On the day of 8 November, 2016, the majority of Americans went to the polls to elect the next President of the United States.
By the time this article is published, the United States will be calling Mr. Trump or Secretary Clinton Mr. or Madam President, and the only people that will remember Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson without rolling their eyes, will be Libertarians themselves. Indeed, some Libertarians will find themselves rolling their eyes as well. While it has always been understood that third party candidates have a very slim chance, Libertarians have steadfastly and tenaciously defended and stood by their party.
But to what end? Many times, it only emboldens and advances one major party candidate, while taking votes from the other. Oftentimes, it is the major party candidate that is even further apart from Libertarians in terms of ideology that gains the advantage as a result. But what have Libertarians truly gained from having their own party?
In this election cycle, especially, some of the biggest complaints of Libertarians have been put on display: We have candidates that are some of the worst we have ever seen in our history, they are both a threat to not only Libertarian ideology, but to our basic freedoms and liberties as a whole, and the parties are insisting on supporting them, despite major disagreements in policy, history, and personality of their candidates. Furthermore, said support is based almost purely on the idea that “they aren’t the best (insert party here) candidate, but they’re what we have!”.
Dear readers, Libertarians have placed themselves into that exact scenario with Governors Johnson and Weld. The Libertarian Party has become what it claims to be the antithesis of. I propose something that many will balk at and consider heresy, many others will laugh and brush off the idea in its entirety (I look forward to breezing through the comment section), but some will consider it a valid, advantageous option.
Libertarians, we must dissolve the Libertarian Party.
This election cycle, more so than many others, people are paying attention to libertarians and their ideas. Millennials are turning to libertarian ideology in huge numbers. For the first time in a long time, there is hope for a libertarian future. Now is the time for libertarians to become even more knowledgeable and outspoken about their ideology. But what is the Libertarian Party up against? Two huge, well funded, well operated, experienced political parties that have been winning general elections for decades. Asymmetric warfare is the perfect analogy for the Libertarian Party fighting against the Republicans and Democrats. Instead of fighting toe-to-toe with the two biggest parties in American political history, libertarians need to be the political guerrilla group that forces the two main parties to change their tactics and strategy. Libertarians, as a group, have far more political leverage than they believe they do, but it simply is not being utilized in a fashion that will make the biggest difference.
Imagine with me, dear readers, an election in which both major party candidates aren’t reaching to gain the “women’s vote”, “Latino vote”, or “religious vote”. Imagine an election where both candidates are striving to clinch the libertarian vote. You see, libertarianism is best utilized not as the basis for a political party, like the Republicans or Democrats, but as a political ideology, like conservatism or liberalism. Libertarians must use that to their advantage. Instead of focusing your support and votes on a political party doomed to fail, and subsequently insisting that next cycle will be the cycle for libertarians, form organizations, non-profits, even political action groups. Become activists for the libertarian ideology. But Libertarians must free themselves of the chains that an official party represent. Once freed, libertarians can shape the future candidates of both major political parties.
With the newfound power of libertarians organized into activist groups, non-profits, and political action groups, the two main political parties of this country would have no choice but to make themselves palatable, if not appealing, to libertarian voters.
In this way, with libertarian voters no longer chained or obligated to vote for one party, but instead present themselves as voters available to either candidate, libertarians will be able to pull both major party candidates closer to libertarian ideals. In this scenario, both major parties must adapt or die. Overall, libertarian ideology has made far greater strides and advancements for this country than a concentrated, and therefore easily watered down, Libertarian Party ever could. It’s time to dissolve the Libertarian Party, and wield the political power that libertarians have always had.
* William Gadsden (pen name) is an ardent supporter and defender of personal liberties around the world, a staunch Libertarian, and is actively plotting to leave you alone. Be gentle, this is his first time.