An Intriguing “What If?”

A recent op-ed in the New York Times posed an intriguing possibility–Republican voters who are frantically looking for an alternative to The Donald might opt for Gary Johnson, a former Republican Governor of New Mexico. (At least he has more government experience than Trump.)

Johnson was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for President last time, and  is likely to be their candidate again in 2016.  Supporting him would solve the biggest problem facing those who are advocating a third-party or independent presidential campaign.

The biggest hurdle anti-Trump Republicans must overcome, aside from finding a candidate willing to go into the wilderness for them, is getting on the ballot. The presidential election system is a patchwork of state deadlines and ballot requirements. Ralph Nader, who critics say helped usher George W. Bush into the White House by running as a Green Party candidate in 2000, is extremely familiar with the ballot requirements, having been booted off the Pennsylvania ballot in 2004. While Mr. Nader is happy to rail against the “two-party tyranny” of the American electoral system, he thinks starting a third-party run at this point in the election season a near-impossible goal.

“It’s almost too late, unless you’re a multibillionaire,” Mr. Nader said. “Other than just a tailored two- or three-state approach, I don’t see it happening.”

There was a time, twenty or twenty-five years ago, when the Republican Party was beginning its change from a big-tent major party into the extremist, litmus-test amalgam of resentment and reaction that it has become, that the Libertarians had an opening–an opportunity to step in and gather up those members of the GOP who were increasingly uncomfortable with the party but not inclined to join the Democrats.

Here in Indiana, I knew several former Republicans who were trying to make the Libertarian Party the logical alternative–to appeal to Republicans whose “small government” rhetoric was genuine– not of the “keep government out of my boardroom but not out of my bedroom” variety–and whose anti-welfare beliefs encompassed crony capitalists as well as impoverished single mothers.

It didn’t work then, because the base of the Libertarian Party was in-your-face pro-gun and anti-drug-war. (Today, ironically, most Americans probably agree about the drug war.) Any softening of those positions would have led to a wholesale abandonment by the party’s base–but a failure to move even a bit toward more “mainstream” positions frightened off the disaffected GOP prospects.

This is probably not the Libertarian moment, either. We are seeing too many examples of what happens when government is neutered, or wholly-owned by private interests. (The water in Flint, the crumbling infrastructure in Indiana, etc. etc.) If the pendulum is swinging, it’s probably swinging in the other direction.

But the great virtue of libertarianism as a philosophy is that it forces us to ask an all-important question: what should government do? What is the role of the state?

Just as there are things that–I would argue–government must do, there are things that government should not do, decisions that government should not make. Think how refreshing it would be to have those discussions, those debates–free of the propaganda, self-dealing and hypocrisy that characterize (and attempt to mask) today’s efforts to gain power and advantage.

It’s an intriguing thought.


  1. The chickens will come home to roost in the fall. Trump will make it clear that a third-party candidate can only drain votes, not win an election, and he will simultaneously vilify the Democrat with terms that stir the Republican soul. It will be very close in November.

  2. There really is no Republican Party anymore. Just the Democrats and the anti-democrats. As failure has followed failure to accomplish anything they’ve truly become against everything.

    People know how many times I’ve given Republicans here a chance to say positively what they believe in, what they’re for, and nobody ever has. They instead complain about what liberals are for.

    The entire country has noticed that when a Republican Congress is effectively shut down nothing changes. They had no legislative plan to begin with except wanton destruction of the country’s future.

    There is a power vacuum into which some organization will be sucked and eventually replace the GOP.

    The good news is that as there was no Republican common cause there will be multiple replacements, each with too few voters to matter. It will take decades and frankly a great deal of Democrat failure before there is a core belief for an alternative party to coalesce around.

    With so little competition the Democrats will undoubtedly over step sometimes and will eventually split into the far and center left. From that dichotomy will effective balance eventually come.

    Culture evolves and eventually those inept at adapting go extinct.

  3. If the Koch brothers choose to put their money towards the Libertarian candidate he might have a chance. However, they are much more successful in gaining control of government at the state level and that is where they have accumulated so much power.

    In the news this morning – the Indiana State Supreme Court ruled against IBM over their failure at privatizing Welfare in our state. Thanks to Mitch Daniels, that privatization cost us millions of dollars that cannot be fully recovered by this decision. That was one of the largest privatization failures ever to happen in Indiana.

  4. Inherently governmental activities are hard to define. What exactly does it mean to “…promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty…?” We haven’t even grasped what it truly means to “..establish justice…,” which should be one of the clearest goals of government.

  5. Jim,

    “The chickens will come home to roost in the fall. Trump will make it clear that a third-party candidate can only drain votes, not win an election, and he will simultaneously vilify the Democrat with terms that stir the Republican soul. It will be very close in November.”

    Accurate scenario. I would only add “But Trump will probably win unless the Tea Party is successfully engaged.”

  6. Political platforms should reveal what the parties are “for” and what they are “against”. Google searches may tell us what draconian meaures will be broadcast by the GOP platform.

  7. How about “What If”, the Democratic Party was the Party of the People instead of Wall Street and Chamber of Commerce??? The Corporate Democrat John Gregg gave an interview to the Indianapolis Star.

    Per the Star Article: >> John Gregg surprised some of his union campaign donors recently when he said he wouldn’t fight Republicans on two labor issues widely viewed as anti-union. Gregg said he wouldn’t try to reinstate a law that the Republican-controlled state legislature repealed last year. The law, known as the common construction wage, allowed local boards to set wages — often union wages — for public construction projects.

    Gregg also said he wouldn’t try to get rid of the state’s right-to-work law that lawmakers passed in 2012, after massive union protests and walkouts by Democrats. “I’m a realist,” Gregg said.

    According to the article: Unions have contributed more than $2.5 million to his campaign.
    So there you have it. Republicans want to destroy Unions, but Democrats will allow them to exist as long as they make campaign donations. The Classic Corporate Democrat. All Hillary is doing is supervising the rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic for her Low Information Voters. Once the ship begins to sink Hillary her Wall Street Friends, and Goldman-Sachs will bid the steerage passengers (Low Information Voters) a fond farewell from their life boats.

    The question I have is why any Union would be surprised the Corporate Democrats led by Hillary, and John Gregg in this state of Indiana be surprised they have been sold – Again???

  8. Louie and Ginny; John Gregg is who we have (stuck with on the Democratic side) so John Gregg is who I will vote for to get rid of Pence. I wish I had a newer car but will not give up driving because my car is 20 years old; it is what I have (stuck with as my transportation) so I will continue driving it till it dies – or I do.

  9. Mohamed El Erian was interviewed on Nightly Business Report about his views on the US Economy. He said that the Fed had done all it can do and was out of options for stimulating the economy with low interest rates. He went on to say that the US Congress needed to start doing its job and creating opportunities through publicly funded infrastructure projects (roads and water, e.g.) in order to stimulate the economy by putting money in people’s pockets and securing the employment picture.

    These are things the government must do, but refuses to do. If they actually worked for us, we would fire them for failure to perform to the required standard. The fact they hang on to their jobs for so long and continue to do nothing begs the question: Who are they working for?

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