An interesting thing is happening outside the two major political parties in the United States. For the first time since Ross Perot, third parties are getting some decent press. Perot wasn’t a “party” when he was doing his best in 1992, but he was an outsider of the two party system. And he did go on to create the Reform Party which was covered by the press in the 1996 election. But once Perot left, the party dwindled. It still exists but is pretty much on life support, with no actual direction or cohesive platform to rely on.
After Ross Perot, the next outside contender came in the form of Ralph Nader. Nader could have run as just Ralph Nader instead of becoming the Green Party’s nominee and probably still nabbed the nearly three percent he did in the year 2000. But after Nader stopped running for president, the Green Party returned to regular third party stats: Under one percent of the presidential vote totals, every four years.
The Green Party, Libertarian Party, Constitution Party (formerly the U.S. Taxpayers Party), Reform Party, they all receive equal to or less than one percent of the presidential vote totals on a regular basis. The only time this has not been the case is when a cult of personality forms. This has been the problem with third parties for some time now. They get good press when a famous person comes around but then go back under the rock when that person leaves.
In my own party, the Libertarian Party, we make a big deal of celebrities that count themselves as libertarians and we sometimes pine for them to run for office. Clint Eastwood identifies as a libertarian and I have little doubt he could be elected president if he chose to run. But he could run as just Clint Eastwood and still win, no party affiliation. This is the problem with trying to get celebrities to run under your party name. You’ll never know if people are warming to your platform or just voting for the celebrity. Because after the celebrity is done with their term if office (should they get elected), your party could turn into what’s left of the Reform Party. It’s best if you don’t have a celebrity run to avoid this.
The Libertarian Party has not had a celebrity run for president. The people who run do so because they are concerned that the United States is moving further and further away from the original intent of the government. The candidates are generally in sync with the ideals of the libertarian platform. When you vote for a Libertarian, you are pretty sure where they stand on most issues. This is unlike the two major parties where you never really know what you’re going to get. When you vote for a libertarian, you’re not voting for the person, you’re voting for a political ideology.
Almost three years ago, I piggybacked on Harry Browne’s What We’re Up Against, noting we in third party land were still up against the same election roadblocks now as when Browne mentioned it.
It’s worth repeating, Michael C. Ruppert said of the Democrat/Republican roadblock, “It’s organized crime. All you do is you call the Republicans the Genovese and you call the Democrats the Gambinos. The people at the top, they treat it like a crap game, like it’s their crap game, like their making lots of money. Occasionally, somebody at this table shoots each other but the moment anything threatens their crap game, they all unite to protect it.”
Libertarians have won smaller races. We’re not always benched. But it’s like the Libertarian Party has been the kid seen as unfit to participate by other members of a team. Every now and then they let him have the ball, become the mayor of a small town. But there’s no way the team is ever going to let the poor kid quarterback.
However, now, because the two major parties have chosen two of the most unlikeable candidates, perhaps, in their history, third parties are getting more attention. The roadblocks are not as solid as they used to be. Third parties, especially the Libertarian and Green Parties, are getting some front page coverage.
The coverage is interesting in itself. The two moments when Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Gary Johnson seemed to gain the most attention was when he feigned some ignorance over a question regarding the conflict in Aleppo and as of recent, when he was asked to name his “favorite foreign leader“ where he could not. This is much different than if he were asked if he could name any foreign leaders. (Recall George Bush in 1999 had this problem and yet, went ahead and became president anyhow).
But regarding these two issues, who cares? I addressed the Aleppo bunch of nothing here. And regarding favorite foreign leaders, does it matter if he does or doesn’t have one? I can’t name any foreign leader I admire either. Give it a try for yourself. You may also have a hard time coming up with one. And if you do have one or a dozen, so what? I fail to see how this is a qualifier for the job of president.
Donald Trump says nonsense on a daily basis and yet his supporters are not fazed in the least by it. In fact, regarding foreign leaders, Trump has made it rather clear he’s got a hard-on for Putin. But, ho hum, this doesn’t seem to alarm any of Team Trump. Hillary Clinton has led a political career of lies and deceit and yet, she has the full support of the liberal left. Quite frankly, if the press has Johnson by the Johnson on the Aleppo and Favorite Foreign Leader questions, if that’s the worst they can dig up on him, then we’re winning by comparison.
Despite some media outlets having a good poke at Johnson on these insignificant issues, for the first time in my party’s history, major newspapers are endorsing us! Again, here’s some winning right here.
The current polling numbers are putting the Libertarian Presidential ticket of Johnson/Weld at about ten percent. That is incredible considering, as we’ve observed above, third parties routinely can’t even break the one percent barrier. True, the election hasn’t been held yet. But with polling results like this, I’m betting the Libertarian Party will make some history with vote totals this year.
All of this is already a win for me. In November, if we drop from today’s polling numbers and only manage five percent of the vote, it’s a win. Because next time, maybe we’ll get eight percent, or eleven. This isn’t just wishful thinking. Let’s look at some numbers.
|Year||Pres. Candidate / VP||Popular votes||Percentage||Electoral votes|
|1972||John Hospers / Theodora Nathan||3,674||0%||1|
|1976||Roger MacBride / David Bergland||172,553||<1%||0|
|1980||Ed Clark / David Koch||921,128||1%||0|
|1984||David Bergland / James Lewis||228,111||<1%||0|
|1988||Ron Paul / Andre Marrou (campaign)||431,750||<1%||0|
|1992||Andre Marrou / Nancy Lord||290,087||<1%||0|
|1996||Harry Browne / Jo Jorgensen||485,759||<1%||0|
|2000||Harry Browne / Art Olivier (campaign)||384,431||<1%||0|
|2004||Michael Badnarik / Richard Campagna (campaign)||397,265||<1%||0|
|2008||Bob Barr / Wayne Allyn Root (campaign)||523,713||<1%||0|
|2012||Gary Johnson / Jim Gray (campaign)||1,275,821||1%||0|
|2016||Gary Johnson / William Weld (campaign)||TBD||TBD||TBD|
Table pulled from Wikipedia.
What do you see? I see a progressive accumulation of increased votes. From 1972 to the present, we keep getting more. Some years dip and some, like 1980, have deviated up (when David Koch was on the ticket, the closest the Libertarian Party has had to celebrity). But the general progress is in the positive. To me, this means that the Libertarian Party is gaining despite the laws and hurdles the two major parties have thrown up. Now, in 2016, with the Democrat and Republican choice of two unlikeable candidates, the numbers for the Libertarian Party will surely sky rocket.
Will this momentum carry over in the coming years? I don’t know. But the numbers over the past few decades suggest that over the long term, the answer is yes. I’m not worried about my party. It is doing fine considering today’s political climate. We’re moving in the right direction. To me, we’re already winning.
The bigger question is what will happen to the two major parties after 2016?
I’ve predicted the shatter of the Republican Party for years now based on their poor choices. You can read about my concerns here, here and here. Regardless of whether Donald Trump wins or loses, the Republican Party is damaged and recovery may take a long time if ever. If he wins, other Republicans will solidify around him and support his decisions no matter how bad. They’re already working overtime as apologists now, why would it be different once in power? See Ted Cruz, see Sean Hannity. Big props, however, to Glenn Beck for holding his ground. Because of Donald Trump, a lot of Republicans have left the party to join the Libertarians.
I suspect the Democratic Party will be fine. All they’ve really done is chosen Barack Obama again. A Hillary Clinton White House will be a continuation of Obama’s White House. On the other hand, since Obama didn’t turn out to be the savior figure he allowed himself to be built up to, another continuation of his policies now in the hands of Clinton may be just the ticket to get Democrats fleeing to third parties too.
But let’s not pay too much attention anymore to those two big galoots. Let them flounder in their own mess. For those of you looking for a small government, freedom loving atmosphere, keep rolling with the Libertarian Party, increasing our vote totals. Let’s keep our own house in order and clean. Let’s learn from the two major’s mistakes and not make the same ones. Let’s keep working on ourselves, getting the message out and staying on target. Let’s be most concerned with message and not concerned with getting some celebrity to run. Let the people come to us because we have the best message, not the latest celebrity personality. Ideologies stick around, people fade away.