June 23, 2016
For whatever reason, the Libertarian Party has always attracted what Mr. Libertarian Murray Rothbard called “luftmenschen.” These are the pint-glass philosophers who opine on the need to abolish prisons and legalize incest while imbibing large amounts of liquor (not that there is anything wrong with the latter). They make little money, lack job stability, and are shameless in public. The LP chairman candidate who stripped on stage at the recent Orlando convention personified the abject immaturity of the organization.
Johnson himself is no better. If the former governor were a principled Lew Rockwell type of libertarian, that would be a refreshing difference from the milquetoast tedium the LP serves around election time. Instead, Johnson is the D.C. archetype of libertarianism: goofy, dotty, gay-loving, and perpetually stoned. His policies come off as inchoate; he supports America as a global policeman and doesn”t want to cut public funds to baby-butchering Planned Parenthood. But he’s adamantly in favor of gay marriage, anti-discrimination laws, and weed legalization. As Michael Brendan Dougherty writes, “Johnson seems only to care about the liberties he himself would like to exercise: namely, smoking pot and commanding religious people what to do.”
It seems the LP game plan is to break the Democrat-Republican trust by running a candidate who represents the worst libertarian stereotypes and acts like a clown on stage.
If Libertarians are hoping that 2016 will be different, and that their candidate will upend the political establishment like never before, that’s as wishful as abolishing the IRS.
They don”t see that someone has already turned politics-as-we-know-it on its head. Gary Johnson may have climbed Mt. Everest, but Donald Trump did something more improbable: He conquered the Republican Party with his Howard Beale-esque campaign of middle-class radicalism.
Johnson’s platform can”t compete. When it falls short of expectations, libertarians will be faced with their irrelevance yet again.