t say “No, I don’t think he did.” I’m not going to say yes, but looking at the evidence, I sadly just find the shadiness of what he did there and that whole story as too much for the LP at this critical time in its history.

With that said, however, John McAfee is still a walking legend and I admire the hell out of the dude for that.

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